Dear Rabbi,

My son was born in the second Adar of a Jewish leap year. We booked his barmitzvah two years ago. This year is again a Jewish leap year so my son’s barmitzvah should be in the second Adar, as it was the year he was born. However, our shul has booked it during the first Adar. Who’s right?

Vanessa

 

Dear Vanessa,

Take a deep breath, as you do have a problem. Did you give them your son’s date of birth and relied on them to calculate the date – in which case the fault lies with the shul.

Or did you submit what you presumed to be the actual date based on your own calculations, and then simply asked them to book in the nearest Shabbat?

If it’s the latter, dare I say that this is your own fault (but you could argue that the shul should doublecheck). If it’s the former – yikes! I wouldn’t want to be the one in that office.[divider]

Dear Rabbi,

My mum died several years ago and my dad recently remarried. Am I obligated to respect my stepmother as my dad insists, or can I ignore her wishes? She’s not my mother, after all.

Melisa

 

Dear Melisa,

The point is your father insists and thus you are obligated to do so for, in essence, it is honouring him. Jewish law (Yoreh Deah 240:21) even goes so far as to say that although there is no obligation to honour a step-parent after the passing of a parent, it is still a praiseworthy thing to do.

I know it isn’t easy. No one can replace your mum and maybe you should speak to someone about it. Good luck.[divider]

Dear Rabbi,

Matthew-Levi (Chapter 1) provides the genealogy of Yeshua HaMashiach from his foster father Joseph, while Luke 3 does the same for his mother, Miriam. They were both of the House of David. Why, then, don’t you accept Yeshua as the Jews’ saviour?

Caleb

 

Dear Caleb,

The genealogy in Matthew is irrelevant, as a “foster son” has no legal standing in Judaism beyond that of his biological father. He is not entitled to estate or titular inheritance, or tribal affiliation of his “foster father” etc. That is a law spelled out explicitly in the Torah of Moses, which Yeshu claimed to uphold. (b) Matthew’s list contradicts the Divine Bible (ie the Jewish scriptures), where in I Chronicles 3 the list of generations is: 1) David. 2) Solomon. 3) Rehoboam. 4 )Abiyah. 5) Assa. 6) Yehoshaphat. 7) Yoram. 8) Ahazyahu. 9) Azaryah.

Matthew missed Ahazyahu, thus proving ignorance and messing up his claim of 14 generations.  (c) According to Luke there is a completely different genealogical list for Joseph the “foster father,” in full discrepancy with Matthew. Christians claim Matthew’s list is Joseph’s, and Luke’s list is Mary’s. This may sound ingenious but is nothing less than disingenuous. There is not the slightest hint or allusion in Luke to suggest this reinterpretation.

Indeed, Luke could not possibly have meant that, as  a) obviously he tried to link Yeshu to the royal succession of King David, and b) must surely have known that in Judaism matrilineal descent has no bearing on tribal affiliation and rights of succession. Thus, if he had in mind Mary’s descent, he would ipso facto have disqualified Yeshu from any Messianic claims.

Then again, he was automatically disqualified anyway,  because – as stated above – “foster son” or “foster father” has no legal standing beyond voluntary obligations a foster father assumes himself.

I could go on but I’m not inclined to engage in debate with you. I merely ask that you stop trying to lure people away from their faith. [divider]

Dear Rabbi,

I wrote just before Yom Kippur to tell you I was fed up after enduring a bad year and  wasn’t prepared to fast. You gave me one of your hard-hitting responses with a touch of humour. I ignored it and did not fast. But you gave me reason to think, so I decided to refocus for Chanukah and have lit candles daily and started going back to shul regularly.

Thanks for setting me straight!

Leon

 

Dear Leon,

That’s what we’re here for! However, don’t rest on your laurels, lest the next time life throws one of its curveballs you might be inclined to go down the same route.

Take a lesson from the Chanukah candles. One minute they burn bright and the next it seems to have gone out. But the next day we are back, rekindling the candle. Only we add an extra candle, signifying the importance of never just maintaining the status quo. One has to always increase in their spiritual development. Much like physical exercise, you have to keep it up, then, when ready, look to push yourself that much more, otherwise you will invariably weaken.

It’s like I say: Life is an elevator. You are either going up or you are going down. The only time you stand still is when the emergency button is pulled. But that’s also when alarm bells start ringing. Thanks for writing – it is always encouraging to get positive feedback.[divider]

• Read Rabbi Schochet’s blog at shul.co.uk/rabbi or follow him on Twitter at @RabbiYYS