Q - My daughter, a freshman on a large college campus, was invited to the home of a local rabbi for Friday night dinner. The rabbi is nontrivial affiliated with Hillel or any synagogue, but has gotten deeply involved in college life and invites groups of students to his home nearly every week. The kids seem to really enjoy it. Last weekend I found out one reason. The liquid refreshment flows freely, and I'm not just talking about Kiddush wine. On the one hand I'm glad my kid is doing something Jewish, but serving liquor to minors scares me.
Q - I recently heard reports about the creation of artificial meat, using with animal stem cells. To this point, it exists only in a Petri dish, but it's time to start asking the tough questions. As one who keeps kosher and who is a vegetarian, would this kind of meat would be kosher - and would that be true even for pork? And since no killing would be involved, could a vegetarian eat this meat with a clear conscience?
A- As they say at Citi Field, it’s time to “Meet the Meats.”
Q - Does Rep. Weiner's admitted act of sending out explicit photos of himself disqualify him from public office? Is this a new form of adultery? Given the fact that "sexting" is so common these days among young people, will it become a political albatross comparable to pot smoking for aspiring pols who came of age in the '60s? After all, isn't this just a byproduct of the Internet revolution in the way that drug use was the byproduct of the counter culture?
Q -In reading about the recent Mississippi River floods, it was shocking to see how spillways were opened in less populated areas, in effect deliberately flooding out thousands of homes in order to save more populated areas downstream. How can anyone justify wiping out entire communities like that? And conversely, is it right for people to deliberately move into areas that are known "spill zones," where flooding is known to occur.
Q - In the wake of recent sex scandals involving Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Time Magazine ran a cover story asking the rhetorical question, "What Makes Powerful Me Act Like Pigs?" Ethically speaking, how does Judaism account for this constant abuse of power by piggish men?
Q - I recall reading several years ago about a survivor's son who had engraved a tattoo on his arm to match the one borne by his father at Auschwitz. I understand that he meant it as a gesture of solidarity, but doesn't Jewish law prohibit tattoos?
Q - Every Israeli schoolchild learns the famous quote of a dying hero Joseph Trumpledor, "it is good to die for one's country." The line has always troubled me. Ethically speaking, is it really good to die for your country?
Q - The killing of Osama bin-Laden sent Americans out into the streets in spontaneous celebration. I saw the raucous scene outside the White House and it made me uncomfortable. Isn't it against Jewish practice to rejoice at the downfall of your enemies?
Q - I was shocked to read recently that corporal punishment is still legal in 20 states. I also know the famous quote from Proverbs, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” But on Passover we are taught to answer a child’s questions with patience. Is it ever acceptable for a parent or teacher to hit a child?
A - It is never appropriate to hit a child, at school or at home. Period.