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34

Get married. This gives one the feeling of פת בסלו (bread in his basket) even when he is halachikaly forbidden to his wife. The Talmud says (Yevamos 63a) that a man should appreciate his wife simply for the fact that she saves him from sin. Also, another piece of practical advice given to me by my Chosson Teacher was to go outside for a walk. It works. ...


32

I think your answer was exactly correct. Simply speaking, your religion doesn't permit you to engage in this activity. The fact that other people, who claim to follow the same religion, do engage in that activity, well, you'll have to ask them about that. You should not get into a discussion about the other person's level of observance. You can talk about ...


25

I have heard from my father that my great-grandfather zal, when (in the 1920s) he moved to the States and got a job as assistant rabbi in Canonsburg, Penna., was approached by the women in shul after t'fila Shabas morning with hands outstretched, and promptly acquired the custom of raising his hat.


23

In my and others' experience, the reaction to a refusal to shake hands varies depending on the person, from offense to awkwardness to amusement to respectfulness. Perhaps as tactful as you can get is to do the following: Apologize and explain: "I'm sorry, but religiously, I try to avoid unnecessary contact with women (other than my wife)." No need to go ...


23

The Rambam says (Issurei Biah 21:19): וכן אסור לאדם שיביא עצמו לידי הרהור, אלא אם יבא לו הרהור יסיע לבו מדברי הבאי לדברי תורה שהיא אילת אהבים ויעלת חן.‏ It is forbidden for a person to bring himself to [sexual] thoughts. If a [sexual] thought comes to his mind, he should divert his heart from profligate and destructive matters to the words of Torah ...


21

First look up the sources people quote, so that you know what they're saying inside. Then, when you ask you Rav, tell him I had this question and did some research. This is what I found, what is the practical Halacha? You can tell him where you got the idea about which sources to look up, but at that point it shouldn't matter. You're not telling him that ...


21

I started preparing for conversion in 1999 during my undergraduate years, and finalized it in 2001. The hardest thing for me was to get an understanding of the legitimacy of different threads in Orthodoxy. I had a hard time accepting that Modern Orthodoxy could be legitimate, but eventually embraced what you might call right-wing MO. Finding a rabbi you ...


20

I personally saw that my Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Azriel Chaim Goldfein ZT"L, a talmid muvhak (close student) of Rav Mordechai Gifter would shake the hand of any woman who extended her hand to him in greeting. I never had the guts to question him on this, but my presumption is that he weighed the prohibition on touching a woman, which is Rabbinic if not sensual ...


20

Nap. As the OU has it: Extra sleep is also considered appropriate and desirable on Shabbat, in line with the principle of "Shayna b'Shabbat Taanug," "(Extra) Sleep on Shabbat is considered a Delight!" Start your own afternoon gathering. You don't need to be super-learned or invest a great deal of time to start very interesting and worthwhile discussions....


19

A buffet-style standing meal, or wine-and-cheese mixer, or the like, in the office: Just don't eat. No one will notice, or, if anyone does, you can explain why you're not eating. (Presumably, if you work there for more than a short while, someone will eventually cotton on to the fact that you keep kosher anyway.) (Note: I don't see why it'd be impermissible ...


19

I was in a jury pool on a winter Friday and told the bailiff that I would need to leave early. The judge brought up the issue publicly and said that she would not want me to miss out on such an important privilege because of my religious requirements. She dismissed the entire pool at 3:00. Needless to say, I was highly popular that day.


19

Sit with Jastrow's Aramaic dictionary and Frank's Practical Talmud Dictionary and look up every word and phrase until you start recognising you've looked this up before. This is the way I did it, but unlike every other person I know I enjoy finding words in the dictionary. If you have the opportunity then full-time learning in a Yeshivah would obviously be ...


19

I'm not widely traveled, but I've been to a bunch of different synagogues of all the major flavors, often as one-offs, including C and MO, so I'm answering on the basis of that experience. First visit You can just show up. Many of the factors that affect you are the same between Conservative and Modern Orthodox synagogues. The Conservative synagogue you'...


