Jewish Life

Yahrzeit Observance

Dear Rabbi, What is the significance of the anniversary of the death (known as yahrzeit, literally “year’s time”) of a parent? David Dear David TY for your Q, which touches on both philosophy and practice (albeit not strictly speaking in the realm of halakhah, Jewish Law). Philosophically, the concept of yahrzeit reflects our belief in the immortality of the soul,…

Yahrzeit Observance #2

Dear R Simon, Following on from last week’s Q&A on the significance of yahrzeit, is there a non-kabbalistically inclined take on this? For example, I recall hearing that kaddish only became associated with mourning in the medieval period. Also the idea that some say kaddish with their own psychological benefit in mind, as opposed to an elevation for the neshamah…

Time for Tallit and Tefillin

Dear Rabbi Simon, I was surprised to read in the KC recently that you recommend waiting until 45 minutes before sunrise for Tallit & Tefillin, not just because this is much later (ie stricter) than other published times for the NW London communities, but also because you yourself use the more commonly accepted 72 minute limit when you begin fasts…

Leading Kabbalat Shabbat Prayers

Dear Rabbi Simon, What is your opinion on an under-age boy (ie, not yet bar mitzvah) leading the tefillah for Kabbalat Shabbat? Even though it might not be preferable nor encouraged, is there an issue with that? All the best! Justin Dear Justin, TY for your Q. Inasmuch as the Kabbalat Shabbat service is not part of the essential prayers…

Bat Mitzvah girls reading from the Torah

Dear Rabbi Simon, What is your take on this whole new feminism drive sweeping across Modern-Orthodox Judaism? It has become popular in my community for Bat Mitzvahs (there’s been a few I know of recently) for the girl to Lein from the Torah at Shabbat Mincha, with the condition of less than 10 men present. They claim that halakhically this…

Exercise class in a church hall

Dear Rabbi Simon, Please can you tell me if one may go to an exercise class in a church hall?  If so, would that still be the case even if there’s a cross (crucifix) on the wall? Deborah Dear Deborah, As a rule, entering the sanctuary of a church is to be strictly avoided. (I will not dwell on those…

Time-Lapse Challah

Dear Rabbi Simon I was baking challah today and I became distracted and forgot to perform the mitzvah of hafrashat challah (separating the designated portion) from the dough. I only realised my oversight after the challot came out of the oven (gorgeous and begging to be tasted). Help! Can I still eat/serve/enjoy these challot? Donna Dear Donna All is not…

Holding on to Good Health

Dear Rabbi Simon, As you know I recently turned 60 and was pleased to receive my Oyster bus/tube pass. Another marker on the road to seniority, however, was the NHS bowel cancer screening test kit which arrived in the post within a few days of my birthday. As far as I know I am healthy in this area. My question…

Questions & Answers
this week

Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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