Rabbi, I have a problem

Should I put my mother-in-law in a home?

By Simon Rocker, December 27, 2013

Question: My husband wants his frail mother to come and live with us. But she is a cantakerous old woman who I believe will be a disruptive presence in our house. I know we’re supposed to respect our elders but for the good of our family, I believe that she should go into a home. What should I do?

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Should I split my estate equally between my children?

December 1, 2013

Question: I am an elderly widow with children. I have been thinking of revising my will to give a larger share to one child who has done more to care for me and is less well-off than her siblings. But I am worried this could lead to resentment in the family after my death. What should I do?

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What can I do if I am haunted by a dybbuk?

October 6, 2013

Question: A few weeks ago I started being pursued by an angry dybbuk who whispers curses at me and sometimes manifests itself as a menacing grey form. Please tell me how I can get rid of it. Is there anyone who knows how to perform an exorcism?

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What kind of message does the story of the binding of Isaac send?

September 4, 2013

Question: I have always been troubled by the story of the binding of Isaac, which we read on Rosh Hashanah. Its moral seems to be that we must be prepared to put obedience to God’s will above reason and compassion. What kind of message can it have for Jews today?

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Is it more important for a chazan to have a good voice than be observant?

By Simon Rocker, August 4, 2013

Question: Our synagogue services are often led by one of our most respected members, but he no longer has much of a voice. Some of us would prefer someone who can sing better, even if he is less observant. Are we right to want a change?

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Should my daughter go to a Woman of the Wall service?

June 30, 2013

Question: My daughter who is spending time in Israel told me she is planning to attend a service held by Women of the Wall. I don’t believe she should be getting involved in such divisive issues but I have been unable to dissuade her.

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Should I give charity only to Zionist causes in Israel?

By Simon Rocker, May 19, 2013

Question: A very Orthodox man came to our door collecting for a school which helps special needs children in Israel. I asked if the institution were Zionist; he said no, so I would not give a donation. Was I right to stand by my political principles or should I have set them aside and given something?

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Should I recite Hallel with the blessings on Yom Ha'atzmaut?

By Simon Rocker, April 8, 2013

Question: Our synagogue has been debating whether it is appropriate to recite Hallel for Yom Ha’atzmaut Day (Israel Independence Day) and if so, whether it should be said with the berachot?

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Is it permissible to have a child through egg donation?

March 4, 2013

Question: We have been trying to have a child for several years and, after numerous fertility treatments, have been told that egg donation is our only option. But we are worried that our child will not be accepted as part of the Jewish community. I am halachically Jewish, but the donor is not?

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Should we oppose our son marrying-out or accept his choice of partner?

February 4, 2013

Question: We are a middle-of-the road Orthodox, shul-going family. My son, who is in his mid-30s, has met a non-Jewish girl he’d like to marry. Although she is willing to let any children be brought up as Jewish, we are still unhappy. Should we try to discourage the relationship or try to make the best of things?

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