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18

Welcome and congratulations on your search and efforts! Beyond the suggestions above (first and foremost to approach the rabbi in a local synagogue or Chabad house), there are a number of websites which I have used at different points in time with a focus on beginners. They might be helpful to access Jewish content and start learning regularly. Aish Ohr ...


12

According to this article by Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky there is no requirement to remove a tattoo, although it could be considered a pious act to do so, especially if the tattoo depicts something immoral and idolatrous. He discusses four ways of removing a tattoo, two of which are permissible, and two of which are questionable. Removal via a cream or laser ...


12

I don't have a lot of time now, but just a few thoughts: If he presented himself to the Rabbi as a non-Jew looking to convert, I would expect a lukewarm response at best. This is because Judaism does not proselytize, and is not interested in accepting converts unless they are strongly motivated to join the Jewish people and accept all of the responsibilities ...


12

Yeah, especially when a diaspora yom tov is adjacent to Shabbat, it sometimes feels like a long slog. I sometimes feel like I'm fighting an uphill battle because I didn't do this from birth -- it isn't a life-long routine. Here are some things that help me. (Some of these are dependent on your family and community situations, which I don't know.) Board ...


12

Congratulations on your efforts. You will benefit a lot from developing a relation with one or more religious Jews finding a Rabbi who understands you and can help in your search learning Torah - see here for some online resources which might help you and here for a reading list I compiled for similar cases some resources for those beginning to keep Shabbos ...


11

After the Return by Rabbis Mordechai Becher and Moshe Newman, a guidebook for baalei t'shuva, covers this. To summarize the discussion in Chapter 6: You should offer to do (and fund) the shopping to avoid placing an extra burden on them. The best case is that they agree to kasher the kitchen, and he says that some parents are actually willing to do that ...


11

The vast majority of shuls self-identified as Orthodox are mainstream. So chances are, any Orthodox shul or community you approach will be mainstream. Sabbateans are non-existent, as far as I know. Karaites are very rare and will not pretend to be Orthodox. Any Orthodox shul without a mechitza (I hear there are a few left) is outside of the mainstream, ...


9

Generally with other ulta-orthodox baalei t'shuva or other people with similar backgrounds. That is a good idea, regardless, as the compatibility is more likely to be there. (The only exception to your list is persons of color - my observation is that they tend to find a person of a different color who doesn't have a hangup about it). In addition, There are ...


9

You wrote: I understand that mainstream Judaism says that all sinners can do teshuva and will be forgiven their sins. It's not only mainstream Judaism that belives in the concept of Teshuva! Teshuva is explicitly mentioned in the Torah - see the Rambam on Teshuva who documents various mentions of Teshuva in the Torah. In Chapter 4 the Rambam also ...


9

I will start with the disclaimer that when I became religious, Yom Tov was a highlight for me, so I don't know how you will relate to what makes Yom Tov exciting for me. I am generally more of an intellectually-stimulated person, but something I found exciting about many mitzvos, but perhaps more so by Yom Tov, was understanding the meaning of the theme and ...


9

A similar question was asked to the Melamed LeHoil (R' Dovid Tzvi Hoffmann): A child was being forced to write in school on Shabbos by his father, the child didn't want to (break Shabbos). The mother said that if their will be a fight in the house, she'll kill herself. The question is whether the child may violate Shabbos out of Pikuach Nefesh. The Rov ...


8

The reality is that for many Baalei Teshuva they simply won't have the knowledge to really dynamically adapt to such a situation. Things like this can raise situations that can absorb the greatest Rabbis in discussions about exactly what to allow and what not, and anyone facing this situation for real should discuss the expected situation in advance with ...


8

My understanding is that many people today will start off with the assumption that a woman who bacame baal teshuva after a certain age is just not kohen-eligible. As for your question -- it's not an easy matter, but if it's prohibited it's prohibited. ("Don't embarrass someone" doesn't mean I can ignore the serious possibility of halachic prohibitions.) As ...


8

The explanation is shown in the Guide to the Reader section at the beginning of the siddur. A small arrow indicates the suggested starting point for the Shaliach Tzibbur. However, where the local custom differs, the Shaliach Tzibbur should certainly follow that custom "Shaliach Tzibbur" means the one leading the communal service.


7

While there is a commandment for a Jew to not get a tatoo, Leviticus 19:28, B.T. Makkot 21a there is, however, a separate Torah prohibition - "Lo Yosif" - not to inflict a wound upon yourself, Deuteronomy 25:3. According to many poskim, removing a tattoo involves "wounding" yourself. Therefore, it is generally prohibited to a Jew to inflict pain upon ...


