QUESTION: "How should one go about naming a girl? Any
advice on prayers that
I should say and / or offerings I should give?"
ANSWER: A baby girl's name is given at the first Torah
reading after birth,
although some wait for the first Shabbat or Festival Torah reading. Psalm 100 is
a prayer of thanksgiving. The best offering is to give tzedakah (charity)
to the needy and to kosher education for Jewish children. Also, since there is
no mitzvah meal for girls comparable
to the meal after the circumcision, there is a strong tradition to sponsor a
Kiddush at the shul in her honor. MAZAL TOV!
QUESTION: "I was told not to cut my son's hair until
he turns three. Why is this done? And does it also apply to girls?"
ANSWER: This is an old custom, which in Israel, and
especially in Meron on Lag B'Omer,
is celebrated in great excitement. Practically speaking, three years is
considered the minimum "Age of Education". Cutting the hair but not cutting the
"peyot" becomes the child's first mitzvah. He usually gets presented then
with his first "tallit katan", another part of his inauguration. Perhaps
even more important, on that day he is supposed to get his first alef-beit
reading - i.e. Torah - lesson.
Girls do not have the mitzvah of peyot or tzitzit, so the
haircutting does not apply. I believe the old custom was for girls to not cut
their hair until the chuppah, but that may not have been universal.
Spiritually and mystically, the first three years of not cutting the hair
corresponds to first three years of a tree when it is forbidden to take its
fruit. The fourth year, starting on 3rd birthday, is called "holy" (see Lev.
QUESTION: "If you name a newborn in memory of a
deceased relative, does a spark of that particular relative's soul become part
of the soul of the baby?"
ANSWER: There is a connection, although it is not
always necessarily that strong. It works in the other direction too. We are
taught that the parents experience "minor prophecy" so as to be inspired to give
a name that is appropriate for the soul.
QUESTION: "My husband and I have been separated for
over a year. Although there is no chance of reconciliation, I am still very
interested in finding a way to communicate with him on a positive level andto
develop a new stage in our relationship as we have two children and will always
be a part of each other's lives. He is very angry and not cooperative at all.
And yet, I believe that every problem has a solution. I was wondering if you
have any advice on how I can help him be more open to communicate with me?"
ANSWER: Sometimes it is helpful to get things going with a mutually-acceptable
third party intermediary. Then it gets calmer and when he gets used to that, he
himself will be ready to drop the intermediary. Or use email as the intermediary
for those issues which may be inflammatory. Be careful to not give the
impression to him that you see yourself the more righteous. May the Al-mighty
bless your sincere efforts.
QUESTION: "My husband and I have been trying to
have a baby for 3 years....Is there a special prayer that you can recommend..."
ANSWER: There is a special prayer from the Shelah that touches on this,
and there is a tradition that the best time to say it is Erev Rosh Chodesh
Sivan. But any time is good.
You can get the Hebrew prayer at tefillos.com/tefillas_hasheloh.asp or
download a PDF of the Artscroll Hebrew/English edition at
QUESTION: "My mother brings negativity around me and
my husband - how should I deal with this? I have not spoken to her much
recently, but I do not want to be disrespectful to my mother. Is there an
appropriate way to approach this?"
ANSWER: You may say to her: "Mother, please stop. I do not want to hear
negativity about my husband/my marriage. It makes me sad / it hampers my ability
to function" or words to that effect. Note that it says nothing about your
mother, only about you. Also, the tone of voice in which you speak to her is
critical. It must be pleasant and respectful.
QUESTION: "I was told there is a Bible reading that
will help someone sell a house. Can you tell me where it is?"
ANSWER: I haven't heard about that verse. But you
might try Psalm 30, which is about inaugurating a new house. Can't do that till
you sell the old one, right? (Actually, this Psalm was composed for the
dedication of the Holy Temple.)
QUESTION: "My wife and I are considering purchasing an
apartment. We would like to know if there is a concept of a "bad vibe"
associated with an apartment. If so, what can be done to remove it?"
ANSWER: 1) Put up kosher mezuzot on every doorway that
requires it, after the purchase but before you move in.
2) Just before or as soon as you move in, bring as many Jewish schoolchildren
(under bar-bat mitzvah) to the house (boys separately, girls separately) and
have them say "Shema Yisrael...", "Bereishit
bara..." and other basic verses, and read a few chapters of Psalms, such as
chapters 20 and 30 and 139.
3) Make a "chanukat habayit" housewarming party soon after establishing
yourselves in your new home. Customs vary from community to community about how
to conduct it, so ask your local rabbi. The main point is to invite a lot of
people and be sure that words of Torah and blessing are said. (You
should be among those that say Torah.)
QUESTION: "I am a Jewish woman but never really
practiced religion. This year I am home-schooling my children and would like to
introduce the teaching of the Kabbalah to them. Is there a book you can
recommend or a certain way to introduce/teach the study to them?"
ANSWER: I'd rather recommend books on basic Judaism. They have a right to know
about their heritage. Take a look on Judaism.com or Eichlers.com. If you tell me
what area you live in and the ages of your kids, I might be able to find a
volunteer to come and help.
QUESTION: "I was born circumcised. What spiritual
significance could that hold if any?"
ANSWER: It could be that you were born with an extra measure of purity.
QUESTION 1: "In Judaism and/or Kabbalah are intimate
relations only considered appropriate when realized after the ritual of
ANSWER 1: Yes (although the Jewish marriage ceremony
is by no means a ritual; it is a contract).
QUESTION 2: "What is necessary for a couple to be
considered married? Is the intimate act sufficient to constitute the marriage?"
ANSWER 2: For Jews, the marriage contract is also required, as well as certain
aspects of the ceremony. For non-Jews it may be that it is enough, IF it is done
for the intention of establishing a marriage state.
QUESTION: "What is Kabbala's view on homosexuality,
living together and having children without marriage, multiple sexual partners,
fornication, adultery, abortion, and masturbation? What are their spiritual
consequences and how they be corrected?"
ANSWER: All are forbidden, all have dire spiritual consequences including the
creation of impure--and sometimes dangerous impure--spiritual beings. The key to
rectification is to gain control over one's desires, to realize that the mind
can rule over the emotions, that "want to" does not have to mean "have to".
If by "corrected" you were not referring to future
actions, but how to fix the negative consequences from the past, know that this
can be difficult but is doable. The starting place is prayer and good deeds,
including the sincere recognition and regret of one's wrong deeds and the honest
resolve to not repeat them.