Rabbi, I have a problem

Can we drink whisky in shul on Simchat Torah?

October 17, 2008

Question: On Simchat Torah, our shul has always had kiddush early with whisky available for the rest of the service. But now our spoilsport new executive thinks the drink is causing too much frivolity and wants to stop it. Surely having a little fun is part of the festival?

Rabbi Naftali Brawer

Naftali Brawer is rabbi at Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue.

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Should I receive aliyot in shul if I have stopped believing in Torah min hashamayim?

September 19, 2008

QUESTION: I stopped believing in Torah min hashamayim [the Torah comes from heaven] many years ago, but have continued to receive aliyot in shul. But now I am beginning to wonder if I ought to decline the offers, as I don't believe the berachot that I'm saying.

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Is it forbidden for Jews to enter a church?

August 22, 2008

QUESTION: My rabbi says it is forbidden for Jews to enter a church. But if we can't participate in interfaith visits, how can we promote understanding between different faiths?

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Can a mother be barred from her daughter's wedding?

July 25, 2008

QUESTION: A friend of mine did not want her mother at her wedding. When the mother turned up uninvited, she insisted that the rabbi bar her from the ceremony.  Was she right both not to invite or allow her in on the day?

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How do I introduce my two-year old grandson to Judaism?

June 20, 2008

QUESTION: I want my two-year-old grandson to understand and enjoy his Jewish heritage. But my wife — who converted — and I have never been religious in terms of practice or shul-going, although both of us are spiritual and believe in God. My daughter has similar non-religious views. How do I best help my grandson?

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Is there no alternative to kosher medicine?

May 16, 2008

QUESTION: My son is a lifelong vegetarian but he has serious digestive problems and a doctor recommended medication which happens to contain a pork extract. My son objects to an animal product per se and he finds the idea of pork particularly repugnant, but there seems no alternative. What do we do?

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Is it wrong to force a rabbi out?

April 10, 2008

QUESTION: A group of synagogue members is making life difficult for our rabbi and clearly wants to get rid of him. Surely it is wrong to try to force a rabbi out, and shouldn’t a rabbi enjoy tenure after a certain time?

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How do we stop our son from converting to Christianity?

February 21, 2008

QUESTION: Our son has been on a spiritual search for several years but he has just dropped a bombshell. He wants to convert to Christianity and we don’t know how to persuade him not to.

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Should I write off a debt?

January 10, 2008

QUESTION: Several years ago I loaned a relative a considerable amount of money. Not only has he not repaid me but he has not said a word to me about it or shown the slightest gratitude. Should I simply write off the debt, especially as it is now a shmittah (sabbatical) year?

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