On Law & Tradition

Salt Lake Tribune - 05/05/2000
Altruistic Darwinism: Survival of the Fittest Meets the Golden Rule
   ...The Talmud, which contains Jewish law, states that "doing something good, even for the wrong reason, will eventually lead someone to do it for the right reason," said Rabbi Benny Zippel of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah in Salt Lake City. "A good deed is significant unto itself. Whether done for the right reason or wrong reason, the main thing is that it is actually done."

Salt Lake Tribune - 10/02/1999
Virtual Shabbat Lets Jews Learn Rituals at Home
   ...Rabbi Benny Zippel of Salt Lake City's Chabad Lubavitch congregation said the J2K problem is as stark as it is clear: "If Judaism is not actively preserved and practiced, it is doomed to slowly disappear from our youth."
   To illustrate his concern, Zippel recounted the story of an elderly Jewish man from Poland sharing his bitterness about the state of Judaism in the United States.
   "My father used to call the Sabbath Holy Shabbat. I called it Shabbat, my son called it Saturday, my grandchildren call it the day before Super Bowl Sunday," the man said. "I dread the thought of how my great-grandchildren are going to relate to it."
   Zippel said it is the goal of his Orthodox Jewish movement to keep Judaism "alive, real and active rather than simply something our grandparents used to practice at a time when a dish was something they ate on and not something that sits on the roof of our house that enables us to watch cable TV."

Salt Lake Tribune - 07/02/1994
Holy Headgear: the World of Heavenly Hats
    ...Some religious people cover their heads at all times — part of an ongoing reverence for the divine in the midst of the ordinary. Orthodox Jewish men consider it an affront to deity to be bareheaded.
    ...Rabbi Benny Zippel, Utah's only Lubavitch, Orthodox rabbi, covers his head — either with a black felt hat, a yarmulke, or a prayer shawl — at all times.
   ``This is a sign that God is above us always,'' says Zippel.
   ...Veils: Orthodox Jewish women cover their heads for reasons of modesty. This can be done with a scarf, a shawl, or in recent times, a shaytl or wig.

Salt Lake Tribune - 02/08/2003
Women of the Wall
   ...Rabbi Benny Zippel of Salt Lake City's Bais Menachem Orthodox congregation says he is not in favor of women reading at the wall. Yet he insists that those who see Judaism as sexist fail to grasp the complexity in God's plans for humanity. Men and women are equal but have different assignments, he says.
   Men are charged with what he calls the "outward roles," which include public reading of the Torah. That is not because women are incapable of reading the sacred book, he says, just that theirs are the "inward roles," primarily raising up Jewish children.
   Look at it this way: If, God forbid, every congregation, synagogue and day school in the world were shut down, would Judaism survive? Yes, he says.
   But if every Jewish home were closed, that would be the end of Judaism. And who guarantees the continuity of the Jewish household, he asks? "Women."

Salt Lake Tribune - 10/23/1999
Creationism Sparks Debate Within Many Denominations
   ...Rabbi Benny Zippel of Bais Menachem Orthodox congregation in Salt Lake City said Judaism "does not believe in or accept the theory of evolution. When God created the world in six days of creation, it was a mature world and mature creatures."

Salt Lake Tribune - 09/23/2000
Sabbatical Year In Israel Creates Complications
   ...Rabbi Benny Zippel of Salt Lake City's Orthodox Chabad Lubavitch Bais Menachem synagogue said some Orthodox Jews, inside and outside Israel, adhere to a lesser-known aspect of Shmita, cancellation of debts between Jews.
   That ancient tenet was in essence nullified by the renowned first-century sage Hillel. In a Talmudic document titled "Prozbul," he allowed debts to be temporarily transferred to a rabbinical court during sabbatical years, in effect leaving debts in place.
   While mention of Shmita likely will be made in High Holy Days services, Utah's 5,000-strong Jewish community will be more focused on the sacred period's time-honored lessons of piety, charity and forgiveness, area rabbis say.
   "We are expecting a crowd, as we do every year, and I extend my personal invitation to any and every Jew in our state, independent of background, affiliation and/or financial status," Zippel said.

