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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4
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5answers
270 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
4
votes
2answers
352 views

Should someone who isn't 100% certain of God's existence be considered a kofer?

I was told by two respected Roshai Yeshiva that one who isn't certain of God's existence (an agnostic) is not deemed to be a kofer (denier of His existence) as long as he thinks that His existence is ...
4
votes
5answers
297 views

Bad things happening to good people

Why do bad things happen to good people? And, even if they do, bad things, not good things, should happen to bad people!
3
votes
3answers
277 views

Does God benefit from our keeping of the Mitzvos?

Does Hashem benefit from mankind doing the commandments of the Torah?
5
votes
2answers
267 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
2answers
227 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 ...
20
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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
952 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
votes
5answers
938 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 ...
23
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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 ...
7
votes
5answers
390 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 ...
13
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4answers
417 views

Voting for a person that will not uphold Torah values

It is well known that Rabbi Avigdor Miller Zatzal strongly condemned those that voted for candidates that would not uphold Torah values. Yet there were many Gedolim that had no problem voting for such ...
12
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6answers
590 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
274 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 universe,...
9
votes
2answers
525 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
312 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
295 views

Did G-d create evil? [closed]

Did G-d create evil? Scripture says that G-d created everything, right? So then if G-d indeed created everything, does that mean He created evil? Is there Old Testament evidence for why He did or ...
12
votes
9answers
776 views

do we really have free choice?

I was told Hashem created us with free will; so we can make a choice to do good or evil, right? Well, Hashem knows what we are going to do in 10 minutes. So do we really have free will? Hashem can see ...
11
votes
7answers
1k views

Do Jews believe in Heaven and Hell?

In yeshiva I was always told about gan eden and gehinnom, and how the good go to the former place while the bad go to the latter. However, in popular culture, Jews are always said to not believe in ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Is being vegan “kosher”?

Is being a vegan completely okay according to halacha? Even if a vegan is not eating anything traif (non-kosher), perhaps it's not truly correct because you are not following the commandments to ...
7
votes
3answers
413 views

Is it wrong to be racist?

Is there anything wrong about being a racist? By racist I mean believing that certain groups of people are objectively worse in any qualitative way based on their race.
7
votes
5answers
335 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
457 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
301 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
232 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? ...
9
votes
2answers
622 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 and/...
6
votes
1answer
580 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
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2answers
160 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
255 views

Is Gematria accepted by all?

It is widely accepted that each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a Gematria (numerical value) attached to it. These numerical values often provide insight when comparing one Gematria to either ...
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vote
4answers
715 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 ...
0
votes
4answers
557 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
10answers
522 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 ...
14
votes
11answers
771 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 nature....
19
votes
8answers
399 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" (Tehillim 37:25). How do we reconcile that ...
10
votes
5answers
271 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
1answer
297 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
212 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 ...
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 ...
8
votes
2answers
442 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
405 views

If Hashem doesn't change, how does prayer work?

If Hashem is perfect and unchanging, how can we pray to Him to have mercy on us? Doesn't that imply a change? I've heard it implied that the way this works is that the prayer itself has the effect ...
7
votes
3answers
140 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
4answers
287 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
390 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 ...
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vote
3answers
130 views

Does the Torah 'know' about 'quantum mechanics' and 'DNA synthesis'?

There are many articles and books available on the interplay between science and Judaism. Very often they come in the form of a halachic discussion of applying science to be able to resolve a halachic ...
-3
votes
6answers
560 views

Can G-d ever take on a physical form?

There are 3 religions that says so. The obvious one is Christianity with that being it's central term. The second one is Hindu. Khrisna is said to be a God incarnate. But in torah I often see stories ...
13
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
599 views

Existence of Heaven and Hell

I heard from a Jewish colleague that the concept of Heaven and Hell were not originally part of Judaism. I couldn't find references to these concepts in the Old Testament. So Were these part of ...
10
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2answers
486 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
889 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?
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 ...