For every journey there is a symbol that marks the journey. For Dorothy and the Lion and the Tin Man and the Scarecrow, the symbol was the Yellow Brick Road. For Christianity, the symbol is the cross. For Islam, the symbol is the crescent. What is the symbol for the Jewish journey? You might guess that the ultimate Jewish symbol is the Star of ...Read more
Q: Hello Rabbi Gellman, I was one of your students at Temple Beth Torah. I have found myself totally confused about the book of Job, and some of my Christian friends have been using it to prove Satan exists. I was curious about your views. Thank you so much. -- From J
A: Great to hear from you, J. You must have missed my Satan Sermon at the ...Read more
Q: A group of 100 or 1,000 people is hard for me to envision, and so when I read about millions and more who suffer hunger, disease and fear for their very lives and safety, I cannot begin to comprehend it. Why was I was chosen to live the life God has given me? Why was I chosen to have love, comfort, warmth, food, safety and the beauty of a ...Read more
This may seem like a very bad time for someone who is not even a Catholic to defend priests, but that is what I need to do this week.
Tommy (My deceased friend and partner for many years, Fr. Thomas Hartman) and I lived through the first big pedophilia priest scandal in Boston, and at the time I remember that we did our best to condemn in the ...Read more
Q: What do you think about Pope Francis' recent edict on the death penalty? Sincere thanks and God's abundant blessings! -- S from Buffalo, N.Y.
A: Following the lead of his two predecessors but going further, Pope Francis has altered the Catechism of the Catholic Church to eliminate all doubts about the Church's position on the death penalty. ...Read more
Q: I believe in God and the Big Bang. Is there any problem with that? -- From T
A: No problem, T. The Bible teaches that the first act of creation by God is God creating light. Light is energy and light and energy are what was released by the Big ...Read more
Q: I am an animal lover and at the age of 81, and sometimes I think about planning my funeral. Over the years and many four-legged children, we have quite a collection of ashes, as each was cremated. Can I have their ashes mixed with my dirt and used to cover my grave? There will be at the least two dogs and one horse. You can answer in the ...Read more
Q: Is the expression "Oh my God" taking the name of God in vain? -- From J
A: What constitutes a violation of the third (Jewish counting) or second (Christian counting) commandment is not at all clear. The main intent of the commandment is to avoid magic and supernatural curses, not merely to avoid swearing. Ancient magic, not pulling a rabbit ...Read more
Q: Dear Rabbi Gellman, I look forward to your column in Saturday's New Haven Register and read it faithfully. However, recently I'm afraid I found you missed the mark on the meat-eating issue.
True, Adam and Eve ate only the fruit of the trees (I've always assumed that included nuts) in the Garden of Eden, and that was perfection. When God cast...Read more
Q: If most of us wind up going to Heaven, wouldn't it be too crowded? What if there's no room? I just can't see how God can handle all of us! I really hope you answer me; I think about this all the time. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. -- From M
A: I also think about the World To Come (this is the Jewish term for Heaven) ...Read more
Q: I don't understand how people can talk about a "Loving God" and all the other positive descriptions that are given. When I was born, it was with multiple birth defects, which have led to me being ridiculed, laughed at and all the not-so-nice things humans do and say to each other. I have been told repeatedly by my church friends who have ...Read more
This Independence Day I seek a way to talk about God and America that does not make God sound like a Republican or a Democrat. There must be a way to lift up for praise and gratitude the way America separates church and state in a way that strengthens them both.
The American belief about religion, to say this simply, is that ...Read more
Q: I have an ongoing problem because I'm living as a hypocrite. I'm an animal lover but I eat meat. I don't eat veal or lamb because they are from young animals, but I eat meat, fish, fowl and eggs. Is there anything in the Bible that refers to this or to Christ's personal practice? Did Jesus eat meat? I'm aware that I'm looking for absolution ...Read more
We are here to be saved by God. Knowing that we are saved gives us hope to endure the burdens of life and give thanks for our blessings. Knowing that we are saved gives us compassion for the struggles of our neighbors. Knowing that we are saved gives us courage to struggle for justice in a broken world. We do not all share the same beliefs of ...Read more
Q: Christian orthodoxy (small "o") leaves one to assume that the human soul somehow comes into being at either conception or birth, depending on one's viewpoint, and doesn't seem to have much to say about the how, when and where of the soul's origin. What else might Jewish tradition be able to tell me about the origins and manifestations of the ...Read more
Thanks you to all my dear readers for deluging me with your signs from Heaven. I am deeply touched by all of them. However, I think this will be the end of signs from dead people for a while.
There are several reasons for this hiatus.
I can't keep saying that talking to dead people and receiving signs from dead people violates the spiritual ...Read more
I recently asked you, dear readers, to send in some stories about signs from family and friends who have died. Thank you for swamping me with your signs of love and hope.
I am a widow of three years. When I was coming out of the funeral luncheon, it just came into my head that my husband would send me signs of peacocks. I know...Read more