Another Ten Questions

Question

1. Are tattoos really as looked down upon in Judaism as much as my family has told me growing up? 2. The synagogue I went to recently had a new cantor. What are the qualifications a cantor needs to have? 3. If someone who is keeping kosher accidentally eats something that is not kosher, what is he or she expected to do? 4. When my birthright group had Shabbat lunch with an Israeli family, one of the guests had a philosophy background and interpreted many of the prayers in a fascinating way. Can you recommend any books that combine Judaism and philosophy? 5. While I love that I had my Bat Mitzvah on my birthright trip, it certainly didn’t come with the same level of work that I would have gone through had I had one back at home. 6. What, specifically, needs to be done for a Bat Mitzvah to be considered “official”. Are these qualifications different if it’s performed in Israel and at the Western Wall? 7. Similarly, before my flight to Israel on birthright, I was asked a lot of religious questions, including whether I had a Bat Mitzvah. If I fly to Israel again and am asked that same question, is the answer “yes”? My concern is that the security agent will ask me questions about my Torah Portion, and I did not have one. 8. I learned a bit about the significance of one’s Jewish name on my trip, but I would love to learn more. Are there any resources you can share? 9. I loved how our Birthright bus had different people read the Traveler’s Prayer each morning. Are there any other prayers related to travel that you can share? 10. I have been told that Jews do not hold baby showers or buy anything for a new baby before it’s born. Can you explain the root of this?

3 years

Answers

  1. 1: Yes. The Torah twice states definitively that it is absolutely forbidden to have tattoos. What is a misconception is that there is no prohibition with burying a person with a tattoo in a Jewish cemetery

    2: He needs to have Yirat Shamayim – to be pious and live a religious life. Oh, and a beautiful voice wouldn’t hurt!

    3: They would need to do Teshuvah for having sinned albeit inadvertently. A person who sins by mistake is not judged by God with the same severity as someone who sinned deliberately but it is still considered to be a sin and needs rectification.

    4: There are a plethora of books on Jewish philosophy – both about Prayer and about all the other dimensions of Jewish life. I would suggest that you try a site like www.eichlers.com and browse their philosophy section

    5: In truth, a Bat Mitzvah does not require any work, per se. The legal definition of a Bat Mitzvah is turning twelve years and one day (the same is true for a boy – he becomes Bar Mitzvah automatically when he turns thirteen and one day). Whilst it is true that many people make parties and the Bat Mitzvah girl does something in her Synagogue there is absolutely no obligation to do so to become Bat Mitzvah

    6: Nothing. See answer #5.

    7: The security questions are simply to gauge whether you are telling the truth. They listen carefully to the way that you answer the questions. You can tell them that you did (as you certainly did!) if they ask you any details just tell them the truth – that you had one at the Western Wall.

    8: If you have a specific question about a name “Just Ask” will be happy to try and help explain it. Otherwise, I apologize but I am not familiar with any resources that deals with Hebrew names. Perhaps you might find something online that can help you gain more insight about the subject.

    9: Not that I know of. The “Traveler’s Prayer” – “tefillat haderech” – is the special prayer for traveling.

    10: There is no prohibition against having a shower or buying baby goods before the birth. Many people do not do so because of the concept of “tempting fate”.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team