Yeshiva.org.il, which has an extensive Hebrew site, receives many questions from Israeli ba’alei teshuva. One of their staff members is in charge of personally dealing with these often delicate situations.
“We recently had a fourteen-year-old girl approach us,” says Rabbi Cohen. “She wanted to dress modestly, but her mother threatened to throw away any modest clothes she bought. What should she do?
“First of all, we taught her how to relate to her parents in a respectful way. We told her that her mother wasn’t opposed to modesty, just scared of her daughter doing teshuva. Then we had the girl’s mother meet the local rebbetzin, and her father the rav. Eventually they agreed – not to cooperate with their daughter – but at least not to oppose her.”
Importance to Questioners
Due to the thousands of questions they read, the “Ask the Rabbi” rabbis don’t remember all the questioners. But the askers remember the rabbis and their responses.
Rabbi Mordechai Becher, senior lecturer for Gateways and a responder on its “Ask the Rabbi” function, once went hiking in South Africa after giving some lectures there.
As he walked with his host on the beautiful hills, some young men approached them and asked if they were rabbis. Apparently, their kipot gave them away. Rabbi Becher said, “Yes, I am a rabbi, and I’m from Jerusalem.”
One young man got excited and said, “My rabbi is also from Jerusalem.”
“Who is your rabbi?” Rabbi Becher asked.
“Rabbi Mordechai Becher,” was the answer.
Apparently, this young man posed some questions about Judaism to the Gateways website, and Rabbi Becher answered. Rabbi Becher was indeed his rabbi because he was his only connection to a Jewish education.
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Ask the Rabbi Participants
Just Ask: Gateways Outreach Organization, founded by Rabbi Mordechai Suchard.
Questions answered by: Rabbi Moshe Newman, Rabbi Reuven Lauffer and Gateways Staff.
Dinonline.org: Affiliated with the Institute for Dayanim under the auspices of Rabbi Yosef Fleischman.
Specialty: Questions related to Jewish monetary law and yuchsin – Jewish genealogy.
Ask the Rabbi of Chabad.Org: The longest running “Ask the Rabbi” service, established in 1988.
Questions answered by: 25 responders. A sophisticated backend system delegates questions to the staff member most qualified to answer.
Yeshiva.org.il: Affiliated organization include: Beit El Yeshiva, headed by Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed.
Questions answered by: Noted rabbis, including Rabbi Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba; Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl; and Rabbi Dovid Lau. Also partners with the Puah Institute, answering questions related to taharos hamishpacha within three hours.