Rabbi, I have a problem

Do I have a religious duty to support Israel?

December 27, 2012

Question: I am proud to be Jewish and actively support a number of communal charities but I no longer have any feelings of affinity with the state of Israel. I have been told that is not compatible with being Jewish. But am I religiously obliged to support Israel?

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Are rabbis obliged to keep the confidentiality of Jews who confess to wrongdoing?

November 30, 2012

Question: I know Catholics observe the secrets of the confessional, but should rabbis be obliged to keep the confidence of Jews who confess to misdemeanours?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is the CEO of the Spiritual Capital Foundation.

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Should I wish an old person in mourning A Long Life?

November 1, 2012

strong> Question: I have often found it strange or uncomfortable to wish mourners “a long life” if they are already old, or unwell, or are relatively young but clearly devastated by the loss of their partner. Are there alternative Jewish greetings that I could use?

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Should I forgive my ex-husband who deserted his family?

September 13, 2012

Question: After my marriage broke up, my ex-husband had little contact with me or my young daughter and never paid the maintenance he was supposed to. Now many years later he has become more religious and wants us to forgive him. But I am not interested, unless he compensates us for the money he owes us.

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Should I make my son go to shul after barmitzvah?

By Simon Rocker, August 10, 2012

Question: My son recently had his barmitzvah but now he feels that since he goes to a Jewish secondary school, he has enough Judaism during the week and no longer wants to go to shul. How do I convince him otherwise?

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Should I wash my hands after a funeral?

July 6, 2012

Question: On leaving a Jewish cemetery, I saw a notice instructing me to wash my hands on leaving and was told it was to wash away evil spirits. I can’t believe this could be true, but if it is, what are the evil spirits?(Question)

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Why is sex allowed on Shabbat?

June 8, 2012

Question: On Shabbat we are not allowed to put on a light or drive a car because they are regarded as acts of creation. So how can intimacy between husband and wife be encouraged on Friday night if that can lead to creating new life?(Question)

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Can I accompany my friend to a suicide clinic

April 27, 2012

Question: A friend whose parents both died of painful illnesses is suffering a debilitating terminal disease herself and wants to go to the Dignitas clinic to end her life. She has no close relatives and has asked me to go with her. But I feel torn between my own qualms about assisted dying and my duty to her.(Question)

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Can I mark my son's death on the anniversary of the English, rather than the Hebrew date?

March 22, 2012

Question: My son died several years ago on June 24, and although I know the Hebrew yahrzeit is Tammuz 9, this dates holds very little significance for me whereas June 24 always stays in my mind. Is it permissible to observe the English date instead?(Question)

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Can we run a Saturday book club in shul?

February 23, 2012

Question: Someone at our synagogue has proposed that we run a book club on Saturday morning as an option to the main service in order to attract more secular people to shul. Is this a good idea or taking the idea of an alternative service too far?

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