World Views

Creation and other Miracles

Dear Rabbi Simon, I hope you had a good Yom Tov. The Sun stood still for Joshua (ch. 10) prolonging the day. Hundreds of years later, the day was shortened for King Chizkiyahu (2 Kings ch. 20). Have these miracles caused observable astronomical effects? Are there any other miracles in Tenach whose effects can be observed today? In reply to…

“Kvatter” – what do I need to know?

Hi Rabbi, I have been given the honour with Debbie to be Kvatter at a Bris tomorrow. What am I expected to do? And what does the honour entail? Thank you. Regards David Hi David, Kvatter (Kvatterin in the feminine) is the Yiddish term (probably from the old German meaning “in place of the father”) for the woman and man who…

The Suffering of Children

Ask the Rabbi: Life’s Not Fair (when the innocent suffer) Dear Rabbi Simon, People often ask why children suffer and sometimes even die when they have done nothing wrong. I am thinking about the Manchester teen concert bombing atrocity and more. Rashi on this week’s Parsha (Korach, see Num. 16:27) attributes it to machloket (internecine strife). Rabbeinu Bachye says the fate of…

Gender of Moshiach

Dear Rabbi Simon, When Moshiach finally comes, there will inevitably be disputes as to whether he’s genuine.  At what point can we be certain that he has really arrived?  Could Moshiach be a lady? Gaby Dear Gaby, Difficult though it is for us to imagine, in today’s seemingly fractious and contentious Jewish world, Maimonides writes that when moshiach arrives the…

Forgiveness

Dear Rabbi Simon,

Unfortunately a friend and I have fallen out over a disagreement. The person concerned has apologised and I wanted to understand what, halachically, my correct response should be. Yes I accept his apology and have told him so. However, I feel reluctant about returning to the level of close friendship we had before. Does my failure to do so mean I haven’t really forgiven him, thereby putting me in the wrong?

Thank you, Jeff

Unknown Object

Dear Jeff,

Although it is proper for you to accept his apology, you are not required to reinstate the same level of friendship as previously. You should not, however, bear a grudge against him.

I hope this helps you,

Rabbi Simon

 

Soul Mates?

Dear Rabbi,

I would like to ask a question relating to one’s zivug / bashert. I have heard different things about this (not from rabbis). One is that there are 9 potential soul mates for each of us. I have also heard 3? I have also heard that someone does not become your bashert until you walk down the aisle which indicates it is all your own choice, but I have also heard Hashem knows when you are born and who you will marry. (So what about people that get divorced and married again?) Then I hear people saying if it’s meant to be it will be, meaning that if this is one’s intended it will happen anyway. Something that has recently puzzled me is that there are 600,000 souls corresponding to the letters / words in the Torah. So if that is the case, how come there are 14 million or so Jewish people all very different? Could you provide more information on this as it fascinates me, especially because I am single.

Thanks, Adam

Unknown Object

Dear Adam,I will try to offer some thoughts on this fascinating but complex subject.

I have not heard about a particular number of potential soul mates. There is doubtless something to the notion that your soul mate is who you make him/her, and that the full appreciation of bashert may only come after years of marriage.

The Talmud indeed says that a person’s soul mate is “proclaimed” at the time of conception, yet that depends on each of the party’s fulfilling his/her potential and becoming the best that each can be. If they do not, they may meet and even marry, but the “match” may be imperfect, or may not work at all. Matches are made in heaven, but good marriages [or otherwise] are made on earth.

Letters in the Torah and souls: It has been suggested that as a soul is an incorporeal, infinite thing, it can be subdivided many times. People can therefore share a soul, and the kabbalists maintain that most souls come back to the world time and again.

I hope this has helped,

Rabbi Simon

Jewish view of martyrdom by one’s own hand

Q: Dear Rabbi, Here is another interesting post by Rabbi Gil Student – this time about Josephus, was he a traitor or victim? http://torahmusings.com/2012/07/josephus-and-the-sages/.  I liked Rav Soloveitchik’s discussion of the issue particularly because it shed light on a question which I keep forgetting to ask: How could those unfortunates caught up in the Crusades and other persecutions have justified…

10 Commandments: Why all the fuss?

Q: Dear Rabbi Simon, We are told not to say the Aseret Hadibrot out loud since "kofrim (I think it is) will come to say that is all the Torah" yet in the UK for sure we have big shuls where they are prominently portrayed above the Ark which could and I think does cause the same effect, particularly in…

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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