"Shoot!" (Q & A)

The Ascent Question & Answer Forum

conducted by Yerachmiel Tilles,
co-founder and first educational director of Ascent,
and Managing Editor of this site and KabbalaOnline.org

The three hebrew letters shin-vuv-tof [pronounced "shoot"] are often used as the abbreviation of she'eilot v'tshuvot: the ongoing written query-and-response process in Torah on every aspect of Jewish life which has been taking place since the beginning of Diaspora.) 

"Shoot!"
the Rabbi

 

Readers are encouraged to shoot! All questions are welcomed.

(All questions will be answered promptly; however, all may not be posted)

Shoot! categories for this site:

Beliefs/Faith

Commandments and Customs

Ethical/Moral Issues

Torah and Technology

Essays on Other Topics



Beliefs/Faith

1 "How prevalent is the Jewish belief in reincarnation today? How does it differ from the Asian belief? What do the Rabbis think of it?"
2 "I try to be open-minded spiritually. Why is it that religious Jews are so closed to the wisdom of other religions?"
3 "I was at an Orthodox engagement party. What was the significance of the lifting of the handkerchief? Why didn't he give her a ring? Isn't that a Jewish custom?"
4 "I read in your calendar that you had a Thanksgiving event. Although this get-together may be purely Jewish, please be informed that some rabbinic authorities have forbidden any form of marking Thanksgiving because it originated as a Christian religious festival. Did you ask a rabbi?"
5 "How does G-d justify what happened during the holocaust?"
6 "Could you set out a balance between the need to understand and the obligation to fulfill mitzvot that would help someone like me from a non-religious background?"
7 "I heard a Rabbi speak about how good Jews are supposed to show "bad" Jews the way of G-d."
8 "Why are there so many different types of Orthodox shuls in Israel? The shades of distinction between many of them seem so slight. Why don't they join each other instead of competing? "
9 "I sat in on a class at a women's Yeshiva. It was sort of interesting, but I couldn't relate to it. I also tried a Shabbat with a family; they were very nice and the food was great, but I was bored stiff. I want more Judaism in my life, but I don't think this is it."
10 "A group of psychotherapists stated that at the Akeida, Isaac was sacrificed and then rose again, and that this represents mankind's move from human to animal sacrifice. What do you think?"
11 "We do not stress Judaism as a religion for we see it primarily as a culture."
12 "Some rabbis that I met told me it is prohibited to study the "secret" teachings until you are 40 years of age and expert in Talmud and Jewish law. "
13 "Is it not "idol-worship" to pray to a tzadik at his grave?"
14 "Celibacy and Judaism"
15 ""I am interested to hear what you have to say about Yoga as a physical exercise and mind-centering activity. Is it kosher for Jews?"

Commandments and Customs

1 "I have many fond memories of the family Passover Seder. At this stage, however, my father's non-religious seder has become increasingly uncomfortable for me and my family." 
2 "I have tried saying the prayers in the prayerbook, but I do not relate to them. Why can't I pray in my own words and in my own language?"
3 "Why is every seven years called the Sabbatical Year? Why is it sometimes called "Shmitah?"
4 "Why do very religious men wear long black garments only, even in summertime?"
5 '"Why do religious people always answer, 'Thank G-d,' no matter what you ask them? It is so predictable and boring, it discourages talking to them."
6 "What is the Jewish Kaddish prayer? How how does it memorialize the dead?"
7 "Why do some orthodox jews wear knit skullcaps, while others wear only dark suits and thirties-style gangster hats? And what about those who wear fur hats, tights, and long coats, with really long earlocks? And the ones who look like hippies, but with fringes dangling from their shirts?"
8 "I've been asked to lend a large sum to a non-profit institution. The problem is I don't want to lose the dividend income from my money, but I know it is forbidden for a Jew to take interest on a loan to another Jew. Is there a solution?"
9 "Why do we dip the challah in salt on Shabbat? And why three times?"
10 "Why two loaves each Shabbat meal?"
11 "There are so many restrictions, how can you enjoy Shabbat?"
12 "Something is either kosher or not kosher. What is all this stuff about "strictly kosher," "glatt kosher," "mehadrin," etc.? "
13 "Why in the Evening Prayer after Yom Kippur ends do we already have to ask G-d's forgiveness again?"
14 "How can it be that Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are celebrated together on one day in Israel?"
15 "When praying for someone's health, we mention his or her Hebrew name and that of the mother. What if the names are not Jewish?"
16 "Is a "housewarming" party part of Jewish tradition?"
17 "Why Wash? - My Hands are Clean!"
18 "How is the Bar Mitzvah explained in Kabbalah ?"

Ethical/Moral Issues

1 "Can all the people asking for charity in the streets of Jerusalem on Friday be genuine? Must I give to each one even if I don't have a good feeling about him?"
2 "Why are many Orthodox and Chassidic Jews not nice to other people and/or dishonest in financial affairs?"
3 "Isn't it better to not steal because you feel it to be wrong, rather than because it is a mitzvah not to do so?"
4 "Now that I've converted, my status is that of a new-born person. Doesn't that mean I should cut off all contact with my non-Jewish mother?"
5 "How should I behave when confronted by the seemingly ubiquitous gentile preachers and proselytizers?"
6 "I, as a vegetarian, feel offended that sacrifice of innocent creatures should be prescribed for sins committed by people."
7  
8 "Why do observant Jews use pre-set "Shabbat timers" to turn lights and other electrical appliances on and off on Shabbat? It seems like using a loophole, against the spirit of Shabbat."

Torah and Technology

1 "The flight from Tokyo to London is thirty-five hours long, passing through many time zones. 1) How do you determine the proper time for the daily prayers? 2) And what if the day is Tisha b'Av? Can a fast be mandatory for 35 hours?"
2 "Can I make the mitzvah of hearing the Megillah on Purim by listening to it over the radio?"
3 "How do you determine when Shabbat begins in 1) Antartica and Northern Alaska? 2) On a space shuttle in orbit?"
4 "What problems, if any, are attendant in crossing the International Dateline?"
5 "Why do observant Jews use pre-set "Shabbat timers" to turn lights and other electrical appliances on and off on Shabbat? It seems like using a loophole, against the spirit of Shabbat."


Essays on Other Topics

Era of Moshiach

Feminine Issues

Torah and Science


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