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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9answers
767 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
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5answers
585 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 ...
11
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8answers
2k views

Am I a body with a soul or a soul with a body?

I've always thought that our true essence, who we actually are, our personalities are our souls. To me, bodies are just temporary "homes" for the soul. My body can perish, but my soul will continue ...
11
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3answers
663 views

Why was an imperfect world instructed in capital punishment?

So, according to wikipedia (I know... but still it was the best source I could find) Leading rabbis in Reform Judaism, Conservative Judaism, and Orthodox Judaism tend to hold that the death ...
11
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2answers
211 views

Animals vs. plants: kashrus

Why did God make all plants, but only some animals, kosher? Sources, please.
11
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2answers
394 views

Is it correct to say now “Moshiach must come in this generation”?

Is it correct to say “Moshiach must come in this generation”? Related How do we understand Talmudic predictions of Moshiach? The statement was made in a shiur I attended. I asked the maggid shiur ...
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7answers
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 ...
10
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5answers
679 views

Intrinsic reasons for being observant

If a person doesn't care much about the reward in Olam Habah, what reasons does he have for being religious (learning torah and observing the mitzvot)? As a parable, a businessman might not care ...
10
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4answers
380 views

Difference between jewish and zionist?

I was in Israel last summer (Rehovot) visiting a close friend and his wife. In one of our very long conversations with them she said, "I would say I am not jewish, but I am a zionist". ...
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5answers
260 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 ...
10
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1answer
339 views

Should a Jew who doesn't believe in G-d observe the commandments?

In an earlier question, I asked if it was a commandment to believe in G-d. As with so many areas, there were differing opinions. Some of the respondents claimed that there would be no point in being ...
10
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2answers
469 views

Different types of Nevuah

What are the differences between the "typical" navi's prophecy, Moshe Rabbeinu's prophecy, and Bil'am HaRasha's prophecy? (Answers with sources [and preferably links to sources] only please!)
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3answers
255 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 ...
10
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2answers
777 views

Moral Culpability in the Garden

Did Adam and Eve have moral culpability in the Garden before they ate from the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil? It would seem that they were like small children in that sense, they were amoral--not ...
10
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8answers
893 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 ...
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2answers
147 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
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1answer
223 views

Eilu V'Eilu - Until Where?

Many times rabbis disagree on things in both hashkafa and Halacha. Usually, even when disagreeing, they will view the others' opinion as valid, even if they themselves would not rely on it. This is ...
10
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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 ...
10
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2answers
470 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 ...
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2answers
506 views

“bad impression” vs “Judge your friend favorably”

There are two commonly known halachic concepts. "Marit Ayin", a bad impression, and "Dan Lekaf Zechut", "Judging favorably". Here is a nice article on the concept of Marit Ayin and it briefly talks ...
10
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2answers
225 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
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1answer
339 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 ...
10
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2answers
485 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
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1answer
377 views

“Wedding anniversary” in Jewish thought.

Does the concept of "wedding anniversary" specifically enter Jewish thought or is it to be thought of as another of the many occasions for giving thanks to HKB"H?
10
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1answer
123 views

Why was the knowledge of good and evil embodied in the fruit of a tree?

In the story of creation man is forbidden from eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Why was the knowledge of good and evil embodied in a tree specifically?
10
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4answers
533 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?
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0answers
619 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 ...
9
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7answers
301 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
598 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 ...
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4answers
869 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?
9
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7answers
233 views

Beginning a comprehensive study of Moreh N'vuchim

A friend of mine would like to begin learning Moreh N'vuchim seriously and is unsure of exactly where/with what to start. What is the best version out there of the book itself? Are there any ...
9
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6answers
611 views

Drawing my own conclusions from the Torah

I've always made my own inferences and interpretations from the Torah. Whether it's from a story, a Perashah or something from the Tanach. But I don't know how good/permissible that is. A problem ...
9
votes
2answers
242 views

Free will a prerequisite for punishment?

I read that the angel Metat was subjected to 60 pulsei de-nura (Aramaic: פולסא דנורא "lashes of fire"). I have been taught that angels do not have free will. Did this angel act from free will or did ...
9
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4answers
312 views

Is Ferberization okay?

Is there anything objectionable (in terms of halacha, hashkafa and middos) to using the Ferber method for training an infant to fall asleep on its own? There is an element of cruelty, and the ultimate ...
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3answers
1k 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
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1answer
372 views

Why did Hashem create the world?

Some opinion say that Hashem created the world to bestow goodness on man (and couldn't just place him in the Garden of Eden because it would be "bread of shame" - that man would get things for free). ...
9
votes
2answers
207 views

Yearning for Moshiach while the Temples stood

Did we (the Jewish people) yearn for the complete Redemption (with the Techias HaMasim, etc) like we do today, at the time the either Temple was standing? It can't be that we just assumed "This is ...
9
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3answers
366 views

Is there any reason to deny aliens?

Is there any reason that we couldn't believe in life on another planet somewhere? Is there any source that indicates to the contrary?
9
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3answers
1k 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, ...
9
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2answers
460 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 ...
9
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1answer
125 views

Why is chillul Shabbat considered so wicked?

There is a mitzvah deoraita (Biblical commandment) to bury a person executed by bet din (Jewish court of law). Similarly, there is the law that a righteous person should not be buried next to a wicked ...
9
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1answer
106 views

Was there sentient life with free will in the worlds that G-d destroyed before making our world?

The midrash at B'reshis Rabba 3:7 states that G-d created a number of worlds and destroyed them before the creation of our world. Is the Midrash implying that the earlier worlds included sentient ...
9
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3answers
115 views

How does my having someone in mind when I learn help them?

Many times, as a merit for a recovery for someone sick or someone in need, I have been asked to have that person in mind when I learn. In some places, they will put up a sign asking to have a certain ...
8
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7answers
279 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 ...
8
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5answers
558 views

Why study non-practical tractates of Talmud?

A quick background: I recently sat down with my step-father and brother and learned Masechet Makkot with them for a bit - this was their first time learning Talmud. Given that the masechet starts ...
8
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4answers
201 views

How to define success in life?

What defines success in life (in a Jewish outlook)?
8
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3answers
3k views

Rainbow as a bad omen

There is a popular idea that seeing a rainbow is a bad sign, as if the world is deserving of a deluge (c"v) and the only reason Hashem does not do so is because of His promise. Is there any source for ...
8
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4answers
218 views

Why did Hashem create the world in such a way that a leap year is needed?

I understand why we have a leap year; to keep the sun and moon cycles in sync, so that Pessach is always in the spring. That's all technical, as a result of the moon orbiting too slowly - or the sun ...
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3answers
210 views

What is the reason for שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום?

What is the reason for שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום? Why must it been done in that form of twice reading the verse and once reading the תרגום? The Gemara in ברכות דף ח states that one who does שנים מקרא ...
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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 ...