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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11
votes
4answers
295 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
4answers
440 views

Jewish concept of angels

Judaism does not believe in the free will of angels. What is the scriptural evidence for that and since when has such belief been held within the Jewish community?
7
votes
5answers
247 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
372 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
3answers
336 views

Is there any precedent to read the first 11 chapters of Genesis as metaphorical?

I believe this will be related to a similar question about a statement by Rabbi Sacks. Rabbi Jeremy Wieder said in a lecture titled Non Literal Interpretation of Scripture in Jewish Tradition (and ...
5
votes
4answers
257 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
147 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 ...
5
votes
6answers
220 views

Resources for learning about the foundations of Judaism

I recently met an intelligent Soviet immigrant interested in learning more about Judaism. He would like to start with understanding the basics. Such as: How do we understand G-d? What are the ...
3
votes
1answer
197 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
187 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
1answer
261 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 ...
16
votes
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 ...
13
votes
10answers
474 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
8answers
678 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
360 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
0answers
167 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
318 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 ...
14
votes
7answers
334 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
votes
6answers
740 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
votes
2answers
371 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
693 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
989 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
93 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
119 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
2answers
169 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
407 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
votes
3answers
71 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
164 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
508 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
votes
2answers
213 views

Animal sacrifice in Judaism — was it copied from other religions?

Why is there animal sacrifice in Judaism? Animal sacrifice was found in other religions before Judaism, so could it be that the Jews copied the practice of animal sacrifice from other religions?
17
votes
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 ...
16
votes
1answer
265 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) ...
15
votes
8answers
901 views

“If God had not delivered us from Egypt we would still be slaves”? Really?

One part of the Pesach seder that has always bothered me is saying that if God had not taken us out of Mitzrayim at that time we would still be slaves today. This seems lacking in faith in God; ...
12
votes
2answers
275 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
380 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
votes
2answers
197 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
2answers
133 views

Why didn't the Tur discuss traditional Jewish philosophy?

Of all classical works of Halacha, only the Rambam has a section dedicated "Hilchos Deos". For example, he begins with the most fundamental Jewish belief, the belief in one G-d, that G-d is the ...
10
votes
3answers
248 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
914 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
votes
0answers
219 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
2answers
365 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
votes
4answers
415 views

Why is the foreskin removed?

Why is the foreskin removed? God gave it men, did God also tell them to have it removed?
4
votes
2answers
201 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
200 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
200 views

Is Hashem 'involved' in everything that happens?

The view in current Haredi thought seems to be that Hashem actively runs the world down to the most minute occurrences. I have seen discussions allude to the fact that there are many Rishonim who did ...
1
vote
3answers
149 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
175 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 ...
0
votes
4answers
500 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 ...
-1
votes
4answers
171 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
261 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 ...