Posts tagged " Judaism "

Is Judaism defined by one’s mother or father?

July 8th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

In the Bible, genealogies are stated mostly in terms of fathers and sons. Yet, in speaking to contemporary Jews, I am told that the determination of whether one is a Jew or not depends upon the mother’s lineage and faith.
 
Is that the Biblical standard or was that changed over time?

∼ Christopher J.

Answer:

Dear Christopher,

The Hebrew word for parents is ‘HoRiM.’  The ‘iM’ at the end denotes a plural word. There is no singular noun for ‘parent.’  Mother, yes. Father, yes. Parenthood, however, takes teamwork. Knowing this fact benefits everyone.

It encourages individuals to marry before having children and lets them know that they are depriving their children if they do otherwise. If a tragedy occurs and one of the parents is no longer alive or available to the child, then acknowledging that parenthood is a two person-two gender job allows the extended family and community to know that assistance is needed. Pretending that any and every family is equally desirable pretends to help children, while really it harms them.

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Is it okay to lie?

April 23rd, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 1 comment

Question:

I would like to know the ancient Jewish wisdom on lying. Although it is forbidden it seems to be condoned at times in the Bible, such as the stories of Rahab and the Jewish midwives in Egypt.
 
Could it be that it is permissible where it is for the greater good rather than for harming another or for one’s own selfish gain?
 
Thank you.

∼ Marcus W.

Answer:

Dear Marcus,

A number of years ago, we had a Thought Tool on this topic that caused quite a commotion. It is possible that this is one of the areas where Judaism and at least some streams of Christianity differ.

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