blog | about | contact | origins | help
 
All Questions Answered by
Rabbi James Greene

Question: What is the Jewish view on putting the good of others before what is good for oneself, even when it may conflict with what it good for oneself? (I'm not talking about life and death issues here.) [Administrator's note: I interpret this question as asking about altruistic behaviors, such as Taharah for a deceased person. Respondents may read it differently - if so, please explain your understanding.]
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Why are there Jews Against Circumcision? [See a related earlier question and answers at http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=166.]
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I am interested in converting to Judaism. While I currently have no friends or family who are Jewish, I have been doing quite a bit of personal study, while praying to G-d for discernment on the matter, and feel deeply that this is the right choice for myself and my family. My husband is very supportive and has agreed for our family to live a Jewish lifestyle, he would like to learn more before making the decision to convert himself. I have two questions. First, is it possible for myself and our son (he is 4) to convert, with my husband's blessing, if my husband does not choose to as well? Second, there are only 2 synagogues in my area, both of which are at least a 40 minute drive from our home. One is conservative, the other reform. The nearest orthodox synagogue is about 2 hours away. Is it possible to receive our instructing of Judaism in a conservative synagogue, but the actual conversion (mikvah and so forth) in the orthodox one due to proximity reasons? I hope that makes sense.
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: After an adult conversion, is there any halakhah, etiquette or rule regarding a celebration for the convert?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What is the Jewish view on bone marrow transplants? What is the opinion on being a Jewish organ donor if Jews are supposed to be buried within 24 hours of death? [JVO Kids: 7]
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What is G-d's gender? in the prayer books and the Tanakh (bible) it says He, Him, and His? [JVO Kids: 4-6]
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: How can I earn (re-gain?) trust if I lied to a loved one? How do I tell the truth after a lie if no one trusts me? [JVO Kids: 4-6]
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Why does G-d make so many people go through prejudice? Why did G-d let there be slaves in the USA if it already happened in Egypt? Does he care? [JVO Kids: 4-6]
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Are the obsessions with money, celebrities and athletes, and maybe even Ivy League education, a form of modern day idol worship? My understanding of idol worship is when human creations or people themselves replace G-d and/or are worshiped as a god, this is idol worship. How do rabbis view idols in the modern sense? What does it mean to avoid worshiping idols?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Is a child who converts to Christianity still Jewish if his or her mother is Jewish? What must that child do to return to Judaism?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Sometimes I feel that there are so many details in Jewish law that it is impossible to follow them all. Nobody can. So everybody fails at something (at least) sometime. Are we then all "sinners"? How can we live with constant failure?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: If a bad practice (sin) has become part of our personality, how can we stand before Hashem to ask for forgiveness knowing that it is probably unrealistic for us to change our ways?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: While I support tolerance, acceptance and unity for the Jewish people, I can’t help noticing that when I have visited the Kotel many times during morning hours, there does not appear to be even a minute base of women that want to pray in an egalitarian style minyan. At the same time there are thousands davening at the Kotel every morning peacefully, representing many threads of Judaism. Why all the commotion to create an area for egalitarian minyanim (prayer groups) on a regular basis at the Kotel, when there doesn’t appear to be the numbers to justify using very limited prime real estate for this purpose? My question is more about the need to accommodate a very small specific group for a once a month event. Wouldn’t it be great to see thousands of Jews show up at the Kotel every morning demanding an egalitarian style minyan? That would show a different level of seriousness to the Women of the Wall (WOW) cause. But, as of now, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Wishing for peace and unity for the Jewish people, I want to know what this is really about.
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

