Thursday, March 7, 2013

Is Gambling Kosher?

Question of the Week:    


As we are trying to enter the property market, we sometimes joke that we would need to win the lottery to afford the house of our dreams. I am often tempted to buy a lottery ticket but feel guilty that perhaps it is not the right thing to do. Are Jews allowed to buy lottery tickets or is gambling something that is discouraged?




There is a fascinating discussion about gambling in Jewish law. It is a multi-faceted topic, but here is a very brief overview.


Some authorities, particularly Sephardi scholars, forbid any form of gambling, even buying a lottery ticket. They say that gambling is a form of stealing. The logic goes like this: gamblers are all under the illusion that they are going to win. Despite the clear evidence that the only real winners are the casino owners, people keep on putting money down in the false belief that this is their lucky day. But no one puts their money down to willingly lose it. So the winner is essentially taking other people's money against their will - which is tantamount to stealing.


A more lenient view differentiates between an occasional gambler and a serious gamester. According to this opinion, the odd bet here and there is not forbidden, as long as it doesn't become a regular habit. But beware. It all starts with one yank of the poker machine. Gambling is one of the most damaging addictions, and it is legal. It destroys lives, breaks up families, and creates more lonely people.


Even if someone is not addicted, regular gambling is still frowned upon. The Talmud says that a professional gambler is not trusted to serve as a witness in court. This is because such a person contributes nothing to society, and so their values are questionable. If someone works as a street sweeper or a lawn mower technician or a brain surgeon, they are providing a service and making the world better. But someone who spends much of their time gambling is not productive in any way. It is not just a waste of time and money, it is a waste of a life.


So buying a lottery ticket every now and then would not be considered professional gambling. Though it probably won't pay your mortgage, it is permitted according to many opinions. But it certainly should not replace a good honest day's work.


Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss


PS. Even those authorities who forbid any form of gambling would encourage buying a raffle ticket in a charity auction. This is because in that case there are no losers - everyone who gives to charity wins.


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Relax and let Nefesh do the cooking on the last Friday night before Pesach.


A three course catered dinner after the shul service, Friday night 22 March.


Adults: $25 Nefesh members

Adults: $35 Non members

Family: $80 (Nefesh members only)

Children (3-12 yrs): $15




Bookings close Tuesday 19 March or when fully booked.




In order to avoid owning any products that aren't Kosher for Pesach, we sell our non-Pesach food for the duration of the festival.  

To arrange this, please fill in your name (signature not required) and all addresses (work/holiday home included) on the form below and email to by Sunday March 24.

I, the undersigned, fully empower and permit Rabbi Moss to act in my place and stead, and on my behalf to sell all Chometz possessed by me, knowingly or unknowingly as defined by the Torah and Rabbinic Law (e.g. Chometz, possible Chometz, and all kinds of Chometz mixtures). Also Chometz that tends to harden and adhere to the inside surfaces of pans, pots, or cooking utensils, the utensils themselves, and all kinds of live animals and pets that have been eating Chometz and mixtures thereof. This includes all above mentioned Chometz that will come into my possession from now until Erev Pesach. He is also empowered to lease all places wherein Chometz owned by me may be found, particularly at the address/es listed below and elsewhere.

Rabbi Moss has full right to appoint any agent or substitute in his stead and said substitute shall have full right to sell and lease as provided herein. He also has the full power and right to act as he deems fit and proper in accordance with all the details of the Bill of Sale used in the transaction to sell all my Chometz, Chometz mixtures, etc., as provided herein. This power is in conformity with all Torah, Rabbinic and Civil laws.



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