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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Elliot Dorff

Question: May a healthy Jew participate in a phase 1 clinical study used to determine the safety of an investigational drug? Would Jewish parents be allowed to consent to have their healthy child participate in such a study?
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Question: If a Jewish woman becomes pregnant using eggs donated from a non-Jewish woman, is the child considered Jewish or not Jewish? Who is the "real" mother, in terms of matrilineal descent - the woman who donated the genetic material or the woman who carried and delivered the baby? What about the possibility that was raised recently of combing the DNA of two women to avoid genetic diseases - how would that be seen? What does Judaism have to say about this?
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Question: [In light of the Shoah] Is it ethically alright to purchase a German made car? If not, is there a specific Jewish law against it?
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Question: Sometimes, when I sin, I know its because I have not fully explored the deepest meaning possible of what lies at the heart of the transgression, yet at the same time, it also draws me closer to HaShem, because I realise how weak I am before HaShem; my pride is taken from me in that lowly state. Rabbi Nachman said something about one having to begin again and again. I find that by having to return to the beginning, I gain a deeper insight into the nature of the matter yet feel this is paradoxical, for I also need to not return to that sin. Any advice please?
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Question: Can a non-Jew pray using specifically Jewish prayers like the Shema and the Amidah if they are sincere in believing what the prayer states?
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Question: Is there a value to attending daily organized prayer groups (minyans) [quorum of 10] at a synagogue or temple if we don’t feel like we are connecting to structured prayer?
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Question: Why should we make the extra effort to daven (pray) with a minyan (quorum of 10) 3 times a day? It's much more convenient to just daven “alone” at home, in the office, or wherever we happen to be.What Jewish values are in play with this?
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Question: Is there any legitimate basis today to the Jewish concept of mesirah (the prohibition to inform to a secular government) when it comes to child abusers/molesters? Either in Israel, or anywhere else in the world?
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Question: In my dormitory there are automatic motion-sensitive fluorescent lights. If my only intention is to enter and exit my room and not to illuminate the hallway, would this pose any problem on Shabbat?
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Question: JTA is reporting that a New York area rabbi has invoked Mesira as a legal defense. How is this concept reconciled with dina d'malkhuta dina? Which concept is paramount?
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Question: We just got married, and I found out that my husband is suffering from impotency (impotence). If I didn't know about this prior to marriage, can this marriage be annulled? Isn't this a basic fact that I should have been told before I was asked to consent to marriage? What is the reason for marriage anyway, if not to have children?
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Question: Can someone transfer their obligation of saying kaddish for parent over a 12 month period to another person or organization for pay (Tzedakah)? Or is this just a tradition with no real obligation?
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Question: A friend of mine has been asked to do a bible reading at a wedding of a friend of his. My friend is Jewish, the wedding is Christian. They have not decided if the reading willl be from the Christian bible, i.e. one of the passages on love. Are there any issues with a Jewish person doing this? However, if it is from the Hebrew bible then that would not be a problem, correct?
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Question: In religious [observant] Jewish communities, how much room or tolerance is there for secular interests and desires? I live near a large Jewish community, and from an outside perspective I have the impression that with the emphasis on [following the norms, such as] getting married, upholding family values, and [engaging in] Torah study, and everything that goes with living in a such a community, following their [community members'] heart and doing something they may want to do, such as going travelling or learning an instrument, is either not considered acceptable, or not their 1st priority. In addition to this I can't help but think that they view gentiles and the secular world with a touch of suspicion. What do religious Jews think of the secular world and secular values? Is there room and tolerance for them to follow their interests, or do they have to conform only to Jewish community values and expectations? I don’t mean this to be a rant, and apologies if it is seen as one - its just something that’s on my mind and I would be interested to know the truth.
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Question: Over 18 years ago a Reform rabbi and a cantor officiated at my wedding. Now I am going through a divorce. I am interested in having a get (Jewish divorce decree). Being a Reform Jewish professional, what should I do? Is it necessary to have an Orthodox beit din? Are there other (non-Orthodox) means to acquire a get? What are the consequences of the various options, if they differ? And what are the expenses and requirements associated with this process?
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Question: I see so many things on Facebook status updates and Twitter feeds that seem so improper somehow – why do we all need to know every detail of everyone’s life? But I seem to be alone here. Does Judaism have anything to say about the ethics of privacy? Could this possibly be a “tzniut” issue?
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Question: I am offended by non-Jews who take on Jewish rituals. Is this right? It would seem to me that non-Jews would be offended if I took on their religious rituals as some kind of cultural form.
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Question: What is the proper response of the American Jewish community when Israeli policy seems misguided?
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Question: A 60-year-old Orthodox Jewish male became ill with pneumonia, requiring mechanical ventilation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. As a result, he became severely brain damaged and remains in a vegetative state months later. The hospital concluded that further resuscitation attempts (if called for) would be futile and asked the family to sign a "do not resuscitate" order. The family refuses due to their feeling of obligation to preserve life regardless of outcome. Since there is no hope for recovery for this gentleman, is there any way that a choice not to resuscitate this gentleman could still respect his and his family's religious beliefs? What does Judaism say about such a situation?
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Question: This is a question of Jewish law in a case pertaining to murder/killing in the course of a robbery. The defendant was in a bank and stabbed a guard with a knife; the guard died instantly. There were two witnesses, one of whom tried to warn the defendant that he would be subject to death if he killed the guard. However, the murderer did not acknowledge her warning. The other witness just stood idly by. If we are trying to offer a defense for the defendant, what would Jewish law say that might help do so?
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Question: My boss always makes me feel stupid, is rude, puts me down all the time, gets other people to tell me how to dress, and so on. Is this in keeping with Jewish law and custom? Are there Jewish rules about how a boss is to treat an employee?
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Question: Can a rabbi, congregation, or anyone in need ever knowingly accept a donation of money that was acquired illegally, for instance under extreme circumstances, when it may be very badly needed?
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Question: I pass a homeless man every morning on my way to work. How obligated am I as a Jew to give him money? Friends have said that it is better to give to agencies and charities that help the homeless, but I always feel horrible when I pass him.
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Question: In what way should we welcome back men and women who spent time in prison? How about sex offenders?
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Question: I work in a fast-paced, fairly "cutthroat" world. Is there a Jewish perspective on balancing personal ambitions, and needing to be aggressive to achieve those, with building and maintaining positive relationships with colleagues and co-workers?
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Question: What is the Jewish view regarding abortion?
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Question: What is the Jewish view on organ transplants?
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THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN ANSWERS PROVIDED HEREIN ARE THOSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL JVO PANEL MEMBERS, AND DO NOT
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