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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83 views

The Second Temple [closed]

I'm a BT of just over 5 yrs now, struggling but studying hard (50 yrs of 'catch-up'!). I think of myself as a Chassidic Jew. I'm still intrigued, yet in a quandary about the validity of the 2nd ...
18
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8answers
2k 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 ...
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3answers
114 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 ...
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2answers
130 views

A Jewish Equivalent for this Quote?

I have read an Islamic quote that I like very much: "All praise is due to Allah; all the mistakes have been mine." Can anyone think of a Jewish source that expresses a similar concept?
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3answers
107 views

The Meaning behind the Kaf

Searching for the root for Kipah (כפה) I found the word Kaphaph (כפף) from the root Kaph or Kaf כף. Kaf (as a word) means (hand)palm, while yod refers to yad (the hand). Kaf (as a letter כ) has a ...
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3answers
154 views

Is one permitted to study other religions?

Is one allowed to study other religions? If not, how is one supposed to know that Judaism is correct? If yes, is such study encouraged?
3
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5answers
382 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 ...
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3answers
144 views

Does Judaism have a double standard? [closed]

I have asked two questions on Mi Yodeya regarding discrepancies between claims found in Torah and what we think we know about the world. One is a small one: Rivers in Genesis And one is a huge one: ...
3
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1answer
228 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 ...
3
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1answer
57 views

Understanding ones own 'middah k'neged middah'

In order to better understand ones purpose, merits and relationship (etc.) with Hashem is there any merit in trying to figure out the מדה כנגד מדה aspects of one's life? Should one dwell on such ...
3
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2answers
193 views

Why is being religious a duty if God chose to not have a proof to his existence in this world?

According to the answers to the question "How do we know that God exists" it seems some (if not most) religious Jews believe there is no way to verify whether or not God even exists. If this view is ...
3
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1answer
79 views

How should one answer a fool asking about Torah matters?

My question comes from Shabbat 30b (Koren Talmud Bavli). Two contradictory proverbs are mentioned: Proverbs 26:4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him. Proverbs ...
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5answers
151 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.
5
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1answer
95 views

How exactly should I understand the Divine Presence?

I'm reading Talmud Bavli (the one from Koren) and I have a question concerning what I read in Shabbat Daf 12b. G-d is called the Omnipresent several times, implying to me that G-d is present ...
3
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4answers
231 views

How did Abraham conclude that the world must have a master?

Abraham is said to have arrived at the existence of Gd in Gen Rabah 39: אמר רבי יצחק משל לאחד שהיה עובר ממקום למקום וראה בירה אחת דולקת אמר תאמר שהבירה זו בלא מנהיג הציץ עליו בעל הבירה אמר לו ...
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3answers
108 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 ...
7
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2answers
251 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 ...
3
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0answers
154 views

Responses to Dor Daim / Talmidei HaRambam

Occasionally on this site and on other websites I stumble upon things written by Dor Daim or Talmidei HaRambam. I was wondering what the response is to these groups by other contemporary Orthodox ...
3
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2answers
109 views

Living a sheltered lifestyle

I often hear the argument that living a 'sheltered life' could be considered to be statistically justified i.e. the likelihood of your children 'veering from the correct' path is lower. By ...
7
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2answers
165 views

What is the benefit of humroth (stringencies)?

If we are meant to understand from the Nazir that forbidding things which are really mutar in order to be "extra holy" is really not a positive thing (cf. y.Nedarim 9:1), then of what benefit are ...
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0answers
129 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 ...
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2answers
154 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 ...
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3answers
111 views

Why wasn't the Torah given to klal Yisroel as a DVD?

The obvious answer is that they didn't have DVDs back in Moshe Rabeinu's time. But still, Hashem could have created them back then. My question, "Why wasn't the Torah given as a DVD?", is really ...
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0answers
37 views

How is the idea of free will viewed by Judaism? [duplicate]

A few things come to mind when asking this question. One is where the Torah enumerates the blessings curses and Hashem says to chose life. Here it seems we are given two paths in life. That of torah ...
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0answers
63 views

How do we define the word 'עולם'?

In the standard beracha 'formula' we use the phrase 'מלך העולם'. But what does the word עולם refer to in this context: Earth/world or universe? It may seem obvious that מלך העולם is referring to ...
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1answer
114 views

Ladies first or men first?

Bereshit 31:17 reads: וַיָּקָם יַעֲקֹב וַיִּשָּׂא אֶת בָּנָיו וְאֶת נָשָׁיו עַל הַגְּמַלִּים׃ So Jacob rose, and he lifted up his sons and his wives upon the camels. Rashi: את בניו ...
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3answers
199 views

Is Mashiach an incarnation of God according to any Jewish tradition?

Some Christians believe that the Messiah was not supposed to be just a man but rather an incarnation of God. Do any Jews (not counting so-called messianic Jews who are really Christians) believe that ...
2
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3answers
199 views

Why don't we have a “shulchan aruch of forbidden beliefs”?

