Have a question related to Judaism that’s keeping you awake at night? There’s no need to wait until morning to schedule an appointment with your rabbi. Just ask Moses.
AskMoses.com has scholars – rabbis as well as other qualified men and women – available 24/6 for one-on-one online conversations related to Judaism (They’re not available on Shabbat and certain Jewish holidays).
Through the Web site, created under the auspices of Chabad of California in 1999, visitors can anonymously ask a scholar about any topic.
According to the site, scholars have conducted more than 1 million live chats, answered more than 680,000 e-mails and written more than 6,000 essays. The site’s more than 40 scholars based throughout the world, from Argentina to Uruguay, collectively speak English, French, Hebrew, Russian and Spanish.
One of the site’s scholars is Phoenix native Rabbi Moshe Levertov, assistant rabbi at Chabad of Arizona, who has been an Ask Moses scholar since January 2006. Every Monday, from 9 to 10 p.m., Levertov sits at his computer and answers questions about Judaism from anywhere in the world.
His questions range from general questions – how to put on tefillin or how to keep Shabbat – to complicated questions from people going through a crisis.
As a reference, Levertov uses his own books, as well as the Ask Moses “knowledge base,” a database of questions, answers and articles that are available to anyone who visits the site. He also searches the Internet to find answers.
Some questions are more unexpected than others; for example, he was asked, “What do I do with my bratty parents?” and “Are you a person or a computer?”
Occasionally there are people he corresponds with over a number of months, such as a man who wanted guidance about relationship issues with his girlfriend. Eventually the conversation turned to abortion. That’s the one “that grabbed me most emotionally,” Levertov says.
A lot of the questions are seasonal, corresponding with holidays; he also gets a lot of questions about how Judaism looks at environmental issues.
He often chats with four or five people at one time. “The most important answer you have to know is ‘I don’t know,’” he says.
In addition to the personal correspondence, Levertov also writes essays on various topics that are posted on the site.
What he enjoys most about being an AskMoses scholar is the opportunity to help people deal with a variety of issues, including complicated ones.
“Sometimes they’re most comfortable asking somebody they don’t know.”