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You Are a Wellspring

By Tzvi Freeman Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer was known as the Baal Shem Tov—meaning, “The Master of the Good Name.” Love, awe, wonder and joy were his themes, and he set the hearts and souls of all who came in contact with him afire. As a young orphan, as a member of a circle of wandering, hidden tzadikim, he studied the […]

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Late For Sinai

By Tzvi Freeman The Experience I woke up late on the day of the Ten Commandments. Look, stuff happens. When I finally jolted out of bed and ran towards the scene, I met someone coming from there. “Hey, I missed it!” I said. “What went on?” I’ll bet you’re thinking he told me something like, “G‑d said He’s G‑d, no […]

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Why Does a Good G-d Make Bad Hurricanes?

By Tzvi Freeman When I took this job at Ask-The-Rabbi, I didn’t realize I was supposed to be G‑d’s defense attorney. But for whatever reason, people intuitively see religion as a comfort pillow, a set of answers to questions that will set everything alright so that they can go on living within a stable, explicable world knowing that some […]


Chanukah Forever

By Tzvi Freeman The Infinite Leak I’m writing this to alert you that there’s a leak in the system. By the time you read this, it may already be stopped. That’s what happened last year, and the year before, and every other year since this phenomenon began. This year, we’re hoping the leak never gets plugged. In fact, it needs […]


Guilt, the Party-Pooper

By Tzvi Freeman Hey Rabbi, Before I started this whole Shabbat and Kosher thing, I had no idea how guilty I was supposed to feel. Then I discover there’s also say-your-daily-prayers and talk-only-nice-about-other-people and say-a-blessing-before-you-eat and a whole slew of other things to feel guilty about. Now I see myself failing almost every day, accelerating sometimes to a speed of […]

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G-d Without a Purpose

By Tzvi Freeman G‑d, in the wrong hands, is a very dangerous idea. Especially a single, omnipotent and perfect G‑d. If G‑d is omnipotent, then we are powerless, our world is insignificant, and that which does not fulfill its purpose is better off eliminated. If G‑d is perfect, He needs nothing, and we have no purpose to begin with. If […]

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What Makes You Think the World Is Getting Better?

By Tzvi Freeman Hello Rabbi, My Chabad rabbi insists that the world is moving rapidly towards an era of peace and wisdom. Of course, he doesn’t watch television and he’s definitely out of the news blogosphere as well. Instead, he quotes the Rebbe, who was speaking many years ago. Maybe things were looking up then for a bit. Right now, […]


Happiness is Not Being There

By Tzvi Freeman Eve came to the world. She became wrapped up with a snake. Noah came to the world. What happened to him? “He drank from the wine and was drunk.” Sarah came to the world. She descended and she came back up, as it is said, “And Abram came up from Egypt, he and his wife with him.” […]


Help! I Don’t Want to Turn Into My Father!

By Tzvi Freeman Question: My father was a hypocrite. He pretended to take on a religious lifestyle, but it was all fake. He never spent time with any of us and didn’t seem to care less, so we all rebelled and left the whole Judaism thing. Problem is, now I’m in college, I have some observant friends and I’m really […]


Sukkology 101

By Tzvi Freeman Joe and Max are sitting in the same sukkah, but they see two very different things. Joe sees a structure thrown up to celebrate the festival. But Max, having studied its laws in depth, sees much more—a kind of crystallization of concepts and principles brought into physical reality. That’s what’s so often missing from our presentation of […]

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