Ask The Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi - 265

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Ask the Rabbi - 265

Ask the Rabbi

29 January 2000; Issue #265

Let's Be Frank


Name@Withheld wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

My stepdaughter, a Jewish girl, is marrying a very fine Catholic man. My wife and I are looking for a Rabbi in the (withheld) area who will perform the ceremony for them. The groom wishes the actual ceremony to be held jointly with a Catholic priest. The wedding ceremony and the reception are to be held in a hotel so there is no "religious property" involved (ie. not in a church).

Dear Name@Withheld,

I can see that you are sincerely concerned with your step daughter's best interests, and that you want to do the right thing Jewishly, seeing as you want a rabbi to perform the ceremony.

But let me tell you a joke: It was right before Yom Kippur and the Rabbi sees one of his congregants entering a non-kosher restaurant. He could not believe his eyes! As he peers into the window, he sees the man talk to a waiter and sit down. He watches while the man orders lobster and pork and eats it with relish. Unable to contain himself, the Rabbi rushes in and confronts his congregant: "What is the meaning of this?" The man answers, "Rabbi, were you watching the whole time I was eating the unkosher food?" "I saw every bite," says the Rabbi. "Well, then," says the man, "what's the problem? It was under rabbinical supervision!"

While you and I may have differing views regarding intermarriage, I'm sure we agree on the basic principles of honesty and integrity. We both agree that it's wrong and dishonest to create and foster false impressions.

In your search for a Rabbi for this ceremony, you have no doubt discovered that Judaism forbids intermarriage. Therefore, I feel that having a Rabbi at the ceremony fosters the false impression that Judaism allows intermarriage. It's like a type of fraud and a breach of common sincerity. The right thing, the honest thing, is that no Rabbi be at the ceremony.

I have no doubt that your stepdaughter has indeed met a very fine man; but this does not change the Jewish position on the subject. This is not to say that Judaism in any way deprecates or looks down on non-Jews, G-d forbid. Just that G-d has commanded us to be a separate people in order to fulfill our role to be a light to the nations. For our essay regarding intermarriage, go to:

I Do Declare


Name@Withheld from South Africa wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I have read about the results of a process called "Affirmations." The technicalities are that you set yourself a goal, and you write down that goal 15 times on a piece of paper every day. For example, "I, Joe Smith, will become a famous soccer player." (Not that I really want to, but that's an example of how you'd do it). According to the person who told me about it, he has had spectacular success with this technique. And it's not just that it makes you more focused - almost every affirmation he did was realized through some strange "co-incidences" ... events that would have been totally out of his control just started happening until his previously unlikely goal was made a reality.

He himself is not a religious person, but he acknowledges that it may have effects similar to prayer - for example, he says that research shows that sick people who are prayed for are much more likely to recover than those who aren't, even if the sick people themselves are unaware that others are praying for them...

So here's my dilemma: If Hashem created a mechanism such as affirmations, is it wrong to use it? It seems somehow to be circumventing the "natural" order of things. Or maybe it is a natural force that just wasn't documented for the last 5760 years? I am very confused...part of me says "Go on!" while another part says "Wait, this might not be good." Many thanks for your wonderful Ask the Rabbi service.

Dear Name@Withheld,

No problem with affirmations. Simply using the "natural" power of mind over matter. It may seem supernatural because we usually only use a fraction of our brains.

There are two explanations for the "supernatural coincidences" you might encounter while using "affirmations." One is that, with your mind focused on the goal, you notice opportunities you would have otherwise missed. (It's like when I bought my first used car, I suddenly noticed a lot of cars with "for sale" signs. "What a coincidence," I thought. "A lot of people are selling their cars just now when I happen to want to buy one.")

Another explanation is indeed a "supernatural" one. As the Talmud says "A person is directed (by Heaven) in the way he wishes to go."

The Mishneh Berura says to say "In honor of the Holy Shabbat" every time you buy something for Shabbat, since "speech has a powerful effect in (matters of ) holiness."

So, pick a good goal, and then use "affirmations" to achieve it. And remember: You WILL succeed, you WILL succeed....

Transfusion Confusion


Daniel wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I know that it is strictly forbidden to drink or eat blood, but is it permitted to replace by transfusion preciously lost blood in the event of an accident?

Dear Daniel,

It is definitely permitted to replace lost blood by transfusion; and this does not fall under the prohibition of eating blood. The Torah commands us (Deuteronomy 4:15), "You shall greatly guard your souls." Therefore it is a mitzvah and an obligation to replace lost blood.

Yiddle Riddle


Last week we asked: What two Friday nights of the year is there no shalom zachor? (Shalom zachor is the Friday night celebration held in honor of the birth of a boy.)

Answer: Pesach and Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is a fast day, and therefore all eating and drinking is forbidden. And on the night of Passover, it is forbidden to eat anything after eating the afikomen - the piece of matzah eaten at the end of the Passover seder. Therefore, the shalom zachor, which is usually held after the Friday evening meal, is not held on these two nights.

The Public Domain
Comments, quibbles, and reactions concerning previous "Ask-the-Rabbi" features.



We are a Sephardic congregation, and our forefathers came from the Island of Rhodes where they settled after the expulsion from Spain in 1492. I saw copies of your publication at the Ohr Somayach Synagogue in Gallo Manor, Johannesburg. Please may we receive Torah Weekly, which is very interesting. We would like to publish extracts of it in our newsletter.

Benny Leon, Zimbabwe, Africa


I go to your website when I am feeling down, and it cheers me up. We do not belong to a shul, as my husband is not very religious, and I do not have anyone else to discuss Jewish issues with. I have a relative who always jokes about what she would do if she won the lottery. She says she would have a live-in cook and a live-in nurse. I say I would want a rabbi on call to answer questions and discuss things with. Your service is the next best thing. Thank you very much for providing this service!!



I asked your recent Yiddle Riddle - "How can you subtract 30 from 30 you get 60?" - to the Youth Minyan in Bnai Torah of Toronto. I received two responses, one the same as your answer and a new one, submitted by Moriah Ellen: Thirty minus thirty equals zero, which is written the same as the Hebrew script letter samech; samech has the numerical value (gematria) 60. Quite good! Keep 'em coming!

David Woolf on behalf of the Bnai Torah Youth Minyan, Toronto

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