Jewish philosophy as well as Jewish perspectives - i.e. not only formal philosophy. NOT for questions about Jewish practice unless there's a philosophical component.

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1answer
252 views

Does G-d approve or merely permit human consumption of meat?

Many vegetarians and vegans argue that G-d gave humans permission to eat meat only because of a human failing in abstaining anyway. My takeaway from that argument is that, in light of a more ...
1
vote
4answers
538 views

Why do we count years from the date of Creation?

Why do we count years from the date of Creation? I intend two sub-questions here, of which the second is far more interesting, so please answer it: Whence did this tradition originate? Why do we ...
14
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8answers
2k views

If Christianity is avodah zarah and Islam is not, why has the Christian world triumphed over the non-Christian, and why do Jews prefer to live among Christians and not Muslims?

The Rambam quite clearly considered Christianity to be avodah zarah. He did not feel the same way about Islam, however, going so far as to condone praying within a mosque, and many Orthodox Jewish ...
14
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8answers
659 views

Reconciling the evidence for the Uncertainty Principle with belief in an omniscient G-d

One of the foundations of modern quantum mechanics is the Uncertainty Principle. This principle is not an assumption, but rather is derived from assumptions made with regard to the structure of ...
11
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10answers
455 views

Any primary sources that all Jewish males should l'chatchila stay in learning forever?

Does anyone know of any specific sources in Chazal or Rishonim (or even earlier achronim) that indicate that l'chatchila all Jewish males should learn full time forever? I know that this is the ...
7
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5answers
329 views

Is the brain the seat of the soul?

There are disturbing ideas in the Feb 21, 2011 Time magazine cover article 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal. The article attributes to Raymond Kurzweil the prediction that within the next 25 years ...
8
votes
2answers
332 views

Moreh Nevuchim: To learn or not to learn?

I have come across many people who believe that it is inappropriate to learn Moreh Nevuchim especially at a younger inexperienced age. However, it seems that many important issues are discussed in the ...
6
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0answers
149 views

Is it forbidden for a Jew to read the writings of Baruch Spinoza?

The cherem against Spinoza says the following: The Lords of the ma'amad, having long known of the evil opinions and acts of Baruch de Espinoza... We order that no one should communicate with him ...
19
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8answers
3k views

Conversion: If G-d really wanted me to be a Jew (and observe mitzvot), why was I not born into a Jewish family

This question pertains to the issue of conversion, and if it makes sense in the Jewish context of some people being Chosen specifically by God. Before beginning, this poster is aware of the long, and ...
14
votes
7answers
329 views

“I never saw a tzaddik be abandoned…” - how do we understand this?

At the end of bentching we say that "I was young, and I also became old, and I never saw a righteous person be abandoned, and his children asking for bread". How do we reconcile that with the ...
13
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6answers
675 views

Being a light to the nations - what does it mean?

I'm working on this as my project for a yeshiva program, and I'd like some input What does the concept actually mean? It's only mentioned briefly in most of our scripture and commentary. Are there ...
9
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2answers
333 views

Is there really a distinct “Jewish soul”?

I have heard many times about Jews having a "special soul" or a "Jewish soul" - a soul which is either lacking and/or fundamentally different than that of non-Jews. However, the sources which are ...
9
votes
4answers
623 views

Dreams in Judaism?

What does Judaism have to say about dreams and do have any legitimacy? Are they in any way binding, or are they assumed to be just products of an overactive imagination?
6
votes
2answers
149 views

What are the implications of karet?

Does karet mean the soul will not ever enter the olam haba? Can teshuvah rectify the transgression which lead to the karet? Can that soul in another re-incarnation rectify the blemish of karet? By ...
6
votes
6answers
380 views

Tikkun Olam source

What is the source for the concept that Jews have to practice Tikkun Olam, and where in the classical Jewish sources is this concept defined? It seems people throw this term around a lot in the ...
3
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3answers
496 views

Bad Jew or Good Gentile?