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?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Are extremists on both sides (left and right) of the Woman of the Wall ordeal going too far to push their agendas? It seems like most Israelis would prefer peace and unity when it comes to personal praying at the Kotel.
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I would like a Jewish perspective for this question that appeared in the New York Times Magazine,:"The Ethicist." Is it unethical to lie to your boss for the purpose of getting a job elsewhere? [Administrator's note: A related question is found at http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=428.]
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I am a 14 year old girl and a Conservative Jew. I am also gay. No one in my family knows. They are not homophobic. I wish I wasn't gay. Is it rational to pray to G-d to make me not gay anymore, or is there something I can do?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What should you do when your personal values are in conflict with a certain ethic at work? What does Judaism say about this?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I am a Jewish man interested in marrying a Jewish woman. I often ask women why they want to be with someone Jewish and they tell me it would be "easier" or it would make their mothers happy. These to me don't seem like good enough reasons. My reasons are strongly tied to character traits, mainly accountability, that I associate with Jews. What I wondered was what do you consider the biggest and most tangible problems with interfaith marriages?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I converted to Judaism with a Reform rabbi, and my husband is not Jewish. We have two children, a daughter and a son, whom we have raised Jewish; they each had a bar/bat mitzvah, and my son attends a Jewish high school. As they begin to date, would there be any reason I or they should inform the other parents that I converted?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I am an adult woman with a developmental disorder (autism/asperger's Syndrome). I have two young adult children who both also have this disorder. It is genetic in our family. What does the Torah/Talmud say (if anything) about such disabilities and how disabled people should be treated?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Is a scheduled Hatafat Dam Brit to be postponed if the convert's mother is expected to die within the week? [Administrator's note: a somewhat similar question was posed in http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=650]
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What should I do if my child is in school and the teachers are making him do a bunch of Christmas things like decorating the tree and making ornaments? Do I let him participate? We are a Jewish family and I am concerned. I don't want him to be forced to do Christian religious things, but I also don't want him to feel isolated and left out.
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: My father died suddenly 10 days ago. What are my obligations or what is custom for an adult daughter to be doing after sitting shiva? Thank you in advance for your help.
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Is a Jewish parent required or obliged by Jewish law or Jewish values to leave anything to their children in their will?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Can an adulteress marry the man she had an affair with after she has been given a get?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: My uncle's family is holding a one-year memorial and stone unveiling honoring my uncle... on Yom Kippur! I was not close to my uncle but my mother was, and she is urging me to go to this event. I am thinking I should be at services, including yizkor to honor my father, whom I was extremely close with. They are even planning to make it into a celebration of my uncle's life and have food afterwards. My uncle was Jewish and my mom is, but these family members arranging the event are not. What are the principles I should consider and is there a clear imperative in what I should do? What would Jewish law and thought tell me is the way to proceed?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Do women have the same obligation as men in regards to daily prayer in Judaism?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Are Jews outside Israel seen as part of the galut/exile, Diaspora, or a separate Peoplehood? In other words, how much emphasis is placed on Israel in defining Jews living outside it? Do you see the non-Israeli Jews and Israel as contributing to one another, independent from one another, or is Israel the center or focus?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Is a husband obligated to provide for his wife? My husband and I have been married for one year. We are both in our sixties. I agreed to sign a prenup because my husband (who is financially quite comfortable) wanted to protect his estate for his son. I have worked all my life and have always taken care of myself. I earn about half of what my husband does and never inherited any family money. The bottom line is that the prenup became very contentious and I saw the final version at the signing - 48 hours before our wedding. Our guests had already begun arriving. I walked out of the signing and spoke with my attorney who advised that this document was the "best he could do given that my husband started on the process two weeks before our wedding." Against my better judgement, I signed it. Within the first three months of our marriage I wanted it changed. We went to a therapist and he agreed to make