Know It All – Torah Study

Dear Rabbi Simon, I’m looking for a source in the Jewish tradition that states that a man must know or learn the entire Torah, for example all of Talmud Bavli [Babylonian Talmud]. Can you help? Sincerely, Tal Dear Tal, Thank you for your question. There are numerous passages in the Talmud and elsewhere about the scope of the obligation of…

Studying Talmud

Dear Rabbi Simon I don’t know if I am studying the Talmud correctly or doing something wrong. For example, I have read Ch. 2 of tractate Avodah Zarah. It may be my ignorance, but I did not really get anything out of it. Should I be doing something after I have read it? I do not know if the English…

Negative Commandments

Dear Rabbi Simon, I notice in the Bible the terms “I command” and “I forbid” are mentioned numerous times. What is the difference between not doing something you are commanded and doing something you are forbidden. Especially in terms of punishment. Many thanks, Barri Dear Barri The phrases you cite actually do not appear in the Torah in the original…

Free Will

Dear Rabbi Simon, G-d told Moses that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart. As a result, he did not listen to Moses. Now that there are many wicked people on the earth, does G-d make them like Pharaoh so that they do not choose the path of righteousness? Many thanks, Prittom Dear Prittom Thank you for your question. The answer, according to Maimonides,…

Oral Law

Dear Rabbi Simon, I was wondering, is it true that the Talmud (which I understand contains the Jewish law) was written down after 0 AD, and that the Jewish law practiced by the Prophet Elisha for example was never written down but he followed the orally preserved Talmud and Jewish law? Thanks Ali *** Dear Ali Thank you for your…

War with Hamas & Noachide Laws

Dear Rabbi Simon, Would you please be able to answer a question to a non-Jew about the seven Noahide laws? Firstly, I believe these laws to be true and would bring peace and harmony to the world. I am a believer in non-violence and anti-war. I believe ‘thou shall not kill’. And all killing, if it is done when your…

Age Ranges in the Torah

Dear Rabbi Simon, I was wondering what is the significance of the different age ranges that the Torah addresses in the course of the book of Bamidbar (Numbers). Last week, the Levi’im were considered for service from ages 20 to 50. The previous week, the Levi’im were counted but only from ages 30 to 50. This week only the people…

Events of Mount Sinai (Parashat Yitro)

Dear Rabbi Simon I’m struggling to understand Exodus Chapter 20 and the events at Mount Sinai. I’d appreciate guidance on this subject to help me better understand the text. My issue comes from the shift from the 1st person to the 3rd person being used – I’ve used the Chabad English online torah as reference. I notice that vv. 2-6…

Different Versions of the Torah

Note: I suspect that this (anonymised) question via our website was posed by a Christian critic of Judaism. We share it here partly in the spirit of “know how to answer the heretic”. Dear Rabbi Simon Deut. 4:2 says, “You shall not add anything to or take anything away from it, but keep the commandments of the LORD your GOD…

Parshanut (Biblical Interpretation)

Dear Rabbi Simon If someone gives me an interpretation of a posuk (biblical verse), how do I know if it is correct? I am not referring to a specific posuk but generally. Many thanks, Marsha Dear Marsha, Thank you for your interesting question. It is well-known that there are multiple facets to the Torah (70 in the Talmudic reckoning), so there…

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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