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24
votes
4answers
3k views

Are children adopted by Jews Jewish?

I was adopted around the time I was three months old by my parents who are both Jewish. I do not know what religion my biological mother was, in fact I have very little detail about her at all. I was ...
23
votes
5answers
2k views

Is it possible for a Gentile to convert to Judaism?

Is it possible for someone who is Gentile to convert to Judaism? What is the prevailing belief of Jewish people on this subject? What scripture backs up this belief? What do prominent Jewish ...
19
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is the Jewish Population so small?

Judaism is one of the oldest religions, but there aren't many Jews compared to Muslims and Christians. What are main reasons behind that?
19
votes
4answers
1k views

Can a Jew lose their Jewish Status?

Can a Jew lose their status as being a Jew by performing any action (example: performing idolatry, disavowing core beliefs, converting to another religion, etc)? Or once a person is a Jew then they ...
18
votes
6answers
628 views

When did Avraham Avinu become Jewish

Avraham Avinu is often called "the first Jew". When did he become Jewish. Was it when: He recognized G-d? G-d spoke to him for the first time? Covenant Between The Parts? When G-d changed his name? ...
17
votes
5answers
2k views

Why is Judaism not Racism?

I am only asking this question to educate myself, not because I am anti-semitic or for any other hidden agenda. I do not what to turn this forum into an ugly place. I realize this question is ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

How does someone not know they're Jewish?

In this answer, someone said they got offended when people wore crosses, especially if they didn't know they were Jewish. I'm just wondering how someone can not know what religion they follow?
12
votes
6answers
468 views

Why is there so much space and matter,etc. in the universe?

If the point of all of creation is for the Jewish people to accept and carry out the torah [I realize this is not axiomatic and may be a point of contention - see Shabbat 88a] what is the need for the ...
12
votes
1answer
326 views

Does a finding of Jewish blood in a DNA test make one Jewish?

I had a DNA test done and the results say that my DNA is group with Sephardic Jews. My last name is Steen and I have always heard that we were of Dutch ancestry and I do genealogy and have not found ...
12
votes
1answer
233 views

What does it mean when the “nation says something”?

There are often cases in Tanach where the Bnei Yisrael speak/answer simultaneously. Is there a general rule behind what this means or does it change from verse to verse? It would seem difficult to ...
11
votes
2answers
267 views

Why do we say that Hashem chose us if He offered to the Torah to all the other nations first?

According to Midrash Sifri (Deuteronomy 343), Hashem first went around to all the nations and offered them the Torah before offering it to Bnei Yisroel. So why do we say in Kiddush and Birchas ...
10
votes
4answers
303 views

Difference between jewish and zionist?

I was in Israel last summer (Rehovot) visiting a close friend and his wife. In one of our very long conversations with them she said, "I would say I am not jewish, but I am a zionist". ...
10
votes
2answers
265 views

Does our literature discuss invalidating a conversion because the convert would not put his/her lot with the Jewish people?

When a person is interested in converting, there are really two questions they are asked: Are you prepared to accept the theology and observance of Judaism? Are you prepared to accept your identity ...
9
votes
1answer
371 views

“Don't say 'lehavdil' between one Jew and another.”

In today's Parashat Hashavu'a Chat, I used the qualification "lehavdil" (*) to apply to a pun that jokingly and innocuously related the actions of Datan and Aviram to those of a community member here. ...
9
votes
1answer
172 views

Extent of matrilineal descent

Am I a Jew if my mother's mother's mother's mother's mother was a Jew? Even if along the line one of my foremothers converted to another faith? I'd just like a better understanding of matrilineal ...
8
votes
4answers
366 views

Was Eisav Jewish?

Was Eisav Jewish? Eisav was born to the same father and mother as Yaakov. It may be possible to say that Yaakov was not Jewish either as it was before Matan Torah, however if Yaakov was Jewish, then ...
8
votes
1answer
188 views

Halachic significance of the plurality of Jews living in Israel

I once heard that if Israel has the largest Jewish population, it has a significant effect on certain Halachot. What are the criteria for this, and what halachot are affected? (Shmita is the one most ...
8
votes
2answers
397 views

My great great grandmother was Jewish - am I?