Whom does Hashem love more: Gentiles who love Jewish people and Israel or Jews who are against Jewish people and Israel?
2
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2answers
121 views

What is the Orthodox Jewish view of the afterlife?

What is the nature of life after death, according to Orthodox Judaism as it exists today? I have tried to read up on this, but I often hear very conflicted views... I mean I once read that Sheol is ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Why does the Hebrew alphabet not have letters representing vowels?

(Re-asking this question in a way more suited to SE.) The Hebrew alphabet is actually an abjad rather than a "true" Western-style alphabet, in that every letter represents a consonant, and vowels, if ...
16
votes
1answer
247 views

Do not separate yourself from the community: what exactly is the community?

Hillel teaches in Pirke Avot (2:4): do not separate yourself from the community. I'm not a historian, but I have the impression that at the time he was writing, towns tended to have one (Jewish) ...
13
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5answers
10k views

What does Kadosh really mean?

What do the terms קדוש (Kadosh), קדושים, קדושה, and קדיש really mean?
12
votes
2answers
264 views

What is “emunas chachomim”?

My daughter came home from school with a textbook response for what "emunas chachomim" is. I disagreed strongly with what was written in the book, so I'm not even going to say what they said. ...
10
votes
2answers
336 views

“God is Fire”: Trying to Source an Analogy for Prayer

I remember reading once a very clever analogy, which I was sure that I had found in the writings of Yeshayahu Leibowitz (who sourced it, from memory, in the writings of the Rav, R' Yosef Ber ...
10
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2answers
183 views

Non-belief in Torah's divinity - Wickedness or Ignorance?

If a Jew breaks halacha because he honestly does not believe that the Torah is G-d's law or that he is obligated it follow it, is his nonconformance with the law considered wickedness or ignorance? ...
10
votes
3answers
244 views

Can our deceased relatives observe us?

People often say (e.g. at s'machot and other such events) things like "Grandpa Chaim would have loved to be here today, but we know he is smiling down on us from shamayim" Is this really a ...
8
votes
2answers
876 views

Why is it important that God created the first pair of tongs?

It says in Pirkei Avot 5:6 that God made the first pair of tongs immediately before creation. Could not one have made tongs out of bone or wood wrapped in leather or made with a metal, such as gold, ...
7
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5answers
234 views

Why is resurection of the dead a fundamental of faith according to the Rambam?

The Rambam defines the resurrection of the dead as a fundamental of Judaism. However, unlike the Ramban, the Rambam holds that first there is Moshiach, then resurrection, and then the final result of ...
7
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0answers
217 views

Why does God care so much about Details [duplicate]

Kizayis, Kebeitzah, Toich Kedai Achilas Pras, Zman Kriyas Shemah Why is god so into details what are their significance(e.x why does god care if I daven after Zman Kriyas Shemah)?
6
votes
1answer
295 views

Why does God tolerate demons? What is their purpose?

The Bavli records in many places the existence of demons, and answers to this question cite rishonim and acharonim who take this seriously. Pesachim 112b relates a story in which demons are ...
6
votes
2answers
348 views

Does the end justify the means

Is the phrase "The ends justify the means" a concept favored in Judaism? For instance, can one lie in order to get others to perform a Mitzvah?
5
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4answers
395 views

Why is the foreskin removed?

Why is the foreskin removed? God gave it men, did God also tell them to have it removed?
3
votes
1answer
180 views

Is free will limited to humans?

Do other beings besides humans have free will? Perhaps animals have free will? What about angels? Does the status of other types of beings' freedom of will affect us in any way?
3
votes
4answers
447 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
1answer
195 views

Must one go according to his/her opinion (leshitato)?

Imagine that a Halakhic Decisor (decider?) maintains a certain Halakhic position or Hashkafic belief. [I am assuming that such thing as a Hashkafic Decisor exists.] Anyway, is it imperative that s/he ...
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3answers
145 views

What if our purpose is to be bad?

