Ask the Rabbi with Rabbi YY Schochet


Dear Rabbi I wonder if you saw the advert for Kosher for Passover whisky. I am new to all this stuff, but I really thought that you could not have whisky or Cornflakes on Passover. I am hesitant to consult my local reform Rabbi on the matter, but I would really like to hear your opinion. Many thanks, Mr Johnnie Walker

Dear Mr Johnnie Walker As you are new to this stuff I don’t know if you are familiar with the concept of a Purim shpiel. That’s when you look for the hidden references to Purim in the press release and come to realise that it was really just a hoax. You’re probably more the red label Johnnie Walker – cheap and cheerful. Oh, and if you are limiting your Pesach restrictions to just whisky and Cornflakes then Kosher for Pesach whisky is the least of your problems. (PS: Try cornflakes with milk rather than whisky. Not quite the same morning kick but definitely tastier!).


Dear Rabbi I know Judaism puts much emphasis on the idea of a Yetzer Hora (evil inclination). I find this is all about guilt and can be quite destructive having to grapple with this inclination all the time. There is then no joy in living a meaningful Jewish life. I wonder whether you can explain the concept to me in more productive terms. The Yetzer Hora’s Star Pupil This letter is not from me but from your Yetzer Hora.

Dear Star Pupil I am very misunderstood. Most people hate me, and I don’t really blame them. Most people think that my job is to make sure that they fail in all aspects of their observance, and that I rejoice every time they sin. This is the furthest thing from the truth. Did you ever watch a boxing coach train his student? It is really a funny sight. The coach will put on gloves, and fight against his student. At first, he won’t hit him so hard, or throw his best punches. But, as the student gets better and better, the coach will start to fight him harder and harder. He does this so that the student will improve his skills, and become the best boxer he can be. This is where it gets strange. Every time the coach knocks down the student, the student gets yelled at! But finally, when the coach throws everything he has at his student, not only does the student withstand the beating, but he knocks the coach down. At that point there is nobody in the world happier than the coach himself! This is exactly how I feel. If you fail right away, and don’t even try to fight back, I see that there is not much talent to work with, and so I take it easy on you. But if you get back up swinging, I realise that I may have a real winner here, and so I start to intensify the beating. With every level that you go up, I increase the intensity of the fight. If you finally deal me a blow that knocks me out, I will get up and embrace you and rejoice with your success. Sometimes my job is very disappointing I see a person with a lot of potential and I start right in on him. He fights back for a while, but when the fight gets too tough, he quits and just remains on whatever level he was on. (And he usually ends up going down!) I feel like yelling at him, “Get up you fool! Do you have any idea how much more you could be accomplishing?!” But I am not allowed to do so. I just leave him alone, and go try to find another promising candidate. If I have chosen you to be the target of my more fierce battles, it was not for no reason! You have tremendous ability! I am writing to you now, because I have a very serious request to ask of you. Please don’t stop fighting! Don’t give up! I have been beating too many people lately, and I am losing patience. Believe in yourself, because I would not be involved with you as much as I am if I didn’t think you could beat me. Know what your strengths are! A great Rabbi once said: “Woe is to he who doesn’t know his weaknesses. But, ‘Oy Vavoy’ to him who doesn’t know his strengths – for he will not have anything with which to fight.” Always remember one thing: you have a secret weapon at your disposal. I shouldn’t really be telling you – but I will anyway. G-d Himself is watching our “training” sessions very closely. And He’s rooting for you! If things should ever get tough, almost too tough to bear, just call out to Him with a prayer, and He will immediately come to your aid. I wish you the best of luck, and I hope that after 120 years when your time is up in the world of falsehood, you will come up here to the world of truth, where I will be waiting for you with open arms, to congratulate you on your victory, and personally escort you to your proud place by G-d’s side. Sincerely, and with great admiration, I remain, Your Yetzer Hara