Question
I recently learned that according to Jewish law one is not supposed to call their parents by their first names. When I was growing up, my parents taught me to call them by their first names, and I am grown up and I still do. That’s what they wanted me to do. They have been accustomed to being called by their names their whole lives and they didn’t want me or my siblings to call them anything different. And I know they don’t want me to change this suddenly. I also called my grandparents by their first names when they were alive, as did my mother. This has been our family tradition as far as I know. And I was planning to teach my children when I had them to call me and my future wife by our first names. What is the scoop on this?

Question
Is there any avera committed when bullying another child? The reason why I am asking is because our son has been bullied so much, we are withdrawing him at the end of the school year from the local Jewish day school he attends and homeschooling him next year. Bullying is rampant and the rebbeim and teachers have not done the job of controlling it. I am not sharing the name or location of the school or anyone involved because that would make this Lashon Hara. We are extremely dismayed. This is not the environment of Torah values we sent him to that school for. We fear physical and emotional injury to our son. And if he spends long enough there, we fear he will learn to behave that way himself.

Question
Shalom Rabbi, I am in the final stages of planning to become a Gher and in doing so resolving some outstanding Halachic questions concerning my final decision to go ahead with --exclusively of course-- an Orthodox conversion. I was born to an intermarriage whereby my mother was not Jewish at the time of my birth. My father has passed away and i no longer have anything to do with his family and haven't for many years. My question concerns the decision I must make --whether or not to keep my current last name due to the mitzvah of honoring one's parents. (my name which is also my father's last name is associated with his avera, having committed the sin of intermarriage with my non-Jewish mother). Now, my instincts tell me to go ahead with legally changing my last name just prior (or immediately after) completion of the mikvah / Gher-ceremony. This is my current plan. However i wanted to get a confirmation from you as to whether this is a) Halachically required B) strongly recommended or C) as a matter of Jewish Law it makes no difference. Common sense tells me --as I understand Hashem-- G-d would NOT want me to carry the last name that is so directly associated with the avera of intermarriage. In fact, and to be sure, my thought is to blot this name (which is "Gilman") completely out from me and my life. In summary, given that the family name is clearly so very closely associated with marriage and family life, and given the very important Mitzvah to honor one's parents [and I quote] "honor your father and mother that thy days may be long" it is clear to me that changing my name will certainly not be honoring my father. However, the question becomes whether or not this mitzvah applies to a situation where the father has transgressed the Torah in such a terrible way. (not only marrying a non-Jewish mother but also having non-Jewish offspring). Does the "Honor Parents" mitzvah apply to: a family name change --when such a change will occur in the process of becoming a gher--a completely new relationship with Hashem, with a "renewed" Jewish nishama (who after all, was in fact at Mt. Sinai and participated with Israel in agreeing to completely accept the covenant with G-d in acceptance of the 613 Mitzvot. Your kind answer is very much appreciated. Toda Arba and Shalom. Sincerely, Colin Gilman

Question
Earlier today, I saw one of my neighbors, an orthodox Jew who I have seen around but don’t know his name, repeatedly beating one of his sons as punishment for something that is unclear what. I filmed part of the beating from my apartment window, but the film is not clear enough to ascertain what was going on. What this father was doing looked so bad, I felt like calling 911. But I was uncertain if I should call the civil authorities on my fellow Jew. I also didn’t know if the police would consider this a crime or not because parents do have the legal right to spank their children. Regardless, I thought this treatment of his son went too far for what would be reasonable punishment. I have 4 children of my own and I would never do that to any of them, no matter how badly they behaved. I don’t believe what my neighbor was doing would fix any behavioral issues. I also wasn’t sure if reporting this is considered Lashon Hara.

