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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14
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5answers
14k views

What does Kadosh really mean?

What do the terms קדוש (Kadosh), קדושים, קדושה, and קדיש really mean?
10
votes
1answer
151 views

Animals vs. plants: kashrus

Why did God make all plants, but only some animals, kosher? Sources, please.
9
votes
2answers
569 views

What are the characteristics of Sheol?

The Wikipedia article on Sheol is very unclear as to what it is and combined with the Christian understanding: quoting the New Testament in several places. Who goes to Sheol once they die (Jews ...
5
votes
4answers
288 views

Do a mitzva for mashiach?

I recently saw in The Moshiach Times, a popular Chabad-Lubavitch publication for children, an exhortation to "do a mitzvah for moshiach": to do a mitzva with the specific purpose of hastening the ...
3
votes
2answers
218 views

Guaranteed olam haba?

Certain practices such as learning halachot daily or reciting ashrei three times a day are supposed to guarantee a person a place in olam haba. How exactly does this work? Can a person be an evil ...
3
votes
4answers
253 views

Since G-d is Omnipotent Why Does He Need Our Prayers?

What are some good answers to the Question if God is all powerfull what does he need our Prayers for? I would appreciate as many answers as possibile
1
vote
4answers
688 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 ...
20
votes
9answers
3k 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 ...
16
votes
1answer
842 views

What is the meaning of psak?

I have asked many people this question, and not yet got a comprehensive answer: What is psak? Like, let's say I have a certain piece of food of uncertain status. If I ask my 6 year old kid if it's ...
15
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5answers
910 views

What does “to confuse the Satan” mean and why does it work?

There are several things we don't do in order "to confuse the Satan", like not blowing Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashana. How does it help? Does Satan not realize that Rosh Hashana didn't pass yet? He ...
10
votes
5answers
246 views

Does the Zodiac really have influence on our lives?

Ancient thought, even among the rabbis of the Talmud, was that the Zodiac controlled certain Earthly events. In Hebrew, the signs of the Zodiac are מזלות, now known as "luck". For example, in Shabbat ...
7
votes
5answers
372 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 ...
22
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9answers
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 ...
10
votes
8answers
852 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
270 views

Reconciling Nature with Continuous Creation

I have always understood that when God created the universe, he subjected it to a natural order and process under which the universe can function. The laws of nature are those that govern the ...
9
votes
2answers
416 views

Is it heresy to read the Bible literally?

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in this debate with Richard Dawkins says: Rabbis in the 10th century laid down the following principle: If a biblical narrative is incompatible with established scientific ...
8
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
418 views

Does Rambam take the 6 days of creation literally?

I was told in this answer to another question: "The Rambam did not take the '6 days' of Bereishis literally, as well as other details." The answer linked to Moreh Nevuchim (link) but I couldn't find ...
4
votes
1answer
286 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 ...
17
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2answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
320 views

Did hardening Paro's heart mean he wasn't really responsible?

As a child I often wondered how, if God kept hardening Paro's heart after each plague, it could really be Paro's fault. It sounds like God was setting him up to fail, and while that's God's ...
10
votes
2answers
223 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? ...
7
votes
5answers
309 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
523 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
159 views

Is there a p'sak when dealing with de'os?

I was wondering if the idea of paskening applies to the de'os area of Torah. As an example there is a machlokes rishonim how to view Chazal's relationship with the science they relied on to pasken ...
4
votes
2answers
917 views

Does Judaism permit sexual relationships outside of marriage?

I am eager to know more about different religions from Islam to Judaism. Furthermore, how different religions look at women and comparing their kinds of approaches to the matter of gender and ...
3
votes
1answer
219 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?
0
votes
4answers
548 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 ...
14
votes
11answers
761 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 ...
14
votes
10answers
503 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
627 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, ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Does Judaism have a concept of holy text literalism?

Apologies if this is an ignorant, foolish or offensive question. I am not Jewish, and am asking to satisfy my curiosity. Some time ago, on a political forum online, I was discussing religious ...
14
votes
7answers
347 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
418 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
votes
1answer
280 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
261 views

Lubavitch and Geocentricism

I read here in an article by Rabbi Gil Student that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe zy"a believed in the geocentric model despite the modern scientific evidence to the contrary. What is the source for this ...
4
votes
4answers
372 views

What if someone is unable to believe in God?

Suppose someone really truly wants to believe in Hashem, but is simply unable to. Even after much trying and learning Torah, he still is simply unable to believe in God. Would that person be ...
3
votes
5answers
283 views

What is one's purpose in life and how does one find it?

How does one know or determine one's tafkid in life? And can a person have more than one tafkid? Please include sources. Thank you.
2
votes
3answers
204 views

What caused God?

I recently came across this webpage, in which I read the following: You say everything needs a cause, right? So what caused the 1st cause? Why is the 1st cause the exception to the rule? Maybe the ...
13
votes
5answers
977 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
246 views

Punishment in this World or in the World To Come

It says that (in general) Hashem lets a righteous person suffer in this world to cleanse him from sins (so he will have no more sins in the World to Come), while Hashem lets a wicked person prosper in ...
10
votes
2answers
472 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
454 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
839 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
222 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
467 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

English translation of Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim (Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed) on the Internet?

Is there an English translation on the Internet of Rambam's philosophic treatise on Jewish philosophy, Moreh Nevuchim?
3
votes
3answers
106 views

What distinguishes humans from animals?

Both Humans and animals seem to have: Flesh: (Bereshit 6:13) The ketz (end) of kol basar is come before Me. Nefesh Chaya: (Bereshit 1:30) wherein is a Nefesh Chaya Ruach Chayim: (Bereshit 6:17 & ...
3
votes
2answers
222 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
547 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?