Readership Response

Akiva G. Belk ,Director

Subject: Change

Thank you for the warm and wonderful letter that you send! I enjoyed it so much that I read it over through the course of the day at work as a State Auditor. And while I do work during the day here that is related to ongoing audits for the Commonwealth, more and more of my free time I have here at work I devote to studying from the Chumash and try to do the best that I can to prepare for Yeshiva. What the amazing part is, while I feel I have not changed much, many people say that there has been a change within me and on the outside too. Sometimes I wonder if this is because of there is a long family history of great rabbis on my mom's side? My dad's side I do not know too much about except they came from Vilna, at one time the center of Jewish study. Yet, I feel I haven't changed much. I still listen to "rock music" and the such, however when I read Torah, and learn from the great teachers like Rashi, Heschel, and the Rambam, there is a flame within me that ignites that I cannot describe. It is something amazing, but at the same time most comforting and exciting. I guess most of all... Studying Torah, and indulging myself within what the rabbis, and sages taught in the past is FUN! And most importantly, the words they taught in their day still ring true today. An example is of how Maimonides back in the 1100's knew about the human condition, and knew that it was good for the human spirit to be well balanced. Even though I am at an early stage of learning; for example my Hebrew is not very good and I am literally scraping the tip of the ice berg, I can say I have learned so much and thirst for more. Most of all I have truly come to appreciate my past, the present and what the future holds. Once again thanks for the warm and encouraging words, and I will definitely keep you up to date of my progress. And most of all... :-) Have a wonderful Shabbos!


Ps. If you can recommend any books to read, I would greatly appreciate it!

Shalom Ben,

Change.... Rock Music

Two little boys, Shlomo and Dovid, were walking together. Shlomo says to Dovid, "Do you know what happened to Chanoch?"

"Yes!" replies Dovid, "One day Hashem and Chanoch were walking. It was a long walk, a very long walk." Hashem turns to Chanoch and says,

"Chanoch, you're closer to My home than yours... so why don't you come on
home with Me..."

This simple story is actually quite profound.

Ben, every Jew is on a path leading to Hashem or away from Hashem. Some of us walk towards Hashem, some stand still and others away. Those of us who walk towards Hashem are walking away from our attachments. It's like a force field... the closer we get to Hashem the greater the pull. Baggage that we begin our walk with drops off little by little until it's all gone.

I prefer to look at Yiddishkeit this way rather than feeling the need to give attachments up, like rock music. Attachments will let go as we develop in the way of life Hashem pushes us towards. When Torah becomes more and more fun, your desire for rock music will dissolve.

However, if your desire for rock music remains strong then it is your Yetzer Raw, your own individual satan... so to speak. Hashem has given you this desire as a challenge, as a test. Tests can be very good. It depends on how we view them.

For example:
Our government has aviation standards for commercial airlines, etc. Before a jet is certified for passenger use it must undergo many tests. From the consumer's viewpoint, that is very good because the consumer feels safer when flying and hopefully is safer. The consumer wants the airline industry held to strict standards... to be checked often... to be frequently tested...

Ben, we are tested by Hashem to make us stronger. Hashem dearly wants us to pass every test. Yet our challenge must be strong or it will serve little purpose in our development.

Keep going forward and work on your Hebrew study.

Recommended Books
For Chumash study read Rashi, Sorotzkin and Munk; for Talmud, Artscroll's Schottenstein edition;
for self improvement all of Pliskin's, Kaplan's and Dessler's sefarim are excellent. I base these recommendations on where you appear to be in Yiddishkeit at this time. Check several out then we can reanalyze.

Wishing you the best,



I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Dovid, Shlomo, and Chanoch. And is a sense I do see myself like Chanoch walking closer and closer to Hashem's home. However, as you said these so-called attachments will drop off, which I have seen... Believe it or not I was once a crazy "frat boy" who in college went out and partied hard and worked hard to party. And while I was doing that I did notice the seeds of "walking closer to Hashem's" house.
For example, even though I was in a fraternity, it was a Jewish frat, and we had a Jewish "mission" so to speak. Secondly while in college I was involved with Hillel on campus and made it a point while in the fraternity actively to have each and every brother (and every brother was Jewish) to make it for Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbos services on Friday evening. Being a leader of the chapter gave me the opportunity help bring the mitzvot of celebrating shabbos as much as possible in college to the other brothers who
really weren't much into their Jewish heritage. So already there I see myself as Chanoch a few years back!