Question
I know women are exempt from time-bound commandments in part because of the need to provide childcare. But what about a man who is the primary caregiver for his children? My situation is that I am a stay-at-home dad and I probably will be for many years to come. My wife has a very demanding job where she is away from home for as many as 14 hours a day. After having our first baby recently, she had some maternity leave and this freed me up some time to do things including davening. Now she is back at work and except on weekends, I find davening at the proper time practically impossible. Childcare is much more of a responsibility than I ever imagined. It’s much harder work than the full time job I had before our daughter was born. Even before we conceived, my wife wanted me to quit my job to be a stay-at-home dad as soon as we had children. She made it clear to me that she prefers work to childcare, and I love children, so it is a good arrangement. I gave my notice two months before the baby was born and stopped working six weeks before her birth. I’m glad I did because I was so busy preparing for fatherhood even before she was born. Now that I am my daughter’s primary caregiver, I literally have no free time except maybe a little on weekends. This is just the beginning. We want to have more children in the future. This puts me in the position of being primary caregiver of the children for decades to come. I will always be the one who feeds them, changes their diapers, does the laundry and housework, and takes them where they need to go. Which means I can’t see myself being able to daven at the proper time as hard as I might try. I do very much love what I am doing, but I am feeling guilty about not davening.

Question
I know according to the Torah, we are supposed to obey our parents. But does that mean that if they do not want to have a relationship with us, we are required to respect that wish and not ever contact them? I am adopted. My adoptive parents gave me a very nice upbringing. But they have both died. I did a DNA test earlier this year. My biological mother was not on it, but I found a biological cousin. My cousin wasn’t very welcoming but told me who my biological mother is and gave me her phone number but warned me that she would not warm up to me. I called my biological mother. As my cousin told me to expect, my biological mother was rude to me. She spoke for under two minutes in which she admitted she had me and gave me up and said that’s how she wanted it to be. She acted like I violated her by calling her as a stranger. And before slamming the phone, she told me never to call her again.

Question
I read of a custom to bless one’s children on Friday night. Would you please tell me a little more about this practice? Thank you!

Question
From before the time I was born, my father was a very observant religious man. He put on tefillin every day, went to shul regularly, studied Torah, and taught me to be who I am now. He was very kind and scrupulously observed every mitzvah he possibly could. Sadly, my father now has dementia. This has affected his personality. Today, my father rails against the very religious principles he once practiced. And he uses a lot of profanity in reference to the beliefs his demented mind has taken on. He says the most terrible things about G-d, the Torah, and Halacha. Anyone observing Jew would be disgusted by what he’s saying. And he has stopped practicing too. During Shabbos, he turns lights on and off, watches TV, and makes phone calls. We have tried, but we can’t control him. He can be quite combative. If he was still driving, he’d be driving on Shabbos too. If he had access to food of his choice, he’d be eating treif. My father now lives with us because he can no longer live by himself. We have hired part-time care for him so we can have our lives and our sanity. We like to have Shabbos guests. But when we have people over, we can’t stop him from behaving like this at the Shabbos table. Some of our friends understand the nature of his condition, but others cannot comprehend what’s really going on and think he is just a self-hating Jew. They do not realize what he was like in the past before he developed this irreversible condition. We like having Shabbos guests over, but we find him an embarrassment. We don’t want to turn away anyone from our home. And we don’t want to exclude him either. How do you think we should manage this?

Question
Dear Rabbi, My husband and I are in our upper 50s. We have been happily married for over 30 years. We tried but couldn’t have children when we were young and couldn’t adopt either because we couldn’t afford to. We have always felt and still feel an emptiness because we never had any children. This emptiness has grown as more time has passed and many of our relatives are gone. Now we are financially in a better position and we would very much love to adopt some children, but we cannot ignore the fact that we are older. We are for the most part in good health. We have asked a lawyer, and legally we can adopt if an agency is willing to approve us. What is your advice as a rabbi when it comes to middle-aged people adopting children?    

Question
Does one who fails to conceive children naturally, despite their best attempts, fulfill the mitzvah to be fruitful and multiply if they adopt children and raise a family of one or more adopted children?