Ask The Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi - 293

Become a Supporter Library Library

Ask the Rabbi

November 25, 2000 / 27 Cheshvan 5761; Issue #293

Good Times


Steve Horowitz wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I have a question. Judaism teaches us that all that happens is by Hashem and that it is all good. Further, everything that happens to us is for our good although it may be difficult to recognize the goodness at times.

Judaism also teaches us to pray, that prayer is effective. However, when we pray, we are often asking or petitioning Hashem for change. We may be asking for healing, love, and so on. Does this undermine our faith in Hashem that what happens to us is for our good? How is prayer reconciled with the first paragraph above?

Dear Steve Horowitz,

By praying, you change yourself. Thus, G-d's "decision" about what is good for you changes. It now becomes good, for example, for Bob to have a child, or to have health, or money or whatever, whereas before, it was good for him not to have those things.

Why change from one good to another? There are different levels of good. For some people, chemotherapy might be good. But being healthy is a better good.

Bad times can prompt a person to pray and develop a greater awareness of, and relationship to, G-d. Imagine a mother of two teenage daughters. The mother senses that the older daughter will benefit greatly from a close relationship to the mother, while the younger daughter will benefit from more "space." What does she do? To the younger daughter she gives a car, a credit card and a gas card, and to the older daughter she gives none of these. Which daughter do you think she will end up spending more time with?

Foot Care


Lucille G. Maloney wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Prior to the dedication of the holocaust museum, there was an exhibition in Washington of items confiscated by the Nazis. Among them were a number of implements used for foot care of the sick or elderly. Apparently there was some custom of taking care of the feet of those unable to care for themselves. Could you give me more information about this practice? Thank you.

Dear Lucille G. Maloney,

Caring for the sick is certainly a mitzva. Regarding foot care for the sick, I'm not aware of any particular Jewish customs, and I'm not familiar with the items you mention.

We Jews do make a special daily blessing that thanks God "for giving me all my needs," and our commentaries explain that this especially refers to one's shoes! Why are the shoes called "all our needs?" The shoes allow a person to go out and thus interface with the world at large, and thereby acheive all his other physical and social needs.

More than one holocaust survivor has reported that breaking a shoelace in the concentration camps was like a death sentence, because the shoes would not stay on. A person could survive barefoot during forced marches and slave labor for only a few weeks, at most.

So, feet are certainly something to take care of, and to be thankful for.

Yiddle Riddle


What Torah mitzvah (mitzva d'oraita) is it that, if done one way, one blessing is said, and if done another way a different blessing is said?

Answer next week...


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


More Answers to our LAST YIDDLE RIDDLE (Ask the Rabbi #292):

Our Yiddle Riddle for Ask the Rabbi #292 generated many interesting attempted answers, answers other than the answer we had in mind. We've printed a sample below:

Riddle: I was eating a snack when I had a sudden urge for some bread. I asked my Rabbi, "Should I wash my hands in the special ritual way which is usually required before eating bread?" "No," said my Rabbi. "Should I say the 'hamotzi' blessing usually said before eating bread?" "No," he said. After eating, I asked, "Should I say the 'birkat hamazon' -- the 'Grace after Meals' -- which is normally required after eating bread?" "No," said my Rabbi. Can you explain what's going on in the above story? Why do the "usual" halachot (Jewish Laws) seem not to apply?

I had the urge, but there was no bread to be had. So, no washing, hamotzi, or bentching.

Gidon Ariel

The snack consisted of bread, therefore he does not have to wash because he already did. He does not have to say another hamotzi for the same reason. The reason he does not have to say birkat hamazon is because he threw up and is exempt from bentching.


He craved bread not made from one of the five grains -- rice bread, for example --then it wouldn't halachically be treated as "bread."

Yehudit Massouda

He's an onein. (An onein is a mourner before the burial, who is exempt from saying blessings, etc.)

Chaim Kasdan


I've enjoyed accessing your site, OHR.EDU, for years. Thank you and all your people for the wonderful job you do so faithfully, year after year. You have no idea how much your readers look forward to your weekly publications. Shalom.

Tom Goodman, Baltimore, MD


Shalom to you from Mumbai, India. This year I plan to give your Jewish IQ questions in our ORT Religious Issue magazine to the community of India. For this I request your permission. I would also like to include few paragraphs from your "Kinder Torah" portions of each week's Parsha. You are helping us do the mitzvah of Kiruv (Jewish education and outreach). With your help, our last years' issues were very educational for our community members, and I thank you for having given me permission to use your "Seasons of the Moon" articles. Thanks and Shalom.

Levi Jacob, Bombay, India

Ohrnet responds: We're glad to have our material reprinted. Thank you for joining OHR.EDU in our EDU-cational efforts! Again, we do ask that you please give credit to:

Ohr Somayach Interactive

Written by various Rabbis at Ohr Somayach Institutions / Tanenbaum College, Jerusalem, Israel.
General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
Production Design: Michael Treblow
© 2000 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved. This publication may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue newsletters. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission, and then send us a sample issue.
This publication is available via E-Mail

Ohr Somayach Institutions is an international network of Yeshivot and outreach centers, with branches in North America, Europe, South Africa and South America. The Central Campus in Jerusalem provides a full range of educational services for over 685 full-time students.

The Jewish Learning Exchange (JLE) of Ohr Somayach offers summer and winter programs in Israel that attract hundreds of university students from around the world for 3 to 8 weeks of study and touring.

Copyright © 2000 Ohr Somayach International. Send us feedback
Dedication opportunities are available for Ask The Rabbi. Please contact us for details.
Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) EIN 13-3503155 and your donation is tax deductable.