Ask the Rabbi with Rabbi YY Schochet

I’m Going To That Game – Thank You!

Dear Rabbi

Thank you for your response in the paper the other week to my question as to whether it’s permissible to go to a football match on Shabbat. You said it’s not really permissible as it’s “not in the spirit” of Shabbat. I have decided that since I do other things that aren’t really “in the spirit” of Shabbat such as reading newspapers, revising for my exams by reading my notes and discussing football I feel that going to a match on Shabbat will therefore also fall into this category therefore I will be walking to the match. Thank you for your lenient response as I expected you to say it was strictly forbidden – please wish my team luck!



Dear James

Ah the ol’ twist and distort to appease your own conscience trick. I like it. But it won’t work! Let’s see: I said, there are Shabbat dos and don’ts and then there is an overriding principle to do with the spirit of Shabbat. Not sure which exams you’re revising for but I truly hope it’s not English. In simple English this means that just as there are other things which are strictly forbidden so this is fundamental to it all. And just because you might eat shellfish doesn’t mean that you might as well tuck into a pork chop as well, or just because you may be watching television you might as well drive. So you do what you want to do, but don’t use me as your spoon full of sugar.


Why Is This a Golden Rule?


Dear Rabbi

“Do onto others what you would have done onto yourself.” My question is, why would that be the most important law of the Torah? Why is it a golden rule?


Dear Terry

And what if I like people to beat up on me? Since I would have it done to myself then surely it is OK to do it onto others? The point is you got your premise wrong. It’s “don’t do onto others what you would not have done onto yourself.” So what you don’t like make sure you don’t do to anyone else – which does not then leave the prospect of what you do like being OK to do to someone else.

Why is that the premise for the whole Torah? Well, if you believe in G-d it’s not enough. You must believe in Jews as well. Every Jew is a ray of light and no one should be written off. In fact, all of the laws of the Torah mirror the laws of the Ten Commandments which are essentially split into two categories: Between man and G-d and between man and his fellow man. Every Jew possesses a special spiritual light and when one joins a community or walks into shul for example and encounters apathy or coldness then a shadow is cast over the spirituality they innately possess. When we don’t welcome or respond to people with warmth and a smile then we cause that individual to feel trapped, unable to move, to progress, to discover the inherent beauty within the kaleidoscope of Jewish experience. That makes it the basis for all of Judaism.

What’s In a Jewish Name?

Dear Rabbi

I have a question regarding Jewish status. It is strange that people with surnames Aaronovitch and Cohen are not Jews because their mothers are not Jewish but someone whose surname is Cunningham, Buller or French might be because their mother is Jewish even as their fathers are not. I prefer the Shimon Peres test that someone who brings up their children Jewish is Jewish. Anyway, I am a Cohen because of my father not my mother so where is the consistency?



Dear Richard

What’s in a name? It is strange that Yitzchak Schochet is not a ritual slaughterer, but David Lamn and one Rabbi Ox both are. I never met Aaronovitvh’s or Cohen’s mothers, but if your facts are correct then no matter how good the chicken soup that’s the reality as the Torah determines it.

Shimon Peres may have been a good statesman but a stellar example of the Jewish faith he was not. In fact, following his argument to its logical conclusion our doors should be wide open to every Chris, Ahmed and Harry. And your Priestly status is on account of your tribal descent – which follows your father. Your Jewish essence however is determined by your soul which was nurtured in the womb of your mother. Treat it tenderly.



Are We Really So Special?


Dear Rabbi

Please, please don’t see this as an attack on Jews. But really why do you think you are more special than the rest of us. I am asking this in perfect innocence because I think sometimes that is the very real cause of Anti Semitism.



Dear Claudia

American president, John Adams: “I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize man than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that chance had ordered the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations. If I were an atheist to the other sect, who believed or pretended to believe that all is ordered by chance, I should believe that chance has ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent, wise, almighty sovereign of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle of all morality, and consequently of all civilization.”

Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy: “The Jew is that sacred being who has brought down from heaven the everlasting fire and has illuminated with it the entire world. He is the religious source, spring and fountain out of which all the rest of the peoples have drawn their beliefs and their religions. The Jew is the emblem of eternity. He, who neither slaughter nor torture of thousands of years could destroy. He, who neither fire, nor sword, nor inquisition was able to wipe off the face of the earth. He, who was the first to produce the Oracles of G-d. He, who has been for so long the Guardian of Prophecy and has transmitted it to the rest of the world. Such a nation cannot be destroyed. The Jew is as everlasting as Eternity itself.”

PS: Tolstoy and Adams were not Jewish. Don’t blame us. Blame them!