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He must be a very important person to get such an important mitzvah, I heard them say, as Mr. Loewenstein, the local assemblyman, stepped up to recite the Torah blessing before the reading of the Ten Commandments. And Mr. Kleppish was too embarrassed to tell his wife that he only got third galilah on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Chanukah.
QUESTION: Upon concluding the Shabbat morning services at our local synagogue, we have an informal kiddush during which our rabbi discusses the Parasha of the week. At the conclusion of his talk he opens an informal discussion, inviting questions or comments. Occasionally I will make a brief comment relating to the rabbi's talk, sometimes quoting an applicable passage from the Torah. Recently a friend told me that it was not proper for me, a lay person, to comment even briefly by directly quoting the Torah, as quotes should be stated exclusively by the rabbi.I believe, however, that lay people are to be encouraged to study and quote relevant passages from the Torah. Additionally, the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) encourages us to "... teach it (Torah) to your children, to speak of it in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you arise..." Thus, it seems the Shema is urging us all, including lay persons, to quote the Torah. My rabbi told me he was not bothered by my quoting Torah verses during these discussions, but I would also like to know your opinion.Name Withheld by Request
QUESTION: I am active in kiruv work in a neighborhood where there are many Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Unfortunately, these people were kept ignorant of their Jewish heritage.Lately I've noticed a new phenomenon. At this time of year, many of them seem to be bringing evergreen trees into their homes. They claim that they always did this in Russia in celebration of the "winter festival".What should my attitude be as a kiruv professional?Name WithheldBrooklyn, NY