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RabbiAbrams



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PostSubject: Ask a Rabbi~   Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:23 am

First topic message reminder :

Hello, all.

I am a Rabbi who works primarily in Chaplaincy, and even more accurately, mostly with elderly and Hospice patients.

I have a great deal of experience in Conversion matters as well, and am a Mashgiach to a Kosher restaurant in the Los Angeles area.

My personal website may be found at www.rabbiabrams.org, and my Chaplaincy site is at www.mrcsonline.org.

I look forward to your questions!

--Rabbi Alan Abrams
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Thu Mar 01, 2012 2:17 am

maculated wrote:

And actually, the basket wearing isn't really ridiculous if you look at it from the right perspective - which is literally learning to look at it from the right perspective.

Laughing thats a good one
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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Thu Mar 01, 2012 9:59 am

Bee wrote:
The question was from Rabbi Abrams on why "I" study Talmud but I will answer the other comments:
I may not live in a Jewish community, even if I did, how will that change my "approach", its always evolving just like learning the principle of gezerah shavah. When I read the Torah it comes alive. It will always be that way because I will always read and study it. One day I will completely have the thirteen hermeneutical principles embedded in my way of study but that takes time. I have Rabbi's that guide me, unfortunately that time is limited, they are all Orthodox btw, but I agree that I should live near a community and Gd willing it will be soon. Lets say we move to one, we will still be reading it and asking the Rabbi questions. How different is that than now? I can see where everyone is coming from but have any of you read a tractate? It is extremely difficult at first then it gets better. We have a plethora of resources, diagrams, lectures, books, Rabbi's, and study material on how to study the Talmud, Torah, and everything under the sun. I think we have had this conversation before. My husband has attended Talmud study groups at a shul, and when asked, he gives some insight to the Scholar on the subject. Many Rabbi's or Talmud scholar, even a Chabad Rabbi, who talk to my husband are surprised at his deep knowledge and also that I am his study partner. Please consider that there are some people who do get it without attending a Yeshiva.

So many things I would address in this post, but let me just say this.. if you can't envision how your approach would change if you were living in a vibrant Jewish community, then I think you might be missing the point of Judaism.

(And the word Rabbis, plural, does not need an apostrophe :) ).
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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:10 am

esf you may be right, I could move to a Jewish community and find the point of Judaism. I could also convert and aliyah to Israel and have the full experience. Can you share how it changed your approach to studying the Torah and Talmud?
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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:43 am

Bee wrote:
esf you may be right, I could move to a Jewish community and find the point of Judaism. I could also convert and aliyah to Israel and have the full experience. Can you share how it changed your approach to studying the Torah and Talmud?

In a nutshell (since I only have 2 mins to spare right now), for me, and of course everyone is different and takes a different approach, the Torah and the Talmud are important because they chronicle the relationship of God with the Jewish people, and how we should best fulfill the covenant made between God and us. Without a Jewish community, the whole idea of participating in this dialogue, which has always involved God and a people, a community, becomes somewhat null and void. This is not to say that each individual can't have their own personal relationship with God, of course we all do, but I feel that the Torah and the Talmud are very focussed on us as a people, and that's how we should try to relate to God.

Studying with a Rabbi and other members of a community in person , so that you are guided in a logical way might resolve a lot of the questions that you're struggling with now, some of which I think are just simply beyond where you should be expected to be in your studies at this stage.

And quite apart from all that, how can you feel sure that you want to be part of the Jewish community if you don't know many Jews in person?! I really doubt any Rabbi would convert you without seeing you involved in a Jewish community, attending Shabbat services/dinners, celebrating holidays together etc, no matter how many tractates you have read, or how deeply you believe in the 13 principles of faith. Being Jewish is being part of the Jewish people, hence the importance of actually connecting with other Jews.


Last edited by esf on Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:45 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : edited to fix italics)
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:48 am

Esf, you're wrong in that someone won't convert her outside a Jewish community. There are rabbis that do distance conversions (that was ultimately what I did) and the extent of seeing me in the community was going to kabbalat shabbat after the beit din converted me. The next morning I went to a different shul ( we wanted to check out the Sephardic Orthodox one).

