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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Stuart Grant

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: I want to be cremated,but my sister is very upset with my decision as she thinks if one is cremated one loses one's soul whereas if one is buried she says we'd be united again in heaven. She is Orthodox and I am a Reform Jew. Does she have any validity according to Jewish law?
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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: When my frum therapist advises me to carry out my fantasies of female domination, when my wife's therapist agrees, when our couple therapist advises me not to fight against my inclination but to work this out with my wife, when the halacha allows it, when my love for my wife thru domination has never been so high, what should be the attitude of a frum Jew? Is it better to be machmir and try to be like everybody else, or to listen to the therapists who know me and my wife? What would Jewish values say I should do? Thank you for your answer.
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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?
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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?
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Question: My parents used to take me to visit my grandparents. It seems that today children want their parents to come to their home to see the grandkids .Must I visit my son's home to see his children? Should they not visit me with their kids? I was recently told "you know where we live," as if it is my obligation to go to them to see the grandkids. What does Judaism say about this?
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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?
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Question: I am a Jewish woman, as my mother is Jewish. My father is not Jewish. I was raised as a Conservative Jew. I am in a relationship with a modern orthodox man who is a Cohen (a descendant of Aaron, one of the High Priests). We want to marry, but we have been told there are restrictions on him marrying me, because in addition to other restrictions on Cohanim (High Priests), one of the restricted classes of women for Cohanim are those whose fathers are not Jewish. Can you please clarify this for me? Is this true? I have done a lot of reading and I keep seeing the restrictions for widow, divorcee, convert, but not for a Jewish woman whose father was not Jewish. Since my mother is Jewish and Judaism is a matrilineal religion - and I have read in some places Judaism doesn't even recognize the religion of the father - I am Jewish. If it is true that one of the marriage restrictions of the Cohanim is to a woman whose father is not Jewish, can you please advise on what we can do in our situation to marry?
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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?
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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: Sometimes my girlfriend and I discuss the possibility of having sex in public places, I am open to doing this but would like to get someone's thoughts. We do not intend to do it literally in front of people, we mean doing it in a dark corner of a night club or something where people can't really see but we are still in the public.
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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.]
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Question: I am a non-Jew who is considering proposing to my girlfriend, who is Jewish. She has said she wants to be married in a Jewish temple/synagogue. Are we able to be married there if I am not Jewish?
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Question: When a bad situation arises—for example, drought in Israel—we come together as a nation to pray or fast, hoping that will have some effect on the situation. There’s an assumption that it is our lack of good deeds (or our evil deeds) that is causing this to happen. Yet, conversely, when something good happens to the Jewish people, the rabbis never come out and say, “Wow, we must have done something great! Let’s institute a day of celebration!” Why the contradiction?
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Question: Do Jews believe in adoption? If so, if the child is raised a Jew, including having a bar mitzvah, will the child need to undergo Jewish conversion as an adult since he does not know if the birth mother was a Jew?
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Question: What is the Jewish tradition's position on interment in a mausoleum?
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Question: I sometimes find it difficult to contain my emotions in front of my child when I feel that certain teacher’s methods for teaching are damaging my child’s “self esteem”. I don’t want to teach my child that it is okay to speak disrespectfully about their teacher; at the same time I don’t want my child to think that improper actions by a teacher are acceptable. Any tips?
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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?
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Question: My daughter stopped speaking to me when I told her that she needed to start dieting and exercising . I feel that I followed the rule of treating others as I would like others to treat me. I'm very hurt by her actions. I refuse to apologize. Am I wrong?
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Question: We just got married, and I found out that my husband is suffering from impotency (impotence). If I didn't know about this prior to marriage, can this marriage be annulled? Isn't this a basic fact that I should have been told before I was asked to consent to marriage? What is the reason for marriage anyway, if not to have children?
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Question: What is the Jewish view on royalty and all its ceremonies? Watching the rotal wedding I was struck by how very worship-y it all seemed....
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Question: Why do some people hold 7 days of shiva for a close relative and some hold 3 days?
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Question: With Oscar season upon us, I find myself once again so disappointed in how much more my kids know about Hollywood than about their own culture and texts. My daughter has spent literally hours talking about what she thinks and has heard and read that the stars will wear. Any ideas of how to make Judaism glamorous / engaging for teens?
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Question: Today's business world is built on advertising and PR...From mainstream media, and down to google, with its tantalizing 25 character ads that have an entire industry built around them. Ads tell half truths...What do Jewish values say about being in advertising, PR, marketing, etc? If it's not totally false, but just "spin"...how bad is it?
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Question: My teenage son’s teacher (a young rabbi) has a Facebook account, where he jokes around with students, friends, and colleagues. He is a personable guy and has never posted anything truly inappropriate, but I still feel this level of familiarity and ‘jocularity’ with a teacher erodes boundaries. Am I simply being Old School? Or is there something strange about it?
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Question: I am very distressed about the very public racism coming from Israeli rabbis and their wives – about not selling houses to Arabs, or urging young Israeli women to stay far away from Arab men, who are ostensibly trying to entrap them. The language used was incendiary and completely racist. Is this really how Judaism wants us to relate to non-Jews?
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Question: Does Jewish law mandate universal health care?
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Question: I am offended by non-Jews who take on Jewish rituals. Is this right? It would seem to me that non-Jews would be offended if I took on their religious rituals as some kind of cultural form.
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Question: How far can one go in internet communications with another person without crossing a line and violating one’s vows to a spouse?
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Question: This is a question of Jewish law in a case pertaining to murder/killing in the course of a robbery. The defendant was in a bank and stabbed a guard with a knife; the guard died instantly. There were two witnesses, one of whom tried to warn the defendant that he would be subject to death if he killed the guard. However, the murderer did not acknowledge her warning. The other witness just stood idly by. If we are trying to offer a defense for the defendant, what would Jewish law say that might help do so?
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Question: What’s the tradition on the correct order of placing the Chanukah candles in the menorah and then lighting them in the reverse order?
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Question: The phrase "Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la-zeh" means "all Jews (or all the people of Israel) are responsible for one another." What is the best way to interpret this phrase today, that we are all responsible for the world's Jews, or that we are responsible for everyone in the world?
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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 regret? I'm not talking about regretting sins that I've committed, I'm talking about choices that I made and things I didn't do that I should have done that would have changed my life for the better. Thanks.
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Question: Can an observant Jew be a freemason?
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Question: A friend of mine committed suicide. He was not Jewish; I've heard that Christianity teaches that those who committed suicide will go to hell. What does Judaism say about it?
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Question: How can Jewish values help us become happy?
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Question: I heard that shomer negiah applies to siblings past the age of puberty and other family members. I do not understand why such a law should apply to people who are related. Can you please explain this to me?
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