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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Joshua Finkelstein

Question: My daughter has a child with a non-Jewish man with whom she has since split. She leads a totally non-Jewish life, although she comes for Seder, etc. Her own father, who died at the age of 24, was not Jewish. I have since married a Jewish man. I truly hope and wish that my daughter ends up with a Jewish man, but given her choice of lifestyle I do not see how this can ever happen. Should I give up hoping and accept that this is a lost cause? She is my only child and I sense that she feels lost and is unhappy. All she wants is to have a family life. My own father was the only father figure in her life, but he died when she was six years old. I blame myself entirely for this situation as I was hardly a good example.
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Question: What are the differences (if any) between an Orthodox (Traditional) marriage ceremonies and a Progressive (Liberal) marriage ceremony?
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Question: How does the Jewish concept of justice fit in with the Mitzvah of Pidyon Shvuyim (redemption of prisoners/captives)? The Israeli government has in past freed many prisoners who killed Jewish soldiers and civilians in exchange for one or a few soldiers who were captured. Is letting these murderers and terrorists go an aberration of justice, or do the ends justify the means?
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Question: What is the Jewish thought behind revenge, and how does that apply to the recent decision to boycott a certain whiskey distiller is Scotland because they boycotted Israeli products? "You boycott us, we boycott you" is not necessarily a Jewish response.
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Question: I am reading my kids the biography of Benjamin Franklin and am completely in awe of his accomplishments and morality; He would write down his flaws at the end of every day. Can you give me names of any Jewish role models in the last 400 years with similar credentials to share with my kids as well?
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Question: I have two boys close in age who are constantly fighting. I know this is normal, but I have tried everything. The normal rewards and punishments don't work. I was wondering if there were any Jewish-values-based approach to sibling rivalry that I might try as a parent, or that I might try to tell the boys; Perhaps something "Divine" will have more of an effect....
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Question: I am completely disgusted with Israel’s politicians behaving so self-interestedly. But I am afraid to say anything about it in conversations with non-Jews for fear of further tarring Israel with a bad image. How open can I be in political conversations about Israel, and does it matter who I am speaking to?
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Question: Do you think a new Canaanite Movement, a la Yonatan Ratosh, could be appropriate for our times? Why not?
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Question: Can you explain what is written in these new (Orthodox and other) marriage “prenups” that more and more young religious people seem to be signing? Is this in line with Jewish law? Is it appropriate to contemplate the end of the marriage before it even begins in Jewish thought?
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Question: A more religious neighbor does not allow her housekeeper of 5 years to turn on her stove when cooking for her; she says it breaks some law of non-Jews cooking for Jews. Can you possibly explain this very offensive rule? Is my neighbor correct?
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Question: What does the Torah say about personal injury?
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Question: A lot’s been made of our constant interaction with information. Does Judaism have anything to say about powering down from computers, cell phones and the like?
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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: President Obama's administration was talking about possibly needing to reduce Social Security benefits and raise the retirement age to combat the deficit. What does the Jewish faith say about taking care of our society's elderly?
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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: People generally think their sins are committed against others and ask for forgiveness. This forgiveness does not always enable one to forgive themselves. How does one deal with forgiveness of yourself? And the guilt that may come along with doing or not doing that?
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