FAQs

Theological Topics

Why do bad things happen to good people?

B”H

Question: I’m curious to know: what does the Talmud say about bad things that happen to good people?

Answer: (By Dr. Michael Schulman and Rabbi Sholom Ber Bloom, Ask Noah International)

One important point is that we physical people have a very limited perspective on what are “bad things”, and our view of “happen” is limited to what we think we see in a small frame of time. But this topic does need a lot of explanation.

Read more »

Share

How are sins forgiven without blood sacrifice?

Question: The shedding of blood for atonement for sin, the transgressing of G-d’s commandments, runs throughout the Hebrew Bible. How do you respond to this?

Answer: You have pointed out a deception – the fabricated concept that the Jewish service of sacrifices to G-d in the Holy Temple brought them forgiveness from sin. That is false, and it is a distortion of the true meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Read more »

Share

What does “new covenant” mean in Jeremiah 31?

Here is the translation of Jeremiah 31:30-33 that is printed in the Artscroll Hebrew Bible, or Tanakh. [Tanakh is an abbreviation with the Hebrew Letters T – N – Kh, which stand for T(orah) = 5 Books of Moses, N(evi’im) = Prophets, Kh(esuvim) = Holy Writings.]

30. Behold, days are coming, says the L-rd, when I will seal a new covenant with the HOUSE OF ISRAEL and with the HOUSE OF JUDAH:

31. not like the covenant that I sealed with their forefathers on the day that I took hold of their hand to take them out of the land of Egypt, for they abrogated My covenant, although I became their Master, says the L-rd.

32. For this is the covenant that I shall seal with the HOUSE OF ISRAEL after those days, says the L-rd; I will place my Torah within them and I will write it onto their heart; I will be their G-d and they will be a people for Me.

33. They will no longer teach – each man his fellow, each man his brother – saying, “Know the L-rd,” For all of them will know Me, from their smallest to their greatest, says the L-rd, when I will forgive their iniquity and will no longer recall their sin.

A fine traditional explanation of the “New Covenant” verses in Jeremiah has been published in chapter 10 of the book “Their Hollow Inheritance,” by Michoel Drazin. Here is an excerpt of the main points from that chapter: Read more »

Share

What is the meaning of full trust in G-d?

What does it mean to have full “bitachon” (trust) in G-d?

From a talk by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson. Presented with permission from the publisher, Sichos in English. Translated from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXVI, p. 1-6.

Bitachon/trust is not merely the faith that G-d has the potential to bestow good [upon a person] and save him from adversity. Instead, [it implies that] the person trusts that G-d will actually do this. And his trust is so absolute that he is serene and does not worry at all. As [the book] Chovos HaLevavos [Duties of the Heart] states:[1] “The essence of bitachon/trust is the serenity of the person who trusts. His heart relies on the One Whom he trusts that He will do what is best and most befitting with regard to the matter he trusts in Him.” Read more »

Share

Should I punish or harm myself for doing a sin?

Answer:*

The true basic meaning of repentance is abandoning sin, and this is one of the universal commandments in the Torah. How is this accomplished? In the preamble to “Laws of Repentance” in Mishneh Torah, the book of Torah Laws compiled by Maimonides (“Rambam”), he writes that repentance entails one positive command: that the sinner turn away from committing his sin before G‑d, and confess to G-d. Read more »

Share

Do miscarried babies have souls? What happens?

Question: We lost our unborn baby, and now we are very sad about this.
In regard to such small unborn babies, do they already have a soul given from G-d? And what happens to them after they died? Is there a possibility to say a special prayer to say goodbye to our baby?

Answer: Please accept my heartfelt condolences for your loss. All of the questions you asked are important and fundamental issues:

(1) Do unborn babies already have a soul given from G-d?

The investment of a soul from the spiritual realm into the body it is assigned to by G-d is a step by step process. It does not happen all at once. Even at birth, the process is not yet 100% complete. Read more »

Share

What is the Gentiles’ purpose?

The holy Zohar explains that the purpose of G-d’s creation of the physical universe is for the eternal future World to Come, when His unlimited Essence will be openly revealed in this physical world, dwelling together with human beings, both Gentiles and Jews. Many Biblical prophecies focus on the Righteous Gentiles in the Messianic Era. For example: Read more »

Share

Are G-d’s eyes always upon the Promised Land?

REQUIRED READING FOR EVERY NOAHIDE: Fundamental principles and historical highlights explained from the Torah perspective. Read more »

Share

Am I expected to sacrifice animalistic desires?