While I understand why you would want to see that involvement, the fact remains that sometimes it's not feasible, nor necessary. I get the feeling from my converting Rabbi that more converted Jews in the world at whatever level of observance is better than not. It's worked out fine for me - especially since people question the local Conservative rabbi's conversions.
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esf

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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:19 pm

OK, fair enough. But I believe you're in a significantly different position to Bee - you did after all have a Jewish fiancé (right?), so you obviously at least had contact with Jewish people! I'm guessing you probably observed some Jewish holidays with a community before you converted, even if not with the Rabbi that ultimately converted you?
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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Thu Mar 01, 2012 3:29 pm

I had a Jewish boyfriend for most of my conversion hunt (I am careful to make sure people understand it had nothing to do with him), yes. And we did have a lot of Chabad time (we practically lived there until I decided to go another route). But the rabbi didn't care that much - I got through my program really fast since I'd spent a year learning Orthodox, but point is - I am quite sure I'm not his usual ger candidate.
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:16 pm

Central to Judaism is community. To become Jewish is to be a part of a community. We did not just become part of a religion we became part of a community.

The Rabbis I know put an emphasis on becoming a part of a community as part of conversion. I was expected to become part of a Jewish community.

I can't say enough about the importance of this in becoming Jewish. Without community sitting and learning Torah and Talmud would not mean much.

When I go to Torah study and about 15 folks go weekly before services. To sit in a group and read, talk about and hear what the Rabbi has to say and all the opinions of those present is what it is about.

There is so much wealth of what we gain from a Jewish community I would be so poor if I did not have my Jewish friends, and the Shul I attend. When I am among other Jews I feel such a connection.


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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:48 pm

tamar wrote:
Central to Judaism is community. To become Jewish is to be a part of a community. We did not just become part of a religion we became part of a community.

The Rabbis I know put an emphasis on becoming a part of a community as part of conversion. I was expected to become part of a Jewish community.

I can't say enough about the importance of this in becoming Jewish. Without community sitting and learning Torah and Talmud would not mean much.

When I go to Torah study and about 15 folks go weekly before services. To sit in a group and read, talk about and hear what the Rabbi has to say and all the opinions of those present is what it is about.

There is so much wealth of what we gain from a Jewish community I would be so poor if I did not have my Jewish friends, and the Shul I attend. When I am among other Jews I feel such a connection.



I agree. My rabbi wouldn't even discuss my conversion (which, by the way, should be final mid May Very Happy ) until I had started to become part of the community. I can't image trying to do it alone.
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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:56 pm

esf wrote:
OK, fair enough. But I believe you're in a significantly different position to Bee - you did after all have a Jewish fiancé (right?), so you obviously at least had contact with Jewish people! I'm guessing you probably observed some Jewish holidays with a community before you converted, even if not with the Rabbi that ultimately converted you?
Ok, Im not sure how it went from one subject to having to move to a community. I would love to move to a community, its not possible right now. I never said it would not be ideal. I just said I dont need to be in one to study. I correspond by email or webex to my Orthodox Rabbis in Israel. Last week two of our Rabbis flew in to Dallas to gather, unfortunately we missed it because I was in DC. I met a few the Rabbis who run Judaica's in DC and Baltimore, they know my husband on a first name basis. The Rabbi from the shul he goes to explained to my husband how the whole coupon book thing works for meals on Shabbos, my husband even met the local butcher. Its not like we don't mingle or interact with a Jewish community. I personally love to study and learn about the Sages, the Tanach, and writings from Chofetz Chaim and Steinsaltz. I carry pocket versions to read on the plane or at night in hotels or at my families home. Judaism to me is not all about a community, although its vital but I am a Noahide. When the day comes to make that choice, I would base it on the call to nationalize with Israel. I have a deep love and relationship with Hashem, I am sure I can learn from my sisters and brothers in a community. Right now, I am enjoying living Torah, studying Torah...eventually I will make that transition into a community. I hope that when I do I don't bring confusion or emotional baggage. I hope to transition like coming home, and be a person who is sure of herself and her place in this world.
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:36 pm

