Ask the Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi with Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet

Dear Rabbi,

The summer holiday is upon us, but most of the month of August coincides with the Hebrew month of Elul. That’s a time when we are supposed to get ready for the high holy days, but it occurs to me that many will spend that time on the beach.

I’m off to Israel next month. So would it be acceptable to blow the shofar by the hotel’s poolside each day?

Stan

 

Dear Stan,

I’m getting an image here of a bunch of people frolicking in their swimwear, kids squealing and someone standing on the lifeguard’s chair blowing the shofar in order to summon them to some introspection and feelings of repentance. You think? I don’t think so!?[divider]

Dear Rabbi,

London’s Kabbalah Centre is advertising for new teachers. I appreciate you have concerns about Kabbalah, but in these difficult financial times I could really use the income and think I might be qualified for the job.

Is there dispensation in the circumstances?

Nigel

 

Dear Nigel,

I’ve seen the advert, too. It talks about the centre having been founded by Rabbi Ashlag in 1922. However, Rabbi Ashlag’s school in Israel has disavowed any affiliation to the centre.

It talks about the centre making 4,000-year-old Kabbalah scriptures accessible to every-day life. However, its current teachings do not represent authentic Kabbalah and, in so many ways, the centre contravenes the fundamentals of Kabbalah.

You want to get involved in that? You’d be doing better washing windows in your spare time, and would be able to live with yourself at the same time.[divider]
Dear Rabbi,

The recent Nigella Lawson saga has made me wonder about the extent to which spousal abuse goes on in the Jewish community – and how much of it gets reported. There’s reluctance in the Jewish community about reporting such abuse. Why is it swept under the carpet?

Caroline

 

Dear Caroline,

It’s not for me or you to make assumptions, but one can safely assume that, sadly, it goes on in all sections of society. Alas, in some of those segments it is wrongly believed that it is acceptable norm and, that sometimes, “you just have to accept your fate.” No, you don’t.

Abuse in any shape is unacceptable and must not be tolerated.

If you’re big enough to stand up for yourself then you must do so. If you’re not, then you need to seek urgent help. There are those who tragically submit to their ‘fate’ because the hassle of upheaval especially when there are children in the relationship is too overwhelming.

Sometimes the very real fear of dealing with it just seems to make the abuse endured the lesser of the evils. Nothing could be further from the truth.

You don’t have to spend a lifetime in misery. Living outside the abuse, even if alone, has got to be a happier place to be. And no one should ever give up on finding love again thereafter.

In the Jewish community there is Jewish Women’s Aid and there are equivalents in other communities.

Two statements by the Talmudic rabbis put this into proper perspective.

One is: “Bessings will only be found in the house of man through his wife.”

The other is: “Man must ensure never to bring his wife to tears, for the ‘heavenly gates of tears’ are always open and God hears and will respond.” Gentlemen (and we include you too Mr Saatchi), you have been warned.[divider]

Dear Rabbi,

I turn 70 next month and will then retire from my law practice. Can you recommend some constructive ideas for occupying my hours?

Roger

 

Dear Roger,

I think you should start by calling your clients, informing them that you’ve written to me and have been advised not to retire – so you’re having a rethink.

Retirement, as wonderful a concept as it might be, is just another way to power down your brain – and your body often follows not far behind…

Unless you’re physically frail, or have other options with which you can properly fill your time, you have no business hanging up your gloves just yet – not when you can still be so productive and have so much more to contribute.

I’m guessing by the fact you’ve written to me that you don’t have other prospects.

So take your family photo out of your box, put it back on your desk and get back to work!

Read Rabbi Schochet’s blog at shul.co.uk/rabbi.