Salt Lake Tribune - 02/24/1996
Forbidden Foods
   ...Eating Kosher: The only reason to follow the Jewish dietary laws is that ``they represent God's will,'' said Rabbi Benny Zippel, leader of Bais Menachem, Salt Lake City's only Orthodox congregation.
   ``There is no rational explanation,'' Zippel said. ``There are various benefits but those are not the reasons for keeping a kosher diet.''
   Kosher means ``fit or proper.'' A kosher diet includes eating only meat from animals that chew their cud and have hooves that are split. That means beef is OK, because cows have both requirements, while pork is forbidden because pigs do not chew their cud.
   Fish must have fins and scales to be kosher. Trout and salmon are fine, while shrimp is not.
   Milk and meat must never be mixed, according to kosher laws. Pots, pans, plates and tableware that have touched one cannot hold the other. Most Orthodox Jews have two complete sets of cookery and dishes to ensure that there is no mixing.
   ``If you cook a kosher steak with a slice of cheese, it becomes nonkosher,'' Zippel said.
   Rabbis examine the ingredients and production of food at various factories to determine if the food is kosher.
   ``When you go into a supermarket, 70 percent of all products are kosher,'' he said.
   More and more Utah Jews are starting to eat kosher, he said.
   A group has just formed a kosher co-op, bringing food from California. A few years ago Dan's Foods started a kosher department that now is doing a lively business, Zippel said.
   ``Every person is made of a body and a soul. The material world and the spirit are intertwined,'' he said. ``God wants us to be scrupulous about what we bring into our body so as not to alter the connection between our body and soul.''
   Eating kosher is also an important way to teach children discipline, he said.

Deseret News - Saturday, March 15, 2003
Theology about beards can get hairy
        ...Rabbi Benny Zippel of the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah Synagogue of Salt Lake City, said his Jewish congregation follows the Old Testament with the advice in Leviticus 19:27. Hand razors are prohibited, but there is some leniency on using electric razors. He said rabbis by default have full beards.

Deseret News - Saturday, March 8, 2003
Birth control is a complex issue
        ...Like Catholics, Orthodox Jews are cautioned not to use any form of birth control. The exception might be certain medical conditions of the mother, says Rabbi Yossi Mandel of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, but even then the couple would need to consult "a rabbi proficient in medical areas."

Deseret News - Saturday, December 29, 2001
Headwear says much about world of beliefs
   ..."The hair of a woman is a very sensual part of her body," notes Rabbi Benny Zippel of Synagogue Chabad Lubavitch in Salt Lake City. "So, out of respect to the woman's own body, once she's married she's required to cover her hair." This requirement, codified in the Talmud, applies not just to the time when she is at the synagogue but to every waking hour. The covering can be a hat, a scarf, even a wig.
   Orthodox Jewish men are also required to cover their heads at all times with a yarmulke, the skull cap known in Hebrew as kippah. "It's to prevent arrogance," Zippel explains. "You're covering the highest part of the body, so it's reminding us that no matter now intelligent and capable we think we are, there's always a higher power above us."
   ...Orthodox Jews, on the other hand, are expected to keep their shoes on in the synagogue, out of reverence to God, says Rabbi Zippel. "It's impolite to have our feet uncovered."

Deseret News - Saturday, October 10, 1998

Designer babies?

    ...Deliberate tampering with the natural process of conception is wrong, according to Rabbi Benny Zippel, executive director of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah. Although the new technology was not addressed directly in doctrine, ``It is absolutely forbidden to do any work on a fetus unless it's medically needed,'' Zippel said. ``If, God forbid, mother or child was in danger and doctors feel it necessary to enter the womb and do testing and procedures, it would be allowed to enhance the life of the mother or baby. But to do something to choose the sex or hair color or eye color? No.''

Deseret News - Wednesday, August 13, 2003
PETA exhibit draws controversy 
      ...On Tuesday in Salt Lake City, Rabbi Benny Zippel of Chubad Lubavitch of Utah had a similar reaction, saying that "murdering Jews, or for that matter, people during the holocaust was 100 percent in violation of God's will and God's plan for the universe and eating meat is not."
      "I think that comparing the people that eat meat to the Germans in the Holocaust is an obscene comparison and it actually belittles the terrible atrocities of the Holocaust," he added.