Bee wrote:
esf wrote:
OK, fair enough. But I believe you're in a significantly different position to Bee - you did after all have a Jewish fiancé (right?), so you obviously at least had contact with Jewish people! I'm guessing you probably observed some Jewish holidays with a community before you converted, even if not with the Rabbi that ultimately converted you?
Ok, Im not sure how it went from one subject to having to move to a community. I would love to move to a community, its not possible right now. I never said it would not be ideal. I just said I dont need to be in one to study. I correspond by email or webex to my Orthodox Rabbis in Israel. Last week two of our Rabbis flew in to Dallas to gather, unfortunately we missed it because I was in DC. I met a few the Rabbis who run Judaica's in DC and Baltimore, they know my husband on a first name basis. The Rabbi from the shul he goes to explained to my husband how the whole coupon book thing works for meals on Shabbos, my husband even met the local butcher. Its not like we don't mingle or interact with a Jewish community. I personally love to study and learn about the Sages, the Tanach, and writings from Chofetz Chaim and Steinsaltz. I carry pocket versions to read on the plane or at night in hotels or at my families home. Judaism to me is not all about a community, although its vital but I am a Noahide. When the day comes to make that choice, I would base it on the call to nationalize with Israel. I have a deep love and relationship with Hashem, I am sure I can learn from my sisters and brothers in a community. Right now, I am enjoying living Torah, studying Torah...eventually I will make that transition into a community. I hope that when I do I don't bring confusion or emotional baggage. I hope to transition like coming home, and be a person who is sure of herself and her place in this world.


Bee you are on a Jewish by choice site and for me as a Jew by choice I am speaking as one who became a Jew.

There is so much to being Jewish, there is food, dance, study, holidays, shabbat and being part of a community is central to Judaism so being part of a community is central to Judaism.

What do you mean nationalize with Israel? Are you saying that for you to become Jewish would be on the call to nationalize Israel? I have no idea what this means.

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esf

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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Thu Mar 01, 2012 11:50 pm

Bee wrote:
...eventually I will make that transition into a community. I hope that when I do I don't bring confusion or emotional baggage.

IMO, a sure way to enter a Jewish community bringing loads of confusion and misunderstandings is to study Talmud without guidance.
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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:13 am

tamar wrote:

What do you mean nationalize with Israel? Are you saying that for you to become Jewish would be on the call to nationalize Israel? I have no idea what this means.

I think she just means joining the Jewish people in an official way. Right Bee?

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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:24 am

tamar wrote:
Bee wrote:
esf wrote:
OK, fair enough. But I believe you're in a significantly different position to Bee - you did after all have a Jewish fiancé (right?), so you obviously at least had contact with Jewish people! I'm guessing you probably observed some Jewish holidays with a community before you converted, even if not with the Rabbi that ultimately converted you?
Ok, Im not sure how it went from one subject to having to move to a community. I would love to move to a community, its not possible right now. I never said it would not be ideal. I just said I dont need to be in one to study. I correspond by email or webex to my Orthodox Rabbis in Israel. Last week two of our Rabbis flew in to Dallas to gather, unfortunately we missed it because I was in DC. I met a few the Rabbis who run Judaica's in DC and Baltimore, they know my husband on a first name basis. The Rabbi from the shul he goes to explained to my husband how the whole coupon book thing works for meals on Shabbos, my husband even met the local butcher. Its not like we don't mingle or interact with a Jewish community. I personally love to study and learn about the Sages, the Tanach, and writings from Chofetz Chaim and Steinsaltz. I carry pocket versions to read on the plane or at night in hotels or at my families home. Judaism to me is not all about a community, although its vital but I am a Noahide. When the day comes to make that choice, I would base it on the call to nationalize with Israel. I have a deep love and relationship with Hashem, I am sure I can learn from my sisters and brothers in a community. Right now, I am enjoying living Torah, studying Torah...eventually I will make that transition into a community. I hope that when I do I don't bring confusion or emotional baggage. I hope to transition like coming home, and be a person who is sure of herself and her place in this world.


Bee you are on a Jewish by choice site and for me as a Jew by choice I am speaking as one who became a Jew.

There is so much to being Jewish, there is food, dance, study, holidays, shabbat and being part of a community is central to Judaism so being part of a community is central to Judaism.

What do you mean nationalize with Israel? Are you saying that for you to become Jewish would be on the call to nationalize Israel? I have no idea what this means.