How do we know that our purpose is not to be bad? Surely evil men have, by extension, caused some good. And even without that idea, we have no use what our purpose is on this earth -- how do we know ...
0
votes
1answer
166 views

Why Wait for Moshiach

The Rambam in Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah says God has no joy or sadness. If so, why do we wait for moshiach? For G-d's glory? G-d does not need anything from us. How are we supposed to have intent to ...
-1
votes
4answers
165 views

Maybe God lied?

How do we know that God didn't lie at Sinai? Maybe he said he was good and compassionate, and promised us reward, but it's all a trick? Why believe that God is true?
-6
votes
2answers
231 views

Is it possible for a Reform Jew to break halacha or violate a mitzva? [closed]

Is it possible for a Reform Jew to violate a mitzva in the Torah or break halacha, like breaking shabbos by doing melacha ('labor')? After all, from what I understand, Reform Jews don't believe in a ...
12
votes
5answers
3k views

Why does belief in Judaism require irrationality?

In conversations with Rabbis, and in watching debates between Rabbis and atheists, I have often found that the response to questions which attack Judaism either on the basis of some of its perceived ...
7
votes
5answers
428 views

Why is there no description of Olam Haba in the Torah?

According to the beginning of the Mesilas Yesharim, the entire purpose of creation is for man to merit Olam Haba (the bliss of the next world). If so, why is there no mention nor description of Olam ...
4
votes
4answers
597 views

How can I respond to challenges to the Kuzari argument for the transmission of Torah from Sinai?

The Kuzari's argument for the transmission of Torah from Sinai was extremely convincing when I heard it, and I've read different summaries of it by Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb and Rabbi Leib Keleman (I must ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does the Jewish calendar HAVE to end?

It seems to be common knowledge that on or around the year 6,000 of the Jewish calendar "everything" (left intentionally vague) will come to an end and there will be a 1,000 year 'Shabbos'. I'm ...
9
votes
3answers
830 views

How do you know what is God's will in a particular situation?

After reading this superb article by the great Rabbi Noah Weinberg I'm left pondering point number 5 "Make your will God's will". I understand that this does not mean that whatever you personally ...
9
votes
1answer
267 views

Does someone who dies very young have a soulmate?

As discussed in this question, the Talmud tells us that 40 days before someone is born, a heavenly voice calls out "This person is destined for so-and-so". Not sure if anyone can answer this, but ...
8
votes
3answers
885 views

Why did God create the mentally ill/ severely handicapped?

Why did God create people who are mentally ill or severely handicapped? They are not able to serve him in the same capacity and their lives seem to be full of difficulty and anguish. Why would God do ...
7
votes
1answer
160 views

What is déjà vu?

Déjà vu is the strong feeling that one has already experienced a particular situation, while that situation is occurring. Theories abound as regards what it is, what causes it and what possible ...
6
votes
3answers
113 views

How to choose 'your' rebbi?

When a person is choosing who they will learn from as their rebbi, are there any guidelines or rules that govern the decision making process? First a definition of what a rebbi is (for the purposes ...
6
votes
1answer
320 views

What attitudes toward Jesus are acceptable for a Jew?

What attitudes toward Jesus are acceptable for a Jew? I understand that idolatry, or embracing the mainstream Christian perception of Jesus as divine, is absolutely out of the question. Furthermore, ...
5
votes
1answer
393 views

Why did Rabbis stay away from Amei Haaretz?

The Gemara tells Torah scholars that they should not mix with Amei Haaretz, and shouldn't be around them, eat with them, etc. The reason is that the Torah Scholars would learn from their bad ways. ...
4
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2answers
119 views

Why believe in the revelation at Sinai other than the “Kuzari mesora” argument? [duplicate]

I was reading this post the other day, and came across a comment by user DoubleAA who stated in the comments something to the effect of "if the only reason you believe is because of the Kuzari ...
4
votes
2answers
67 views

Mind/soul/spirit/body “partites”

Various philosophers and theologians have posited different anthropological views concerning the 'division' of man into a mind/soul/spirit/body. The major views are summarized below: Unitary / ...