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Ask the Rabbi - 267

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Ask the Rabbi - 267

Ask the Rabbi

12 February 2000; Issue #267

Yes, Your Honor


Name@Withheld wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Should one accept the Valedictorian award (an award for the best academic work) when offered to him by his school? On one hand, it says in the mishna (Avot 4:28) that "jealosy, lust and honor remove a person from the world." But I once read that at times it is proper for a person to accept an award given to him. Thank you very, very much.

Dear Name@Withheld,

There's a difference between pursuing honor and accepting honor.

Jealosy, lust and honor remove a person from this world by capturing his focus. By pursuing these ends, his aim eventually becomes the fulfilment of the jealously, lust, or honor. At that point, the person no longer is using this world for that which it was created — to come closer to G-d.

Receiving honor will not in and of itself remove a person from the world, unless from there he is pulled into pursuing it.

Sometimes it is particularly proper to accept an honor. When a specific honor is useful for your future (for example, to help you get a job), then the acceptance is considered a normal part of the effort involved in achieving that particular goal.

Receiving honor can also be an inspiration for others to do good. For example, when one donates money to a charitable organization, allowing the donation to be known will inspire others to do similar good deeds. (Note: One should not publicize a charitable gift without the consent of the recipient.)

Sometimes one's honor will give pride to his parents. Through this, one can fulfil the mitzvah (commandment) of honoring one's parents.

If you were the one offered the Valedictorian award, congratulations! Unless your sole purpose is to have more and more honor heaped upon you, accepting the honor is fine. The right attitude is not to think of the honor as an end in itself, but rather as a means to an end.

Canopies Made from Can O' Peas


Minda wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I will be married in a little more than a year. Recently I have been to many weddings in which the marrying couple made their own chuppah (wedding canopy). While I have been encouraged to rent a chuppah, I thought this was very impersonal. Unfortunately, I have found little in the way of construction instructions, and the ones I have found seemed very odd (including a metal, three- poled version). Are there certain requirements for construction that I should consider? Thank you!

Pollyana in Reykjavik, Iceland wrote:

Dear Rabbi

In the Bible I read about people getting married but I don't find any description of the ceremony. I want to know why we have a wedding ceremony like it is today and if there is any written document where I can read about it.

Dear Minda and Pollyana,

A chuppah is a piece of cloth draped over four poles. The only real "requirement" is that it be big enough for the bride and groom to stand under and that there be room for the bride to circle the groom.

One way to make the chuppah more personal would be to decorate an existing one. You could cover it completely with your own decorations to the extent that you won't even be able to see the original one!

The Torah (Bible) is approximately 3% written and 97% explanation, given by G-d to Moses on mount Sinai! That's why there's so little written about the actual wedding ceremony in the Bible. For info on the Jewish wedding ceremony, visit our website:

An excellent book on the subject is Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's "Made in Heaven" (Moznaim Publishers).

Yiddle Riddle


Last week, we asked: Can you name two different occasions when Rosh Chodesh will fall during the coming week, yet no Shabbat Mevorachim prayers are said on the preceding Shabbat?

1) (The easy one) The Shabbat before Rosh Hashana, which is the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh Tishrei.

2) When Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbat and Sunday, the 1st day Rosh Chodesh is the Shabbat. Despite the fact that there will be a Rosh Chodesh that coming week (the 2nd day on Sunday), Shabbat Mevorachim will not be said on Shabbat, as they were said the previous week!

(Riddle by Dani Wassner, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Jerusalem)


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


Yiddle Riddle (Ask the Rabbi #265, Yiddle Riddle):

Your recent Yiddle Riddle stated that there is no shalom zachor (birth celebration) when Yom Kippur occurs Friday night, as eating and drinking are forbidden. This is incorrect. On Yom Kippur there is a "besamim (spice) shalom zachor." I attended one a few years ago. On the way home from shul (synagogue) you visit the parents' home, where they have set out various spices in silver or other spice cases. You say the bracha (blessing) over the spices "borei minei besamin (blessed is the One who creates all kinds of spices)" and wish the family mazal tov.

(Michael Hochheiser, Oak Park, Michigan)

Affirmations (Ask the Rabbi #265):

Regarding the person who wrote regarding affirmations, I only suggest that the affirmation be phrased in the present tense. For example: "I, Joe Smith, AM (not "will become") a great soccer player." Thank you, Rabbi, for answering all our questions. I look forward to OHRNET every week.

(Bob Burg, Jupiter, Florida)

Hungry For Ohrnet (Torah Weekly, Beshalach):

I enjoyed your explanations of Parshat Beshalach, especially the way you tied the miracle of the manna to the concerns about world hunger. I've been involved with Torah study for 12 years at Congregation Sha'aray Shalom in Hingham, Mass.

Hard Issues (Ask the Rabbi #265):

I truly admire your answers on various difficult issues (aguna, intermarriage, etc.) and the sensitivity with which you approach these issues without compromising your position.

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