changes. There have been continuous fights and multiple promises from him (lies) to make changes.To date, nothing has been done. My fear is that if something happens to him I will not be able to afford to live in the apartment that we presently share. My husband owns the apartment, our prenup stipulated that I pay him rent. EVERYTHING he has goes to his son. I secretly discovered his will- which he refuses to discuss with me. In order to be in compliance with state law he is obligated to leave me something. He is leaving me 2% of his estate and a minimum monthly allowance (administered by his son whom I don't care for) toward the apartment upkeep. Prior to our marriage I was an independent self-supporting woman had an apartment which I could easily afford, lived quite comfortably, and was not dependent on anyone. I gave away most of my furniture, have lost my apartment, and if something happens to my husband will be dependent on the generosity of his son. Even more shocking is that in his will it states, " If I am unable to keep up with the monthly maintenance for the apartment, the estate has the right to evict me in 90 days." My husband and I dated for 5 years prior to our marriage.I lived with him for two of those years although I always kept my own apartment. I saw him as generous of both his time and money to charity, overly generous towards his son, and as a well-liked and respected member of the community both professionally and socially. Until the prenup, I never experienced this side of him or had any indication that he would behave like this. Is this a moral and ethical way to treat one's wife ? What can I do?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I wanted to ask if it is okay for an observant (e.g. Orthodox) Jew to watch TV and use the internet (my internet browser does have a filter on it). I watch TV, but am careful with what I watch, as I don't want to watch series or movies that are inappropriate for any reason (vile language or other things). But is it against Jewish law to watch TV and use the internet? I ask because I know there are (ultra) Orthodox Jews who are completely against it. What does Judaism say? Thanks in advance for answering!
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I had a career in television and film during which I represented sexual acts in the films. I feel very bad now. I was so unwise in choosing my roles. I wonder if it could possibly all be forgotten or forgiven, as I have suffered foe 30 years since. I wonder if this is a sin, and if so, is it so bad? I fear I will pay for it till my death. What does Judaism say about my situation?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What exactly is the position of minhag (custom) in halacha (Jewish law), and when is someone bound to follow the community in something which is not purely halachic (according to Jewish law)? Where is the place of chumra (~strict interpretation) within Judaism? Thank you.
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: When choosing between two food types, one of which is healthier than the other, does Judaism have anything to say about which to choose? For example, I recently read a study (www.sciencemag.org) that wild salmon is much healthier and contains far less toxic organic contaminants than farmed salmon. As such, would it be a mitzvah to buy the wild salmon and not the farmed salmon? Further, how would it be treated (prohibited permitted, discouraged, or not addressed) in Jewish law to buy the farmed one? Thank you!
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: My oldest daughter, now 15, has for most of her life lived and acted like a tomboy, rejecting most everything traditionally associated with femininity: dresses, long hair, girls' sports, etc. None of this was really an issue . . . we simply accepted her for who she was. About two years ago she began to develop some mental health issues and after seeing a number of specialists, it's been determined that my eldest is actually transgender, a boy born into a girl's body. Knowing this and what happens next is, of course, complicated. Part of the initial course of acceptance - and we accept this without condition - is that we all make the shift of referring to her now as "he" or "him". He has legally changed his name to a boy's name and his new birth certificate indicates he is male. He will be able to get a driver's license and passport that shows his gender as male as well. Meanwhile, nothing is being done surgically and he is not even taking testosterone. I've had a few discussions with my rabbi about things like a name change, having a bar mitzvah, etc. but it is early in the process. That said, it's dawned on me over the past few weeks that I no longer have a daughter. She is gone. The person, the life I thought would be there is no longer. It's not a death, per se, but it is a growing emotional loss. My question is "How do I mourn or grieve this loss?" It obviously doesn't rise to the level of sitting shiva but I've recently felt tempted to stand for the Mourner's Kaddish. Is that too much or inappropriate?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I'm a bit overwhelmed in trying to sort out the various Jewish beliefs about the afterlife (I'm 61 and terrified). The overarching idea seems to be: Don't worry about it so much; Judaism emphasizes doing good works on Earth and that should be our focus. Well, maybe so. But having studied it all, I trust, have you reached any firm conclusions? I cannot bear the thought that this is all there is and all that implies. The Christians have such simple answers and feel-good stories---Judaism is hard. What can you tell me about this?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

