10 questions

Question

1. Do we believe in souls? if so, what happens to people’s souls before they are born or after they die?2. If there’s no hell what are the repercussions of not following Jewish commandments or law?3. What is the Jewish perspective on abortions?4. If a child is adopted are they considered Jewish?5. What is the official stance on same sex marriages?6. If a Jewish child is adopted by non Jews are they still considered Jewish by Jewish law?7. Why are women exempt from going to Shul three times a day but men arent?8. Why do we have to wait 8 days to circumcise a boy?9. Why do we have to wait 3 years to cut a boy’s hair?10. Why do we concentrate mostly on Torah teachings instead of the other books of Tanach?

1 year

Answers

    1. Yes, absolutely. The whole of Judaism is built on the most fundamental concept that a human being is made up of a spiritual soul and a physical body.
    2. The very foundation of the Jewish Religion is rooted in the concept of the World to Come and the Resurrection of the Dead. We believe that without these concepts it would have been nigh on impossible for the Jewish People to have remained attached to G-d and His Torah. Judaism is a religion that uses this world as a means to enter into the World to Come, because of this fundamental belief existence in this this world allows us many expectations, and it gives us a purpose in life – to build on our inherent spirituality and to try and draw closer to G-d in order to enhance G-d’s presence in this world. How is one to receive a place in the World to Come? By performing Mitzvot, commandments, and keeping G-d’s Torah. There are people in this world that deny the very existence of G-d and they believe that they have no need for the World to Come. However, such people manage to perform plenty of Mitzvot during their lives. This is so even if they did so without any of the correct intentions at all. G-d, then
      has to reward them for their actions with a form of “currency” that fits their lifestyle. One of the ways that G-d has for rewarding the wicked is to grant them long life and riches in this world. This means that at their Final Judgment, the Heavenly Tribunal can check it’s records and see that all merits and rewards were paid in the physical world. The Jewish concept of hell, called Gehinom or purgatory, shares no resemblance to Christian hell. Jewish Traditional Sources teach that Gehinom is a place where Souls are sent – only if the Soul is in need of some form of spiritual correction.  A Soul, depending on the need for correction, can spend up to a year in Gehinom. However, the maximum time is “only” twelve months, there is no concept whatsoever of being in Gehinom for an indefinite period of time, i.e. eternal damnation. Once a Soul has been through the necessary process of correction, the Soul is welcomed into the World to Come to join all the other Souls in the World of Truth.
    3. It is forbidden to abort a fetus and it is tantamount to murder, but not exactly the same. However, the subject is not simple and there are many details that need to be examined. Below are some laws and sources about this issue. Abortion is not allowed if the fetus is a product of rape.  Abortion is allowed only if the fetus is endangering the life of the mother. Whether or not the fetus is a product of rape, is largely irrelevant. Danger to the mother’s mental health, like a nervous breakdown, and very serious depression are considered as dangers to life that could justify abortion. According to some Halachic authorities if the fetus will be born with a disease, such as Tay-Sachs, and will suffer terribly and also die soon after birth, then it may be aborted during the first 40 days of the pregnancy. A woman who aborted a fetus against the law, would not be held criminally liable even if she was fully conscious or warned beforehand. If she was married and had the abortion performed without her husband’s consent, she may be liable to compensate him financially. I suggest the following books: Jewish Bioethics by Rosner and Bleich & Jewish Medical Ethics by Immanuel Jacobowitz.
    4. If the biological mother is Jewish then the child is Jewish. If the birth mother is not Jewish the child would need to go through a conversion to be considered Jewish.
    5. They are completely and absolutely forbidden according to the Torah and Jewish Law.
    6. According to Jewish Law a Jew is always Jewish regardless of their upbringing or even if they voluntarily chose to convert to another religion.
    7. Because women are exempt from nearly all time-bound Positive Mitzvot which includes the obligation to pray three times a day.
    8. There are a few reasons that are offered by the commentaries as to why the Bris is on the eighth day. The Midrash states that the child must have experienced at least one Shabbat in his life. The Maharal of Prague explains that the number seven symbolizes the natural cycle and the number eight symbolizes that which is beyond the natural cycle. It is very poignant that we perform the Bris on the eighth day as a sign that the Jewish People are not governed by the natural cycle but rather by G-d Himself. Maimonides, in Guide to the Perplexed, writes that the eighth day is the first day that one should perform the operation to avoid any medical complications (such as blood clotting etc.). Maimonides offers another explanation that to wait too long would allow the bond between the parents and the child to grow stronger until there might be too difficult for them to bring their son for a Bris Milah.
    9. The custom of waiting until the age of three is that a child has his haircut when he is old enough to begin to understand the Torah. The Chassidic tradition is three years old because the fruit of a newly planted tree cannot be eaten until the tree is three years old, this is the Law called Orla.
    10. Because the Torah is the Word of God in the most direct fashion possible. The teachings of the Prophets are tremendously vital to Jewish life but they cannot compare to the words of the Torah, itself. Maimonides explains that there are four basic differences between the words of Moses and the prophecies of the Prophets and it is those differences that make the Torah a different kind of Book to the Books of the Prophets.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team