What's Wrong With Cremation?My grandmother recently announced that she intends to be cremated. This disturbed me, as I know Judaism doesn't allow cremations. She grew up in communist Russia and doesn't believe in anything spiritual. She says there's no difference between burial and cremation, the result is the same. What should I tell her?
The Light That Never Burns OutI notice that lighting candles is a big part of Judaism. We light candles every Friday for Shabbos, we light candles on every festival, and Chanukah is all about candles. What is the connection between candles and spirituality?
Is Wishing a Long Life Always a Good Thing?Why is the Jewish custom to wish "long life" to mourners? After losing someone dear to you, why would you want to live a long life without them? Can the blessing for long life not sometimes be a curse?
How to Revive an Uninspired SoulRabbi, I am uninspired. I used to pray to G-d and study Torah, but I've lost the spark. I feel flat and empty and I haven't done anything spiritual in ages. What should I do to find my soul again?
Do You Care for the Homeless?I am a strong believer in the value of charity. But I can't see how it is important to give money to a <i>shule</I>. There are homeless people and starving children, so why should I give money so people can pray? Isn't that a luxury in comparison?
On Being a HebrewI am the only Jew within miles of where I live. It's not easy being so vastly outnumbered. Sometimes, I wonder if it's worth being different. One thing my non-Jewish neighbours ask that I can't answer is: Why have your people been so unpopular throughout history and around the world? What should I tell them?
Life and Afterlife in the Shadow of the HolocaustMy grandmother died not long ago, and something has been troubling me ever since. She was not a believer. After suffering the worst horrors imaginable during the war, she could never face G-d again. Does that make her bad? Where is her soul now? Would G-d let her suffer in the afterlife because she didn't keep her faith?
When is a Couple Really Unified as One?The relationship between husband and wife is a sacred and secluded place, and should stay that way. Any word or action that jeopardises the privacy and unity of a marriage must be erased from our repertoire.
Please Argue With ThisEvery one of us has a soul, whether we consider ourselves spiritual or not, and every soul is involved in a constant dialogue with G-d. We each react differently to what G-d has to say; we may or may not respond, but we all are involved in the conversation.
Cannabis and KabbalahWe do not fulfill our purpose by altering our minds, but rather by refining them. A spiritual experience, no matter how high, that does not translate into productive action is a waste of time and energy.
Who is Your God?What do you say to a scientist who doesn't believe in G-d? He says belief is irrational and unscientific. What do you tell a godless intellectual?
Rosh HaShanah Again?We do not arrive at Rosh HaShanah as the same people we were a year ago. Every year teaches us new lessons and exposes us to new realities. We can't help being transformed by the dramas and disappointments, tests and triumphs that each of us face in any given year.
It's Not Just CricketThe one Jewish ideal that I can't get my head around is <I>Moshiach</I> - the belief in the coming of a Messianic era. What good is achieved by awaiting some future time when there will be peace on earth? Shouldn't we focus on the present, rather than dreaming about the future?
Judaism is the Path, Not the LuggageMy generation is Jewish by name only, not involved with anything Jewish. At this rate, what will my kids look like? Is there any way to stop this trend?
Every Jew is an Ambassador for Israel"I am the only Jew in my office so I face a daily barrage of questions about Israel's actions in Lebanon. I don't know who appointed me as Israel's spokesman and I am not armed with the answers. Can you help?"
Should We Make Conversion Easier?If you would make conversion a bit easier, then many more non-Jews would join us. Why do you stubbornly insist on a long and difficult conversion process, when you are closing the door to many potential converts?
Is Religion a Crutch?I think religion is a crutch. G-d is for the weak and the needy. Don't you have the independence to get through life on your own?
Who is a Real Believer?Sometimes I'm not so sure that I believe in G-d enough to pray. I just don't think I can have the unwavering faith that people like you seem to have. I'll never be so sure.
How Do You Tie Your Shoes?Maybe I'm missing something, but where is the great moral lesson in that? Am I a better person if I tie my shoes in a special way?
It's a Girl!And why don't we do a <I>"Sholom Nekeiva"</I> upon the birth of a girl, as we do a <i>Sholom Zochor</I> for a baby boy?
It's a Boy!I understand that the first Friday night after the birth of a boy, people gather in the newborn's home after dinner. But all they do is eat. What is the meaning behind this?
Is the Exodus a Myth?How authentic is the story of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt? From the Aztecs to the Athenians, every nation has myths about their origins. Is the Exodus story not just a Jewish legend, our nation's attempt to glorify its beginnings?
A Jewish Wedding DanceI recently attended my first Jewish wedding. It was all new to me, but what I found most peculiar was the dancing. Men and women danced separately!
Must I Respect My Father?He is old now and needs me, but there is nothing in his life that deserves respect. How can I respect my father without losing my dignity?
Parliamentary Privilege to Profane?A politician was on record as making an obscene statement about a fellow politician. Under parliamentary privilege, it seems he is getting away with it. What is the Jewish view of dirty language?
Did G-d Create Evil?Although it is people who actually do evil, it was G-d who must have created the idea of evil. But if G-d is good, how could He create evil?
Question of the WeekA friend gave birth to a baby with a rare condition that has rendered her severely handicapped. She is not expected to live much past her tenth birthday. I just can't understand why G-d does that. If life has a purpose, what is the purpose of such a short and sad life?
Separating Men and Women at a Wedding?But to dance at a wedding the way one would dance in a bar or nightclub is to miss the point. That type of dancing is self-focused - it is all about me and my partner, or perhaps even just me.
Kissing the Mezuzah on Your Way OutIn our last argument he mocked me for touching the <I>Mezuzah</I> and kissing my hand every time I go in or out of the house. He called it "empty superstition".
Can We Ever Conquer the Ego?I have meditated, fasted, taken vows of silence - but after years of work the ego is still there. Do you have any advice on how to conquer ego?
My Special DietEver since I started keeping kosher, there has been major tension in the family. My sister is hurt that I won't eat at her house and says that I am being "holier-than-thou", and my parents say that I am tearing the family apart. What can I do?
Was I Born by Accident?My birth was a bit of an accident - my parents said I was a surprise, and I was born six weeks premature. Is there any meaning in celebrating the day that I wasn't really supposed to have been born?
Who Created G-d?I've often heard the argument that there must be a G-d, because creation is so well designed that there must be a designer.
What's With the Wig?Women wear wigs that are sometimes more attractive than natural hair. So wearing a wig actually defeats the whole purpose of covering the hair!
Inspiration on an Empty StomachI understand that fasting on Yom Kippur is supposed to make me focus on my soul rather than my body. But by around lunch time, I am so starving that for the rest of the day all I can think about is food. Doesn't this defeat the purpose? How can I become more spiritual with a growling stomach?
Why is it so Hard to Pray?I have a lot of trouble praying. I sit in synagogue and as soon as I start to read the words, my mind wanders.