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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Mark Dratch

Question: Is Non-Dairy Vegan 'cheese' Parve? Can you mix Non-Dairy Vegan Cheese with meat and have it considered kosher?
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Question: I have a question that I need to have cleared up. Since I was a little girl, I have not wanted children. I don't feel comfortable around them, and I just cant seem to wrap my head around kids at all. The problem comes in with the commandment of "be fruitful and multiply." What should I do and what does Judaism say about this situation? [Administrator's note: a related question is found on JVO at http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=185.]
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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: Do you think it’s important to give the Haredi fanatics a different name and not call them “Haredim” or “ultra-Orthodox?” Those names imply they are extra observant and pious, which clearly they are not. Wouldn’t this also help differentiate between the fanatics and more moderate Haredim?
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Question: Where does Hoshana Rabba come from? What are its traditions? Why do we celebrate it?
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Question: Please can you help me understand the modern meaning of the word 'chayav' (to be guilty of a transgression / to owe someone something) and give examples. Can you tell me whether such a word appears in the Tanakh (Bible)?
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Question: Kosher is kosher. But is there a moral or ethical problem with eating a kosher food that very closely resembles a non-kosher food? What about the issue of “marat ayin?”
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Question: What are the Jewish laws regarding respect and treatment of one's siblings?
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Question: If a person advanced money for the care of his mother [parent], can he then say that he wants the whole sum returned, and not agree to be part of a 4 way division of the estate to the four siblings? This would effectively mean that he would not contribute at all towards the costs of the care of his mother, because he is charging his siblings for the cash he forwarded to the estate to pay for the care of his mother. Is that money he does not pay considered interest, and would it be excessive usury (25%) and not allowed? What do Jewish values say about this situation? CLARIFICATION: This is the fuller scenario: My mother a'h' was hospitalized and then sent to a nursing home where we supplied extra aides for the night shift to watch her. It was very costly. I suggested to my 3 siblings that we should sell my mothers house, or take out a mortgage or an equity loan or a reverse mortgage on her home to cover these costs. My brother said no, he would not do that. I pointed out that our mother had a house, social security, some other money, and a rental income from a lease on the first floor of the home, so no one should be responsible to pay from their pocket for her care because she has income and can afford it herself. He (on his own) decided to shell out the cost of her care from his own pocket, rather than take it out of the value of the property. The total bill for expenditure that he gave out from 2004 till 2008 was $300,000 for aides in the home. Now skip to the present. Mother died in 2008. It turns out that my brother had been given a power of attorney over the property, though he did not tell us this. We want to settle the estate. We finally sold the house. He wants the whole sum of money he shelled out paid back to him, before we settle. The result would be that he would not pay his one-fourth share of the $300,000 costs ($300,000 divided by 4=$75,000). He refuses to accept anything less than the $300,000 amount because he shelled out the total amount, and now he says he is exempt from paying his share for the care of my mother. In other words, effectively, he is charging the estate $75,000 dollars for the use of his money, or a fee of one-fourth (25%). Is this legitimate per Jewish law (Halachah)?
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Question: What do you do when work ethics conflicts with social responsibility?
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Question: Are we, the Jewish people, doing enough to help the aging population of Holocaust survivors?
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Question: What does the Torah say about personal injury?
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Question: Tea Party adherents claim global warming is a myth. As politicians spread such lies, and during an election year when odds are likely that Republicans will gain ground in Congress, the danger that fewer government programs will be put in place to combat climate change becomes more and more real. As Jews, how can we help to share scientific truths about global warming and continue to do our duty to repair the world?
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Question: I am a nurse working 12 hr. shifts at night. When I began my current job my hiring boss allowed me to work 8 hr. nights on Saturday night, then two twelve hour nights Sunday and Monday. So I was always able to observe Shabbat because I didn't have to work until 11pm on Saturday night. Then that manager retired. Since then the eight hour shifts were eliminated. I must be off Tues. nights to prepare for lessons on Wednesday nights as I teach Hebrew school on Wednesdays. I requested to be off Tues, Weds, Fri, Sat. I was told I could have either Fri night or Sat. night off but not both. Since I am a nurse- and sick people don't take "time off", then as another Jewish friend reassures me, am I doing "divine work?" I happen to be Reform. I chose Fridays off so I can usher in Shabbat, but have to be at work by 6 pm on Saturday. What does Judaism say about this situation?
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Question: In the past few decades, there have been more concerns about over-population and the risks it brings to the environment and people. When I raised such a concern to a friend (also Jewish) of mine, he accused me of not trusting in G-d. My concern is that having too many children reduces the standard of living for everyone and ruins the gifts G-d has given us. Where is the balance between "be fruitful and multiply" and protecting our world as well as the people in it? Does adoption fulfill the mitzvah of multiplying?
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Question: I have lived as an Orthodox Jew for the past 20 years, and while I love the frum (observant) community and lifestyle, I have no desire to have children. I find them annoying. If I let my feelings be known in the community I won't get set up on dates. Why am I being forced to lie about liking kids? What should I do?
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Question: We were once strangers in a strange land, but what does Judaism have to say about the U.S.'s immigration policies? Is the recent Arizona law in keeping with Jewish views?
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Question: The Torah and Midrashim tell us stories of Jewish fighters defending themselves and the Jewish people. What do contemporary Rabbis say about self defense and gun control in the present?
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Question: Should a Jewish person cremate a Jewish spouse, if that is their desire?
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Question: Is there a Jewish-specific perspective to the recent oil spill in the gulf? In general, what is the Jewish view on the importance of our environment? Are we obligated to respond - either financially, socially, or otherwise - in a manner different than non-Jews?
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Question: Are there any limitations about having sex during marriage? Is it ok to use birth control?
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Question: From a Jewish perspective, what level of personal honesty is required for a job interview and application? For example, if they ask you “have you ever taken drugs?" and I tried them once in college, do I have to admit to this?
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LATEST BLOGS  view all blog entries

Don’t Judge a Man by his (Head) Cover

Posted on 06/23/2017 by Moshe Daniel Levine in Beliefs and Practices
The other day I was asked if I will wear a kippah for the rest of my life. I immediately answered, “I think so”,...

If You Will It, It Is No Drum

Posted on 06/20/2017 by Rivkah Lambert Adler in Beliefs and Practices
Arguably, the most famous dreamer in the Bible is Yosef (Joseph) who not only had big dreams of his own, but who was gifted...

Sexism At Shul

Posted on 06/19/2017 by Deb Morbeto in Beliefs and Practices
When one looks at most major world religions through the lens of the female, it is not long until the words sexist or sexism...

The Noble Path of the Modern Prophet

Posted on 06/15/2017 by Moshe Daniel Levine in Beliefs and Practices
To be completely honest, I do not think that Halacha is something that must be followed in every instance. There are plenty...

Choices That Change The World

Posted on 06/12/2017 by Guest Blogger in Beliefs and Practices
by Ruti Eastman “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” – Randy Pausch, The...

The Wonder Woman of the Torah

Posted on 06/11/2017 by Dina Newman in Beliefs and Practices
Today’s film scene is swarming with superheroes. DC Comics and Marvel have moved from the pages of comic books to the...
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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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