18

@H'Gabriel provided a lot of good resources. In this answer I'll try to address the conversion issue specifically. The conversion process is involved and long. You will go through the following steps, possibly more than once: Investigation and exploration: beginning to figure out what is attracting you, what alternatives there are (e.g. does being a ...


18

That reminds me of the anecdote from Rabbi Emanuel Feldman's book, Tales Out of Shul. A woman once told him, "Rabbi, I'm really not enjoying this week of mourning." Not everything in life (or Judaism) has to be enjoyable. Nor is it meant to be. At least not in the immediate gratification, self-centered sense of the word. Sometimes your enjoyment should not ...


17

You didn't say which sin you're struggling to avoid. If it's masturbation: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch chapter 151 (available online in English and Hebrew) lists a whole slew of suggestions for avoiding masturbation. My favorite is from Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 151:6: "Be careful not to sleep alone in a room." Mishnah Berurah 239:9 and Sha'ar Ha'tziyun 239:17 ...


16

You are to be commended for taking on a socially-challenging mitzvah. It's not always easy to be Jewish and be seen as different, whether it's through dress, food, or how you spend your Friday nights and Saturdays. With any observance that sets you apart from others, take care in how you talk about it. It's about you, not about them, especially for your ...


16

Like many things in life, this will obviously depend on the specific situation. For example, if the relevant people understand your lifestyle and why you would be sensitive to this issue before it came up would be a very different question than if they are militantly opposed to your zealous bigotry. I had a close relative marry a non-Jew, and I actually ...


15

Aside from simply giving a short explanation as to why you wont shake hands (which itself can cause people to become offended no matter how polite you are about it), there is not much else you can do that isn't deceitful (claiming sickness) or just weird (bowing, accidentally missing). If you are going to follow the ruling that under no circumstances can you ...


15

I am a white male, and I had this happen to me recently, where I met a woman in a business setting who politely told me, "I don't shake hands for religious reasons". I had never heard this before, but it did not faze me in the least. She was polite in every other way that she treated me. No Problem!


15

I just read this super-inspiring post "Jury Duty: A Piece of Kugel". In short, talk to the judge...


15

Not a complete answer, but the first step is to truly learn about Moshiach and the Messianic era. Understanding the fundamentals about why Judaism necessitates a belief in Moshiach in the first place. Yoel Kahan wrote a Sefer (book) explaining why Moshiach and the Resurrection of the Dead are two of the Rambam's 13 principles of faith. Why does he consider ...


15

First things first, You're human. You can't help being attracted to women, Gd made you that way. Only the whens and wheres are your responsibility. Also remember that this area is a very difficult one to conquer, so don't get down on yourself if you fail to climb Everest the first few, or dozen, or hundred times. Getting a warning beforehand helps, so you ...


15

I always heard of people taking off their glasses. I had pretty good vision until recently, and just last week I was able to try that trick, and it actually (somewhat) worked! So for men who have impaired vision, that can be used to their advantage to some extent - blurry women are not as attractive. This isn't practical for all occupations. If you're a ...


14

Start by creating a demand. Every time you walk in to any store that sells food, ask "Do you have Kosher food". On subsequent visits, ask about particular foods: "Don't have have the Kosher Pizza made by XYZ?" Try meeting the Marketing Manager or owner and presenting them with a "plan": Create a Kosher Section and see how many extra customers you get, with ...


14

Sleep. Recite T'hilim (from a large-print copy). Visit with neighbors/friends. (Avoid lashon hara. :-) ) Visit the homebound. (Or hospital-bound, but CYLOR about automatic doors and other issues.) Push the community to have more classes or get-togethers. Talk to local rabbis and/or lay leaders. You say you already read but have a hard time because of print ...


14

If you use pornography, see "How do you quit a pornography habit?". Otherwise: Guard Your Eyes puts out a 75-page-long book called The GYE Handbook. It discusses all sorts of ideas in depth. Different ideas from the book will be most useful for different people. It's targeted at pornography users, but it's useful even for people who have never used ...


13

This is awkward, particularly if you have behaved differently in the past (so people who knew you then will be confused by the change). I would not send pre-emptive email; I don't think it will reduce the face-to-face confusion and it risks seeming to make a mountain out of a mole-hill. You're also going to be leaving early on Fridays, not eating the ...


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