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Q. In the Purim Packet you distributed on campus you gave a different reason for eating Hamantaschen than the one I always heard?

A. You’re right. What I wrote about G-d’s concealment in the Purim story represented by the hidden filling peeking out, and the 3 sides of the dough coming together as the story’s parts come together fitting perfectly is not the … Read the rest

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Q. Why do more Jews register as Democrats than Republicans? 

A. This is not an endorsement of either party, only an historical observation (nothing religious about this question). The trend is slowly decreasing, it used to be this way because of several reasons. (1) Jews love social issues (civil liberties … Read the rest

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Q. My grandmother died this day last year. What can I do in her memory?

A. Kaddish is the prayer said on a “yartzeit” – anniversary of passing. But most people don’t say the Mourners’ Kaddish while both of our parents are living (there are personal and communal exceptions to this). There’s a prayer called … Read the rest

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Q. Why do some Chassidic Jews have long side-curls?

A. Just for “station-indentification” purposes, I am a Lubavitcher Chassid. We don’t have long curls (though we have full beards) and although we share basic elements and history of Chassidism with other Chassidic groups, we differ in many significant ways…  … Read the rest

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Q. Some of the Talmud’s extensions of Torah’s prohibitions seem like a stretch to me?

A. It all depends how we view the Torah. In Hospitals extremely strict precautions are taken to avoid the slightest possibility, however remote, of contamination by disease. If you take the Torah seriously enough, all the safeguards and precautions the … Read the rest

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Q. Is it true that Purim Food Gifts need to have one sweet & one baked item? 

A. Not exactly, but I see where you’re coming from. It is customary to send a minimum of 2 food items, known as “Mishloach Manot” to at least one friend on the Purim holiday. The foods are supposed to be … Read the rest

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Q. Where does the name Mushky come from?

A. Our oldest daughter Chaya Mushka (or as we call her Mushky) is named after the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s wife who passed away in 1988. “Chaya” is Hebrew for “Life”, and “Mushka” is a “Spice” (probably musk?)  (Not to be confused … Read the rest

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Q. Why do we drink Hot Cider only on Sukkot?

A. Glad you liked it. We serve Hot Cider in the Shabbos House Sukkah only because we’re eating outdoors and it’s cold out that time of year. Aside for a local connection there’s no deeper significance behind our “custom”. Upstate … Read the rest

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Q. OK, Laws are important – but what’s the big deal about a custom?

A. Put it this way: You buy your fiance an expensive diamond ring. The store gives you a little cardboard box with a soft, cushioned velvety inside. Though it doesn’t cost much, it creates an effect and atmosphere for the … Read the rest

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Q. How is “don’t cook a kid-goat in its mother’s milk” a source for not mixing milk & meat?

A. The written Torah is complemented and explained in great length in the Oral Torah (which shares the same source at Sinai). Think of it like opening a folder on a friend’s computer (with permission, of course). Dozens of file … Read the rest

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