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Askmoses scholars are carefully selected to bring the best of Jewish knowledge to you. Each scholar studied Judaism, Jewish History, Jewish Culture and is a recognized communicator and teacher in his or her community. Many are world-class authors and lecturers as well as practicing rabbis. The scholars live all over the world and express their knowledge to you from their point of view, 24/6. Get to know our scholars by reading their backgrounds.

Rabbi Yossi Marcus

Rabbi Yossi Marcus, a native (southern) Californian, is a writer and translator of Jewish literature. He is a contributor to, and Farbrengen Magazine. His most recent book is a new commentary on Ethics of our Fathers, published by Kehot. Rabbi Yossi is the director and spiritual leader of Chabad in S. Mateo, CA.

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How do I eliminate strange thoughts during prayer?

First, look inside the prayer book while praying. Our Sages tell us that seeing the words on the page, as well as saying them out loud, awaken concentration. Second, you rule your mind, it doesn't rule you. But instead fighting the thought, just shift your mind to something else, i.e. the meaning of your...

Why is Savri Maranan said in kiddush before the blessing on the wine?

There are a number of explanations: 1. Wine, over which we recite the kiddush, can be a negative thing if used improperly. For example, according to some opinions the fruit of Adam’s sin was wine. This sin brought death into the world. Also, wine is used in a negative context as a sedative device before a...

How is Purim celebrated?

1. Take a Scroll Go to your local synagogue and listen as the whole story of Purim is read from a hand-written scroll of parchment called a megillah. The megillah is read once on Purim eve and a second time the next morning, Purim day 1 . During the reading, make sure to make lots of noise when the name of...

What happened to the Jews after the Purim story?

About three years later, Darius II (son of Esther and Ahasuerus, who succeeded his father as king a year after the Purim story) allowed the Jews to rebuild their Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It had been in ruins for seventy years, following its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar in 422 b.c.e. (The Jewish prophets had...

How did Mordechai overhear the plot to kill the king?

Some say that he learned of the plot through prophetic vision. 1 The Talmud 2 explains that the two plotters, Bigsan and Seresh, were speaking in their native tongue Tursi. Mordechai was a member of the Sanhedrin, and was therefore fluent in seventy languages. (At least a few members of the Sanhedrin had to be...

Instead of fasting, why didn't Queen Esther tell the Jews to protest?

Why didn't the Iraqis protest against Saddam Hussein's regime? And why didn't the German Jews demonstrate en masse against Hitler's Final Solution? Protesting is a privilege known only in modern democracies. In ancient times and under ruthless dictators protesting only puts an end to your miseries...

What are those unusual-sized letters in the Megillah?

In the names of the slain ten sons of Haman, four large letters appear. Throughout Scripture there are various letters that are written in an unusual size according to ancient tradition. For example, the first word of Leviticus has a small Alef. In that case, the small alef symbolizes Moses’...

Why don't we recite the Hallel prayer on Purim?

The Talmud 1 asks this question and offers a number of reasons. Here’s three: 1. The reading of the Scroll of Esther is equivalent to the saying of Hallel. 2. Once the Jews entered the Land of Israel, we only say Hallel for miracles that occurred there. The miracle of Purim occurred outside the Land of...

Why do we pray the same words every day?

The Sages formulated the prayers to evoke a love and awe of G-d. We each have our subjective reality and appreciation of spirituality. However, there are objective universal emotions that must be evoked. In formulating the prayers hundreds of years ago, the Sages incorporated those passages that would pull the right...

Can I light the Menorah on Friday after Shabbat has begun?

It is forbidden to light a flame on the Sabbath; even the flame of the Menorah. Therefore, at this moment your Mitzvah is to not  light.

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