Ask the Rabbi: ‘Vote only out of conviction’

Ask the Rabbi: ‘Vote only out of conviction’

Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet answers readers’ questions in his weekly column, Ask the Rabbi.

Ask the Rabbi

Why decide against KLBD?

Dear Rabbi,

You recently wrote that quinoa is kosher for Pesach (provided it is labelled as such), but my understanding is that the United Synagogue kosher department rules that it is best not to use. Why would you rule against the US?


Dear Gregory,

Well, had the questioner asked the KLBD for its view, that would be the ruling they would have followed. But they didn’t, did they? They asked me so I gave them my ruling.

If you have a problem with me, as a US rabbi offering a different ruling than the KLBD – well, that’s your problem, not mine.

ASK THE RABBI 2Vote only out of conviction

Dear Rabbi,

Does Judaism require one to vote for a Jewish candidate because of his religion? What if I support a non-Jewish opponent’s policies over his?


Dear Harvey,

One’s religious identity should have no bearing whatsoever on your voting choice. The fact that Ed Milliband is Jewish should not be a reason to vote for him if you are repulsed by his views on Israel. In fact, religion shouldn’t be a factor at all when it comes to politics because the social interests of an electorate extend well beyond the religious views of individuals. Sadly, certain politicians do play the religious card as is alleged recently in Tower Hamlets, with the mayor forced to step down. And, as I have often maintained – Respect leader George Galloway’s anti-Israel diatribe supposedly garners the Muslim vote for him in Bradford.

Vote out of conviction based on policy. Nothing more, nothing less.

Let’s make wives’ lives easier!

Dear Rabbi,

I once owned property in Israel and was instructed I did not have to keep the second day of yom tov when there. Eventually I sold the property and was told that as long as I go three times a year (on all three festivals) I would still only have to keep one day. More recently I’ve been going only twice a year and spend Pesach in London. Yet I am told I have to keep two days while in London. Is this fair? This is a rabbinic law which most Jews, even in the Diaspora, ignore anyway, so why is this burden put on me just because I return for one of the festivals – especially when for so many years I only had to keep the one day there?

It is especially a burden for my wife as she has to worry about Shabbat as well, which puts an extra workload on the house during Pesach.

The law is rabbinic anyway, so I isn’t it time to revert to the one day in keeping with our brothers and sisters in Israel.

Let’s put this to a secret ballot by the hierarchy and next year we can make the lives of our wives so much easier.


Dear Mike,

So, let’s see. You had the luxury of owning a property in Israel. You had the luxury of travelling there three times a year. You still have the luxury of going twice a year and you’re worried about your wife overworking the one time she has to spend a festival in the UK? My heart bleeds borscht for the poor woman!

Our government has promised a referendum on being in or out of the EU. If you want to have a vote on second day yom tov, knock yourself out. And if after that you perhaps mightwant to do the same with eating rice on Pesach, carrying on Shabbat… heck, let’s vote on all things Jewish – the sky’s the limit!

Your circumstances changed buddy, so the rules changed for you, too. That’s the way it works in all dimensions of our lives. You want real change? Next year in Jerusalem – see that you can do your part to make that real.

Having sinned, i feel hypocritical

Dear Rabbi,

Although I consider myself a religious woman, I recently found myself involved in something deeply sinful. I’m really trying to come to terms with this storm that has caused havoc in my life and feel a hypocrite trying to observe anything religious again.


Dear Anon,

We each have our struggles and sometimes it is precisely the “darker” and “uglier” parts of our personalities that provide the opportunity for the most penetrating insights into our lives and missions.

If you acknowledge them with full honesty and vulnerability, then utilise them as a springboard for your own moral, emotional and spiritual growth – you will discover how the one who falls and gets up is so much stronger than the one who never fell.

And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive.

You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain: when you emerge from the storm you won’t be the same person. Wishing you peace and success.

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