What I am saying is YES to all what you are saying, but when I convert it will not be out of an emotional experience. I have complete understanding of the need to be in a community...but are you saying all who wake up one day and feel they are called to be Jews pack up and move into a community? Enroll in the conversion class, take the plunge and wahlah? Believe me that is what I soooo wanted to do at first, my worst fear was that my conversion process would not be fast enough and Gd forbid I had a child before I was converted. I even asked on this site how I can take an online class, fly to canada or if it would be faster conversion in a reform congregation. I have attended classes and High Holidays at a Reform Congregation BTW eventhough I wanted an Orthodox one. I have since matured a little, I read everyones journey, and I see how many converted under one affiliation and found themselves miserable and changed to another, how one affiliation will not accept another. I am taking my time to make a logical descision so I can iron out any issues before hand. Its a life descision, by good advice from this and another site, I am taking my time. Mean while I cannot claim to a Jew that I am a Jew, I am a Noahide...more closer to Orthodox Noahide if there is one. Even some of the Jewish people we come accross tell us not to convert or why would we want to when its so much easier living as a Noahide. Everyone has their opinion, what might be right for you may not be right for me. Again, it would be a dream to live in a community...it is not possible right now. What I meant with nationalizing with Israel is that if I do convert, does not the Torah say that all Jews must gather to Israel? I would have to ask myself those questions, like how Israel views Jewish communities away from Israel etc. That is a whole other can of worms. I would convert not because of Judaism, Torah is for both Israel and goyim nations, but because I want to be part of a community. (religion aside)
I ask the question again, how long did it take you to move into a community after you woke up and said to yourself you are no longer a christian or what have you? It has been 8 months since we left a religion that I spent 35 years preaching and teaching. How can I move in to one with that baggage? I have to strip away my thinking, my friends, my life style, hundreds of books. I was a children's church minister, private christian school director (16 years), my husband....lest just say we baptized, converted, casted out demons, spoke in tongues you name it, became Messianics, held groups in our homes, helped build a christian highschool in the Congo. Should people like this suddenly move in to a community???? We study so that we will never be astray or worse lead others as we did for the Messianic/Christian movement.
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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:25 am

Dena wrote:
tamar wrote:

What do you mean nationalize with Israel? Are you saying that for you to become Jewish would be on the call to nationalize Israel? I have no idea what this means.

I think she just means joining the Jewish people in an official way. Right Bee?

Yes, thank you. I dont know why I could not just say it as simply as you did Dena, lol.
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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:40 am

Bee wrote:

What I am saying is YES to all what you are saying, but when I convert it will not be out of an emotional experience. I have complete understanding of the need to be in a community...but are you saying all who wake up one day and feel they are called to be Jews pack up and move into a community? Enroll in the conversion class, take the plunge and wahlah?

No, I think what people are saying is there are other things you could be doing with this time. I have honestly never heard of someone leaving Christianity and jumping right into Talmud study. We understand you don't have a community right now. That's fine. Taking your time is a wonderful idea but I think some may feel that while you are taking your time in one area you are jumping way way ahead in another.

Bee wrote:
What I meant with nationalizing with Israel is that if I do convert, does not the Torah say that all Jews must gather to Israel?

Ohh. Okay. Well Bee, you know enough about conversion to know we don't all move to Israel. Where did you learn that it is a command that we all move to Israel?

Bee wrote:
I ask the question again, how long did it take you to move into a community after you woke up and said to yourself you are no longer a christian or what have you?

It took me 4 months to find a community but I didn't have to move since I wasn't converting through the Orthodox movement. I also would have only had to move 20 minutes away, not to an entirely different part of the state.





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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:45 am

esf wrote:
Bee wrote:
...eventually I will make that transition into a community. I hope that when I do I don't bring confusion or emotional baggage.

IMO, a sure way to enter a Jewish community bringing loads of confusion and misunderstandings is to study Talmud without guidance.
It is your opinion and probably 99% of the forum. But we are not without guidance. There some things I don't understand in the Talmud, just as much as subjects in the Tanach. But I do enjoy knowing how the Tanach came about and how the Sages were not going to have other books in it like the Psalms for example. I enjoy learning from the Talmud how a Rabbi went against the majority and how he pursueded the other Sages to keep those books. I enjoy learning how the Sages dispute over minor to major things. It is fascinating, my love for reading it has nothing to do with moving to a community. I agree I dont recommend this study unless you do have guidance...but we have guidance and we have understanding. Why do you oppose? Have you yourself studied the Talmud (I don't doubt you studied the Torah)? Is there an example you can share with me on how I may bring confusion or misunderstanding to a community?
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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:10 am

Dena wrote:
Bee wrote:

What I am saying is YES to all what you are saying, but when I convert it will not be out of an emotional experience. I have complete understanding of the need to be in a community...but are you saying all who wake up one day and feel they are called to be Jews pack up and move into a community? Enroll in the conversion class, take the plunge and wahlah?