More Discussion On Rock / Classical Music
As for your comment on "rock music" as being one's one Yetzer, I don't know if I whole heartily agree. The way I view it, and I could be completely wrong here and way off track, but an example is listening to classical music to study, or appreciating a concerto by Bach or Mozart. These are two amazingly gifted people through Hashem's help have made our world a more colorful and musical place. Their contributions have helped shape music, and inspired others to pursue the study of it, not only to enrich their lives, but to enrich others. Now my point being here, is that a rock musician like "Edward Van Halen" who is gifted with the ability to play guitar I don't see as one's own yetzer. He in a sense to me when playing guitar evokes a feeling, not as strong as reading torah, and listening to the words of the great thinkers, but still conveys a sense of him pouring his soul into his music for others to appreciate. The intricacy of his playing is guineas and certainly is one of the 20th century's influential artists. My question is how is that like having one's own Yetzer? Wouldn't it be the same as viewing a painting in a museum and appreciating the effort and the beauty that the artist put into it? However, if in attaining my goal I do have to leave this behind, I am more than gladly able to work as hard as I can to "drop those bags at the door." :-)
So with that off my chest, I will tell you what else I have been doing in order to prepare for yeshiva. I have the Stone Edition Chumash, with the commentaries of Rashi, and Onkelos. While I cannot understand the Rashi, I can translate (with the help of a dictionary a lot of the Onkelos.) I am also going out and purchasing in the near future the Shottenstein edition of the Talmud. I will also check out Pliskin's, Kaplan's and Dessler's books on self-improvement. In addition I would love to recommend
you a book by Abraham Heschel. It is called "Sabbath" and I found so extremely enjoyable that I read the entire short book in one sitting.
Akiva, have a great shabbos, if I do not hear from you before then, and thank you once again for the very inspiring words!



Shalom Ben,
Everyday we can have special experiences if we are connected. It's a little like playing solitaire. If the player misses one card it is most likely that the miss will affect the game's outcome. In the same way we have to be alert to everything around us. Special experiences are there waiting to be noticed... felt.. etc. Yet, on the other hand, caution is always required.

For example:
I know of a family that owns a very nice property. It has several levels, upper and lower. Each level is leased individually. Recently the tenant on the upper level moved. At the same time another property close by sold for a very high price. It was about $80,000 more than a year ago. So this family is faced with a choice. They spoke to me about their choices. Do they sell? Do they rent? What do they do? I don't have the answer. I suggested that they speak with their tax consultant, their realtor and their rabbi. This could be a sign for them to sell or it could be just another one of those everyday, normal business transactions. However, it is good that they are open to the possibility of what may be happening.

It is very good to hear that you share this same type of sensitivity. Thank you for sharing it with me.

Continued discussion On Rock / Classical Music
Ben, it is not necessary that we agree on everything. In fact that is one of our great heritages: alternative possibilities. I try to avoid the usage of the word "disagreement" with other Yidden because it feels to me like a collision, G-d forbid! We don't need that...

Honestly, there is a great difference between classical music and rock. My experience with rock music, pop, country, etc. is often it is not wholesome. One cannot predict where the lyrics are going in advance. Also, men are not permitted to listen to female vocalists because it has the potential to excite our emotions. Again, we are back to the issue of sensitivity. Music affects our emotions powerfully! Those of us who are in tune or desire to be in to tune to spirituality MUST be careful what enters our spiritual Mishkon!! We must also be careful of what we say.

We need to also consider that others hear what we play. There is a very nice lady who shares office space with a Jewish lady of our community. While visiting her office I immediately picked up on the background music. It was an instrumental, a religious instrumental. No lyrics! It was offensive. That music was creating an atmosphere that attacks the Jewish Neshama of my dear Jewish sister, even though she did not know the lyrics.

Music has religious, sexual, racial, gender overtones that are very dangerous to the sensitive Jewish Neshama. Please consider this...

Honestly, I do not know of any Yeshiva that permits rock music. If such a place exists, G-d forbid, I would discourage you from attending there.

There are so many excellent Jewish groups offering music in Hebrew, English and instrumental which feeds our souls and challenges us to go forward. This is the type of music that enriches our lives. That is not to say that non Jewish music cannot enrich one's life even beyond Bach or Mozart, yet I prefer to stay within the comfort of what is known to be safe.

Thanks for sharing about Abraham Heschel's book, "Sabbath". Who is the publisher?

Wishing you the best,




Sorry you have not heard from me in the last few weeks, but I thought I would share with you that I received a free trip to Israel and just returned a couple of days ago! The trip was with through the birthright program and being that it was my first time there, it was free.
Anyway I just wanted to share with you how much of a spiritual uplifting it was and how amazing it was to be in Jerusalem one week and Zefat the other.

