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Huffing and Puffing at Candles

Question: I was at a birthday party recently and the hostess insisted that the birthday boy not blow out the candles. Instead, she put them out by hand. Is there a basis in Judaism for this practice? Thank you! AskTheRabbi.org answered: Yes, there is a basis or two (and even one for “good luck!”) in Jewish sources for this practice for not blowing out a candle. Any candle. One explanation: The Torah depicts ...

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Taking Stock on Tu B’Shevat – 2018

Question: I heard there’s a Jewish holiday called "Tu B'Shevat”, also known as “The New Year for the Trees." When is it this year, and would you please explain the message of this holiday for us today? Thank you. AskTheRabbi.org answered: This year (2018) Tu B’Shevat is on Wednesday, Jan. 31. There are actually two main messages that this day holds for us. One is a “legal” definition for various laws of trees and ...

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Tithing of Money

Question: Is tithing of money (10 percent) still valid today? AskTheRabbi.org answered: Yes. Charity is a commandment that is incumbent on everyone and it teaches us the very important lesson that the money we control is actually funds that have been “entrusted” to us by God. One should not assume that if he works for his money that it belongs to him without any preconditions. Rather, whatever money we have has been granted to ...

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Pharaoh and the Plague Paradox

Question: This week we read that there were plagues in Egypt because Pharaoh didn’t agree to Moses’ request to free the Israelite slaves from Egypt. My question: Was it fair to punish Pharaoh in this way since God “hardened his heart” and taken away Pharaoh’s free will to decide whether or not to free the Jewish slaves? Thank you. AskTheRabbi.org answered: Great question! It is actually a question that has been raised in ...

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Anger in the Bosom of Fools

Question: Hi, I would like to know where in the Torah it discusses the topic of anger. Thank you very much! AskTheRabbi.org answered: Anger is considered one of the most destructive traits. Yaakov Avinu (Jacob) strongly admonishes his children Shimon and Levi: "Accursed is their rage for it is intense, and their wrath for it is harsh..." Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon) warns: "Anger resides in the bosom of fools." The Midrash criticizes Moshe ...

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Tenth of Tevet – Jerusalem Under Siege

Question: I recently heard that there is a Jewish fast day shortly after Chanukah. When is it? And what is it about? Thank you. AskTheRabbi.org answered: About a week after Chanukah every year there is a Jewish fast day called “Asara b’Tevet” — the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Tevet. To be clear: Although it follows Chanukah in the Jewish calendar, there is absolutely no relationship between the two events! This year ...

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The Meaning of “Jerusalem”

Question: In light of the recent US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, I was wondering: How do you say "Jerusalem" in Hebrew and what does it mean? AskTheRabbi.org answered: The eternal capital of the Jewish homeland has a name bestowed upon it by the Creator as a combination of names given to it by two of His favorite sons. This name is Yerushalayim in Hebrew, and I will explain the origin and ...

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Chanukah: Increasing the Light

Question: Why do we start Chanukah with one candle on the first night and increase one candle per night until we light eight on the eighth night? Why not just each night or do a “countdown” from eight to one? AskTheRabbi.org answered: Great question! One per night, as you suggest, is in fact the most “basic” way of fulfilling the mitzvah. But this practice was designed so that everyone could fulfill the mitzvah ...

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A Chanukah Primer for 2017

Question: This Chanukah I plan to visit relatives who are newly-observant and have learned a lot about Judaism, while I have not yet learned as much and would like to be "up to speed" when it comes to observing Chanukah properly with them. Would you please tell me about the observance of Chanukah in a nutshell? Thanks in advance and I hope you have a happy Chanukah! AskTheRabbi.org answered: That certainly sounds like ...

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Speech Therapy

Question: I was wondering about how Judaism views the issue of not speaking negatively about others when dealing with clinical therapy. Are there parameters governing what may and may not be said during therapy? For instance, what if I’m having trouble with my dad or my sister, and there are issues about them that I need to talk about? I’m sure that the more honest I am, the more likely it ...

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