No, I think what people are saying is there are other things you could be doing with this time. I have honestly never heard of someone leaving Christianity and jumping right into Talmud study. We understand you don't have a community right now. That's fine. Taking your time is a wonderful idea but I think some may feel that while you are taking your time in one area you are jumping way way ahead in another.

Bee wrote:
What I meant with nationalizing with Israel is that if I do convert, does not the Torah say that all Jews must gather to Israel?

Ohh. Okay. Well Bee, you know enough about conversion to know we don't all move to Israel. Where did you learn that it is a command that we all move to Israel?

Bee wrote:
I ask the question again, how long did it take you to move into a community after you woke up and said to yourself you are no longer a christian or what have you?

It took me 4 months to find a community but I didn't have to move since I wasn't converting through the Orthodox movement. I also would have only had to move 20 minutes away, not to an entirely different part of the state.






It was an example of questions I need to know before conversion. I have heard or read that Jews must gather or aliyah...something to that nature which I did not pay much attention or that Jews have to gather back in order to usher in the Moshiach. But its off topic.
In regards to Talmud study again, we already have read and studied the Tanach and commentaries from various sources, and studying the Talmud is adjacent to Torah studies now. I don't see a problem, if I was posting or claiming a new found religion sure. But really all I am saying the Talmud is so fascinating and makes the Torah, Jewish Holidays and traditions, come alive like a 3D movie. It just enlightens me, us. The Rabbinical Laws are a challenge and we definitely do our homework when it comes to Schulcan Aruch stuff. There are things we have to revisit and yes gone head of the Rabbis guiding us, in fact they rather teach us Kabalah. We can't help the drive we have to learn, when my husband gets asked why he reads and studies 90% Torah and 10% occupation, he gives the example of someone giving him ice cube or a little bit of water to wet his lips in a desert...he craves for more, needs more. You just can't say to someone this is enough, or its not for you because you are not converts. We can go into the rulings in the Talmud that say we can. I am just saying it may not be for everyone, but it is for us. He is keeping notes, references, citations of everything he reads and learns, his journals are books ( I think five of them). I hope he becomes a scholar one day and contributes to whatever community Hashem places us in. I hope to have children one day also, and to teach them Gd's ways. Children who will attend a Yeshiva, honor us, and never depart from the Torah. I don't think that is confusing or a misunderstanding of the scriptures. Our nephesh desires to study the Jewish scriptures, what else can I say or tell you?
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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Fri Mar 02, 2012 9:25 am

Bee wrote:
Is there an example you can share with me on how I may bring confusion or misunderstanding to a community?

Where do I even start??? We all have questions, and we're all confused at points, but I would say about 90% of what I read in your posts show me some degree of confusion and misunderstanding of the texts and traditions. Don't get me wrong, this is not meant to offend you - I have questions every day, and I meet with my rabbi regularly to talk about them and clarify Judaism's position on my thoughts.

Quote :
No, I think what people are saying is there are other things you could be doing with this time. I have honestly never heard of someone leaving Christianity and jumping right into Talmud study. We understand you don't have a community right now. That's fine. Taking your time is a wonderful idea but I think some may feel that while you are taking your time in one area you are jumping way way ahead in another.

Exactly.
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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:09 pm

Quote :
Where do I even start??? We all have questions, and we're all confused at points, but I would say about 90% of what I read in your posts show me some degree of confusion and misunderstanding of the texts and traditions. Don't get me wrong, this is not meant to offend you - I have questions every day, and I meet with my rabbi regularly to talk about them and clarify Judaism's position on my thoughts.

Of course I ask questions, many of you have various opinions and experiences. What I read from text and what I read about what is happening in the real world usually conflict. Your perception and someone else's perception are interesting to me and I want to know how people come to that point of view. Like the Moshiach topic, it is not important to me as it use to be, I know what I read in the text about it, but what I read from Jewish forums is quite different. Judaism seems to have many facets, and I am curious or at times confused. For example, the scriptures are very clear on how to treat converts...this site is full of stories of hardships. So yes I ask questions, I want to know from you first hand knowledge, I am interested on how people here cope, celebrate, how they overcame the things I am going through. I ask so that I know what to expect and how I can avoid. If I ask its because it is relevant to me and I may only have part of the information. I am not disagreeing with any advice, not even to any objections of how we study. I know you are sincere in your thoughts, also Rabbi Abrams feelings towards the Talmud. He asked why and I answered. The questions are valid. I hope my feelings are too.

