Ask The Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi - 268

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Ask the Rabbi

19 February 2000; Issue #268



A NY Person <Name@Withheld> wrote

Dear Rabbi,

Certain free e-mail services ask you for your address, and if you don't type it the computer makes you go back to the form. Am I allowed to type "Withheld" so the computer thinks I typed something and lets me have the service? Would this be different if the "user agreement" says that the user agrees to provide complete and accurate information? If I did it already what should I do? Thank you very much.

Dear NY person,

If the computer won't accept your application unless you provide an address, it seems they want their service to be conditional on this. On the other hand, perhaps they just want to make sure you haven't forgotten to fill in your address, in which case writing "withheld" is okay, as it shows that you have not forgotten it, but rather that you aren't willing to provide it.

The simple solution is to contact them and ask them what their policy is.

If providing a "complete and accurate" address is required and writing "withheld" simply "fools" the system into thinking that you've provided an address, it's similar to providing a false address and is forbidden. If this is the case and you have done this already, you need to either provide them with the right address, stop using their service, or contact them and see if they will make an exception for you.

O What a Good Jew Am I


D. in Chevy Chase, MD wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Am I am a bad Jew if I eat bacon, don't go to temple very often, actually only on the major holidays? I do celebrate Passover, and do try to keep it. Religion just isn't a very big part of my American Jewish life. Let me know, thanks!!

Dear D.,

I don't know.

I happened to go to a lecture on parenting last night given by Rabbi Noach Orlowek. An insight he gave relates to your question:

He spoke about teenagers. Teenage starts at 13 and ends at 20. The significance of these ages is that 13 is when a boy (or a girl at 12) becomes liable in the Earthly court for transgressing mitzvot (commandments), and 20 is when he becomes liable in the Heavenly court. Why is the Heavenly court more lenient (i.e., judges at a later date)? Because the Heavenly court judges a person as a whole, and until 20 the person has not yet finished developing his personality. Here on earth, on the other hand, we can't judge people, we can only judge actions. As a teenager grows we can judge his actions, but not the person.

So, the question of whether you are "good" or "bad" is for G-d to decide. We can only speak about what you do, not who you are.

I heard a story from Rabbi Nachman Bulman, who heard it from a firsthand source. In Poland in the early 20th century, a few Jewish students were allowed to attend the Polish medical schools. The only catch was that they had to supply their own Jewish cadavers to study on. After all, it would not befit a Polish cadaver to help a Jewish student. So, the students approached the foremost Halachic authority of the time, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzensky. They proposed, that in order to keep the Jewish presence in the medical schools, that they be allowed to use the bodies of deceased Jews of ill repute and other like types, people who had been lured away from Judaism into Poland's criminal street element. The Rabbi, after recovering from the shock of the suggestion, responded, "For me to allow that I would have to know what G-d thinks about those people. And that I can never know."

Your actions leave room for improvement. So go ahead. Start to improve!

Yiddle Riddle


I recently learned an interesting halacha from Rabbi Ephraim Nisenbaum of Cleveland's Jewish Learning Connection. He suggested it might make a good "Yiddle Riddle." In what scenario is the following true: If you omit an addition to the shemona esrei (silent amida prayer) for a specific occasion - an addition which is indeed valid for that occasion - you have fulfilled your obligation. But if, instead, you insert that addition (which, as mentioned, is indeed valid for that occasion), you have invalidated your shemona esrei?

Neil Parks, Beachwood, Ohio

Answer Next Week....


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


Re: Jews During the US Revolution (Ask the Rabbi #266):

Being from one of the only two cities in the US that has a statue of Haym Salomon on display (one of them being the Pan Pacific Park in Los Angeles), I am quite familiar with his story. Irrespective of the commemorative given by the Federal Government, neither Haym Salomon nor his family every received repayment of the money given to the Federal Government. He did die poor.

Nelson S. Magedman, Past Commander, Dept. of California Jewish War Veterans of the USA

Re: Intermarriage (Ask the Rabbi #265):

I've been enjoying Ohr Somayach's "Ask the Rabbi" for years now and, even though I am not Jewish, have been refreshed by your sense of humor, your logic, and your common sense. I always enjoy your informative and intelligent responses. I particularly enjoyed your response to the gentleman who desired the presence of a Rabbi at his daughter's marriage to a non-Jew with a Catholic Priest in attendance. Thank you for these vastly important pearls of wisdom, and for your fine e-mails that give "cause for pause."

Tom Gorham, Chicago, IL

As Ye Sow:

As a volunteer for the SEED program this summer in the Memphis, TN community, I recently started adding your Parsha Q&A to our weekly Torah mailing. I thank you for helping me help others.

A. W., CyberVort, Memphis

Ohr Somayach replies: We're glad to help you plant seeds. Others who'd like our weekly Parsha quiz, go to Parsha Q&A Index or email <>

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