NOTE: Like Wikipedia, this site makes no guarantee of validity, and does not offer professional (particularly rabbinic) advice. Treat information from this site like it came from a crowd of your friends. // Jewish law. Specifically, the legal process beginning with the written Torah and continuing ...

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74
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3answers
2k views

Implications of Samoa skipping a Friday

This week, the island of Samoa is switching time zones, causing it to skip from Thursday directly to Saturday. Out of simple curiosity, what implications might this have on any Jews on the island? ...
49
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the halachic source for objection to gay (civil) marriage?

New York State is considering legalizing gay (civil) marriages, so tonight on our answering machine we received a message urging us to pray that it doesn't pass because gay civil marriages were, you ...
35
votes
7answers
1k views

May I use my neighbor's Wi-Fi without asking permission?

My neighbor has never set up password protection on his wireless router. If I wanted, I could wirelessly connect to his high-speed Internet service. May I use his Internet service without asking him ...
32
votes
7answers
2k views

Is it permissible to erase the name of G-d from an E-reader?

Most people seem to be lenient about shemos on digital screens in general (though Bar-Ilan does avoid displaying the Tetragrammaton.) The letters on the screen are just light, there is nothing really ...
28
votes
3answers
890 views

May one use a computer script or robot to do something specifically on Shabbos/Yom Tov?

May one run a program or machine that will operate on Shabbos, either by setting a timer to activate once Shabbos has started, or by leaving it running continually? What if the action is one that is ...
27
votes
9answers
2k views

Why is it necessary to ask a Rabbi?

In various places on this site, including the FAQ, we have the following disclaimer: Like Wikipedia, this site makes no guarantee of validity, and does not offer professional (particularly ...
25
votes
10answers
5k views

Is Christianity Avodah Zara?

It is commonly accepted that Islam is not Avodah Zarah (idolatry) since Islam has a clear monotheistic theology with a belief in Allah that parallels our view of "kail" or Hashem. It is even ...
25
votes
7answers
2k views

Are you allowed to save a non-Jew's life on shabbos?

Is a Jew allowed to violate shabbos to save a non-Jew's life?
25
votes
4answers
2k views

bicycle on Shabbat?

Is riding a bicycle on Shabbat permitted within an eiruv, being ridden only on pavement (so no unintended plowing), for transportation and not exercise, and with the understanding that repairs aren't ...
25
votes
2answers
933 views

So you ate dairy after meat. Now what?

Whatever your tradition for waiting between meat and milk, let's say you forgot you were fleishig, and now realize that you have just eaten milk within your traditional waiting period. What are you ...
24
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 ...
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 ...
24
votes
2answers
547 views

Can a gentile break shabbos only on a Rabbinic level?

A non-Jew is forbidden from observing Shabbos. When someone is in the process of converting, we advise them to keep the entire Shabbos besides for doing one forbidden activity. A common practice is to ...
23
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the sources for women to wear/ not wear pants?

I have heard that the argument is beged ish / kli gever, and I have heard people say that even if that was once a real reason for it it doesn't apply today for various reasons. I understand that the ...
23
votes
2answers
324 views

Is it a mitzva to escape the death penalty?

If someone is being led to his death by bes din (a Jewish court), is he supposed to try to escape, since, in general, saving one's own life is paramount? More: normally, we say that if someone is out ...
23
votes
1answer
416 views

Setting aside Shabbat to answer the President's call

In an old MSNBC news story about Jack Lew, a Shabbat-observant Jew who was just appointed to be the new White House Chief of Staff, there's a story about his getting a call from President Clinton when ...
22
votes
16answers
2k views

How to tactfully circumvent opposite-gender handshake

Say you're a man in a professional setting, and a woman who isn't used to dealing with observant Jews stretches out her hand to greet you -- but your practice is to avoid shaking hands even in ...
22
votes
7answers
3k views

Is one allowed to smoke Marijuana?

Not taking into account Dina D'malchusa, what are the Halachic problems with smoking marijuana? Is it allowed?
22
votes
3answers
3k views

Questions about Polygamy in Jewish Law and Culture

I've recently been looking into polygamy (having more than 1 wife), and had a few cultural questions. Was polygamy accepted at the time of David and Solomon? Were there any laws about it? Was ...
22
votes
2answers
439 views

If I injure a bug, should I kill it?

I'm sure this has happened to lots of people: you somehow injure a bug (or some other animal). I have always heard that this is a case of Tzaar Baalei Chaim, and that you should kill the bug to ...
22
votes
1answer
199 views

What do you do if you made a Tzedaka pledge and now the organization folded?

Recently a friend of mine asked me the following question. He pledged $500- to a Yeshiva, yet before he paid the pledge the Yeshiva closed. Does he still have to pay his pledge to another Tzedaka or ...
21
votes
8answers
538 views

Is one allowed to smoke?

Nowadays, since there are studies that show that smoking is dangerous to health, is one allowed to smoke or is it violating "Venishmartem Meod Lenafshosechem"?
21
votes
3answers
440 views

Must a jew-by-choice who is a firstborn observe the fast of the firstborn

I'm interested in the question of whether a ger who is firstborn (of both parents, say, to keep things simple) must follow the rules for Ta'anit B'khorot. There are some remarks on the wikipedia page, ...
20
votes
6answers
3k views

Is it a discouraged or an unacceptable practice for a Gentile to keep the Sabbath?

