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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Peter Knobel

Question: Is lust identified as the cause of masturbation in the Talmud or other rabbinic writings, or is masturbation considered as separate from lust? What do Jewish texts teach about these topics? [Administrator's note: Questions that are related to these topics are found at: http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=1074 & http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=153.]
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Question: How can a socially isolated Jew with Asperger syndrome find a Jewish soulmate? [Administrator's note: A related question can be found on Jewish Values Online at: http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=860]
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Question: My beloved mother, 97 years old, is in intensive care in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I am in Canada, and also sick with bronchitis. My question is: if she seems to be ready to pass (go to olam habah) and wants me to come see her before that happens, but I am not able to go, what should I do. [What obligations do I have to honor my mother's wishes when it affects my own health?]
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Question: My mother was Jewish (I didn't know her) my father gentile. Does that make me Jewish? Also what does that make my son and daughters?
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Question: I would like to name my daughter Ava. My grandfather's (living) name is Avraham but his nickname is Ava. Would it be okay to name my daughter Ava if it's a variation of grandpa's name? (Ashkenazi tradition). [See also the following questions already on Jewish Values Online: http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=59, http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=184, http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=840. Administrator]
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Question: Ethically, should an observant (traditional or trthodox) Jewish man attend a shiva minyan when it is not known if there will be a mechitzah (divider separating the genders during prayers)? If there isn't one, can he still attend & be counted, even if he doesn't daven (pray)?
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Question: I recently lost my 23 year old son to an unintended drug overdose. My family is all beyond consolation. He did not "appear" to have a drug problem. He was living with his family post-college, in which he did well. He never pushed himself or really had goals, but he was so bright he always excelled. He held down a full time job after graduation, but he was caught 6 months ago stealing medication and other things in the home. He constantly lied to everyone. He started taking substances in his room and appearing "totally wasted". I started to get into conflicts with him over this not being acceptable. I consulted experts about what I should do. For his stealing I wanted him to show remorse and take responsibility for his actions by helping people less fortunate than himself - I wanted him to do do volunteer work at a hospice for people dying of AIDS, to maybe lessen his selfish self-destructive behavior, and because I thought he might learn what the fruits of drug abuse are. My wife said I was too severe on her baby,and a hospice was depressing. I wanted him to get in touch with Jewish culture and values. My wife laughed at me. I arranged for him to see a psychiatrist, but she did not learn enough about him in 6 months to help him. I am furious at my wife for undermining my efforts to help him. No one will know if my efforts would have have helped. But maybe they would. My wife refuses to say she might bear any responsibility for what happened because she sabotaged my efforts to help him.We have been married 35 years and have one living child, a 21 year girl who is much that our son was not. More pious than me. A scholar who hopes to go soon to medical school. She studied Hebrew and Yiddish and speaks to family in Yiddish. I know that I am just so angry, etc. Am I being unfair to my wife? Does it make any difference if she takes responsibility for prior actions? Unfortunately, it was never her nature to own up to the things she did. What should I do now?
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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?
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Question: How do you fulfill a sense of obligation and emotional ties when a person is narcissistic and self-serving?
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Question: Recently, certain whiskey distillers in Scotland made a decision to boycott Israeli products. Is a boycott the best/most effective response to a boycott? Is there a better way for Jewish leadership to guide their constituents to express their unhappiness or displeasure with a decision?
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Question: I am uncomfortable to the degree to which the Holocaust is used to justify [the existence of the modern state of] Israel. I feel the linkage between the two is often overplayed. Is there a way to remember the Holocaust and also fully justify the Jewish homeland without necessarily always linking the two?
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Question: I'm very torn about recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, and Jordan. On one hand, I'm thrilled that the Arab world is finally insisting on democracy. On the other hand, I am disheartened by the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment I see reported from these democracy seekers. Who are we, as Jews, supposed to "root" for? Seekers of fairness, or what is best "for the Jews"? (I feel awful even asking the question - there should be no difference in the two ideas.).
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Question: How can Jewish values help us repent for our sins?
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Question: What does Judaism say about intermarriage? What if the couple intends to raise their child to be Jewish?
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The KKK, a Black Musician and the Bible

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