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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Yair Robinson

Question: My fiance and I want to get married on a Saturday in the late afternoon (during Shabbat). We do not have any issues with this choice as we do not keep Shabbat. We are both Jewish. My father is orthodox and told us attending our wedding would be sacrilegious and would violate the sanctity of Shabbat, so he is not attending. He is not giving any reason beyond that. Is there anything in scripture that truly states a father cannot attend the wedding of his daughter if it is on Shabbat?
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Question: I am the Jewish Chaplain in a University in the U.K. Our graduation ceremony is held annually in our nearby city cathedral. The building is over 1000 years old and the experience is awe inspiring. One of my students is strictly orthodox and is concerned that he is not permitted to enter therein. He is also concerned that in entering the cathedral he will be walking through the attached cemetery where some of the graves are marked with a cross. He is not a Cohen so the cemetery prohibition does not apply. I would like to assure him that attendance by him and his parents will be permissible.
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Question: What does Judaism say about video games? What kind of video games are permitted? [Violence, Dystopian, Sexually oriented, War themed, mental challenges, problem solving, mazes, role-playing, logic,and others.]
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Question: What is the Jewish view on large age gaps in relationships? I am a widow, and it has been five years since my husband passed away. I am in my late 30s and have no children. I have recently started dating a man who is 25 years my senior. Most of my family thinks I am completely crazy for being interested in someone so much older than me. How does Judaism look at such relationships?
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Question: The following question is based on an inquiry to The Ethicist column in the Sunday New York Times Magazine. When there are scientific studies that point to the media having an impact on violent behavior, is it unethical to write, produce or direct violent films and TV shows?
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Question: If a Jewish family suffers the loss of a family member right before a holiday, for example, Rosh Hashanah, is it appropriate to wish them L'Shana Tova? How should that be handled?
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Question: My friend is Jewish. Her husband is not. I was at their home and now have a question. Is it kosher to celebrate Chanukah, lighting candles in front of a Christmas tree? I didn't know what to say!
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Question: May a non-Jewish lady give a single Jewish lady a prayer shawl (a tallit) as a gift?
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Question: I have a question for the rabbis. I am a non-Jewish male interested in marrying and starting a family with a Jewish woman. I am interested in converting to Judaism, but I have not done so yet. What are the implications of having kids with a Jewish woman prior to my converting to judaism and marrying her (my understanding is that I would need to convert before I could marry her)? The biological clock is ticking for kids (i.e., in late 30s). So, I am scared that if I take the time to convert first, then the Jewish woman might be too old to have kids when we get married. So, is it better to have kids first, then convert? Or, is there some kind of consequence for doing that that I am not aware of? That, is, if I get a Jewish woman pregnant without converting and marrying her first, does that bar me from converting to Judaism and marrying her later? Is there some kind of punishment for the Jewish woman in this situation (e.g., some kind of spiritual punishment like you go to gehenna or something bad)? Excuse my ignorance and the long question, but I am interested in the Jewish perspective on this. Thanks.
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Question: My mom says that I am mean to my sister, but it doesn't seem that way to me. Can you please advise? [JVO Kids:4-6]
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Question: I have a question for a rabbi. In a world where space is at a premium and I don't want to cause great financial strain for my family, why does Jewish tradition forbid me from choosing cremation as an option when I die? [JVO Kids: 4-6]
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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: Is there a Jewish point of view about respect for ancestors? Is there a name for it? How about all the dead, including non-Jews?
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Question: Is there anything we can (or should) do to combat the stereotypes and frequent misinformation about Jews in television and movies? Or does drawing even more attention to it just make it even worse?
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Question: Do varying Jewish perspectives on Revelation exist? Can one see Revelation as a human response to an event that defies a simple explanation? Where does rabbinic response or mediation create a contemporary response? What would these varying ideas imply as to how one lives their life?
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Question: My brother recently married a non-Jewish woman. I went to the wedding, not because I wanted to, but because my mother insisted I go. My husband and I sat in a corner with our kosher store-bought sandwiches (no kosher food in sight) and made a presence. It was a very uncomfortable evening, and has led to even more questions for me. I love my brother very much and want to be part of his life, but I truly do not want to be around his non-Jewish wife. We do not live in the same city, so it's not like we run into each other frequently, but I am not sure what I am supposed to do for the occasions that we do meet. I would consider myself modern Orthodox and my brother has gone beyond non-observant; he now considers himself an atheist. What is the Jewish view on these situations? Does one just try to be polite to the non-Jewish spouse to maintain a relationship with the Jewish family member? My husband and I hope to have a family soon. How do you handle exposing your children to something you are teaching them is wrong? I know the fact that I do not want to be at a table (or in the same room) as his wife hurts my mother tremendously (she does not like what my brother has done either, but fears losing him). Is my difficulty with my brother and his wife a lack of respect for my mother as her children cannot spend quality time together? I know there are several questions listed here. I thank you in advance for your assistance with this.
