Question
BSD Shalom uBrochoh! I was having a discussion with someone & we have a question regarding something that occurs in Chassdishe Shuls/Shteiblach, including Chabad Shuls. Perhaps you can answer it iyH for us. In Ashkenazic Shuls, the minhag (or perhaps halachah) is for the Rav of the shul to sit facing the Congregants, with his back toward the Mizrach. Many of these shuls also have the minhag/halachah to invite "elders" or leaders of the shul to sit up front, again facing the Congregation. It is my understanding that Rambam zatsal, and others, Posken that this is the halachah - that shuls should be arranged in this manner. One of the reasons given is that by having the Rav facing the Minyan, they can look/watch him, and iyH be inspired by his davening & kavannah, etc. The same with the others that are sitting up front. As well, the Rav can look out onto his congregation & be assured that they are davening appropriately, and if Gd forbid, there is an issue, he can more readily address it. Perhaps there are additional reasons as well. However, in Chassidishe shuls/shitblach, the prevailing minhag/halachah is for the Rebbe or Rav to sit facing the Mizrach, as all the congregants do - with his back toward the Minyan. Further, we usually do not see other mispallelim "honored" with sitting up front in the same fashion. It's most always only the Rebbe/Rav that does this. The question that we have is, why the difference? If it is a halachah to sit facing the Congregation, what are the mekoros that the Chassidishe velt relies on to do differently from Ashkenazim? Why is it different? If it is minhag, then what are the reasons for the different minhagim and what they based on? Further, do you know what the prevailing halachah/minhag is in Sefard Shuls, Nusach Eidut Mizrachi, Yemini, and with other kehillos? I would appreciate an answer, if possible, with references included. Many thanks! Time is important as we are waiting to continue our discussions. Ksivah vChasimah Tovah - Lshannah Tovah uMesukah - a goot bebentshed yohr with all of our prayers answered by HaShem Yisborach openly revealed & only for the good ... with the ultimate Brochoh of the IMMEDIATE arrival & revelations of the HaMelech HaMoshiach Tzidkeinu Shlita - NOW!!!

Question
I have met various jews after the time that I begin to embrace 7 noahide laws. When I become friendly with them they start to give me some life advices and try to change me. I have found many jewish articles that say about make this world a better place. Religious jews and secular jews share this kind of tendency. It seems that jews are so obssessed about changing this world. Why are jews so desperately improve the world?

Question
My wife and I have little choice but to have a childhood friend of hers stay with us for the next several months. She is coming to town to receive life saving medical treatment and needs to stay somewhere. There are no other options for her, it’s a long story why. The problem is that I work at home and I am normally home by myself all day. My wife works outside the home and is away most of the day. This means I would be home with no one but this woman all day. My wife is the one who arranged this and she is pressuring me to overlook yichud laws because she feels this is a great mitzvah we are doing. What is the proper way to handle this?

Question
My boyfriend and I went to an orthodox Grand Siyum Seder Moed. The shul was sephardic that put it on. I am used to a modern orthodox or conservative shul and my boyfriend is conservative. After sitting for a few minutes we realized the men and women were sitting on separate sides of the room. I had only seen this done in shul, not at a meal. We chose to stay at our table sort of in the middle in the back. We wondered if we would sit alone but another couple from that shul sat with us, and two other men with one child each-their wives at the women's side of the room. my question is: were we being rude/disrespectful by not going to separate tables. We did not know anybody, I would have been sort of ok moving and being separate from my boyfriend but he would have been extremely uncomfortable. Neither of us knew ahead of time, nor did we realize that some orthodox sit separate at meals. I can handle this for the future and ask ahead of time but were we wrong to stay together at our table?

Question
Shalom Rabbi I have the flag of a nation I am living in and I plan on putting it up outside. The reason being, it is taking up space in my room and it would look nice outside, and might make some people happy. I am trying to figure out how to avoid anything that may be considered idolatrous in so doing. The custom in the country is to illuminate the flag at night. Otherwise, the flag has "fallen into darkness". In my opinion, this custom appears to be somewhat idolatrous, as it could possibly lead to worship or veneration of an inanimate object. Not illuminating the flag, however, can cause some consternation to veterans and others, which might make it a source of ire and not happiness as was intended. Is there any guidance / halakha on putting up flags of secular nations? Chag Sameach

Question
Doesn't the verse "...Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it; have dominion over...every living thing...." (Genesis 1:28) seem to teach disrespect and egocentric insensitivity to the environment. What is Judaism's attitude to environmental issues?

Question
I was recently elected to the City Council of Crawfordsville, Indiana, where I live. There will be a swearing-in ceremony in a couple weeks. I will be sworn in using a copy of "the Bible" but wasn't sure if I should use a Chumash or the entire Tanach. Do you happen to know what Senator Joe Lieberman used? Thank you for your help!   Ethan J. Hollander Associate Professor Department of Political Science Wabash College