Quote :
No, I think what people are saying is there are other things you could be doing with this time. I have honestly never heard of someone leaving Christianity and jumping right into Talmud study. We understand you don't have a community right now. That's fine. Taking your time is a wonderful idea but I think some may feel that while you are taking your time in one area you are jumping way way ahead in another.

Lol, I could be basket weaving with my time and end all my woes by living according to the 7 Noachide Laws. I did not just jump to Talmud, we jumped to the Torah first then commentaries (such as Rashi) that expand knowledge by citing other Jewish text like Mishnah/Gemara. Naturally you want to know their sources, then it snowballed from there. We never questioned our Pastors or teachers on their sources, when we did...we dropped christianity like the plague. In complete ignorance we lived and led others. Gd forbid this happens again.
Look, here is another example on how studying the Jewish text has changed my life: I discussed on this thread Lashon hora and how I am struggling. To some it may not be a big deal. Let's say I move to a community, members or the Rabbi can tell me that it is wrong and advise me on it. But I continue and see it as just another sin or just no big deal. I may know better, been advised...yet continue to do it. We all know gossip or not gaurding our tongue is wrong but its not something to feel like, "OMG I sinned". I am not saying to live according to the ancient Talmud times and become Charedim, but at least take heed from the Sages of old and the Sages of our time. I mentioned I am reading Sefer Chofetz Chaim-A Lesson A Day based on the works by him and Sefer Shimas Haloshon. It starts off explaining the term, and how it obscures the Divine image in another person and how Shmiras HaLoshon turns each Jew into an instrument for revealing the Divine image in others and himself. What gripped my soul was how they described the rippling effect on the person, whom it is towards, the community, and the Nation. It is so devasting and destructive that Lashon Hora is according to the Sages was the reason they are in exile for 2000 years, and for the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. This was my OMG momment. These Sages of our time are pointing out from the Torah the cosmic devastation of Lashon hora. These two volumnes are IMO modern day Talmud, and they pull wisdom from the Sages of old and the history as well. These books go into detail how even listening to gossip makes you just as accountable, how your entire merits go to that person you harm, that you could be a great Sage but lose it all by participating in such activity.
Here is a excerpt from the Intro: "When one explores the mitzvah of proper speech, and the concomitant transgression of Lashon hora, one fact becomes eminently clear: we are not dealing with business as usual. The cosmic repercussions of this issue are so intense that they have literally shaped the destiny of our people. It is hard to imagine that any religion would make so dramatic a statement as to say that Gd Himself has chosen not to sit in His home on this earth, that His people have been in exile for 2,000 years, because of the words that come out of our mouths."These lessons, lectures, books we buy and self help stuff come from the Torah and the Talmud. They just break it down for us. This is how I approach the scriptures and Jewish literature, how can I become a better human being. I am not stressed about a community I am sure it will at some point, but I am studying, gleaning, pondering, listening, hearing, learning about the scriptures for my sake and yes for yours. Because what I have learned from Talmud (apart from Torah) is that what I do as a person...affects the community and beyond.
A certain Rabbi taught us at the begining of our path was to introspect. That is what I get from gleaning the Talmud, not all the Talmud is about Halacha (its tidious in that regard but is important in its own right). That is all I am going to say about this topic, I study with guidance, I glean from the text, I am learning to apply it, I have a long road ahead of me and one day I will live in a community that shares the same values or religious affiliation.
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lzbthcldwll



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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:28 am

Hello Rabbi -

Please allow me to introduce myself and explain a bit about how I came to want to live a Jewish life.

I have always felt an affinity for the Jews, from the first time I entered a synagogue at the age of 13 I knew it felt right.

About 5 years ago I took the quiz on beliefnet.org but laughed off the result that said I was an 89% match with reform Judaism. I knew that was silly because you have to be born into or married into Judaism. I knew EVERYTHING back then. LOL

3 and a half years ago I entered a 12 step program and had to find a Gd of my understanding, which I did. I settled on a very simple understanding - Gd is Gd and I cant understand Gd and I never will. It is just my job to move forward and take the next right step.

This was quite satisfactory for a time, then last summer I felt a calling to cover my head. All I knew was that with my head covered I felt the presence of Gd.

Well covering my head led me to a couple of websites on tichel tying and women who very wonderfully represent the Joy of Judaism and living a religious life.

