Jewish Life

Davening when Unwell

Dear Rabbi Simon, I have a question that is quite pertinent these days. I understand that the Talmud and codes say we should not start praying if we’re feeling lightheaded etc. What is the situation when you’re not well? I know while I was sick with COVID-19, I would drag myself up and put tephilin on and did my davening. But…

Officiating at a Stone-Setting

Dear Rabbi Simon, Does a rabbi have to officiate at a stone-setting? My late brother was Reform, I am Orthodox. We had a Reform rabbi for his funeral which I did not like at all. I know an Orthodox rabbi cannot officiate at the cemetery and I was wondering if I can ask one of my family to do it. Thank…

Was it Lashon ha-Ra?

Dear Rabbi Simon, An acquaintance mentioned that someone i know has a new job. I replied that he is making a go of it. She said she knew the employers weren’t sure about the “fit” originally and asked why they had accepted him. I replied that they took him on as they would have taken anyone who could say Yes…

“Still Small Voice” – Kings 19:12

Dear Rabbi Simon, In 1 Kings 19:12, the prophet Elijah perceived the Divine Presence as a “still, small voice.” What does such a voice sound like? Kind regards Eli Hi Eli Quite hard to know, isn’t it? As Maimonides teaches, these prophetic accounts use metaphorical language to describe experiences which are in fact beyond our sensory perception. Yet from the…

Am I Jewish? (Establishing Jewish Lineage)

Dear Rabbi Simon, I am trying to prove my maternal Jewish connection. I have found my great grandmother’s grave in a Jewish cemetery written in Hebrew, would this suffice if I could establish a link between me and her or would I need more proof? Thank you. Dominic Dear Dominic, Thank you for your question. If you can establish your…

COVID-Era Sheva Berachot

Dear Rabbi Simon, We are making a sheva berakhot in the garden this evening – if it does not rain. There are three separate tables that will not come near each other. But  I feel that the cup of wine which is passed around to 7 different people for the Blessings at the end is a weak link, since a)…

A Torah Study Question

Dear Rabbi Simon, On a few occasions, my parents have called me as I’m about to learn Torah with my study partner (eg via Zoom). My parents are in a distant time zone so not so easy to call them back, but I do speak to them daily. I feel they need some chizuk (encouragement) in these tough times. Usually…

Remote Amen

Hi Rabbi Ben Gedalya kindly patched me this morning live to hear the Torah reading at Shacharis. Is it OK to answer amen to the birchot ha-Torah etc over the phone as it is in real time or is this not appropriate due to not being physically present? Thanks Shimon Dear Shimon TY for your interesting question. There are different…

Urban Orchard

Dear Rabbi Simon, I would like to plant a fruit tree (or maybe more than one) in my garden (good for the environment, good for the soul). WRT consuming the fruit, I noticed in last week’s Torah reading the prohibition of orlah (Lev. 19:23), ie fruit produced in the first 3 years of a tree’s growth, which I understand applies…

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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