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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi Michael Knopf

Question: I have a question for the rabbis. I am a non-Jewish male interested in marrying and starting a family with a Jewish woman. I am interested in converting to Judaism, but I have not done so yet. What are the implications of having kids with a Jewish woman prior to my converting to judaism and marrying her (my understanding is that I would need to convert before I could marry her)? The biological clock is ticking for kids (i.e., in late 30s). So, I am scared that if I take the time to convert first, then the Jewish woman might be too old to have kids when we get married. So, is it better to have kids first, then convert? Or, is there some kind of consequence for doing that that I am not aware of? That, is, if I get a Jewish woman pregnant without converting and marrying her first, does that bar me from converting to Judaism and marrying her later? Is there some kind of punishment for the Jewish woman in this situation (e.g., some kind of spiritual punishment like you go to gehenna or something bad)? Excuse my ignorance and the long question, but I am interested in the Jewish perspective on this. Thanks.
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Question: My husband and I are considering IVF to treat infertility. I have a question about one of the procedures used to evaluate the sperm before IVF can take place. "The sperm penetration assay (also called the hamster zona-free ovum test or hamster test) checks whether a man's sperm can join with an egg. Sperm are mixed with hamster eggs in a laboratory. The number of sperm that penetrate the egg (sperm capacitation index) is measured. This test is done most often at special fertility centers that do in vitro fertilization" (taken from WebMD) I know that Judaism as a whole accepts IVF. How can this be ok? Doesn't this violate laws against bestiality?
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Question: Reading your website concerning cremation, it appears the more liberal sects in Judaism discourage it, but tolerate the wishes of those who choose it, while the more observant or strict sects absolutely discourage or prohibit it, on various grounds. My thought was that cremation would be a way to be in solidarity with those who died in the WWII ovens, 9/11 and so forth, that their death circumstance was not a dishonor to them. A cremation, in my view, would dignify their situation. I do understand that the circumstance was not their choice, but nonetheless, it is their factual situation. Also, cremation would solve a problem for me personally. I'm a widow with two spouses buried in two states. Having two cremation urns would allow me to spend eternity with my two basherts, which would save me from making a choice of whom to be buried near. Any thoughts? Given what I read on your site about what Judaism says, is there any leeway? What Jewish values might help me to decide this issue, and resolve my problem concerning choosing which husband I should be buried with?
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Question: How big is the actual probability today that rice or beans contain traces of actual chametz? Is this really a concern? What do the various movements say about this concern, and about kitniyot in general?
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Question: Is a scheduled Hatafat Dam Brit to be postponed if the convert's mother is expected to die within the week? [Administrator's note: a somewhat similar question was posed in http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=650]
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Question: My very good friend is Jewish, I am a Christian. We have been very close friends for most of our lives, and I have attended countless Sabbath dinners at her house. This past Friday, one of her friends who was also at the dinner expressed displeasure at my being there. They stated that it was wrong to observe the Sabbath in the presence of a Christian. I was wondering if that was correct. I have always enjoyed going to these dinners and would like to continue to be invited, but I don't want to put my friend in a situation where they are in conflict with their beliefs. Should I bow out at the next invitation?
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Question: I met a girl that I would like to marry. Her mom converted through an Orthodox process. I come from a community that doesn't accept converts - or maybe we do - but my parents wouldn't let me marry a convert. How can I convince them, and my whole big family, that this girl and her family are Jews just as much as we are, and this should be okay?
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Question: Is it okay for a Jewish woman to wear short shorts, spaghetti straps, or bikinis? What concerns might there be as far as Jewish values? Is the answer different in the various denominations or movements of Judaism?
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Question: What and where is the obligation to honor a parent's last wishes found? Must they be followed?
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Question: What is the reason for the shemittah [7th year of lying fallow] year? Doesn’t it cause hardships to farmers, who can’t work their fields for a year?
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Question: What does Jewish law say about respecting the Law of the Land? Can one jaywalk, drive over the speed limit or cheat on taxes and still be religious?
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Question: There were many miracles that God performed during the Jews’ sojourn in the desert – the man, the “ananim,” water spurting out from rocks, etc. Why on Sukkot do we focus on the most mundane and man-made aspect of God’s protection—the huts the Jews dwelt in?
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Question: Is it okay to shave your face with a razor instead of an electric shaver? I understand the electric shaver acts more like scissors than a blade, but I also understand the Halachah (Jewish laws) pertaining to this custom is intended to avoid a pagan practice. I used a razor for years, and changed to the electric shaver - the razor was much more efficient. Can you explain this, and comment on why it is so - what is the reason for this practice in Judaism, and is it universal?.
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Question: As no movement in Judaism completely follows all the "revealed" mitzvot (commandments), what right does any voice have in specifying which ones to follow?
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Question: What is the Jewish tradition's position on interment in a mausoleum?
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Question: What is the Jewish ethic for exchanging enemy prisoners for a Jewish prisoner if the probability is increased of more Jews being ultimately or indirectly killed?
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