I've discovered that my great, great grandmother was Jewish - i.e. my mother's mother's mother's mother. She converted to Catholicism upon marriage. Are matrilineal descendants of a Jewess who ...
8
votes
3answers
309 views

Why only beginning with the fourth plague is the exemption of the Jews mentioned?

In Moshe's warning to Pharaoh (in Hashem's name) of the fourth plague, arov, he adds (Ex. 8:18-19): וְהִפְלֵיתִי בַיּוֹם הַהוּא אֶת-אֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן אֲשֶׁר עַמִּי עֹמֵד עָלֶיהָ לְבִלְתִּי הֱיוֹת-שָׁם ...
8
votes
2answers
171 views

Were the eirev rav Jewish?

Were the eirev rav Jewish? If they were in fact Jewish why are they described by the term eirev rav instead of just referring to them as we would any other Jew? If they were not Jewish why were they ...
8
votes
2answers
67 views

Asher Bachar Banu and the medrash [duplicate]

We say every day "Asher Bachar Banu Mi'Kol Ha'amim" - Chosen from among all the nations. Yet we all know the famous medrash (quoted in Avodah Zara 2b) which says that G-d went to all the nations and ...
7
votes
2answers
414 views

What is the difference between dati, chasidish, and charedi?

How would one explain the distinctions between datim, chasidim, and charedim, especially to an American Jew who didn't know much about the Israeli religious spectrum? In particular, are all chasidim ...
7
votes
2answers
383 views

Why Do Converts Change Their Names?

Rabbi Avigdor Miller said that it used to be that gerim (converts) and baalei teshuvah (repentants) who had been given non-Jewish names did not change their names when they became part of the Jewish ...
7
votes
2answers
531 views

The blessing for 600,000 Jews

The Gemara (Berakhot 58b) mentions that upon seeing 600,000 Jews one says the blessing "Baruch...Chacham HaRazim" (Who knows all secrets), and this is halacha (Sh.A. O.C. 224:5). Does any know of any ...
7
votes
0answers
95 views

Proving Jewish identity through gravestone

What needs to be considered to show that under a grave marker lies a Jewish person?
6
votes
3answers
350 views

Comedy and Jewish Life

There are many Jews in America who publicly engage in comedy, whether as a career path or as a way of expressing themselves (blogs, art, etc.). Is there historical precedent to this? Are there any ...
6
votes
3answers
999 views

Do Jews think that all the unbelievers would go to hell someday?

I wonder whether Judaism teaches that those unbelievers or those who are Jews but nevertheless lead a sinful life would go to hell someday when judgement time comes.
6
votes
1answer
498 views

Why does the Torah forbid interest only on loans to Jews?

Why aren't we allowed to charge a Jew interest but we're allowed to charge a non-Jew?
6
votes
2answers
188 views

Image of God: Equality and Discrimination

I have heard from many unreliable sources that the Torah's description of mankind as being "in the Image of God" implies some level of equal standing of all humans and therefore the expectation ...
6
votes
2answers
106 views

Shavuos as a Marriage

There is an idea (which I initially became familiar with in my misspent youth from tamei sources but subsequently have seen it mentioned in tahor one's) that Shavuos is, as it were, a marriage between ...
6
votes
1answer
182 views

Purchasing from a Jew

רמבם, הלכות מתנות עניים י:ז שמנה מעלות יש בצדקה זו למעלה מזו, מעלה גדולה שאין למעלה ממנה זה המחזיק ביד ישראל שמך ונותן לו מתנה או הלואה או עושה עמו שותפות או ממציא לו מלאכה כדי לחזק את ידו עד שלא ...
6
votes
1answer
52 views

Could B'nei M'nashe have been placed with R'uven and Gad as a remedy to their separatism?

Does the following idea have any validity? Is it brought down anywhere? When members of the tribes of R'uven and Gad approached Moshe to unwaveringly request settlement on the east bank of the ...
6
votes
1answer
147 views

What's “chosen” about Jews?

Jews are commonly referred to as "the chosen people". I've heard it comes from Exodus 19:5 ("וִהְיִיתֶם לִי סְגֻלָּה מִכָּל הָעַמִּים", "ye shall be Mine own treasure from among all peoples", JPS). ...
6
votes
2answers
141 views

Why switch the reference from “גוי” to “עם” in Tachanun?