When discussing which beliefs are heretical to orthodox Judaism the phrase "there is no shulchan aruch on deos-beliefs" comes up often. I would like to know why this is the case. Why can there not be ...
2
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1answer
68 views

Where is the source that the cup we dip our finger in during the seder is known as the kos shel paraniut?

Where is the source that the cup we dip our finger into during the seder and extract several drops of wine is known as the kos shel paraniut (cup of punishment)? I recall this concept being referred ...
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2answers
321 views

Why is Moshiach a “fundamental belief” (iqar)?

In what sense is belief in the eventual coming of Moshiach fundamental to Judaism? Rambam famously includes it as the twelfth in his list of iqarim, but why? Considering the other iqarim, Judaism ...
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1answer
91 views

Are Rabbinic decrees binding forever, or can they be rescinded?

Regarding the rabbinic decrees instructed in the Talmud, how can one know that a particular rabbinic commandment is binding to all future generations and may not be rescinded or amended ever? . ...
6
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7answers
194 views

All the many, many details

I understand a number of reasons why the Jewish community keeps so many rules to the level of minutiae. But why SUCH a level of intricacy in some of these laws? I looked through a large book on the ...
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2answers
68 views

How to arrive at total Devekut HaMachshava

The Sefarim (first Rama in Orah Haim) discuss "Shiviti Hashem Lenegdi Tamid" in other words Devekut Hamachshava. Does anyone have an Etza to reach this amazing Maala?
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0answers
28 views

Halachic Approaches to Utilitarianism vs. Deontology [duplicate]

Are there halachic sources that are relevant to the philosophical debate between utilitarianism (ends justify means) and deontology (ends DON'T justify means)? Al regel achas, the principle of Mitzvah ...
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0answers
60 views

Did Akeidat Yitzchak dedicate Yitzchak and his future offspring to Hashem?

In the case of an animal that is intended to be brought as a korban, but the animal has offspring before being sacrificed, the offspring retains a special status. Depending on the type of Korban, the ...
3
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1answer
90 views

Punishment for sins one cannot now be expected to avoid

I recall a high-school rebbe (teacher) of mine quoting a great rabbi as having said that, if someone religious becomes irreligious, then God will punish him for every time he does not wash his hands ...
6
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1answer
182 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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0answers
214 views

Where did the “a cat will always be a cat” story about the Rambam come from?

I've seen and heard a story about the Rambam told multiple times along the lines of this particularly concise retelling: There is a beautiful story of a disagreement that Maimonides had with a ...
7
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3answers
323 views

Why did God do nothing against the Romans that desecrated the Temple?

When good guy made a mistake, like Uzzah trying to fix the ark, God killed him (see II Samuel 6:6). However, Uzzah does not seem that evil. I mean, the ark stumbled and he just tried to help. Then, ...
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3answers
105 views

Amailut (trying hard/ toiling) to learn Torah

What's the source for amailut (trying hard/ toiling) to learn Torah? Is there any benefit to try learning Torah on your own without help, when you can learn Torah through asking others and looking ...
3
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3answers
121 views

How does one calculate how much time to devote to torah learning and how much time for livelihood?

In Judaism, the study of torah is considered above all else. However, there is also a need to be able to provide for one's family. How does one calculate the amount of time one should devote to torah ...
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3answers
102 views

Does God have complete knowledge of future?

This question Did God know the holy place right away during the exodus? ask around the idea that G-d would choose His holy places during exodus time. However, if he knows the future, he couldn't ...
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2answers
97 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 ...
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3answers
111 views

How can one give HaShem “Nahhat Ruahh”?

At the end of מוסף לשבת in דרכי אבות השלם (p. 375), a quotation is written in the name of רבי יהודה: אמר רבי יהודה: אשרי מי שעמלו בתורה ועושה נחת רוח ליוצרו Rabbi Yohhanan makes a similar ...
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0answers
49 views

Are there any sources pro or con the main idea of the short story “the egg”

There is a very popular short story on the web called The Egg which has as it's main thrust that all human being are really the same person, just born in countless reincarnations. I was wondering is ...
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1answer
102 views

How long does it take to become a kofer?

If a person for whatever reason momentarily has a thought which denies God, but then afterwards reaffirms his belief in Hashem, is that an act of kefira? Does a momentary lapse in belief constitute a ...
5
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2answers
253 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 ...
3
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1answer
93 views

Is Holiness an achievable goal for an individual?

The Torah, at Lev. 19:2, teaches "You shall be holy for I, Hashem your G-d, am holy." What is holiness in this context? Is it an achieveable goal, or must we observe the commandments perfectly? If ...
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0answers
43 views

If there is only one oral Torah how do we reconcile different interpretations of a written verse? [duplicate]

Many times when you read a confusing verse in the scriptures, several commentators offer their own interpretation. For example, Rashi can say X, Sforno says Y, and Ramban says something completely ...
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2answers
276 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 ...