Dear Rabbi
I’m writing a thesis on gay marriage and don’t have an Orthodox opinion. I have read your past comments so would appreciate your blunt assessment – just a straight one word answer. Gay marriage, yes or no?

Edgar

 

Dear Edgar
Definitely not! (Oops that’s two words).

 

Dear Rabbi
My daughter is getting married in one month. As father of the bride, I will be making a speech. As a renowned speaker with a good sense of humour, I’d appreciate it if you’d provide me with a good joke with a strong message for me to share with my audience.

Raphael

 

Dear Raphael
Seriously? Why scour the internet or consult someone when you can get the job done quickly and for free, right? Well, since you were so complimentary (and flattery gets you everywhere) here goes. Marvin, aged 86, has been dating Sadie, aged 83, for several years. Finally, one night he pops the question. Then he goes home to sleep. The next morning he suddenly recoils and wonders: “I know I asked her the question, I just can’t remember what her answer was!”

After an agonising hour he decides to call: “Sadie, please forgive me. I know I finally proposed to you last night. But I cannot remember what your answer was!” There was a heavy sigh of relief at the other end, then Sadie said: “Oh thank God you called, Marv. I remember saying ‘yes’ to someone last night, but I couldn’t remember who!” When a bride and groom get married, the excitement and fervour is intense. But, somewhere down the line, they may lose sight of why they said yes to one another in the first instance. The biggest nemesis in life is that familiarity breeds contempt. The challenge is to strive to do the things it took to woo one another in the first place. Sure, there are natural tensions – differences of opinion – along the way but that’s all part of the building blocks of a successful relationship.

If both parties are committed to doing so, they can always experience the same love and fervour on deeper levels throughout their lives. This goes for the spiritual dimension which is a vital component of every Jewish union as well. Now, where’s my invitation! PS: Have you bothered to consider that maybe the grooms’ family or some of the guests read this column? If they heckle you, it’s not my problem!

 

Dear Rabbi

Is Islamophobia a problem in the UK? Muslims are attacked in the aftermath of a terror attack, simply due to their faith. This seems more prevalent in the UK than other parts of Europe. As a Jew and a rabbi, do you consider this to be an issue? Is Islamaphobia as prevalent as anti-Semitism?

Debbie

 

Dear Debbie

As a human being I consider this to be not just a problem but a tragedy. Just because a deranged individual commits an
atrocity doesn’t mean someone else somewhere else is responsible. There are enough hateful opportunists around who use
global affairs as an excuse to vent their detestable rage.

As a Jew I relate to it because whenever tensions escalate in the Middle East there are more rampant attacks on Jews throughout the world. They call it anti-Zionism, but again, it’s really just an excuse to lash out and use a political guise to cover an agenda. However, I would not go so far as to equate Islamaphobia with anti-Semitism for a number of reasons. First, while Islamaphobia is a more recent phenomenon, which often emerges as a result of terrorist attacks, anti-Semitism has been around longer – in fact ever since the first Jew walked this earth. It is simply an irrational hatred that lingers and, like a sleeping dog, looks to rear its ugly head when it becomes more acceptable to do so
in light of global events.

Second, while both anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia are real problems with sheer racist undertones, many attacks against Jews in Europe are carried out by Muslims. You will scarcely if ever find the reverse to be true. Read into that what you will.

There’s another point to consider. When terrorist attacks occur, you will acknowledge that most of the time they are perpetuated by Muslims. To be sure, such radicals are not representative of their faith and, indeed, distort their religion to pursue their own malicious ends. But the big question is: where are the other voices within the wider Islamic community to condemn such attacks? What people are fed in the media is the rhetoric of certain imams in western societies condoning the attacks or images of people in the streets of certain countries dancing and celebrating the attacks. If there are no vociferous voices rising above the parapet to condemn, then others just assume that you’re complicit by virtue of your silence. That’s not a justification by any means – just an analysis.

That’s my opinion as a Jew and a human being. As a rabbi, I will add this. It all comes down to one of the opening verses in the Bible: “And God created man in His image.” We all live with the objective of striving to be in His image. Our lives are different yet the same. If we all respected that reality, if you really believe that “you are God’s child”, then you should believe that about others, as God has many children. Then we would all be more enriched and the world would be a much better place to live in.

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