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Scholars

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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Which spiritual deficiencies led to the symptoms of tzaraat (“leprosy”)?

The Talmud (Erchin 15a) lists seven sins that lead to tzaraat: Gossip; murder; immorality; swearing falsely; arrogance; theft; stinginess. Other midrashic texts add idolatry; robbing the public, and others. (From a kabbalistic perspective, tzaraat stems from a lack of focus on elevating the physical world and...

Which shades of white were considered tzaraat?

There were actually four shades. The whitest shade was that of snow. This is referred in the Torah as baheret. The second shade was slightly duller than snow and was like the clean natural wool of a lamb on the day it is born. This the Torah calls se’et. The third shade is that of the plaster in the Temple....

A person suspects that he has tzaraat (“leprosy”). What's his next move?

If a person developed a white spot on his skin that was not duller than the membrane of an egg and at least the size of a bean called a gris (approximately ¾ of an inch) he would go to a kohen to have it checked out. The kohen would then check for “signs of impurity.” These included any one of...

Is tzaraat ("leprosy") a hygienic problem or is it something spiritual?

Here are a number of facts that make it pretty clear that the Torah is talking about a spiritual malady that causes a the appearance of a white spot on the skin and that it has nothing to do with hygiene: · In Torah law, the appearance of regular skin within the white spot is considered a sign of impurity,...

Why is a person covered entirely with Leprosy considered pure?

Some commentaries state that this is one of those laws in the Torah that do not have a reason that us mortals can relate to (Bachya). Such laws are called chukim (plural of chok) and include laws such as the red heifer and the prohibition of mixing wool and linen. Others, however, maintain that the...

What is the Talmud's view of mind over matter?

One particular story in the Talmud comes to mind: A sage named Rabbi Zeira was said to have such great meditative powers that he was able to put his feet in fire without burning them. Turns out, though, that he did burn them once because he was distracted. He then earned the name “little man with burned...

What is Lag b'Omer?

"Lag" (spelled with the Hebrew letters Lamed and Gimmel) are the Hebrew letters used to write the number 33. "b'Omer"—means "of the Omer". So Lag b'Omer —pronounced lahg b-OH-mehr—is the 33rd day of the Omer. The Omer is...

What is the literal meaning of Lag b'Omer?

Well, let’s start with the first word, lag. Every Hebrew letter has a numeric equivalent . The Hebrew letter for L (Lamed) equals 30, while the Hebrew letter for G (Gimmel) equals 3. Put L and G together and you get LaG, 33. The 49-day period between Passover and Shavuot is called “the counting of...

Why is Lag b'Omer celebrated with bonfires and bows and arrows?

The bonfires celebrate the immense light that was brought into the world by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (who passed away on Lag b'Omer), especially on the day of his passing. The bow commemorates the fact that during Rabbi Shimon’s lifetime no rainbow was ever seen. 1 (This was a good thing because the...

Why the semi-mourning period between Passover and Shavuot?

The primary reason is that during this time a terrible tragedy took place some 2,000 years ago: Almost all of Rabbi Akiba’s 24,000 students passed away in a massive epidemic. Other tragedies also befell our people during this time. For example, during the Crusades in the year 1096 many Jewish communities...

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