140 Questions to Ask a Rabbi About Judaism

Curious about Judaism? One of the best people to chat with is a rabbi. A rabbi is like a teacher or leader in the Jewish community. They’re full of wisdom and insights about Jewish traditions, beliefs, and more. Let’s dive into these questions to spark a meaningful conversation with a rabbi and learn more about Judaism.

Understanding Jewish Beliefs and Practices

  1. What are the foundational beliefs of Judaism?
  2. How do Jewish beliefs differ among the various denominations?
  3. What is the Jewish understanding of God?
  4. Can you explain the importance of the Shema in Judaism?
  5. How are ethical practices integrated into daily Jewish life?
  6. What is the significance of the mezuzah and other symbols in Judaism?
  7. How does Judaism approach the concept of prayer?
  8. In Judaism, what is the purpose of life according to the Torah?
  9. How does Jewish tradition view the afterlife?
  10. What does Judaism say about the nature of good and evil?
  11. How are modern scientific views reconciled with traditional Jewish beliefs?
  12. Are there different interpretations of creation in Judaism?
  13. How is the Jewish Sabbath observed, and why is it so central?
  14. What is the role of the Ten Commandments in Jewish ethics?
  15. Can you explain the concept of Tikkun Olam?
  16. How does Judaism instruct on treating strangers and outsiders?
  17. In what ways can non-Jews engage with Jewish beliefs and practices?
  18. What is a mitzvah, and why is it important?
  19. How are the ancient prophets understood and revered in Judaism today?
  20. Can you describe the connection between Jewish beliefs and the Land of Israel?

Jewish Holidays and Celebrations

  1. What is the significance of Rosh Hashanah, and how is it celebrated?
  2. How does Yom Kippur differ from other Jewish holidays?
  3. Can you explain the story and traditions of Passover?
  4. What are the customs surrounding the celebration of Sukkot?
  5. What is the importance of Hanukkah in Jewish history?
  6. How is the holiday of Purim celebrated, and what does it commemorate?
  7. What are the deeper meanings behind the rituals of Shabbat?
  8. How do Jews observe minor holidays like Tu Bishvat and Lag BaOmer?
  9. What does the holiday of Tisha B’Av signify, and how is it observed?
  10. How are new holidays, like Yom HaShoah, integrated into Jewish life?
  11. What is the Counting of the Omer, and why is it significant?
  12. Can you explain the symbolism of the shofar?
  13. What foods are traditionally eaten on Jewish holidays, and why?
  14. How does the Jewish leap year affect the calendar and holidays?
  15. How do you prepare for Passover, and what does the preparation symbolize?
  16. What is the Simchat Torah, and how does it celebrate the Torah?
  17. How are children involved in Jewish holiday traditions?
  18. What is the significance of lighting candles during Hanukkah?
  19. Are there any modern interpretations or new practices for ancient holidays?
  20. How are Jewish holidays accommodated or acknowledged in secular society?

The Role of Torah in Jewish Life

  1. What does it mean to live a life guided by the Torah?
  2. How is the Torah interpreted and applied in modern times?
  3. What is the process of reading the Torah in synagogue?
  4. Can you explain the division of the Torah into weekly portions?
  5. How do the Written and Oral Torah complement each other?
  6. What is the significance of the Torah in Jewish worship?
  7. How are disputes in Torah interpretation resolved within Judaism?
  8. In what ways does the Torah contribute to Jewish identity?
  9. How is the Torah used to educate young Jews?
  10. Can you share a brief overview of the Talmud and its purpose?
  11. Are there any parts of the Torah that are particularly relevant today?
  12. How do Jewish scholars approach the study of the Torah?
  13. What role does the Torah play in Jewish lifecycle events?
  14. How does one go about studying Torah if they are new to Judaism?
  15. What is a Torah commentary, and why is it useful?
  16. How does the annual cycle of reading the Torah influence Jewish life?
  17. Can you explain the tradition of writing a Torah scroll?
  18. What is the significance of having a personal relationship with the Torah?
  19. What are the challenges in interpreting the laws of the Torah?
  20. How are ethical dilemmas approached through the lens of Torah values?

Jewish Dietary Laws and Traditions

  1. What are the basic principles of kosher dietary laws?
  2. Can you explain the concept of keeping meat and dairy separate?
  3. What is the significance of kosher certification on food products?
  4. How are the dietary laws observed during Jewish holidays?
  5. Are there any exceptions to the rules of kashrut?
  6. How is a kitchen maintained for kosher cooking?
  7. What are the different customs regarding kosher food in diverse Jewish communities?
  8. How do kosher dietary laws affect eating out or traveling?
  9. Can you explain the concept of “pareve” in kosher food?
  10. Why is wine handled differently under kosher regulations?
  11. Is there a special blessing for different types of foods?
  12. How do contemporary Jews approach the traditional dietary laws?
  13. What is the role of the mashgiach in kosher food production?
  14. How do vegetarians and vegans navigate within the kosher food rules?
  15. What is the significance of kosher slaughter or shechita?
  16. How do the kosher laws influence Jewish identity and community?
  17. What happens if someone accidentally consumes non-kosher food?
  18. How have global food trends affected kosher food practices?
  19. What kosher food traditions are unique to specific Jewish holidays?
  20. Can you discuss the historical origins of kosher food laws?

