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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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What are all those kosher symbols?

Kosher symbols like circle k or circle u mean that a Rabbinical organization certifies that all the ingredients of the product as well as the equipment upon which it is made are 100% kosher. For a list of reliable symbols, check out http://www.kosherquest.org/symbols.php . [Askmoses.com provides this link as a...

What are the numeric equivalents (gematriah) of the Hebrew letters?

Alef=1 Beit=2 Gimmel=3 Dalet=4 Hey=5 Vov=6 Zayin=7 Chet=8 Tet=9 Yud=10 Kof=20 Lamed=30 Mem=40 Nun=50 Samech=60 Ayin=70 Pei=80 Tzadik=90 Kuf=100 Reish=200 Shin=300 Tav=400 Higher numbers are symbolized by combining various letters. So...

Can I come up with my own gematriah?

Not unless you’re an authentic Torah sage. The gematriah methodology is easily misused. Every gematriah must have an authoritative Torah source. The biblical commentator Ramban writes: “A person is not permitted to employ the gematriah methodology and reach conclusions that he comes up with on his...

Do I need to drink Four Cups on Purim?

Why only four? On Purim we are commanded to drink until we cannot distinguish between "Blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman!" All the miracles of Purim came about through wine parties. Vashti, Ahasuerus' first queen, was deposed because of a wine party (where the king got drunk and ordered that...

Why do we have three matzot on the Seder plate?

Here are some of the reasons that are given: 1. It is an allusion to the three measures of flour that Abraham asked Sarah to prepare for the angels that visited him after his circumcision. According to the Midrash 1 , the angels visited Abraham on Passover. (It is a tradition that Abraham kept the entire...

Why four cups of wine at the Passover Seder?

G-d uses four expressions of redemption in describing our exodus from Egypt and our birth as a nation: 1 1. “I will take you out…” 2. “I will save you…” 3. “I will redeem you…” 4. “I will take you as a nation…” Our sages instituted...

Why do we close our eyes when lighting the Shabbat Candles?

I assume you are referring to the beautiful custom of covering one’s eyes with one’s hands during the blessing over the candle-lighting. The actual lighting is done with eyes wide open. It would be quite a feat to do otherwise. Anyhow, the reason we cover our eyes during the blessing is a bit...

What did Vashti do to deserve such a horrible fate?

Vashti (queen of Ahasuerus until he had her beheaded for refusing to appear at his feast) was not a great person, to put it mildly. She was the granddaughter of Nebuchadnezzar, the man who destroyed the Jews’ Holy Temple and sent them into exile. She inherited her grandfather’s profound hatred for...

Should a mourner send or receive Mishloach Manot?

A mourner should send Mishloach Manot even during shivah, but he should not send a fancy, joyful Mishloach Manot, he should keep it low key. However, one should not send Mishloach Manot to a mourner within his first thirty days of mourning. After that, you can send him a modest Mishloach Manot. (Some say that...

What is the significance of the Hamantash?

I don't know who invented the Hamantash, but there is deep significance to this pastry. Actually, the Hamantash is one of two foods customarily consumed on Purim The other food is kreplach -- chicken or meat-filled pasta dough shaped into a triangle. The idea of a food whose contents are hidden fits right...

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