Bristol Jewish Congregation

                                                               

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38 Comments

Reply Bristol Jewish Congregation
4:29 AM on May 21, 2017 


Dear Daven and Sarah,


I am so sorry to hear that you were unable to take part in the service on 20th of May. Let me asure you,

that we have services every week. It is because of the security reasons we keep the doors close. We are

working on the ways to keep the access to all.


I am going to give you some more details in email.


Once more so sorry for that. Next Shabbat service will take place on 27th of May at 11:00 am and of

course you are welcome to come and take part in it.


Yaakov


President


Reply Dave and Sarah
12:26 PM on May 20, 2017 

Dear Rabbi/Chair

Today with my wife, we had tried to come to your Shul. Firstly, we were unable to find it. We were going in circles around the River Church until someone told us that the "Jews" meet at the back. When we went through carpark we found closed doors with a note and phone number. Unfortunately, we did not have mobile on us. We waited for about 10 minutes and knock several times.

Can you please let me know, if there are any regular services at that place for the Jews or it is just occasionally? It was extremely difficult to find as there were no outside signs pointing to the synagogue and when we found it the door was closed. Can you please let us know, if there was a service and if it is a regular thing, how one can get inside? We came on a bus and where slightly after 11 am.

This is not criticism, just we would like to know if there is a Shul with services and access.

Shabbat Shalom

Dave and Sarah Goldsmith


Reply Thomas
6:45 PM on May 18, 2017 

Dear Rabbi I have a question about Lag B'Omer. I've heard this is the day when all of Rabbi Akiva's students stopped dying. But why should we celebrate? This must be a sad day since there were no more students left. Am I missing something?

Regards

Thomas



Bristol Jewish Congregation

Dear Thomas,

Thank you for your question. Though I am not a Rabbi I always try to give my answer to the best of my knowledge.

The Chidah (Rabbi Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulay, 18th century Morocco) asks your question. He explains that since Lag B'Omer was the day that Rabbi Akiva's students stopped dying, it was therefore also the day that Rabbi Akiva began teaching a new group of disciples. This distinguished new group included Rebbe Meir, Rebbe Yossi and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai - and became the link to carry forth the Torah to all future generations. This is cause for celebration.

The Chidah adds another reason for celebrating on Lag B'Omer. It was years later - on this very same day of Lag B'Omer - that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai revealed the Kabbalistic teachings of "The Zohar."

Today, Lag B'Omer (literally the "33rd day of the Omer") is marked with great bonfires throughout Israel, and an estimated 400,000 Jews celebrate at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in the northern town of Meiron.


I hope, that this gave you just a little bit more light on the problem. You can always try to look for more answers on http//www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/

Wishing you all the best


Yours

Yaakov 



Reply Bristol Jewish Congregation
8:42 AM on March 21, 2017 

Tom says...

Dear Rabbi,

I enjoy matzah and eat it all year round. When is the last time before Passover that one is permitted to eat matzah? 

Regards

Tom


Dear Tom,

Though I am not a Rabbi I will try to answar to my best knowladge.

Not everyone knows, but there is a prohibition against eating matzah in the period prior to Passover. This is to ensure that when we fulfil the mitzvah of eating matzah on Seder night, we do so with special joy and intensity.

 

There are various customs about when to stop eating matzah. Minimally, one must refrain from eating on the day before Passover. Others stop eating on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, and still others stop 30 days before the holiday.


Yours...


Yaakov 

 


Reply Tom
6:14 AM on March 21, 2017 

Dear Rabbi,

I enjoy matzah and eat it all year round. When is the last time before Passover that one is permitted to eat matzah? 

Regards

Tom

Reply Bristol Jewish Congregation
5:59 AM on March 12, 2017 

Douglas says...

Dear Sir, Dear Rabbi

If it is so good to get drunk on Purim, why not do it all the time?

Regards

Dag


Dear Douglas,

Very good question and my answar will be as straight as possible.

In the days of Mordechai and Esther, the Jews went from being the target of annihilation, to being the heroes and victors. It was a miraculous 180-degree shift in fortune. We learn from here that even though it may be hard to see God in the world, even when things look bad, in some way it must be for the best. Because there is a beneficent God behind everything, manipulating events for our good.

So, what does this all have to do with drinking?

When we drink, we loosen our reliance on physical senses - and our souls are freer to transcend limitations and feel the Oneness of God and the universe. We see that everything is part of God's "grand eternal plan" - where ultimately Haman is punished and Mordechai is rewarded. There is indeed ultimate justice.

That's why the Talmud (Megillah 7a) says that "A person should drink on Purim until the point where they can't tell the difference between "Blessed is Mordechai" and "Cursed is Haman." We drink to the point where we can't intelligently debate which aspect of God's revelation is greater. Because in truth, it's all the same.

On Purim, we wear costumes and perform skits - mocking our hang-ups, idiosyncrasies, and worries. We attack the source of our debilitating anxiety - and laugh about how silly it really is!

So why don't we drink all the time? Because while alcohol can help a Jew lose inhibitions and get closer to God, this is only the beginning. Performance of mitzvahs require a clear mind and steady hand. On Purim, we try to jump-start a process which will carry us through the rest of the year.

By the way, on Purim one should not become so drunk that he will be negligent in performing mitzvahs, since it is improper to pray if one is "unfit to stand before the King."