Why does the prayer "Shomer Yisra'el" in Tachanun say in two of the verses the word גוי in the first and last phrase, but עם in the middle phrase? שומר גוי אחד שמור שארית עם אחד ואל יאבד גוי אחד ...
5
votes
2answers
196 views

Can a convert to Judaism have a Jewish mother?

The Mishna, Bikkurim 1:4, speaks of converts to Judaism who bring their first fruits to the temple, or who pray within a synagogue: אלו מביאין ולא קורין הגר מביא ואינו קורא שאינו יכול לומר אשר ...
5
votes
1answer
155 views

What is the Significance of Ten Generations in the Torah when it comes to Genealogy

No Ammonite or Moabite shall be admitted into the congregation of the Lord; none of their descendants, even in the tenth generation-Deuteronomy 23:4 What is the significance of the ten-generation ...
4
votes
4answers
614 views

Matrilineal Descent

I have heard that matrilineal descent (i.e. having Judaism passed down through the mother) comes from the Roman period when women were raped by Roman soldiers and the babies were then said to be ...
4
votes
1answer
320 views

Does God discriminate between Jewish and non-Jewish people?

I often wonder if God has a different attitude towards people who are not Jews. Why Jews are consisdered to be most favored nation? Does that mean that all other people are inferior to Jews? Wouldn't ...
4
votes
2answers
42 views

Was Uriah Jewish?

Uriah the Hittite (mentioned in 2 Shmuel 11 and various other places) seems to be Jewish based on his name (Light of God). So why was he called "the Hittite"? Is there any opinion that he was not ...
4
votes
0answers
137 views

Jewish Status of the Patriarch's Wives?

Judaism is clear on the matrilineal descent. Yet it's not clear to me that the Matriarchs after Sarah were "Jewish" - they were Abraham's relatives, they were not Canaanites as requested by Abraham, ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

What's the difference between “Jew”, “Israelite” and “Judaizer”?

What's the difference between "Jew", "Israelite" and "Judaizer"? Can these three terms be used interchangeably? Can only one or only two of these terms be applied to one person?
3
votes
5answers
415 views

What is the source of hatred perceived by Jews in different parts of the world?

I don't know if this is off topic but a similar question is here at Christianity SE and I thought it would be interesting to ask the corresponding one here. It intrigues me how people from other ...
3
votes
2answers
254 views

Is believing that God, Israel, and Torah are one Avodah Zarah?

The Zohar said that God, Israel, and Torah are one. I thought Judaism is strictly monotheistic. When Jesus said, "I and the father is one", he was being a heretic. So how come the Zohar includes even ...
3
votes
2answers
406 views

Are Christians and/or “Messianic Jews” considered Jewish by Jews?

I know Judaism is not "Christian", but I am under the impression that there are some differences amongst Jewish traditions. At the extreme, I have even heard of "Messianic Jews" who believe Jesus was ...
3
votes
3answers
255 views

Word for “bageling” someone as an Orthodox Jew?

I've heard the slang "he bageled me" meaning "he identified me as a fellow Jew (even though it wasn't obviously apparent)." There are the times I pass someone in the street who's wearing a baseball ...
3
votes
1answer
138 views

Is one obligated to believe a fellow jew?

I seem to recall that every jew has a chezkat kashrut unless you know something would would remove it, and therefore you are obligated to believe them if they told you something (i.e. they are poor ...
3
votes
1answer
116 views

benefits of following Noahaich laws and 613 mitzovets

As I read on mi yodeya, that following the 613 mitzovet is a nessesary for righteous jews, and I also know that this task is very difficult, but the seven mitzovet of Noahich laws are easy, and the I ...
3
votes
1answer
98 views

Will all Jews speak Hebrew when Mashiach comes?

This question just kind of popped into my head, so I'm not sure whether it is really a good question for this site, but I wonder if anybody has written about it. I would imagine that since when ...
3
votes
1answer
95 views

Why did David's kingdom split if he didn't sin?

According to one opinion in the Gemara (Bab. Shab. 56b), the reason David's kingdom split was because he sinned by believing Lashon HaRa'. According to another opinion, though, he never sinned at all. ...
3
votes
1answer
100 views

How was Moses able to speak to at least 600,000 people?

The book of Exodus says that Israelites had 600,000 men of fighting age. And often it has paragraphs like this: Exodus 35:4 (JPS): And Moses spoke unto all the congregation of the children of ...