Rabbi, I have a problem

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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Should I protest on behalf of others?

January 12, 2012

Question: I am a teacher at a Jewish school and recently took part in the one-day strike. I had some qualms and I am fortunate that the changes in pension provision will not adversely affect me. But I felt I had to make a stand on behalf of colleagues. Was I right?

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Which husband should I be buried next to?

December 1, 2011

Question: My first husband died after a very happy marriage together, which produced two children. After some time, I remarried and have been blessed with an equally happy marriage. When the time comes, which husband should I be buried next to?

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Should you recite a blessing over earthquakes

November 3, 2011

Question: A friend of mine said there is a blessing you can make if you hear thunder — which is also said on experiencing a hurricane or earthquake. But how can one make a berachah over events that wreak devastation and cause massive loss of life?

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Is the Book of Life just a metaphor or something we are required to believe literally?

September 27, 2011

Question: I am stirred by the sound of the shofar and some of the melodies in synagogue at Rosh Hashanah. But what I find hard to take is the idea that God will decide our fate for the rest of the year. Is the Book of Life just a metaphor or something we are required to believe literally?

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