Jewish Life

Saying a Beracha in the Lavatory

Dear Rabbi Simon As I understand it, we say berachot (blessings) such as asher yatzar (recited after using the privy) outside of the toilet room itself. But in Tractate Berachot the gemara discusses in detail where we can/can’t say berachot and it seems more lenient i.e if there is waste/foul smell then we don’t say Keriat Shema etc. If that…

Biblical Meditation

Dear Rabbi Simon Are there any specific examples of meditation among biblical personalities? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Ed Dear Ed, Thank you for your question. Many commentators regard meditation as a propaedeutic to and potentially a means of achieving prophecy. In this view, the great prophets would have practiced meditation as a means of achieving prophetic inspiration. For…

Holiday Plans: Tefillah in a Chapel

Dear Rabbi Simon We are planning to rent a large house with a few families this summer. There is a chapel in the house. Are we permitted to Daven in the chapel?  From what I understand, there are no crosses (Christian icons) in it. Thanks, Holly Dear Holly, Since the house (stately home/mansion) you are renting is available to the public as a…

Number Crunching

The Parashah BaMidbar describes a detailed census of the Jewish People one year after the Exodus. Here is a related Q&A. Dear Rabbi Simon Regarding Parashat Bamidbar and Shavuot, I had a question on the number of people during Yetziat Mitzraim (the Exodus). The numbers we most find is that 600K men over the age of 20 (and under 60)…

Saying a Beracha without a Kippah

Dear Rabbi Simon If one doesn’t have a head covering, should he refrain from saying berakhot (blessings, eg on food or beverage) altogether? Thanks Baruch Dear Baruch, This is a vexing question for any rabbi (or lay person, for that matter). While wearing a kippah per se is a conventional Jewish form of attire, but not mandatory, reciting a berakhah…

Shemita Question

Dear Rabbi Simon I have a shemita question: I accidentally bought a bunch of Israeli basil which is now in my fridge . What should I do with it? Many thanks Rosemary Dear Rosemary, Thank you for your question. Basil is subject to the law of sefichin, which essentially means one should not eat it, as produce of the field (as…

From the Mouths of Babes

Dear Rabbi Simon How do you answer a child of 3 when he tells you that “I speak to Hashem but He does not answer me”? Many thanks, Dov Dear Dov, Thank you for practical question, at the crossroads of philosophy and חינוך. Based on the limited information you provide, I suggest you encourage him to continue to speak to…

Kosher Bread Options

Dear Rabbi Simon A post-Pesach question: are we allowed to have fresh farm bread if no access to kosher bread? Thanks, Brad Dear Brad Thank you for your question. In certain countries (such as France, Switzerland and elsewhere) baguettes and similar are baked without objectionable additives or even release agents such as oil or shortening which may be animal-derived. These…

School Project on Judaism

Note: This question was submitted by three students at an exclusive public school. Future influencers? Who can say? Dear Rabbi Simon We are doing a project on Judaism for school. We were wondering about your opinion surrounding the following questions: How internally diverse is Judaism (eg. race, sexuality, gender)? How much does Judaism evolve and change in the modern day?…

Kosher Kitchen Upgrade

Dear Rabbi Simon We need to replace our cooker (oven and stove top), and I was wondering what the best options are from a kashrut perspective. I know a self-cleaning oven is useful for Pesach, but is a catalytic liner acceptable (as opposed to pyrolytic)? I understand that with pyrolytic, the grease builds up on the coating, and gets burned…

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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