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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 AskMoses.com, Kabbalaonline.org 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.


Articles by this author:

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How is turning on lights on Shabbat considered work?

Here’s the short answer: By turning the lights on you are causing a fire right there in your home--there are sparks of fire created by the electricity. Another school of thought explains as follows: The switch closes a circuit which allows the electricity to flow, and therefore falls into the category of...

Why is G-d’s name not mentioned even once in the Megillah?

Good question. Ibn Ezra in his intro to his commentary on the Megillah says that Mordechai knew that the Persians would copy the story into their history books. He was afraid that if he would put in G-d’s name they would add all these idolatrous appellations to their version. So he left G-d’s name out...

Where was Moses buried?

Moses was buried on a mountain outside of Israel, specifically Mt. Nevo or Nebo. Where precisely? The Torah itself tells us 1 that no person can know. "Rabbi Chamah ben Chaninah said: Why was Moses’ grave hidden from the eyes of flesh and blood? Because it was known before G-d that the Holy Temple...

Why do we send away the angels on Friday before eating?

There are two reasons given: One is that the angels may have to leave if things turn out not as peaceful as they should be. The other is that the angels cannot endure the Infinite Light which shines at the time of kiddush. At any rate, why wait ‘til after? Welcome those angels into your home as soon as you...

How did Esther keep the Sabbath without rousing suspicion?

Esther had seven maids (Esther 2:9). She had them on rotation so that each maid served on a different day of the week (Talmud, Tractate Megillah 13a). This way the maid that served her on Shabbat only saw her on that day and thought that Esther never did work. On the other days Esther did work because she knew that...

What did Esther eat in the king’s non-kosher palace?

In the Scroll of Esther 1 we read that Hegai, the custodian of the women, did something special for Esther and her maids. The Talmud 2 offers a number of opinions on what this special treatment was. Rav says that he fed her Jewish food. (Although she did not say she was Jewish, it was known that she was raised...

If getting drunk is inappropriate, why is it a Mitzvah to get drunk on Purim?

Getting drunk is not recommended behavior and leads to all sorts of negative consequences. Once a year, though, it is a mitzvah: on Purim. (Even on Purim, a person should only drink if he knows he will be able to act responsibly.) The idea of drinking on Purim (for responsible adults) is as follows. Two examples:...

What are the seven rabbinic mitzvahs?

1. Washing the hands for bread. 2. Laws of Eruv. 1 3. Reciting a blesing before partaking of food or any other pleasure. 4. Lighting Shabbat Candles. 5. Celebration of Purim. 6. Celebration of Chanukah. 7. Recitation of the prayer of praise called Hallel on certain occasions. All the commandments of...

Why did Mordechai instruct Esther to conceal the fact that she was Jewish?

The commentators offer a number of reasons. Here’s two: 1. Mordechai wanted to make sure that she would be able to continue observing the commandments of the Torah. The Persian court was not known for its friendliness toward Jewish custom. So as long as she kept her Jewishness a secret it would be easier...

Why do we wear a costume on Purim?

You don't have to, but it is an old Jewish tradition. There is actually a profound idea "hidden" behind the masks we wear on Purim... Our masquerading commemorates the fact that the miracle of Purim was not blatant, but rather hidden and masqueraded in natural events. In fact the name of the Purim...

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