Q. If Rashi and Rabeinu Tam wore different sorts of Tefillin that means that they received different traditions from Sinai – so how can we be sure that any of the traditions about anything are accurate? [Shai aged 12]
A. The reason why there are two types of Tefillin is not because Rashi and Rabbenu Tam had different traditions of how the Tefillin should be made but they had different understandings of exactly what order the parshiot – passages should be placed in the Tefillin Shel Rosh. Most people follow the opinion of Rashi whilst some also have a second set of Tefillin that are in line with Rabbeinu Tam’s opinion.
Q. How did Noah tell the time? [Jacob aged 10]
A. The Ark had a window in it which allowed the light in. We can presume that Noah used that light in order to tell the time.
Q. Why does Pesach have 8 days? [Jacob aged 10]
A. Pesach is celebrated for 8 days outside of Israel on the authority of the ancient sages during the period of the Second Temple. At that time it was impossible to inform those who lived at a distance from Jerusalem of the exact date of a forthcoming festival. By celebrating an extra day outside of Israel, everyone was certain that the right day was observed simultaneously by all Jews regardless of where they lived. Although today we have a fixed calendar and know exactly when the festivals are, we continue with to have an additional day as it had become an accepted practice.
Q. How did we progress from not cooking a kid in its mother’s milk to separate dishwashers? [Nicola aged 12]
A. The Torah tells us in 3 different places not to cook a kid in its mother’s milk. The Oral Law explains that these 3 places refer to 3 prohibitions: 1) Not to cook milk and meat together; 2) Not to eat milk and meat together; 3) Not to benefit from a mixture of milk and meat. In order to avoid these prohibitions, we use separate cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery for milk and meat and have to wash them up separately to avoid any contact between the two. That’s why it’s necessary to keep them apart, even in a dishwasher.[Children's Rabbi]