Born This Way

From: Megan Dear Rabbi, I don’t understand this concept of working on myself to make myself better, a different person than I am. I like who I am, what I am. As the song goes, “I was born this way!” Or in rabbi talk, “G‑d made me as I am”. If so, why should I[…]

Jewish Dress

Jewish Dress From: Nathan Dear Rabbi, It seems to me that if there is such a thing as Jewish appearance, it’s not about dress or style but about the visual appearance of specific mitzvot such as tefillin, or actions in general according to Torah commands. Even what many might consider to be “Jewish dress” is not really Jewish, such as black and white among Ashkenazim, or[…]

Theater in Judaism

From: Ian Dear Rabbi, It seems to me that in addition to literature in the form of instructive stories, there is a fair representation of music and other artistic forms mentioned in the Torah, and applied in the service of G‑d in the Temple, and on other occasions. But it strikes me that theater doesn’t[…]

Valuable Lesson

From: Ryan Dear Rabbi, How important is it to clean up after oneself, particularly when someone else is paid to clean up after others, like in a restaurant or park? Dear Ryan, The Torah places great emphasis on both spiritual and material cleanliness. Material cleanliness includes preserving the environment and ensuring it remains as clean[…]

What’s in a Beard?

From: John Dear Rabbi, Why do Jews, or at least religious Jews, have beards and not shave? Someone told me it was in order to get blessing. Is this the reason? Dear John, It is true that Jewish mystical sources discuss the beard in the context of blessing – either being a source of blessing[…]

Dishonesty and Non-Jews

From: Misha Dear Rabbi, Is it permissible to be dishonest with a non-Jew? Might there be a difference between outright lying as opposed to withholding the truth? Is there any difference between a non-Jewish monotheist as opposed to an idolater? Dear Misha, It is forbidden to be dishonest with anybody, directly or indirectly, Jew or[…]

Orphans’ Joy

From: Anonymous Dear Rabbi, There is an organization in our community that collects money for orphans or children from broken families for the purpose of helping pay wedding costs. I don’t think anyone would deny that this is a good thing, but the weddings this organization provides for are, in my opinion, overly-lavish – often[…]