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?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What is the connection between the Land of Israel, the natural cycle, and Jewish practice? Especially for Jews living outside the land of Israel, is this still important?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: In some apartments and dorm rooms, people are not allowed to have open flames [by regulation or by law, usually for safety considerations]. I have seen many electric Shabbat candles, but not havdalah candles. What does one do to properly end Shabbat if they are not able to light the havdalah candle? Or are there electric havdalah candles available?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I got married in Jan, and lost a baby at the beginning of March. My husband left me mid-March. He owes me money; he is in a bad financial way, and I have basically supported him. I paid for the wedding and basically paid for everything, even the rings. He's now refusing to give me a 'get' (a Jewish bill of divorce) [Administrators note: Making this person an Agunah - search for other questions on JVO using this term]. I'm am trying to get the rabbis to mediate, but he's turned vicious on me. I landed up in hospital with severe depression, and he basically said I was looking for attention. He's stalling the civil proceeding, but that's easy, its just this 'get' that I'm worried about. What can I do? I got married in an Orthodox setting, but an issue is that I, not my husband, purchased the ring [used in the wedding]. Can I annul the marriage because it was not 'kosher' since he did not provide the ring for the ceremony? How can I proceed under Jewish law and according to Jewish values? [Administrators note: Other questions on our website also touch on this subject. Please search for the term 'agunah' to find them.]
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Who should I invite to my husband's unveiling? [Administrator's note: there are several other questions relating to unveilings on JVO which can be found by searching for 'unveiling'.]
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Why is sefirat haomer (the time of counting the omer - the period from the second night of Pesach/Passover to Shavuot/Feast of Weeks) considered a period of mourning?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I am an avid meditator, and given that the eastern meditative techniques are so prevalent, I have grown accustomed to doing certain "chakra meditations." However, the Chakras are an eastern concept, and Judaism has the sefirot. So for a Jewish soul, do the Chakras exist? Or, do we use the sefirot instead because our souls and bodies resonate with a different divine energy altogether?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Are there Jewish sub-cultures (denominations, communities, burial societies, cemeteries) that permit the presence of photographs or etchings of the departed individual on the headstone. I was in a Jewish cemetery in Queens, NY, and I believe I saw some headstones with images. Is this halachically (by Jewish law) permissible? Preferred? Common? Is it determined by local custom?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I would like to address with my 8th grade class the recent articles and reports that workers at iPad factories in China are mistreated. What is our obligation as Jews? Should we boycott? Protest? Write letters? How should we seek justice? I could use some specific quotes from sources that will assist me in pointing them to how we should consider this issue as Jews. Thanks.
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Is there a Jewish position on how long one should date before getting married and what attributes one should look for in a spouse/mate?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Does Judaism allow couples struggling with infertility to hire a surrogate mother? What do Jewish ethics say about paying someone to carry another's child to gestation? Are there any limitations on who can act for this purpose?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What does Judaism say about dating and matchmaking and marriage after a young woman has had cancer and can no longer bear children?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Is it normal or acceptable to be confused about the truth of God this day and age? Can one have doubts or be uncertain and still be a "good Jew?"
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What does progressive Judaism (liberal, such as Reform, Reconstructionist, and others) think about dressing and "tziniut" (modesty)? What is its position? Is this different than more traditional views (such as Orthodox, Conservative, or Lubavitch)? Thank you.
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: When Jews and non-Jews abide by the same ethical and moral behaviors, what makes the Jews' compliance uniquely Jewish?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I am Jewish and marrying a Catholic woman who respects my religion and who requested we be married by a rabbi. I will remain Jewish, and my wife will remain Catholic. My parents are both deceased, buried in a Jewish cemetery. They purchased 2 plots many years ago planning for me and my future wife to be buried next to them (my parents). Will it be a problem to have my Catholic wife buried next to me and alongside my parents in the Jewish cemetery?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What is the Jewish tradition's position on interment in a mausoleum?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What is the major blockage to women entering the rabbinate, if any, in each movement? Why does it differ between them?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What is the Jewish ethic for exchanging enemy prisoners for a Jewish prisoner if the probability is increased of more Jews being ultimately or indirectly killed?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Why does Hillel choose “What is hateful to you, do not do unto your neighbor” as his version of “the entire Torah?” Why not “Love God” or “Keep mitzvoth.” HiIlel’s tenet is never actually mentioned in the Torah itself.
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: I am a soon to be converted Jew by Choice. The problem is, practicing Judaism is really causing problems in my marriage with my non-practicing Jewish husband. I realized how important religion was to me when we had our first child. In the last two years, our marriage has been fraught with arguments because he doesn't want to raise our children Jewish. He did participate in a baby naming, doesn't sulk everytime I light Shabbat candles as he once did and has agreed to a Jewish preschool, but I still feel like it's an uphill battle to raise our kids Jewish. He had trauma in his youth (abuse) that occurred at his shul for which he will not seek counseling. Am I right to keep pushing like this? I certainly want to be sensitive to my husband but feel like I'm repressing my own identity and the Jewish identity of our children.
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: My Jewish high school recently announced plans to spy on student's computer usage by requiring us to install software letting them remotely watch and block computer use. What does Jewish law have to say about this violation of our privacy?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Our Orthodox Jewish neighbor always knocks on our door during their sabbath to turn on lights, turn off things. This happens every weekend and it is driving us nuts. We live in a Condo and they live below us. What is the Jewish view on this use of someone as a 'Shabbos Goy'? Is this ethical and in line with Jewish values?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: It seems that often, in the Jewish community, mental illness is hushed up and not spoken about. Do we have an obligation to report to social services (or elsewhere) a member of our community that we feel needs professional psychiatric help? What is the best course of action to report a member of the Jewish community that seem to be mentally unstable? Should we report this to our community Rabbi, Jewish Family Services, public social services, the police? Where is the line between hurting someone with Lashon hara and helping to prevent tragedies?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What is the idea behind “kol yisrael arayvim zeh lazeh?” Are we really responsible for each other’s actions? How can a nation spread out throughout the world truly bear responsibility for each other?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: If a pre-programmed "Shabbat elevator" is acceptable, then could a pre-programmed autonomous boat, trolley or automobile be used on Shabbat?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: After conceivably the most powerful man in the world, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, called for Israel to withdraw to pre-1967 lines on national television, I find it exceptional that the next day on national television in front of the world, the Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, sitting next to Obama, was able to say, returning back to the pre-1967 borders was a risk that Israel simply could not take. As an American Jew, how do I reconcile my support for Israel's security while also supporting our President’s vision for peace in the Middle East.
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: If a woman has been in a coma for two years would Jewish Law permit disconnecting her life support in these circumstances? She was not given any other options when she was first admitted to the hospital, was on a respirator and gets her food from IV nutrition, and therefore, her husband feels as though he has no options other than to pull the plug. It has been two years of constant suffering and sadness for both him and her parents. What would Jewish Law say?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: What does Yom Haatzmaut mean to proudly identified American Jews? Is it purely an Israeli holiday which we celebrate vicariously as allies / co-religionists, or is the creation of Israel something to celebrate even if my personal values do not include ever living there?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

