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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel

Question: I don't understand why meat and dairy can't touch. Logically, dairy comes from animals, so it already touched. How can this be explained? [Admninistrator's note: Several other questions already answered touch on this: http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=26 http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=39 http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=136 http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=953 and http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=1122.]
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Question: This question is based on a question posed to the "Ethicist" column in the "New York Times Sunday Magazine." My colleague at work spends most of his time posting to the website, Reddit. He could be posting information about his boss or work environment that could jeopardize his employment. In any case, I believe he is too immature and ill suited for our profession. Do I have an obligation to tell him that this behavior could hurt his career?
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Question: In the Torah parsha (selection for reading) Yitro, the Torah tells us that Jethro took Moses' wife, Tziporah and their two sons, and sent them home. I once heard a teacher explain in a homiletical way that this was an example of Moses being a bad father. Is there other evidence to support this? Is there evidence to support the opposite?
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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?
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Question: The Chofetz Chaim (of blessed memory) states that a Torah written by a heretic must be burned. At an economic loss of $15,000 upwards, is it permissible ethically and according to Jewish values to make full disclosure of the defects of such a Torah, and sell it under those conditions to a Conservative or Reform (or any) congregation that is in need of one? It is assumed that the text of the Torah itself is without error or shmad (heretical defect).
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Question: What is Tu b'Av? Do we celebrate it today? What is the significance of the day?
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Question: I have been self employed for over 6 years and have been trying to find full-time work that would provide me a consistent cash flow. I am a Conservative Jew born to Orthodox parents. I mention all of this background because I have a company who is about to make me a job offer; however, they are in the business of manufacturing crab cakes. Would it be wrong for me to work for a company that produces non-kosher products even though I try to maintain a kosher life style for myself? I truly could use the job assuming an offer is made to me, but I am worried that this would be viewed as unethical or immoral. Can someone let me know what Judaic Law says about such actions? [Administrator's note: some related questions on JVO can be found at: http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=944 http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=847 http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=444 http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=850]
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Question: I have a question concerning sexuality: My wife likes harder sex and other things like that from time to time (but nothing extreme). What to do?
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Question: I would like to invite my sons girlfriend to accompany us on a vacation. They are twenty-year-old college students. There will be three adult mothers and their young adult children all-staying in the same five-bed room rented house. My sons girl friend is the only person who will not have a parent along for the trip (the girlfriend's parents are not part of the trip). Is it appropriate for a young Jewish woman to be invited in this circumstance, or is asking her placing her in an improper situation? I must add that both of these young adults are smart, mature people and wise well beyond their years. What does Judaism say about this? Thank you for your insight.
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Question: There seems to be a tension between the Jewish mitzvah (commandment) concerning marriage (and subsequently being fruitful), and the concept of love (specifically romantic love, as defined in terms of western thought and literature). In times and places where arranged marriages are/were the norm, this was not a concern, but in modern day America, it seems to be a live issue. Is it the view of Judaism that it is more important to marry to fulfill the commandment - even if one does not love that mate, or should one not marry without love even though the mitzvah seems clear that it is obligatory? What does Judaism say, not only halachically (in Jewish law), but ethically and in terms of Jewish values?
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Question: Is revenge or vengeance permissible in Judaism? Has the view of this changed over time?
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Question: I was wondering. I've heard different things from different people, and was told a lot of different opinions. In Judaism, among Jews, what is considered as 'losing your virginity', particularly for a girl? I've always viewed it to be when a girl's hymen is broken by a man in a sexual act, but some people have been telling me otherwise. So my question is, 'What constitutes 'losing your virginity' for a girl?' What would change her status from 'virgin' to not?
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Question: Does Judaism have any thoughts on press issues such as the Wikileaks fiasco? In Jewish thought, when does freedom of the press and the public's right to know become a security threat? This issue has come up again recently with the arrest and trial of Julian Assange, and other leaks of other government documents from various sources. What does Judaism say about this?
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Question: My mother is 90 years old, in frail health but of sound mind. Last year, one of her 3 grandchildren and the youngest of my 2 sons died in an accident at age 29. My son and my mom were close. As an adult, my son moved to another state but made a point of visiting every few years. He has remained in contact with regular phone calls and other correspondence. My sister has demanded that my mother not be informed of my son's death. She argues that my mother will die in a few years anyway and so should be spared the sad news, and that the grieving process could hasten my mom's death. "Let mom die in peace." I've complied with my sister's demands. Whenever my mom asks me about my son, my rehearsed response is "Your grandson loves you dearly." But as time passes without contact from my son, I'm concerned that my mom has concluded that my son has lost interest in his grandmother. For my mom's sake, I'm uncomfortable with keeping her in the dark. But I'm also conflicted. I miss my son so very much. To include my mom in my own grieving would benefit me. After all, she is my mom. Any ideas?
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Question: My wife and I are thinking about how our children should dispose of our bodies once we have passed. Having no love for the traditional methods, we went in search of alternatives. We discovered a body farm. In this method the bodies are staked out (often) in the open on a protected plot of land so that they might be studied concerning natural decay, then the information gathered is used for forensic studies and training concerning murder investigations and other such things. We like the idea of this for two reasons: First, it helps to assist the living, and second, it returns the bodies to the earth in the quickest way possible. We will not go any further in this plan without guidance. Can you help? [Administrators Note: There is a related question on the importance of burial in a Jewish cemetery in the JVO database at http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=223. The concept of a body farm was foreign to me and I had to research it. There are multiple in the US at this time. They are used for training purposes, as the question states. However, the bodies are not always placed on the ground: some are buried, partially buried, covered with materials, placed in shade or sunlight or under water, and so on. The bodies are then examined at various intervals ranging from daily to weekly to monthly, depending on what is being studied, and photographs and samples are taken. This is not, strictly speaking, a completely natural decay process, as it may include exhumation and sampling multiple times.It is certainly not a traditional burial, and the body does not remain undisturbed.]
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Question: Is the divide between the ultra-Orthodox and other denominations (modern orthodox, conservative and reform) too great to promote a better understanding and respect between each other?
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Question: Why do we say baruch dayan haemet when someone dies?
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Question: We are told in the Torah that certain actions will cause karet, i.e., that the person will be cut off from the nation. What about those Haredi fanatics who are harassing people and vandalizing property? Shouldnt that earn them karet as well? Why should they continue to be part of our nation?
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Question: How can we try to be respectful and understanding of the ultra-Orthodox when they are at the forefront of hostile activities like rioting at places which are open on Shabbat and fairly recently, vandalizing a girls school in Bet Shemesh because it bordered their neighborhood?
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Question: The problem of agunot ('chained' women - those who cannot get a divorce from their former husbands to allow them to move on with their lives) continues to plague our society. Why isnt there a halachic (Jewish law) way to grant a woman a get (divorce decree) without the consent of her husband? Or is there? [Administrator's note: This topic has come up in past, and there are other, related questions on the JVO website that should be viewed in connection with this one for a fuller range of responses.]
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Question: Why is there a tradition to say chapters of Tehillim when someone is ill?
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Question: Is it okay for an unmarried 22 year old couple to sleep together in the same bed, in the same room as the woman's 11 year old brother?
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Question: I am taking a college course on Politics and Religion. Why don't Jews, like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and other faiths go out and spread the word?
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Question: My mother and I are presently having an issue about tznius. I wear long skirts and when skirts are just past the knee or a little longer, I wear pants underneath. I also prefer to wear long sleeves rather than 3/4 sleeves, and I generally do not wear red. My mother thinks that all this is unnecessary, and won't let me out of the house in more than two layers during the summer, although I never get overheated. If I feel that dressing this way is essential to my Judiasm, do I have to listen to my mother?
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Question: If a child (teenager or older) chooses to observe mitzvot differently than their parents, does a parent have a right to try to persuade them otherwise? Where is the line? What if the child wants to observe tzniut (modesty) or a level of kashrut (dietary laws) with more stringency?
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Question: God warns us explicitly not to follow in the ways of the other nations. How does this apply to our custom to give gifts on Chanukah, which seems to have been taken from the very not Jewish tradition of giving gifts on Christmas?
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LATEST BLOGS  view all blog entries

