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Ask the Rabbi - 301

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Ask the Rabbi

January 27, 2001 / 3 Shevat 5761; Issue #301

True for You


Michael wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Since there are many religions and faiths around the world with contradictory beliefs, but all believing in one or multiple supreme beings, are they all personifications of one ultimate reality?

Dear Michael,

No. The fact that people believe something doesn't necessarily make it true.

For centuries, western man believed that blood did not circulate, that heavy objects fall faster than light ones and that iron could not float. Many believed the earth was flat. Some still do, such as the members of England's "Flat Earth Society."

Saying that "ultimately, everyone is right" is the logical equivalent of saying that "ultimately, everyone is wrong," because the other religions don't agree that "everyone is right." They all say they're right!

So, for example, by saying "Christians, Moslems, and Buddhists all have a piece of one reality," you are espousing yet another philosophy, one -- like the others -- which everyone else disagrees with! You're adding to the noise of people shouting "We're right!"

Torah is Heavy, Man


Name@Withheld wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

How much does the Torah weigh? My father has to carry it for my cousin's bar mitzvah and he is worried that it may be too heavy.

Dear Name@Withheld,

First of all, Mazal Tov on your cousin's Bar Mitzvah! The average Torah Scroll weighs abound 20 to 25 pounds. The heaviest is about 50 pounds. There are some "minis" that weigh about five pounds. These small Torahs were usually written for Chassidic Rabbis. Older Torahs are usually larger and heavier.

Your father might try getting to the synagogue early and taking the Torah out for a "test drive." No one ever died from getting to synagogue early!

Rabbi Ya'akov of Marvege


Mitch Silk from Hong Kong wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I'm looking for details about Rabbi Ya'akov of Marvege, who authored a halachic work in which he cites insights he received while dreaming. With many thanks in advance.

Dear Mitch Silk,

Rabbi Yaakov of Marvege, a Levi, was a thirteenth century Tosafist born in Marvege, France. His halachic work "Sha'alot U'teshuvot Min Hashamayim" is comprised of replies he received from Heaven in dreams in answer to some of his halachic questions. For example, once he wanted to find out whether the halacha followed the view of Rabbi Yitzchak Alfazi or that of the Geonim regarding a certain aspect of the laws of tefillin. He inquired of Heaven in a dream and received a reply saying "My covenant will I establish with Yitzchak." This is a verse in Genesis (I7:21), but in this context he saw it as an indication that the law follows the view of "Yitzchak," Rabbi Yitzchak Alfazi.

Sha'alot U'teshuvot Min Hashamayim is cited by halachists, such as Shibbolei Haleket and Radvaz, as being authoritative.

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



I am the Rabbi of an Israeli Air Force base in the Negev and have started a weekly Torah sheet at our base. It is comprised of a story, a Torah idea or saying, an interesting halachic question & answer and a riddle. The audience is a very broad spectrum [officers, enlisted soldiers, religious, traditional and completely secular].

I've been reading your Ohrnet Mag for years, and I would like permission to take stuff from "Ask the Rabbi" and Yiddle Riddle. Naturally I have to translate it into Hebrew. May I have your permission?

DL, Kiryat

Ohrnet Responds: You have our permission! We love to have our stuff reprinted. We do ask please that you credit us as follows:

Ohr Somayach Interactive

Thank you for helping us bring the light of Torah to others!

Re: RARE OCCASIONS (Torah Weekly Miketz):

You wrote: "For the Torah portion Miketz to fall after Chanukah, three events must coincide: Rosh Hashana must fall on a Shabbat, and both the months of Cheshvan and Kislev must have only 29 days instead of 30."

Actually the length of Kislev doesn't matter. Even if Kislev had been 30 days this year, it would not have changed the fact that the 8th day of Chanukah fell on Friday, and that Parshat Miketz followed.

Julie Stampnitzky, Rehovot, Israel

YARMULKE RIDDLE (Ask the Rabbi #298):

In response to our recent "Yarmulke" riddle, Boris Schein, a math professor in Fayetteville, Arkansas wrote us with a related riddle. Those interested in his riddle are invited to write him at <>.

VISITING ISRAEL (Ask the Rabbi #298):

You recently wrote about the safety of visiting Israel. I might add: The annual murder rate in any major U.S. city hovers at 500-800. What's the murder rate in Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Haifa? Even collectively? I don't fully understand why some Jews stay away from Israel when any sign of conflict arises, or why parents of some children attending Yeshivot and seminaries yank their children out at the first sign of conflict. Perhaps a lack of emunah (faith)? I don't believe the children choose to leave. I had two children studying in Israel during various conflicts and they opted to stay. We left the decision to them, and baruch Hashem, they made the right choice.

Arnold Woods


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Written by various Rabbis at Ohr Somayach Institutions / Tanenbaum College, Jerusalem, Israel.
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