According to Jewish Law and tradition, is it acceptable, discouraged or totally unacceptable for a Gentile to keep the Sabbath according to the regulations spelled out in the Torah and the Talmud and ...
20
votes
2answers
1k views

Riding the Subway on Shabbat

Assuming that there are no problems regarding paying for it (either you entered the system before Shabbat, or a non-Jew paid for you): What are the halakhic issue with riding the subway on Shabbat? ...
19
votes
4answers
288 views

Glasses and Shema

The Shulhan Aruch records the custom of placing one's hand over his eyes in Shema in order to increase concentration. What about someone who wears glasses? Must he move them or remove them?
19
votes
1answer
237 views

a wheelchair user's taking “steps” before sh'mone esre

The Shulchan Aruch, OC 94:5, writes: Suppose someone is sitting on a boat or wagon [and saying sh'mone esre (amida)]. If he can stand up when he reaches the point of bowing, he should stand, so as ...
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 ...
19
votes
3answers
621 views

While playing a computer game, may I “worship” one of the game's “gods” to help me win?

I sometimes play a certain computer role-playing game (RPG). In this game, my character (whom I might name after myself but who does not otherwise resemble me) fights mythological creatures and ...
19
votes
3answers
379 views

Is it a sin to escape the death penalty?

If someone is sentenced to death by a Jewish court and is being held prisoner until the sentence can be carried out, if he escapes, is that a sin for him?
18
votes
16answers
532 views

SE Challenge: Halachot in which rulings range from permissible to Torah violation?

Inspired by my previous question regarding heating up soup on Shabbat, I present a challenge to the Judaism StackExchange community -- List halachot which have halachic decisions ranging from ...
18
votes
3answers
691 views

Am I allowed to fly from Australia on Motzei Shabbos?

If I take off from Melbourne on Motzei Shabbos, I will hit the Date-Line, loose a day, and end up flying on Shabbos for a short period of time until the sun catches up again. Am I allowed to do this? ...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

You accidentally broke your fast*. Now what?

What are you supposed to do if you inadvertently broke your fast*? Do you: keep going; extend it (if so, how long); cancel it (if so, do you make it up a different day)? *This question is for ...
18
votes
3answers
418 views

Can I cause a Melacha to happen in a place where Shabbat has already started?

For example, if I live in New York, could I send a fax (causing the machine to print a document) to Israel on Friday afternoon, before it is Shabbat for me, but after Shabbat has started there?
18
votes
3answers
756 views

Can you bowl on shabbos?

In the movie the Big Lebowski Walter explains that he is shomer shabbos and that he can't "roll" (meaning bowl) on shabbos. My question is, if he were able to get to the alley without violating ...
18
votes
4answers
675 views

Does artificial meat grown in a petri dish have the halachic status of meat?

Scientists are developing means of growing artificial meat in a petri dish. Does such 'meat' have the halachic status of meat? Source: ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

If a woman converts to Judaism while pregnant, will her child be a Jew?

If a woman converts to Judaism while pregnant, will her child be a Jew once born?
18
votes
4answers
2k views

Is practicing Yoga against Torah?

What does Halacha and Halachic Authorities have to say about the permissibility of a Jew practicing Yoga? Is it Avodah Zarah? If it is problematic, are there methods of doing it where it would be ...
18
votes
2answers
550 views

Is a Jew allowed to participate on Christianity.SE?

I was browsing meta.Christianity.SE recently when I noticed a question with a rather obvious (and good) answer that had not been posted. I was about to go ahead and answer it when I realized there ...
18
votes
2answers
226 views

Rockets from Gaza while praying

I live in Beer Sheva, Israel where there are presently ongoing rockets fired at us from Gaza. We are warned of an impending rocket by a loud siren that gives us less than a minute to run to a bomb ...
17
votes
6answers
357 views

Is it considered stealing to look at mi.yodeya while at work?

More generally, doing personal things like phone calls, emails, etc. while on company time. How far does the "everybody does it" rationale go? I believe there is some category in halakha that accounts ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

Shaking hands with the opposite gender?

What's the story: Can a man shake hands with a woman (or vice versa) in a business setting?
17
votes
3answers
229 views

What is the source that Parshas Parah is from the Torah?

I have read in many places that Parah could be a bliblical requirement to read. Why is that? Zachor makes sense (as it says so in the Torah here). Why Parah?
17
votes
4answers
2k views

Can you drink a beer (such as Miller or Budweiser) at a bar?

Can you buy and drink a beer (such as Miller or Budweiser) at a bar owned by non-Jews?
17
votes
2answers
206 views

Making the Kohen's Gesture

Is it forbidden for a non-Kohen to form the hand formation that Kohanim use during their priestly blessings?
17
votes
1answer
247 views

Saying Hashem's name when studying

I learned somewhere that when you are learning, if you are going to read an entire pasuk without interruption you can say Hashem's name, however if you are going to only say part of the pasuk (for ...
17
votes
2answers
509 views

When (if ever) are converts still related to their relatives?

It is my understanding that when a person converts to Judaism, certain halachic relationships are severed. So I have a couple questions about this. Which relationships are severed? Is a convert ...
17
votes
1answer
294 views

Is unmasking an anonymous author addressed by Halacha?

If an individual writes a document for public consumption anonymously or pseudonymously and either explicitly or presumably desires to remain anonymous, is there a Halachic issue with publicly ...
17
votes
1answer
562 views

How should we respond to objectionable content in a public forum?

The blessing and curse of sites like StackExchange is that everything happens in public. Sometimes someone will post something objectionable and it isn't possible to take the person aside for a ...
17
votes
1answer
390 views

Should someone tell a Jewish doctor about a tattoo of G-d's name?

Background: I am not Jewish. I have a tattoo containing G-d's name. I have been in the process of removing this tattoo using laser treatment. There seems to be some disagreement on whether or not ...