Q: I read your article while in an extremely dark place, and, first of all, how dare you. Until you sit on the ground clutching to any form of hope, sobbing and praying and begging yourself to live, you do not know pain. When you can’t even get up to shower or eat or move, you don’t know pain. But you somehow have the audacity to speak like...Read more
Q: Rabbi Gellman tells us that in the Bible, while eating meat is tolerated by God, it was not as spiritual as a vegetarian diet. "God is saying that being a vegetarian is a higher way." Rabbi Gellman then tells us that "eating meat makes us comfortable spilling animal blood ... then maybe spilling human blood as well.” He surely cannot be ...Read more
In response to a heart-rending note from a reader, T, who knew that the only unforgivable sin in Christianity is blaspheming the Holy Spirit and who feared that during a recent medical crisis she had indeed blasphemed, I wrote an answer trying to console her and offering my outside-the-fences answer that God would never reject someone who acted ...Read more
Every year during the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur I send out to you an edited version of my sermon for my congregation, Temple Beth Torah. Edited means I take out most of the jokes. This year, I taped my sermon in advance and it was included in our synagogue’s internet-aided remote prayer services. My friend, Rabbi ...Read more
First of all, a Happy New Year to all my Jewish readers! Shana Tova.
Now onto the mailbag...
Q: I was in the hospital for 15 days due to congestive heart failure. It has taken me until now to return to my old self. I know when I came home I was not in my right mind. I said something about the Holy Spirit and have no idea what I said. If ...Read more
I asked my team of dear readers to opine on the question of reincarnation. Do you believe that we are born again, or is it once and done?
From B I received this pious and tender missive,
Hello Rabbi Gellman,
What do I think? Nobody knows for sure what occurs after death. Although many people preach about it, they don't really ...Read more
Q: I'm confused and need some help understanding reincarnation. I was raised in Episcopal Church and converted to Catholic two years after marriage when our first child was born. I've always understood that when you die one of three actions take place. 1. Your soul goes up 2. Your soul goes to purgatory, if appropriate, to pay penance for ...Read more
Q: Could you please share your advice on how synagogues should adapt their upcoming Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur High Holiday services in light of COVID-19 concerns? For instance, given the amount of lung power it takes to sound the ram’s horn, (the shofar) how much social distancing would be required from the shofar blower to be safe from the...Read more
Q: I am Indian, and my version of Hinduism teaches vegetarianism. Even so I have this craving for eating meat. I see people of other faiths eating meat and living a peaceful and happy life. However, I’m scared that if I eat non veg it will be considered a sin and something wrong may happen. I have not eaten non veg for some time now due to...Read more
Q: Last week, I reached into the Book of Isaiah 45:7 for the striking prophecy:
“I form the light and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” In your article, “The biggest of the Big Questions: Why does God allow evil?” you say there are two types of evil: natural and moral. Natural evil is ...Read more
My deepest thanks to those dear readers who took the time to help me understand more deeply and more fully and more accurately the Christian belief that Jesus is/was both “fully divine and also fully human.”
Some of you responded with a “Solo Fides” (Faith alone) answer, like T:
Dear Rabbi, I am definitely not a religious scholar, but ...Read more
I occasionally take time in this column to consider the deep mysteries each of the major faiths of the world holds at its heart.
These mysteries are core beliefs and quite often they are so profound and so recondite that people who are not in the faith but who want to learn more about it are cut off from understanding.
I want to understand ...Read more
Q: How can God be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, if evil still exists in the world. If he is omnipotent and omniscient, he knows it is happening and he has the power to stop it, therefore, not doing so means that he is not omnibenevolent. If he is omnipotent and omnibenevolent, then he can stop it and would stop it, but the only ...Read more
Q: My daughter and son-in-law are preparing for the arrival of their much prayed for baby in October. Due to COVID-19 shopping in stores for baby items, having a family gathering to announce their pregnancy and attending doctor appointments alone while her husband waits in the car have taken away from the 'fun' of her pregnancy. Compound this...Read more
Q: Rabbi Gelman, Love, love, love your column, thank you for sharing your wisdom. I was prepping a short homily for my women’s bible study group (Episcopalian). I was going to write the word “fellowship” but it struck me as sexist. My Google search replaced it with the non-sexist term “gathering with friends.” That moment brought me...Read more
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” -- King James Version (KJV)
Q: I agree with you about changing “want” to “lack” in the 23rd Psalm. I have a large Bible which is too heavy to hold but I sometimes read it in place of my smaller bible because it includes many foot notes that help clarify some words. This morning I noted ...Read more
Q: I am in a great deal of strife. I have not lived a terribly admirable life, I'm afraid. I have committed sins of a carnal nature since early adulthood. I was raised Roman Catholic and always went to the confessional for absolution but then I would go out some time later and do the same thing, repeatedly.
Always remorseful but, with ...Read more