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Ask the Rabbi - 295

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Ask the Rabbi

December 9, 2000 / 12 Kislev 5761; Issue #295

You Voted for Who!


David in the USA wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Recently in one of our northeastern states, the voting location for elections was moved from a Jewish synagogue to, I believe, a Lutheran church. Evidently, last spring, voting was going to be during Pesach and the synagogue requested not to have the voting there, so the location was moved. Voting was to be located in the office area of the church, not in the worship area. An article in the newspaper quoted an area rabbi who suggested that the Orthodox Jews were being discriminated against because they couldn't go to vote at the Lutheran site because they were forbidden to go into a church. I am very confused; where is it written that a Jew cannot go into the place of worship of another religious group? Does that same interpretation mean that a Jew couldn't go to the church wedding of a friend who was not Jewish? Or, attend a funeral or a baby naming?

Dear David,

According to Jewish Law, it is prohibited to enter any place of worship that is not purely monotheistic. This would include weddings, funerals, baby namings, etc.

Regarding actual application of this law, consult your local Orthodox Rabbi.

  • Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, 150, Darchei Teshuva ad loc.
  • Shearim Metzuyanim Behalacha 187:9
  • Iggrot Moshe Yoreh Deah 3 Teshuvah 129:6

The Other Six Days


Mike S. wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

So I sit down at my desk and start the there a prayer I should be saying right then? How does a person bring Hashem to work?

Dear Mike S.,

What an interesting question, and one that everyone should really ask himself!

Working gives you a chance to do countless mitzvot and good deeds: Keeping your word to employers, employees and clients, paying workers on time, treating fellow workers with respect, fulfilling obligations to support your family, contributing to the good of society. These are all important parts of Jewish Law which you can fulfill at work!

And simply supporting oneself is a mitzvah because it helps eliminate temptation to steal.

In the words of the Sages, it is possible for a shoe-maker to stitch every stitch in the Name of Hashem. And the Talmud says, "Work is great, because it brings honor to the one who does it."

So, approach your work as an opportunity to serve Hashem by doing all that is required according to Jewish Law, and pray for success in this.

And, above all, if you set aside time to study Torah in the course of your busy schedule (not at your employers' expense), it is possible to elevate the mundane workday to a spiritual plane.

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



For the past several months, we have publishing (with credit and permission from the author Simcha Groffman) "Simcha's Torah Stories" from OHR.EDU. We publish these in our Temple newsletter, "The Shofar," for the enjoyment and enlightenment of our congregation. Temple Beth Am is a reform Temple here in Las Vegas. We have a relatively small membership of about 160 families, and we all enjoy "Simcha's Torah Stories."

The reason for this email is that our Temple Brotherhood always presents a gift to Bar and Bat Mitzvah children. Up until now we have been giving a different book, but after a bit of discussion we have decided that a small volume, containing a complete set of your "Simcha's Torah Stories" (one for each parsha), would be an even more desirable gift. Can you please tell me about the availability of such a book?

Many thanks for your wonderful stories.

Larry Steckler, Las Vegas Responds:

Dear Larry Steckler,

Thanks for writing. The book Simcha's Torah Stories is available from Feldheim Publishers.


In a recent Yiddle Riddle, we asked: What Torah mitzvah is it that, if done one way, one blessing is said, and if done another way a different blessing is said?

Here are some reader responses:

When putting on a "talit katan" (small tallit) you say "al mitzvat tzitzit," but when putting on a large "talit" you say "lehit'atef batzizit." The blessings before (and after) the morning "shema" are different than those for the evening shema. Before putting on the hand tefilin, you say "lehaniach tefilin." But if you put on first (by error) the head tefilin, or if you only have the head tefilin but not the hand tefilin, you bless "al mitzvat tefilin."


When you dunk one new vessel in a mikva you say "al tevilas kli -- on immersing a vessel" (i.e., singular), but for many vessels you say "al tevilas kelim -- on immersing vessels" (i.e., plural).


When you make kiddush on wine, you say "borei p'ri hagafen." But if you are out of wine and you have to substitute some other beverage or challah, then you would say a different blessing, the blessing appropriate for either the beverage or the challah.

Neil Parks

Written by various Rabbis at Ohr Somayach Institutions / Tanenbaum College, Jerusalem, Israel.
General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
Production Design: Michael Treblow
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