Question: Are any of the considerations of granting a Kashrut certificate things like humanitarian treatment of the animals prior to slaughter? Good treatment of workers in the factory? Etc? How can you have kosher goose liver pate, for example? Isn't that an internal contradiction?
Click here to view all of the answers for this question.

LATEST BLOGS  view all blog entries

The Jewish View of Life After Death

Posted on 03/26/2017 by Rivkah Lambert Adler in Reviews
When I was just starting to learn about Judaism as an adult, I took a 3-week course called “The Jewish View of Life...

When Someone You Know Has a Disabled Child

Posted on 03/24/2017 by Rivkah Lambert Adler in Beliefs and Practices
It's not uncommon to be uncomfortable around people with disabilities. Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer opens her recent ELI Talk...

Is Eating Meat A Jewish Thing To Do?

Posted on 03/22/2017 by Rivkah Lambert Adler in Beliefs and Practices
After watching a series of documentaries about the negative health consequences of a meat-heavy diet, I gave up eating meat...

Are Jews of Color Really Jews?

Posted on 03/17/2017 by Rivkah Lambert Adler in Beliefs and Practices
In a brand new ELI Talks video, social activist MaNishtana talks about the necessity for Jews to examine their attitudes...

On Separation

Posted on 03/13/2017 by Rivkah Lambert Adler in Reviews
One of the special pleasures of Purim in my community is that I can fulfill the requirement to listen to the Megillah read...

Who’s That Knocking At My Door? A Jewish Dilemma

Posted on 03/01/2017 by Rivkah Lambert Adler in Beliefs and Practices
If you live outside an Orthodox community, you may not be aware of how, in many (most? all?) Orthodox communities, people go...
JVO Panel  of Scholars
           
 
NOW ADD JVO CONTENT TO
YOUR WEBSITE A FREE SERVICE
 
Click here for instructions to embed the
JVO "JEW Q's" widget on your website.
 
Jewish Values Online | email: info@jewishvaluesonline.org

Home | Search For Answers | Ask A Question | About | Contact Us | OriginsUseful Links | Blog | Help | Site Map

Copyright 2014 all rights reserved. Jewish Values Online
 
N O T I C E
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN ANSWERS PROVIDED HEREIN ARE THOSE OF THE INDIVIDUAL JVO PANEL MEMBERS, AND DO NOT
NECESSARILY REFLECT OR REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF THE ORTHODOX, CONSERVATIVE OR REFORM MOVEMENTS, RESPECTIVELY.