Question: I have felt an interest in bringing burnt offerings, but I was told by a Noahide that it’s about sacrificing our animal desires. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it lines up with my personal struggles. Read more »

Share

What’s the Jewish outlook on the Book of Jonah?

The Book of Jonah is read during the services of Yom Kippur, the Jews’ Day of Atonement, because its messages are a fitting inspiration for that time. To understand this scripture, it helps to know the identities of Jonah and the king of Nineveh. Read more »

Share

What Is Hanukkah?

Based on the Talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson

Published and copyright © by Sichos in English. Presented with permission from Sichos in English

(For translation in Portuguese, CLICK HERE: https://asknoah.org/essay/o-que-e-hanukkah

The Gemara asks in Tractate Shabbos, “What is Hanukkah?” As Rashi explains, the Gemara is inquiring as to what miracle brought about the establishment of the festival of Hanukkah. Read more »

Share

Does G-d want a dwelling place in this world?

A review of a Chassidic discourse by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, on the verse said by Jacob in Genesis 32:11, “Katonti MiKol HaChasadim” (“I have become small from all the kindnesses”) Read more »

Share

What is the nature of G-d and life’s purpose?

Questions: I was hoping for your help. I have so many questions, a spiritual crisis. I am overwhelmed by competing media/input and don’t know what way to turn. I need answers to why we are here? What is the purpose of life and the nature of G-d? I need insight. Any assistance you could offer would be much appreciated.

Response: The first thing is, don’t worry, and don’t be overwhelmed! The answers you are seeking are known and available, so you can rest assured about that.

1. “What is the nature of G-d?” Read more »

Share

Is Noahide theology the same as “natural laws”?

Question: I’ve always thought that Noahic Covenant theology was the equivalent of Natural Law theory. Isn’t it why we should be united in affirming the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance, because ethical monotheism is shared ground?

Answer: We cannot say that the Noahide Commandments were derived in an intellectual way from human observations of the functioning of the natural order, even with the understanding that the natural order was created by G-d according to His wisdom, and that G-dliness is invested within it. The first six of the Noahide Commandments were given directly by G-d to Adam in the Garden of Eden. This happened on the very day Adam was created, before he ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil! In such a state of perfection, what was the need for a set of commandments? Read more »

Share

Are G-d’s attributes masculine or feminine?

The fact that there is an existence of male and female creations within the physical world is a reflection of the fact that there are two different types of spiritual attributes that exist in the spiritual realms. Read more »

Share

Why do you not write “G-O-D”? It is spelled out in Jewish books of Torah and prayer.

The source of this custom for not-sanctified contexts is Deuteronomy 12:3-4. In verse 3, the Israelites were commanded that when they entered the Land of Canaan, they were to destroy the pagan alters, pillars, idol-trees and idol-statues, and to destroy the NAMES of the idols from that place. Then verse 4 says, “You shall not do so to the L-rd your G-d.”

In practical terms, this means in part that we should take precautions so that printings or inscriptions of names of G-d will not come to be “desecrated” – erased, torn, destroyed, or otherwise treated disrespectfully. This applies to a written-out name of the One True G-d in ANY language. Books of scriptures or prayer books are usually treated with proper respect, so it is not a problem to print a name of G-d in its full form in such books. But other types of printings could easily come to be thrown away, so in that case it is best if a name of G-d is not written out completely. Then the real forming of G-d’s name is within our mind, and not on the actual page.

More generally, it is proper to show this respect for G-d’s names in printed form, because it is an expression of the awe and fear of G-d that we should have.

If one has a document that contains a written-out name of G-d or a verse from the Hebrew Bible, and it is no longer needed, it is best to set it aside in a safe place so that it will not be thrown directly into the garbage, etc. When one accumulates a number of such items and they need to be disposed of, it is appropriate to respectfully bury them double-wrapped in plastic if the writing is in the context of Torah.

If pages with a written-out name of G-d (in languages other than Hebrew) are found in secular printed material like a secular newspaper or magazine, they can be double-wrapped (a bag inside a bag) and put into the garbage.

An image on a computer screen has no permanence and is not at all considered to be in the above category of words that are actually written down. Nevertheless, it is pious conduct not to write out G-d’s names fully in electronic files also, if there is a concern that the electronic document might be printed out on paper, etc.

Share

If one repents and then sins again, is a further repentance accepted?

G-d does not view a person as a “nuisance” for repeatedly asking for forgiveness. Read more »

Share

Is it a lack of faith if one goes to doctors?

Just the opposite! G-d wants us to bring down His miraculous healing power through these physical channels which He creates for His spiritual blessings to be manifested in the world. Read more »

Share