I had an increasing desire to find a more satisfactory spiritual life. My understanding of Gd was still satisfactory but I needed more tools for worship and I wanted to find a community of people who knew the same Gd I knew.

Back to beliefnet.com I went. This time the result was 100%. Reform Judaism.

I contacted the Rabbi of the local reform synagogue by email explaining my situation, that I wanted to learn with an eye to conversion but that I would not be able to attend services because it would be a 1.5 hour trip for me each way.

I have not yet had a response.

While waiting I began working toward living a more Jewish life.

I have made changes in my eating - no pork, no mixing of meat and milk at the same meal.

I have begun attending services on Friday Nights and Saturday mornings via webcast.

I have been using Hours of Devotion: Fanny Neuda's Book of Prayers for Jewish Women to pray twice a day and have been reading from the JPS Tanakh a little bit at a time.

I have been lighting candles to welcome Shabbos, saying blessings for wine and bread.

I sent emails to the Rabbis at the congregations who are kind enough to stream video of their services. I have not heard from any of them yet.

I feel like I need someone who can help guide me. I am not in a hurry, but I am willing to learn and grow. I know that eventually I will have to find a way to move to a place where I can physically be a part of a community, but for now I will have to build a community here online.

I thank you for any assistance you can give me.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:13 am

Dear lzbthcldwll,

To the best of my knowledge, Rabbi Abrams has not been active on this website since last February. To be honest, this website is supposed to be a place for converts and potential converts to exchange information and I felt that it was not really the right place for a rabbi who is not a convert himself. The problem would be the tendency for a rabbi to "posken" (make a decision based on Jewish law), but members of this website are not his congregants so IMHO we should be getting our rabbinic advice from our own rabbis. When various members offer their opinions, they are all simply personal lay opinions. I worried that it could be detrimental to discussions if a participant was a rabbi and also was not a convert himself. Another issue is if a rabbi would actually answer your request for help it would be bringing commercial issues to this website. That's another reason that Rabbi Abram's appearance made me uncomfortable. It looked at first as if he might be soliciting since he seemed to be involved in some free-lance rabbinical services. But as I said, he has not been involved on this website for some time now.

My own view of Judaism is that it cannot be properly practiced without a Jewish community, except possibly by very unusual highly devoted and knowledgeable people such as the Chabad emissaries who go out to create and sustain a Jewish community for others. But either a prospective convert or a Jew lacking in basic religious knowledge seeking to increase observance cannot do that by themselves and without the support of an entire community, not just some remote rabbi.

To seriously pursue conversion, you probably need to move to where you can become a part of a Jewish community. I would not expect that you will be able to get help from the rabbis who stream video, except perhaps those who specifically seek out people who want to do an online conversion program. Those programs seem to address the needs of some people, but without any support where you live you should understand that you will have more of a "Jewish-like" than truly Jewish life.
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lzbthcldwll



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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:50 pm

Thank you so much for your prompt reply.

Yes I know that even beginning the conversion process is probably a few years into the future for me... so yes, for now my life will be more Jewish-ish. LOL

I guess I really am looking for a bit of a mentor who I can develop a relationship with and begin to ask questions of... but maybe that is not meant to be yet.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:04 pm

I think you're probably going to have a hard time finding a rabbi who is willing to be that sort of mentor to you when you're not a regular visitor at their synagogue. It can be hard to find a rabbi to convert you, even when you are in regular attendance. It's not like Christianity, where you can almost always find a pastor or missionary to talk to. Most rabbis take the position that they don't HAVE to convert anyone, so it's pretty magnanimous of them to do so (unlike Christianity, where conversion is considered part of the job description--sometimes the primary job duty).

But you can always ask questions here. Everyone's a convert, and everything from Noahide to Reform to Conservative to Orthodox is represented, so you can always see a wide variety of responses.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Ask a Rabbi~   Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:25 pm

Rabbis who have a business of online conversions may provide what you are looking for, but they are going to charge fees. That's to be expected, and frankly, it's fair---it's work and those rabbis need to make a living. Pulpit rabbis are typically extremely busy. If they work with prospective converts directly, those are people who are usually prospective future congregants, so in a sense that is part of their job as a rabbi of their congregation. I do also know of pulpit rabbis who do work with converts who would not be joining their congregation (my own sponsoring rabbi is one of those), but those rabbis cannot help just anyone from the Internet or they would be swamped. That's why you should expect to have to pay for remote rabbinical services.
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