Showing posts from May, 2019

Is cheating on a test against the Torah?

Yesterday in our class, an interesting discussion came up.  A boy, who is now religious, called me while at school a little over a year ago, while he was becoming more religious.  He wanted to know if it's against the Torah to cheat on a test. Immediately, people were already up in arms, ready to stone the boy who asked the question (good thing they don't know who he is). I challenged them, and why is it wrong to cheat on a test?  You see, there are two important things to realize here:  Number one, is that we tend to associate anything we feel good about on G-d, and anything we dislike must be ungodly.  Ever hear, "cleanliness is G-dliness?"  Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against a clean house, but who decided that it's G-dliness? The temple in Jerusalem wasn't a spotless palace.  It was an extremely busy place with animals coming in and out etc.  Was that ungodly? In our society, cheating is taboo, so is it against the Torah?  It must be!  Why?  Be

It's all about you

A fellow called me up last week and wanted to talk.  A couple months ago, he resigned from a very well paying job for ethical reasons.  Since then, he's been having a hard time getting hired again, and was starting to get angry at G-d.  Why should he be punished for doing the right thing?  He wanted to give G-d a chance, but didn't think that there was really anything that I could say to relieve him of this anger.   It's really tough getting involved in emotionally charged dilemmas.  On the one hand, it's tempting to talk logic, but that is difficult to balance with true empathy for their hard times.   After saying just that, I went on to explain the difference between "refining" and "tests."  Refining is what we spend most of our time doing.  Refining is another way to say "making the world a better place."  The useful things that we do in work refine the world, as do the mitzvahs that we do refine the world.  The purpose of "ref

Jewish Burial

Now, for a little lesson on burials:  From the time a person passes away until their body is interned, the family members, who are responsible to bring their loved one to his or her final resting place, have a weird status of no mans land.  On the one hand, they aren't yet "mourners," as that status starts after burial, and don't have the regular restrictions of mourners.  On the other hand, they are exempt from all mitzvahs, including blessings, studying Torah, putting on tefillin etc. until the deceased is buried. The reason is:  when you are the one responsible for burying someone, nothing else in the world exists!  You shouldn't be distracted with anything else, even things that are very important.  The one and only thing on your mind should be burying this person, and everything else should be put on hold until the job is done.  When someone passes away without any money or family, everyone in the city become like family (after all, we are all related) and ha

Why do they hate us?

Why do they hate us? Please allow me to preface with some of my personal feelings about this new era we're in.   The knee-jerk reaction is to reinforce whatever convictions we already have.   If we've been active politically, we resolve to increase our political activism.   If we feel strongly about debating neo-nazis, we'll increase that.   If we feel strongly about guns, we increase our gun activism.   If we think the answer is dialogue and understanding, we'll increase our cultural understanding activism.   While some of these causes are worthy, I'd like to recommend something different.   G-d gives us these tragedies in order for us to grow.   The way to grow is by broadening our horizons and opening our eyes to things that are new.   We don't need tragedies just to increase what we've already been doing.   Something novel should be born from it.   Now, "why do they hate us"?   For the same reason that many of them love