7

R' Moshe Feinstein addresses your question (Igros Moshe YD I §54). He says that they are not believed under the category of eid echad ne'eman b'issurin (עד אחד נאמן באיסורין - "a single witness is believed to relate whether something is a forbidden item")1 since they don't keep kosher. However, he also says that if you know from extensive experience that a ...


6

Your friend does not need to join the tribe, because he is already part of the Jewish people. I suggest that your friend read some introductory material to learn about Judaism. I am sure there are some good introductory books in German. The only good German books I know of are Horeb by Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch and 19 Letters, by the same author, but ...


6

The above answer is excellent. One thing many shuls provide are shiurim (classes) on various subjects, and this another excellent way to meet a friendly group of people. If your neighborhood has a JCC, this can be another means to meet people. Besides classes, many have sports, art, or other activities. Volunteering on a Jewish project is another way. My ...


6

My parents were observant from before I was born, and I have been Shabbat- and Yom-Tov-observant my whole life. I can honestly say that I don't believe I have ever intentionally violated either. So no, based on one counterexample from personal testimony, for what that's worth, not everyone cheats. I do find that observance of Shabbat and Yom Tov, especially ...


6

You can see below this opinion and its two arguments. See Avot Derabbi Nathan chapter 6, you can read that Rabbi Akiva, before taking his decision to learn Torah, was at the edge of the spring, and asked where dug the rock, water that's flowing over and over, have you not ever read the verse "water will erode rocks" (Job 14, 19*). In the link, you can read ...


6

A Bar Mitzvah ceremony or celebration is a just a custom - a nice way of signifying the occasion of one's becoming obligated in the commandments, but it is not a prerequisite and does not actually have any significance halachically; the obligation to perform the commandments comes regardless of any ceremony. So feel free to begin all the practices you ...


6

In addition to the fine answer by mbloch, I'd like to touch on a few points not mentioned there. Be sure not to grow too fast. You're in a tough situation, living in a family which I assume is not interested in keeping Torah. You also have a non-Jewish father, which complicates things. Remember that there is no shame in growing slowly, tackling each ...


6

The Mamar Mordechai (s.k. 3) understands the Shulchan Aruch's position is that the second recitation covers all the times he forgot, so one would never say more than two. However, the Pri Megadim (M.Z. s.k. 2) disagrees and writes that according to the Shulchan Aruch one could recite more than two brachos. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Aurbach addressed the issue of ...


6

There are many yeshivot geared specifically to both Israeli and foreign balei teshuva in Jerusalem. Admissions criteria vary, but in general their mission is to educate Jews and they are not selective. It would certainly help to have a command of the aleph-bet (Hebrew alphabet) and some knowledge of Chumash (the five books of Moses) before entering a yeshiva,...


5

A main part of the answer seems to be in some of the above comments. In brief, the easiest solution is to use cold already prepeared foods and paper / plastic goods. By "cold" I refer to either items already cooked that don't need to be reheated (e.g. - take out), or items that don't have to be heated in the first place (bread, cereal, cheese, etc.) If you ...


5

To expand on Kordovero's answer, Victor Goldschmidt Verlag, based in Bâle, has a decent catalogue of works on Judaism, including the above mentioned works of R' Hirsch as well as translations of the Torah, Siddur (Sefat Emet - Rödelheim and Schma Kolenu), Machzorim, and other assorted works. They also carry ritual items, although those should wait until your ...


5

I sympathize with your story, but let's focus on the questions you stated: Does everyone actually cheat? Absolutely not. Most people who keep Yom Tov follow the normative Halacha. Why don't you hear other complainers? Try looking harder, as there are people willing to complain about anything and everything ; ) What do people actually do? They learn how to ...


5

B"H, I have solved my problem. I will post my experience here in case it could help anyone else. It turns out that what was making Yom Tov impossible for me was the fact that I lived alone and spent most of the time alone, except for going out to shul and perhaps one seudah a day. I would not recommend this to anyone. If you have ever tried it--please don'...


5

Two online resources from Morasha: The Shabbat Experience - Insight into Friday night seudah & mitzvos Shabbat I: Plugging into the Goals of Life (basic concepts of Shabbos) And a book to start with - Lori Palatnik's Friday Night and Beyond. Here is the Amazon descriptive blurb: Friday Night and Beyond is a practical guide to Jewish Sabbath ...


5

Here are some resources I would consider useful/practical for those new to Shabbos and seeking to cultivate an Orthodox observance, based on my own experiences as a baalas teshuvah. Shabbos primers: Broad overviews can be found which aspire to put everything you need to know about Shabbos in one book. Many of these, such as such as Noam Zion's "A Day ...


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