Halacha

“Kosher Handshake”

Dear Rabbi Simon, When a woman is offered a handshake by a man in a professional setting, are there ever circumstances that would override the prohibition with regards to touching ? For example, if the male in question has just suffered something of an embarrassing nature and then proceeds to extend his hand to a female – would she be…

Relative Value of Mitzvot

Dear Rabbi Simon, I was wondering if you could please recommend a book that addresses the concept of the spiritual “economics” of Mitzvot, that is, how to gain merit in Hashem’s eyes? I listened to a rabbi yesterday and he mentioned Ishmaelites as having the merits of circumcision, tefilah etc. [ie, he was circumcised, and his name is associated with…

Electric Shavers

Note: This Q&A derives from the Torah prohibition (Lev. 19:27) for a man to shave his beard (using a blade). However, the Talmud distinguishes between a razor blade and a scissors (the latter is permitted). What about contemporary electric shavers? Read on. Dear Rabbi Simon, Do you have any guidance on which shavers are OK to use, or a list…

Kosher Haircut

Dear Rabbi Simon, Can you recommend how to get a kosher haircut for a man who is going bald in front of his head and wants to hide it? It seems to me that the type of haircut which is recommended in such cases is associated with the risk of violating the halachot about peyot. Pete Dear Pete, Simplistically, I…

Attending a Simcha on a Yahrzeit

Dear Rabbi Simon, Am I allowed to attend a simcha on my mother’s yahrzeit?  It’s a Henna of very close family friends. Truthfully, I’m not sure I’m comfortable going anyway – I just wanted to know if it is halakhically allowed. If I were to go, should I refrain from dancing and eating? Many thanks, Hannah Hi Hannah, Strictly speaking…

Shaatnez Question

Dear Rabbi Simon, I have a linen suit which I sometimes wear on Shabbat.  The tallit I wear over the suit is made from wool.  I was wondering if there is an issue with shaatnez if I wear them together.  If not, could you please explain. Many thanks. Will Dear Will, Thank you for your interesting and practical question. The…

Unsocial Media (Is Hate Allowed?)

Dear Rabbi Simon, Someone keeps signing me up for email lists without my permission, which is really frustrating.  As a Jew, am I allowed to hate him for this? Is hate allowed under God’s law? Thanks, Emily Hi Email-y Thank you for your interesting questions. The Torah certainly discourages hatred in general, even towards our enemies and those who have…

Transformative Question

Dear Rabbi Simon Is it permissible for Jewish men to date or marry transgender women? Thank you Jan Dear Jan Thank you for your contemporary question. The phenomenon of gender dysphoria and its many implications is increasingly widespread, and the possibilities for pharmaceutical and surgical intervention leading to transsexualism have advanced dramatically in recent years. This, of course, is the background…

Disposing of Talit/Tzitzit

Dear Rabbi Simon How do I dispose of a derelict tallit and tzitzit without burying it or giving it to someone? May I burn it since it is too damaged to be repaired? Tal Hi Tal The garment may be placed in recycling (if you have access to such a facility). Otherwise, put it in a bag and you may…

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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