Is There Anything All Jews Share?

Posted on 08/21/2017 by Moshe Daniel Levine in Beliefs and Practices
We are in the middle of an age of intense disagreement. Between politics, religion, and other public topics - it seems that...

The Hate That Is Being Revived Before Our Eyes

Posted on 08/17/2017 by Carol Silver Elliott in Beliefs and Practices
My father was born in Poland, born at a time when anti-Semitism was not just prevalent, it was a fact of life. Yet while Dad...

Criticizing Critics of Biblical Criticism

Posted on 08/14/2017 by Moshe Daniel Levine in Beliefs and Practices
One of the reasons why I love the Jewish blogging world so much is that at any given time there is a whole array of topics...

Social Media and God

Posted on 08/14/2017 by Moshe Daniel Levine in Beliefs and Practices
It is easy to tell what a society is deeply worried about by the entertainment it produces. In this case, it is clear that...

National Despair

Posted on 07/27/2017 by Rabbi Ben Hecht in Holidays
During these Three Weeks which we are presently experiencing on the Jewish calendar, we are not just marking the historical...

Intermarriage: The Beginning of the End

Posted on 07/23/2017 by Moshe Daniel Levine in Beliefs and Practices
Believe me, I completely understand why a Jewish community would want to do away with the ethnocentric notion of Jewish...
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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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