The first week we were in Jerusalem, and we got to go to the Kotel, along with helping digging underneath the Kotel and re-carving out the old city under the arab's houses. It was amazing to be standing only meters from the Kadosh V'Kadoshim underground. From there we hiked through out the Judaen Desert near the Dead Sea. Furthermore we went to the Mount of Olives, and walked down it.

We also spent some time in Zefat, the beautiful Kabalistic town... and when Shabbos approached you could feel something in the air. We went to Gamla, and hiked the peak of it, on top of that we crawled through the Bar Kochbah caves too!
The best think is I found a running waddi, and was able to use a pool of natural water there as a mikvah, it was very uplifting. There is so much I could tell you about but I do not know where to start! I look forward to your response back, and I hope to hear from you soon!



Shalom Ben,

Mazel Tov on your trip to Eretz Yisroel. Maybe you would like to write a column with a few pictures for our readers on your experiences and impressions as well as explain the birthright program. We are very behind on our correspondence almost eight weeks.

Wishing you the best,


Music Discussion Concluded
...I do appreciate your comments and concerns, and your input on what is good for the Jewish soul. One interesting note, I do feel uneasy hearing a woman vocalist regardless if it is a "pop" song, or religious music.
What Should One Do at The Death Of A Close Non-Jewish Friend?
Secondly, I have a somewhat serious question related to mourning a person's death. I am aware we're not allowed to say mourner's kaddish unless it of our immediate family. However a brother of good friend here at work who is not Jewish has suddenly passed of a heart attack, what is the appropriate thing to do? What prayers may I say on his behalf and benefit? Furthermore, is it permissible for a Jewish person to attend a wake? The only funeral I have ever attended was for my Grandfather. Otherwise, the only laws I know related to death is if you're a Kohen you're not allowed to attend funerals. And I am not (my mother is however my dad is not)... And I do look forward to hearing from you soon!

Shalom Ben,

Your questions on mourning are very good.

What is the appropriate thing to do when a non Jewish friend passes from this life?

When we lose a friend or when our friend loses a loved one we are deeply touched. We want to do something to show that we care for our friend or our friend's loved one. There are a variety of ways this can be done.

Often people give a contribution to a charitable organization in behalf of the memory of the deceased relative or friend. Since this individual's death resulted from heart failure contributing to an organization like the American Heart Association would be appropriate. Yet one may donate money to any cause in the memory of a relative or friend.

Often relatives express their wishes in the obituaries section of the local newspaper like:

Memorial contributions may be made to Women's American ORT.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association.

Memorial contributions may be made to Volunteers of America - Meals on wheels or Jewish Family Services

Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice....

Many companies have standard procedures for their employees when they suffer the loss of a loved one. They often provide a kindness to their employee which takes on many different possibilities like flowers, memorial funds, memorial contributions and meals, etc. Check with the personnel department or the department head

What prayers may I say on behalf of a non Jew?
As you already know mourners' Kaddish is said for 11 months by a child for their parent. Mourners' Kaddish may also be said for a close family relative. Kaddish is also said on a parents Yahrzeit. The chazzan says Kaddish in behalf of all the deceased of Kal Yisroel. Many organizations also provide a Kaddish service where an Orthodox staff member recites Kaddish three times a day for the prescribed 11-month period. Generally beyond this scope it is not appropriate to say mourners' Kaddish even though it is only a custom.

Is it permissible for a Jew to attend a wake?
A wake is certainly not of Jewish heritage. It is NOT promoted by the Torah. It is the custom of another religion in which relatives and friends watch beside the body of the deceased, especially through the night, until burial. The wake may range from a solemn affair to a boisterous feast and party.

Ben, while we feel the need to console our friends at the same time we must be cautious of their religious practices in light of the Torah. For example:

Certain religions practice forms of idolatry
It is inappropriate for a Jew to enter another house of worship especially where images are present. Many rabbium do not consider Christianity an idolatrous religion but that is because they are not familiar with their customs. Certain groups within Christianity bow to images of people they believe to be saints. They also pray to these same images of saints. The images / pictures of these saints are prevalent in their cars, homes, churches, schools and organizations. They believe these saints protect them, etc. Thus they give the saints a supernatural status. The definition of an idol is an image used as an object of worship. Idolatry is the worship of those images.

When one bows to an image, when one prays to an image, when one ascribes supernatural powers to an image it is certainly an idol!!

Buddhism is another example of the same. Buddhists place images of Buddha in their cars, homes, temples, schools and organizations. They believe Buddha protects them, they give offering of flowers, incense, and praise to the image of the Buddha thus giving Buddha a supernatural status..

