General

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…

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?…

Praying or Paying

Dear Rabbi Simon Do we regard it as theft if I run into a shop and I don’t pay for parking meter? I guess the risk of a large fine could also carry its own punishment, but if I ‘get away with it’ and I don’t get a fine then do we regard this halachically or even morally as a…

Change of Name due to Illness

Dear Rabbi Simon, Can you send me information regarding changing the name of a child who has a severe illness through another family adopting the child. I know that that was done in the past by community rabbis. I read something about it when I was a student 15 years ago. Does my memory serve me? Many thanks, Abi Dear Abi,…

Seasonal Wreath

Dear Rabbi Simon, I am Jewish and live in a sixteen-unit condo complex in Concord, Massachusetts. A neighbor of mine bought evergreen wreaths with red bows for all the units and put them on the exterior wall of every unit. When I saw it, I thought this doesn’t belong on my door and took it down, but then I learned that…

Jewish Status Quandary

Hi Rabbi, I have a question about a girl I’m seeing. Her grandmother was born in Russia and during WWII, was left with a family in Portugal. The family was not Jewish but always told her her parents were. Her parents were presumed killed in the war. She was sent to Brazil. The Rabbi’s here in Paris asked, considering she…

How can a Gentile mourn a Jewish loved one?

Dear Rabbi Simon, I was wondering how a Gentile can respectfully mourn a Jewish loved one? If there are no Jewish family members who are able to lead the mourning, how can a Gentile make sure that the deceased is respected and properly mourned according to Jewish customs? Thank you, Deborah Dear Deborah, TY for your sensitive question. Depending on…

Undressing in the Presence of a Pet

Dear Rabbi Simon, Can one change clothes (naked) in front in of a pet in the bedroom or in the bathroom? Noa *** Dear Noa, Thank you for your question. There is no prohibition to undress in the presence of a household pet. However, the Torah explicitly prohibits bestiality, so one who is prone to sexual arousal in the presence…

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…

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…

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,
Tzippy
***
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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