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FAQ: Family Life

FAQ: Family Life

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FAQ: Family Life

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. 19:23-25).


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 artscroll.com/itehillim.html#parentsprayer.


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 marriage?"

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.

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