In addition to this, people of other religions and spiritual paths practice forms of worship of gurus, masters and men like Jesus. This is another form of idolatry... Entering a place where activity of this nature occurs is improper.

The Torah States:
"You must not prostrate {bow} yourself to them, and you must not worship them. For I, Hashem your G-d, am a jealous Alm-ghty..." Exodus. 20:5

You must not prostrate yourself to their gods, nor serve {sacrifice to} them. You must not adopt their customs...." Exodus. 23:24

Attending their places of worship, participating in their belief structure like the customs surrounding December 25th is a form of adopting their customs. Participating in the practices of their baptisms, weddings and burials is borderline and dangerous!

One can offer condolences to the non Jews we care for without being a receiver of their belief system. We can do this by expressing our feelings to them in a note or letter. Sometimes visiting there home is appropriate.

Each of us must judge what is appropriate for that place and time in light of the Torah and our understanding of Judaism. We must be sensitive to our non Jewish neighbors and friends.

Wishing you the best,


Subject: Translation Of A New Testament Phrase

I would be very much obliged if you could tell me how to pronounce "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?". I would also like to know if "Eloi" is a hebrew/aramaic word. And what about "sabachthani"? Thank you in advance.


Madalena L.


Shalom Madalena Lima,

If you would have taken the time to "READ THIS FIRST" before sending E-mail you would have read:

JewishPath is a labor of Love to the world. Dr. Belk and all the staff of JewishPath are NOT salaried employees. Everyone is a volunteer. Everyone works for a living at a regular job...

We are NOT a translation service...
We are NOT a special subjects service...
We are NOT interested in any of your views about other religions...

Every week we receive requests from readers who expect us to do hours of research without a thought of our costs or expenses. It doesn't work like that. Have a heart! Show some kindness! Each subject that we share with you requires hours of research, writing and editing. Please keep this in mind. Many good questions are presented every week by our readership. Yet, even though that is the case it is not possible to respond to everyone with our limited resources. We truly thank G-d that our "SIGHT" has a readership of over 20,000 per month in less than one year and 40,000 in our second year... It is a real blessing to know thousands of readers study on the JewishPath each month. Yet this wonderful blessing, you our readership, is overwhelming for our staff of volunteers.

We would be happy to refer you to a web site that charges for translating.

Ben Silverman
Associate Editor


Subject: I Don't Know Hebrew... But I Translate Hebrew For Free...

Oops... sorry. I didn't read that, but then, I do translations all the time and never get paid. Of course, I'm not Jewish. Thank you for your message. I don't really need a web site that charges for translation; I'm a student, and I don't have that much money to spend. When I do, it's never for my own profit.
Madalena L.


Dear Reader,

What kind of translation services can you offer when you DON'T UNDERSTAND HEBREW? You MUST be referring to another language. On the other hand anyone who attempts to translate Hebrew usually DOES MORE HARM THAN GOOD! This individual miscommunicates Hebrew thus creating misunderstandings, misdirection, lies etc... YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR...

Ben Silverman

Associate Editor

SUBJECT: Contribution

Address Of JewishPath

I really like your Gematria, I already used it at my Synogogue. I would like to donate to your cause in memory of my Mother. What your address, or where do I send the donation.

Rafeal, (robert)


Shalom Rafeal,
Thank you in advance for your contribution....
Our address is:
JewishPath, Inc.
Morrisson, Colorado, USA 80444-0005
Rachel Gold,

Subject: Messianic Doctrines Are NOT Jewish

Being born a jew iam not impressed with you calling visitors hypocrites.Judisim as ypu practice it is why our people have perished to begin with.Sorrynbut you offend me as jews bt calling everyone who comes here a hypocrite,you judge unfairly.Thank G-d most jews are not like you. Most are loving and kind and tolerate others religions.This is ok i wont be back and ill certainly warn others as well.


Shalom Jay,
Jay you failed to tell our readership that you are Messianic! Judaism as you practice HAS DESTROYED OUR RELIGION. In fact as a point, the messianic doctriens are NOT part of Judaism AT ALL no matter how you attempt to present it!!
Ben Silverman

Subject: List Jewish Books that tell significant stories that play a major role in those who practice Judaism

My name is Jennifer and Im from NYC. I am doing a report on religion and how significant it is to everyday life. I would like to know if you can suggest to me a couple of significant stories that play a major role in those whom practice Judaism.

Thank you very much for your help.


Shalom Jennifer,

Three books come to mind all of which are reasonably priced:
Small Miracles, Small Miracles II and Small Miracles of Love and Friendship all by Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal published by Adams Media Corporation.

Best Regards,

Racheld Gold

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