Answers from an Orthodox Jew


Thank you Moses613 also for your time given and hope you also had a blessed Passover! Peace :slight_smile:


Respectfully toward>> Thank you Moses613 and making it easy to follow and understand!! Peace :slight_smile:


I enjoy and appreciate all that you contribute. I don’t post often in this thread because I am more interesting in learning about Judaism in it’s own context(s) rather than seeing it thru Catholic eyes.

You don’t need to prove anything or even defend your religious beliefs, as you well know.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to answer questions. :slight_smile:


Thank you and @rose321 for the kind words.


I did donate my DNA. It is being used for studying if different groups of people have a gene for different diseases. If I remember correctly!


I also can print off a copy of my genetic code. :blush:


Could you talk a little about how you observe the Sabbath? How important is it to you to make it a day of rest? What traditions or rituals do you practice at home? How important is it to go to the synagogue? And when? Friday, Saturday, or both?’ And does it hold true for both men and women? Thanks and Shabbat Shalom (hope that’s right).


The Sabbath is a cornerstone of Torah observance, a source of inspiration and spiritual strength, and keeping it is one of the most important acts of faith. I’ll try to answer your question soon, God willing.


Does Judaism having any teaching on the meaning of suffering? I’m not really sure how to ask this? For example, in Christianity, and especially in Catholicism, there is the idea that suffering can be redemptive. I was wondering what, if any, views there are about suffering in Judaism. Thank you.


Absolutely, any level of suffering is considered an atonement for our sins. Suffering can also inspire us toward repentance and fear of God, and accepting suffering with love is considered a very great merit. Additionally, the suffering of the righteous can atone for the sins of the entire generation.


The Sabbath is one of the most important commandments and also includes some of the most serious topics of Jewish law. For a Jew to violate the Sabbath is, in the teachings of the Talmudic sages, tantamount to idol worship. That is because the Sabbath is a testimony to God’s creation of the world.

At home, the lady of the house makes a blessing and lights at least two candles, but often more, shortly before sunset on Friday in honor of the Sabbath. After we return from the synagogue that evening, we welcome the Sabbath with traditional songs and a short blessing over a cup of wine to sanctify the onset of the holy day. Many people give a blessing to their children at this time. Then we ritually wash our hands and say the blessing over two loaves of bread (challah, traditionally made from braided dough) and have a special meal. It is a mitzvah to honor the Sabbath with delicacies, and some people’s tables every week look like what you might find at a Thanksgiving table elsewhere, or close to it. At the meal we often share thoughts or teachings related to the weekly Torah portion, and conclude with the set text of the grace after meals.
On Saturday morning, after the return from prayer services, there is a similar but slightly different routine. It is also customary to serve a hot dish. Although we do not light fire or electric elements or cook on the Sabbath, we are allowed to keep hot food cooking over a flame that was turned on prior to the Sabbath. That has led to a custom of “cholent,” or hot beef stew, that simmers all day until it is ready to be served at the lunchtime meal.
After the afternoon prayer service, we always eat a third meal. It is usually lighter (because who has much of an appetite after two sumptuous meals the previous night and earlier in the day?) but we wash and make the blessing over two loaves just as with the first two Sabbath meals.


It is very important for men to attend the synagogue to pray with a quorum (minyan) and hear the public reading from the Torah scroll, which can only be done in the presence of 10 men. Women choose to attend if they wish. In my community, many women with small children at home do not choose to attend and instead pray at home, some more and some less.

There are three prayers every day of the week, and four on the Sabbath: Evening (Maariv), Morning (Shacharith), Additional (Mussaf, this is only on Sabbath and festivals) and Afternoon (Mincha). In practice, we go to synagogue three times and the Morning and Additional prayers are done together, one after the other with the Torah reading in between.

My pleasure. “Sabbath” is derived from the Hebrew word “Shabbath” שבת. Very few Jews today pronounce the fricativized ת as the “th” sound. (Yemenites are one exception.) In the Modern Hebrew spoken in Israel, as well as among most Sefardic Jews, it is pronounced “t” and they would say “Shabbat” (as in, Shabbat Shalom). Traditionally, Ashkenazi Jews always pronounced ת as “s,” leading to the pronunciation “Shabbos”. Ashkenazim, especially outside Israel, will often wish each other a “Gutt Shabbos” (Yiddish) or “Good Shabbos”.


I know that Orthodox Jews, as well as some others, believe that “suffering of the righteous can atone for the sins of the entire generation,” particularly the suffering of Tzaddikim. However, does this belief in any way contradict the notion that atonement for sins is an individual matter according to Jewish thinking? That is, there is no such thing as vicarious atonement.


A wonderful description, Moses, of the Sabbath day, never considered merely typical, and why the Sabbath is so important to Judaism.


I’m not especially well-read on this topic, but my understanding is not so much that someone else’s suffering can vicariously atone for my own sins. Rather, the outstanding merit of the suffering of the Tzaddik, which is accepted with unquestioning love of God, spills over and brings merit to the entire Jewish community, for as the Mishna says “All Israel are guarantors for each other,” meaning our merits and demerits affect the whole community, not only ourselves. This can help us in our own repentance, and increase its effectiveness, but does not replace our own repentance. Secondly, there is a concept of sins of the community, which are conceptually different from individual sins, and the Tzaddik as part of or a leader of the community (whether officially or unofficially) can help the community atone. My disclaimer is, again, that I am not an expert in these ideas.


Thanks for your insights on the Sabbath. I find myself comparing my own practices and how I fall short. For example, I try to avoid shopping or household chores on Sunday, but if it’s been a busy week I make exceptions. I like the idea of really setting the day apart.

I’ve been to the Friday evening service at a Reform synagogue. Would an Orthodox service be similar?


You are probably correct although I think for some the line between “bringing merit to the community” and vicarious atonement is somewhat blurred or misunderstood. Your point about “sins of the community” is also an important one. Thank you!


Respectfully one mentions the Sabbath beginnings on Friday before sunset when does the Sabbath end? Read in other Jewish sources Sabbath begins Fri at sunset ends Sat at 6 pm sunset, is this true? Begins at sunset ends at sunset is this correct? Thank you kindly!! Peace :slight_smile:


There will be marked differences between the Reform service and the Orthodox service. Reform prayers are mixed-gender. Orthodox synagogues have a separate women’s gallery during prayers. Reform conducts much of their service in English, although I think they use some Hebrew. Most Orthodox services are all in Hebrew, although there is nothing forbidden with adding English prayers and explanations, and some places do this. The Reform has written its own liturgy with various emendations. I have not really read one, but I understand that they have altered and changed various prayers for various reasons, including gender-equal language, etc. Sometimes Reform synagogues have musical accompaniment to the prayers. Orthodox hold that Jewish law bans the playing of musical instruments on the Sabbath. Those are the most striking differences I can think of off the top of my head.


Not quite. The Sabbath begins at sunset and ends at nightfall. This is because there is a dusk period between sunset and nightfall where the status of the day is in doubt. Due to the sanctity of the Sabbath, we are strict and begin the Sabbath at sunset, while waiting to conclude the Sabbath until the “appearance of three small stars” when it is surely the night of the next day. There are various opinions of when full nightfall is. In New York (this varies with latitude), the most lenient opinion typically relied on is 40 or 42 minutes after sunset, and the strictest tend to keep 72 minutes. Beyond purely technical considerations, there is a mitzvah for us to add on some time to the Sabbath. Often people will accept the Sabbath a few minutes early and/or end it a few minutes later.

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