 

Yaakov

Reply Douglas
6:18 PM on March 11, 2017 

Dear Sir, Dear Rabbi

If it is so good to get drunk on Purim, why not do it all the time?

Regards

Dag

Reply Bristol Jewish Congregation
8:50 AM on January 12, 2017 

Sarah says...

Dear Sir

A friend of mine was buried by a landslide while his wife was just a few feet away. People pitched in to dig him out and had two-thirds of his body out, blue but probably alive, when the hillside shifted again and buried him under six feet of dirt. He died before they could dig him out. His widow stated that she was going to have him cremated as "I can't bear to put him in the ground again."

 

She had him cremated and scattered his ashes at a favorite campground stream where they had enjoyed happy times. I know that the usual circumstance is that a person is buried, but under these conditions was the widow not justified in ordering a cremation since she needed to deal with her grief? In this case, which is more important – traditional ritual for the dead, or the needs of the living widow?

Regards

Sarah


Dear Sarah,

 

This is a terrible tragedy and I can understand the torment of the widow. But  Traditional Judaism permits only burial. The source for this comes from the Torah, where God tells Adam: "You will return to the ground, for it was from the ground that you were taken" (Genesis 3:19).

 

Traditional Judaism forbids cremation; let's understand why.

 

Upon death, the soul goes through a painful separation from the body, which until now had housed the soul. This process of disengagement occurs as the body decays. When the body is buried, it decays slowly, thereby giving comfort to the soul as it disengages from the body.

 

This decay is crucial, which is why Jewish law forbids embalming or burial in a mausoleum, which would in fact delay the decaying process. Also, Jews are buried in a wooden casket, which decays more rapidly. Similarly, Jewish law dictates that burial take place as soon as possible after death. (In Israel, funerals are often on the same day as the death.) All this is for the benefit of the soul.

 

One reason that Traditional Judaism prohibits cremation is that the soul would suffer great shock due to the unnaturally sudden disengagement from the body. As the Talmud says: Burial is not for the sake of the living, but rather for the dead. (Sanhedrin 47a)

 

Furthermore, Jewish tradition records that with burial, a single bone in the back of the neck never decays. It is from this bone – called the Luz bone – that the human body will be rebuilt in the future messianic era when all the dead will be resurrected. With cremation, that bone can be destroyed, and the resurrection process stymied.

 

In fact, someone who chooses cremation is as if he does not believe in resurrection. This is a fundamental of Traditional Judaism, as expressed in Maimonides' classical "13 Principles of Faith": "I believe with complete faith that there will be a resurrection of the dead, whenever the wish emanates from the Creator."

 

What about the millions of Jews cremated in Nazi ovens? The Almighty certainly guarded their souls from needless agony. I think similarly in this case, where the man did not ask to be cremated, his soul is not accountable for what transpired.

 

May you be consoled at this time of loss.

 

(sources: Beit Yitzchak – Y.D. 2:195, based on Talmud – Temura 34a; Achiezer 3:72:4, based on Deut. 21:23, and Maimonides – Laws of Sanhedrin 15:8)


Yours...

Yaakov

Reply Sarah
6:23 AM on January 12, 2017 

Dear Sir

A friend of mine was buried by a landslide while his wife was just a few feet away. People pitched in to dig him out and had two-thirds of his body out, blue but probably alive, when the hillside shifted again and buried him under six feet of dirt. He died before they could dig him out. His widow stated that she was going to have him cremated as "I can't bear to put him in the ground again."

 

She had him cremated and scattered his ashes at a favorite campground stream where they had enjoyed happy times. I know that the usual circumstance is that a person is buried, but under these conditions was the widow not justified in ordering a cremation since she needed to deal with her grief? In this case, which is more important – traditional ritual for the dead, or the needs of the living widow?


Regards

Sarah

Reply Bristol Jewish Congregation
6:39 AM on December 29, 2016 

[Mark]

Dear Rabbi

I remember singing Maoz Tzur as a child during Chanukah.

What does this song mean, and how does it go?

Thanks

Mark

Dear Mark,

 

The first two words of the song, "Maoz Tzur," mean "Stronghold of Rock," a reference to God. The song goes on to describe the various oppressors who have risen against the Jewish people (Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Haman, Antiochus), and how they have ultimately all been defeated. The song also expresses our wish for the final redemption.

 

The popular melody is associated with an old German folk-song "So weiss ich eins," dating back to the 15th century. You can hear it sung at: http://www.aish.com/h/c/mm/s/48970856.html#song2

 

Here are the words:

 

Maoz tzur yeshua-si

 

Lecha na-eh li-sha-beyach

 

Tikone bais ti-fee-lasi

 

Vi-sham todah ni-za-beyach.

 

Li-ase ta-chin mat-beyach

 

Mee-tzar ham-na-beyach

 

Az eg-more vi-sheer meez-mor

 

Chanukas ha-meez-beyach

 

Az eg-more vi-sheer meez-mor

 

Chanukas ha-meez-beyach.

 

(English Synopsis)

 

O Rock of my salvation, with delight we praise You.

 

Restore the Temple where we will bring offerings.

 

When You will eliminate our enemies,

 

Then I shall sing at the rededication.

 

Have a happy Chanukah!