Ask the Rabbi with Rabbi YY Schochet

Is Judaism Right For Me? 

Dear Rabbi

I am very interested in converting over to Judaism. I was raised Christian, but have
found it is not for me. I have learned some things about the Jewish faith and have found it is right for me. I want to convert over. I was wondering how I would do so?


Dear Seth

You have to start by asking yourself why? If you haven’t really experienced it beyond a few textbooks how do you know it is for you? Just as a mere soundbite you have to know that you are going to have to change your life – that’s no movies on Friday night and no cheeseburgers on Sunday morning. You will also have to circumcise yourself (look it up in Oxford Dictionary for clarification) and you will have to spend many intense months or more studying. If any of the above makes you hesitate then maybe it’s not for you.


Five Questions on Assisted-Suicide

Dear Rabbi

As a High School Junior student in the Gifted and Talented Program at Eastern Regional High School in New Jersey, I am currently conducting research for an independent study project on the topic of euthanasia/assisted suicide. To understand all aspects of the topic I am interviewing different religious individuals asking their opinions on the issue according to their faith. I thank you in advance for taking the time to answer my questions that follow.

  1. What are your views according to the Jewish faith regarding the use of assisted suicide?

  2. When a patient seeks to end his/her life due to unbearable suffering, should he/she have the right?

  3. Does the Old Testament prohibit assisted suicide according to your interpretation? If so, where?

  4. In physician-assisted suicide, the patient must administer the lethal dosage of medication, whereas in the process of euthanasia, the doctor can give the patient the medication. Do you agree with one method over the other?

  5. Even if the method conflicts with Judaism do you think it should be legalized, giving suffering people the option? 


Dear Laurel

1) My view, also shared by G-d is that assisted suicide is just another glorious term for legalised murder. It remains inherently wrong. Helping someone terminate his or her life makes you an accomplice to the crime.

2) My heart goes out to those who suffer to the point where they feel driven to such despair. However, fundamental to Jewish belief is that life is our most sacred possession entrusted to us by G-d. As such, only He serves as Judge and Jury to decide when one’s soul must be returned to its Maker.

3) The Old Testament does prohibit assisted suicide. It’s in the Ten Commandments. Number 6 – “Thou shalt not kill…”

4) It’s a bit like asking me whether I approve handing a loaded gun to a desperate person over shooting them myself. In the context of “sin,” the latter is more severe. But both remain ultimately essentially immoral.

5) How can I hope that something should be legalised when I understand it to be morally wrong? Unless I would rather see society go one better than G-d – but then I would not be committed to my faith would I?


To Have or Not To Have – One More

Dear Rabbi

Can you please tell me if you think it is selfish of me to have another baby? We have three already but I would love one more. We are not poor but certainly not rich, just a normal family. I’m all for ‘the more Jews in the world the better’ but my husband and I need your advice very much. If you think it would be selfish of us to have another
baby that would have to share a bedroom with one of its siblings, we would not even discuss it further, but if you think it would be OK to bring another child into the world than we can seriously think about it. Rabbi, I understand you might find this a silly problem but your answer is really important to me.


Dear Natasha

I don’t think it is a silly question. I’m just kind of spooked that my column has reached a crescendo where such life making decisions are being based. Let me get straight to the point. It’s not about “all the more Jews in the world.” It’s about adding that extra dimension of bliss into your household. Kaballah tells us that each child is added blessing in the home. I think it is selfish when people decide NOT to have more children simply because it might cramp their lifestyle. When an annual holiday to the Barbados takes precedence over another baby, then priorities have fallen totally out of whack. I’ve always maintained – whatever number a couple decide on, go for one more. So go for it, with my blessing for an easy pregnancy and healthy birth and please inform us of the good news as and when.

By Rabbi YY Schochet MA CIArb
Twitter: @RabbiYYS