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All Questions Answered by
Rabbi David Booth

Question: A question came to mind after listening to recent high profile news story, that may closely parallel a key “Jewish Value” drilled down by our parents, "you can be friends with non-Jews, but you can’t date them". Can this be interpreted as racism? Is this cause for non-Jews to hate Jews?
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Question: I am a 52 years old man, raised Conservative, who has had to contend with autism my entire life. Oftentimes it is not the condition which affects me more than it is peoples' attitudes towards it. For example, back in my early 20's I was back East working on my Master's degree and had ample opportunity to at least consider dating Jewish women. However, the two that I hit it off with dropped me quicker than a hot potato once their parents learned from my parents that I have autism. Back then (30 years ago), it was considered by such families as grounds to be an unsuitable suitor, much like a family history of cancer or mental illnesses also was then in those days. I had far more successful relationships with women of other faiths who themselves or whose families were a whole lot less judgmental regarding either the fact that I am Jewish OR have autism. The Jewish families who interviewed me said I was unsuitable for their daughters, and had given me to understand that I was not obligated to marry because my disability had made me expendable, and that my progeny were not essential to maintaining the numbers of their people. I took them at their word and married out, so I wouldn't live a lonely and childless life. Did I settle? Yes. Because life is unfair, and one can only make the best with what one is given. I decided that with such a cold reception I would take a cold and hard look at what Jewish life meant to me, and I decided that martyring my chances to be married by waiting for the right one to come, just to sanctify God's name, was far more than I reasonably expected God to ask of me, because the autism issue would come up each and every time I sought a besheret (soulmate/match). I am asking what Judaism would say to me today in light of the situation I found, and the choices I made. [Administrator's note: A somewhat related question appears at http://www.jewishvaluesonline.org/question.php?id=860.]
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Question: My question is two-fold. I sort of stumbled upon a blog, where a "high-class escort", is describing her life. In the comments, a religious Moslem guy is chastising her to give up this 'career path' and do tshuva. I wanted to say something from a Torah stand point. I know what the pertinent halacha/hashkafa (law) is for a Jewish lady. But I'm not sure about a Bas Noach (a female human being, non-Jewish, according to the Noahide laws). Also, is it a Chilul Hashem (an affront for G-d) for me to even be commenting on such a blog? Thank you.
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Question: A person buys merchandise and pays fair value, only to suspect that the seller may have stolen the goods. The buyer feels guilty about keeping the goods. Throwing them away does not right the situation. Selling them to someone else is no better. Reporting the seller seems hypocritical - there is no evidence. What is the buyer's obligation according to Jewish values? (This question is based on an inquiry appearing in the "New York Times Sunday Magazine" The Ethicist column.)
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Question: How important is it that my wedding is catered kosher, if I myself don't keep kosher? What Jewish values, moral, or ethical positions are involved?
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Question: My beloved mother, 97 years old, is in intensive care in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I am in Canada, and also sick with bronchitis. My question is: if she seems to be ready to pass (go to olam habah) and wants me to come see her before that happens, but I am not able to go, what should I do. [What obligations do I have to honor my mother's wishes when it affects my own health?]
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Question: Is gelatin kosher?
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Question: If I have a dairy seder, should I put a bone on the seder plate?
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Question: How (should or) does a father make amends to an adult son regarding what the (near adult) son feels are boundary issues around school, work ethics, respect for others, use of free time, etc.
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Question: A non-married Jewish man, in a seriously committed relationship with the woman whom he loves with all his heart and plans to marry, made the biggest mistake of his life and committed one physical incident of infidelity with no emotional component, and which did not include any form of intercourse, but did involve pleasureful contact, when he was solicited by another woman, and acted in this way in a moment of weakness. If that man later confessed most of the pertinent details of the incident to his significant other, but minimized the full extent of the physical contact in his confession by lying about it, would Jewish ethics and values indicate that he must confess the rest of the details, and also that he lied to his significant other in the earlier confession? The S.O. has already moved forward and forgiven him for what he has revealed. Is the rest of the information irrelevant if the woman knows that she was betrayed and nearly the full extent of the contact? This man wants nothing more then to remain 100% committed to their relationship with all his mind, body and soul, but feels like he has kept something from her that she deserved to know and is suffering from guilt. Is this genevat daat (stealing the mind - deceit/deception/fraud)? Does this fall under preserving shalom bayit (peace in the home)? At this point further confession will only lead to more hurt, mistrust, pain to the innocent partner and deterioration of the relationship, with little benefit from the additional information to either party, and only feed her doubts. What should this man do, and can he repent and do teshuva for his unfortunate conduct? He has shown genuine remorse and vowed to never betray his significant other ever again.
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Question: I want to convert but I have a unpredictable schedule.What would you suggest?
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Question: For many years I have stayed up most of the night. I am concerned that this is a sin against G-d. If i worked on it I could sleep at night like other people and be more active during the day. I wonder about this - what does Jewish tradition or law say about this?
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Question: A few months ago, I accidentally discovered that my wife of almost 3 years (the complete love of my life) was having an affair with another man. The circumstances were just horrific. I was just stunned and devastated to learn all this. I had no idea of my wife's frustrations, and no idea she was someone that was even capable of doing such a thing. We have been to regular counseling for months now, and even now my wife is still at a loss to completely explain what happened and how it evolved. Here is my question... Now, 3-4 months removed from the affair, I am still occasionally dealing with hurt and pain that I may never fully get over 100%. Nonetheless, I have forgiven my wife and chosen to stay with her. In spite of what occurred, I do love her tremendously. I do believe she is my beshert/soulmate. I am happiest when I'm with her, and I still see my future with her, and I believe that she feels the same way about me. Tears beyond tears have been cried by both of us, and my wife has expressed an enormous amount of regret, remorse, and an appropriate amount of self-loathing, all of which I judge to be genuine. At times, she has even suggested attending Shabbat services at our local synagogue to atone and ask G-d for forgiveness. For sure, I am not fully over what happened, and I may never be fully over it altogether. Likewise, she may never be able to get over the fact that she committed adultery and betrayed and acted against someone she loves. It is a terrible tragedy in both our lives that can never be undone. But I'm pleased to say that my wife and I are currently in a very good place. We are extremely happy with one another and extremely in love. And ironically, the communication which has resulted since the affair (which should have come prior to the affair) has taken our relationship to an even far better place in so many ways than where I perceived it to be prior to the affair. In short then, I have forgiven my wife. I hope that she can eventually forgive herself. Will G-d do the same? What does Judaism say about this situation?
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Question: What is the Jewish view on royalty and all its ceremonies? Watching the rotal wedding I was struck by how very worship-y it all seemed....
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Question: Is it proper to postpone a scheduled bris (brit milah/ritual circumcision) an extra day for a funeral in the family or are you expected to observe both on the same day?
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Question: What exactly is the position of minhag (custom) in halacha (Jewish law), and when is someone bound to follow the community in something which is not purely halachic (according to Jewish law)? Where is the place of chumra (~strict interpretation) within Judaism? Thank you.
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