I am often asked, "Isn't it true that religion is the source of all the problems in the world?" I respond with a question of my own, "Give me your list of the three people who have helped the world the most in the last century. Their lists are almost always identical: Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr. I then remind them that these...Read more
Here are my spiritual New Year's Resolutions. Write to me and tell me yours.
Happy New Year!
Volunteer at Meals on Wheels. I received this soul-warming note from G in Central Florida following my giving to beggars column:
"About five years ago, when we moved to Central Florida, we discovered there were senior citizens who had ...Read more
I get questions from kids and they are just terrific -- both the kids and the questions. I received this question on a postcard from a little girl named C in the third grade in my synagogue:
"Why don't animals talk?"
Here is my answer for C. You might want to compare Genesis 1:29 where Adam is given just fruits and vegetables to eat in the ...Read more
Lots of comments on my column supporting giving to beggars. I wrote the column expecting that I might produce only one or two notes of agreement, but my heart was lifted by the number of soft-hearted readers who, like me, give to beggars. Of course, there were a few like this one from W...
In this day and age your answer was absolutely wrong! ...Read more
Happy Hanukah! Merry Christmas!
When I wrote this column with Father Tom Hartman, my beloved friend and partner in all things God Squadian, our favorite columns of the year by far was the one we wrote together just before Hanukah and Christmas. To flip things around theologically, I would write about what I loved about Christmas and Tommy would...Read more
Q: Every night as I drive home headed to the highway and sit at a stoplight, I always encounter people holding cardboard signs asking for money. I never know if I should give or not. As a practicing Catholic, I am well aware of Jesus teaching to love thy neighbor and treat the least among us as we want to be treated but I also know that ...Read more
Q: Was there a female goddess inside the ark of the covenant? I don't know why I feel that there is a female part of God. I sincerely do need clarity on this. -- U
A: The only things inside the ark were the tablets of the law, the broken pieces of the first tablets that Moses smashed, a golden jar filled with the manna the people ate during ...Read more
Every year before Thanksgiving I honor a personal tradition of making a list of people and things for which and for whom I am thankful this year. The one twist to my list is that I never put on the list the people (family, friends) and things (home, food, job, nation) that always appear on the normal Thanksgiving ...Read more
Q: Dear Rabbi, I met your good friend Father Tom Hartman many years ago, as he was a very good friend and spiritual adviser to my brother-in-law's family. I share your respect for him, as he was indeed an impressive man. I am writing today regarding the Catholic Church's view and stand on suicide and its repercussions, if any. I assume you will ...Read more
I spend most of my time defending religions and the religious among us. I am happy to do this because I believe that religion generally gets a bad rap in certain circles. I believe that in a culture of selfishness, religion teaches generosity. In a culture of loneliness, religion teaches community and in a culture of cynicism, religion teaches ...Read more
Take my liver, please!
Q: Dear Rabbi Gellman, my name is (K) and I am writing to ask a favor of you. I am hoping you might consider writing a column on organ donation. I do not know how you feel about it, though as a faithful reader of your column I would think you might be in favor of it. I have been an organ donor for years and now I am in ...Read more
The cycle of holidays during the year includes three distinct categories:
Category I: Sectarian Holidays
Of course, the year is filled with totally and purely sectarian holidays like Christmas and Easter and Passover and Ramadan and last week's Diwali, which are only intended as celebrations for the believers of a...Read more
I have just concluded my Yom Kippur prayers and their litany of atonement, and buried amongst my confessions is my sin of not writing more about Hinduism and Jainism and Sikhism and Buddhism and the other so-called Eastern religions (after all they are only Eastern when viewed from the West). These faiths represent ...Read more
Q: One of my dear friends is dying from ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). We are a group of women who have grown up next door to each other, from toddlers to now senior citizens (YIKES). I am struggling (as we all are) with watching my friend slowly slipping away. She can no longer move or speak; we ...Read more
Q: I wholeheartedly agreed with your recent column about dying and hospice. My dilemma is why is it different for animals? Why do we get to play "God" and end their suffering just because they are dying, have lost bladder control and are ruining the carpet? I have always felt that nature should take its course, even if my rug is at risk. We just...Read more
Q: If one has a disease which, if left untreated, will result in death, is it a sin? Is it suicide to refuse treatment? What is your opinion about right-to-death issues (euthanasia) for terminal patients? (No name or address, as I do not want to be identified by any person)
A: What a person who is terminally ill (I am going to assume that the ...Read more
Even though I am retired, every Jewish New Year I preach a sermon at my synagogue, Temple Beth Torah, in Melville, N.Y., and I cut it down drastically and summarize it in my weekly column. This helps my readers (both of them) know what is on my mind during these Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom ...Read more