Jewish Lifecycle Events

  1. Can you walk me through the Jewish naming ceremony for newborns?
  2. What is the importance of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah in a Jewish child’s life?
  3. How does Jewish tradition approach the concept of marriage?
  4. Can you explain the customs involved in a Jewish wedding ceremony?
  5. What are the mourning practices and customs in Judaism?
  6. How is the covenant of circumcision (brit milah) performed and celebrated?
  7. What role do godparents play in Jewish lifecycle events, if any?
  8. How do the Jewish beliefs about the soul reflect on funeral practices?
  9. How does the community support individuals during lifecycle events?
  10. Are there any specific rites of passage for Jewish women?
  11. What is the significance of the Jewish coming-of-age ceremonies?
  12. How are couples counseled in preparation for a Jewish marriage?
  13. What is a “Pidyon haBen,” and when is it observed?
  14. How do conversion rituals vary among the different Jewish denominations?
  15. What lifecycle events are unique to the Jewish culture and not found elsewhere?
  16. What is the purpose of the “Upsherin” ceremony in some Jewish communities?
  17. How are anniversaries of important lifecycle events observed in Judaism?
  18. What guidance does Judaism offer for parenting and raising children?
  19. How do Jewish traditions support someone seriously ill or toward the end of life?
  20. What is the tradition of making a charitable donation in honor of a lifecycle event?

Contemporary Issues within Judaism

  1. How does Judaism address modern ethical dilemmas such as cloning or genetic engineering?
  2. What is the Jewish perspective on interfaith marriage and relationships?
  3. How does the Jewish community engage with LGBTQ+ issues?
  4. In what ways is Judaism confronting the rise in anti-Semitism?
  5. How are Israel and Zionism perceived within the diverse spectrum of Jewish thought?
  6. What are the challenges facing Jewish education today?
  7. How does the Jewish community work towards social justice?
  8. What role does technology play in the modern practice of Judaism?
  9. How are environmental concerns addressed through Jewish values and teachings?
  10. How does the Jewish community support individuals with disabilities?
  11. What is the Jewish stance on conversion and welcoming converts?
  12. How do Jewish communities around the world maintain a connection with each other?
  13. Are there efforts to revitalize endangered Jewish languages like Yiddish and Ladino?
  14. How is mental health discussed and approached in Jewish communities?
  15. What does Judaism say about the possession and use of firearms?
  16. How are Jewish communities adapting to a world affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
  17. What is the relationship between Judaism and other Abrahamic religions today?
  18. How do Jewish leaders address issues of poverty and homelessness?
  19. What is the approach to political activism within Jewish teachings?
  20. How does Judaism reconcile tradition with the need for progressive changes?

The Role of a Rabbi and Synagogue in the Community

  1. What are the primary responsibilities of a rabbi in a Jewish community?
  2. How does a rabbi provide spiritual guidance to individuals and families?
  3. Can you describe the process of becoming a rabbi in different Jewish traditions?
  4. What is the difference between a synagogue and a temple?
  5. How does a rabbi support community-building within a synagogue?
  6. In what ways do rabbis contribute to interfaith dialogue?
  7. How does the role of a rabbi differ across Jewish denominations?
  8. Can you discuss the importance of Rabbinical counsel in life decision-making?
  9. How are synagogues funded and maintained?
  10. What role does the synagogue play in Jewish education for both children and adults?
  11. How does a rabbi address questions about Jewish law or halakha?
  12. What services and programs are typically offered by synagogues?
  13. How do synagogues cater to the needs of diverse populations within the Jewish community?
  14. Can a non-Jew attend services or events at a synagogue?
  15. How do rabbis approach the integration of newcomers into the Jewish community?
  16. What is the relationship between Israeli and Diaspora rabbis and synagogues?
  17. How do rabbis deal with ideological differences within their congregation?
  18. What training or knowledge is required for someone aiming to become a rabbi?
  19. How do synagogues and rabbis engage with their members’ lives outside religious services?
  20. What is the role of a rabbi in times of community crisis or tragedy?

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the primary teachings of Judaism?

Judaism is based on three primary teachings:

Monotheism: The belief in one God who created and ruled the universe.

Covenant: A mutual agreement between God and the Jewish people. In this covenant, the Jewish people agree to worship only God and follow his laws, and in return, God continues to bless them.

Divinely revealed law: The teaching that religious laws were revealed by God to the Jewish people and are outlined in the Torah.

What is the role of a Rabbi in Judaism?

A Rabbi, in Judaism, is a spiritual leader or figurehead of a Jewish congregation or community. Rabbis are responsible for leading services, providing spiritual guidance, interpreting Jewish laws, and often acting as a link between the Jewish community and broader society. 

They may also play a central role in Jewish ceremonies, such as weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and funerals.

What is the way of life in Judaism?

The way of life in Judaism is guided by the Torah and encompasses a set of religious, moral, and social commandments and practices. It emphasizes the importance of a relationship with God, ethical behavior, community, and rituals that mark the cycles of life and the year. 

This includes observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher dietary laws, participating in festivals, and performing acts of charity and justice. Family, education, and community are also central pillars of Jewish life.

From symbols to traditions, discussing Judaism with a rabbi can be an eye-opening experience. They’re here to share, teach, and help us understand the richness of their traditions. May the joy of discovery keep lighting your path as you continue your exploration. Here’s to more questions and wonderful revelations!

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Robby is a multimedia editor at UpJourney with a journalism and communications background.

When she's not working, Robby transforms into an introverted art lover who indulges in her love for sports, learning new things, and sipping her favorite soda. She also enjoys unwinding with feel-good movies, books, and video games. She's also a proud pet parent to her beloved dog, Dustin.