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Question: Are there Jewish values about being a vegetarian (not killing animals)?
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Question: How do Jewish values apply to this question, which appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Ethicist column. I am a single woman in my mid-20s. I recently learned from my dear friend that she has developed a longtime pattern of cheating on her husband of five years. I understand cheating happens for various reasons - but if I remain friends with her, am I condoning her ongoing behavior? If I am "anti-compulsive-cheating," do I therefore have to be "anti-her?" I value many aspects of our friendship, but don't see her (or my) views on philandering ever changing. What is the Jewish response to this?
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Question: In Megillat Esther, do we learn that a Jewish woman can utilize her G-d given charm and beauty for a good cause?
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Question: I would like to invite my sonís 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 sonís 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: 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 ďaloneĒ 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 revenge or vengeance permissible in Judaism? Has the view of this changed over time?
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Question: Is it a Jewish value to support the notion that government should do more to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor?
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Question: If a Jewish lady (or really anyone) will be away from home for the High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), and cannot attend services, what are the repercussions, if any, Is this a problem in regard to Jewish values or morals? Thank you.
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Question: My son married a woman who converted to Judaism through the London Beth Din. She now refuses to follow any Jewish practice. Is her conversion still valid? They have a baby boy who is now a year and a half; will he be considered Jewish? By the way she forbids me to have any contact with the child. She is highly unstable and also prevents my son from having any contact with me or his brothers. I am in regular email contact with him. We are a shomer mitzvot family, though I doubt my son keeps anything now.
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Question: During the High Holidays, in the process of teshuvah, we repent for past sins. I understand that in our (Jewish) view, repentance means that we are sorry for the sins that we have committed, we try to repair the injuries we have caused, we ask forgiveness from God and man, and we resolve to do better in the future. Christianity appears to have a very different idea of what it means to repent and atone for a sin, and how a sin is forgiven. Can you try to explain this difference, please (I understand that I am asking Jewish rabbis, and not Christians to speak to these differences)?
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Question: I live in the US southwest, where there are not a lot of Jews. I was raised in a place where it was the total opposite, and there were synagogues within walking distance. What are some suggestions for developing a closer relationship with G-d in my circumstances? In my opinion, everyone needs to work on their relationship with G-d. It seems funny, but I do not remember ever in Hebrew/religious school learning about the subject of how to develop a relationship with G-d when you already believe in G-d. What does Judaism tell us about this?
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Question: Is the true Jewish ideal to sit and learn Torah all day? What about when it's at the expense of earning a living and, in Israel at least, defending your country? When did the "kollel life" become the norm and not the exception? Didn't our ancestors, even from the time of the Bible, fight battles and hold down jobs?
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Question: My first wife and I divorced many years ago. My oldest son (from that marriage) sided with her at that time, and still has no contact with me today, more than twenty years later. What action, if any, is necessary on my part in order to rectify this situation?
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Question: A Jewish woman is getting married to a non-Jew. Her Jewish mother died many years ago, and the woman was raised (but not adopted) by her Jewish father and this now beloved non-Jewish 2nd wife/mother figure. Can this stepmothers name go on the ketubah, or must it be the birth mother? [Administrator's note: A closely related question can be found at http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=152]
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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!
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Question: There is a big problem, noted again recently in the media, in the ultra-Orthodox community of not reporting child abusers and protecting them, rather than the victims. What can we do to stop this, get the criminals arrested, and protect the innocent victims? Does this reflect Jewish values, and is it in line with Jewish moral behavior?
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Question: My Jewish brother is engaged to a Christian woman and will be getting married to her in a non-denominational wedding ceremony. My (nuclear) family is fairly observant and, agreeing with our rabbi, my wife and I decided that our children should not be exposed to this event. We planned that I would go to the wedding but my wife and young children (ages 11, 9 and 6) would not. My (non-observant) mother knows that the reason the children are not attending is because we don't want to expose them to a celebration of this intermarriage, and she has been giving my a lot of pressure to change my mind. I never told my brother the real reason because I didn't want him to feel like I was punishing him or for him to blame Judaism for the kids not going. I told him the reasons were financial and now I'm getting pressure from him too--he is offering to help pay for the plane tickets. I truly feel uncomfortable about the idea of the kids attending this wedding and celebrating this event which we are teaching them is wrong. On the other hand, I love my brother and I know how much he loves my children and I feel terrible about how disappointed he's going to be if they're not there. What other compromises can I, or should I, possibly make? How do I balance shalom bayit (peace in the home) with maintaining the integrity of the values we're teaching our children?
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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?
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Question: Is it religiously permissible in Jewish law for a(n) (Orthodox) Jewish woman to make derogatory statements about another Jew (i.e., listing the individual's full name) on a blog that is viewable by the entire public? Wouldn't this be lashon hara (evil speech) or motzei shem ra (causing a bad name), especially in such a large forum?
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