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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2
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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.
3
votes
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 ...
2
votes
3answers
330 views

Chachma, bina vaadat. Whats the difference?

Whats the difference between the concepts: chachma, bina and daat? We see them listed together in the amida.
3
votes
1answer
78 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
189 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
223 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 ...
5
votes
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 ...
2
votes
2answers
154 views

How did Chazal know they were right about “who is a Jew”?

My question is predicated on the assumption that Jews were created by God as fundamentally different from non-Jews. (I am referring, for example, to the idea that Jews have a special type of soul. And ...
12
votes
8answers
671 views

Answering Atheist about Torah miracles

How do we explain our belief in the story of Yonah living in a Fish, the Splitting of a sea, and all the other fantastic Miracles described in the Torah to a person who was not brought up religious; ...
-8
votes
1answer
275 views

If God was never incarnated, how come He sat in front of Abraham's tent and appeared among the oaks of Mamre? [closed]

http://yltbible.com/genesis/18.htm Update: This is a jewish source that think that the guy that approach Abraham is indeed God: But is it not so that he [Avraham] did not go to stand before Him? ...
6
votes
3answers
96 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
188 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
249 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 ...
16
votes
8answers
1k views

Why are angelic icons not prominent in Judaism?

I learned that the song Shalom Aleichem is all about welcoming the Shabbat angels, and clearly angels are celebrated in Judaism. However I've noticed that images of angels are not very widespread in ...
3
votes
2answers
526 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
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 ...
5
votes
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 ...
2
votes
2answers
151 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
106 views

What is the correct kavanah when going to war?

I am specifically talking about going to war that is a mitzvah such as the wars fought while conquering Eretz Yisroel in the beginning of the Neviim and the mitzvah we have and will fulfill of ...
1
vote
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 ...
2
votes
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 ...
3
votes
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 ...
3
votes
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 ...
1
vote
3answers
198 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
186 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 ...
-6
votes
2answers
203 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 ...
1
vote
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 ...
0
votes
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 ...
2
votes
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 ...
1
vote
7answers
110 views

Books on the significance of the months in the Jewish calendar

I am looking for books/sefarim (Hebrew or English) that discuss the different months of the Jewish year, and their overall significance in relation to: Zodiac Signs Tribes Chagim Animals ...
6
votes
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 ...
1
vote
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?
1
vote
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 ...
2
votes
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 ...
5
votes
0answers
213 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 ...
5
votes
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
votes
1answer
208 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 ...
1
vote
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 ...
4
votes
2answers
1k 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?
11
votes
2answers
6k views

Are the Jews today still waiting for the Messiah to come?

Are the Jews still today waiting for the promised Messiah to come? If so, then what kind of Messiah are they expecting right now? When do they expect him to come?
5
votes
2answers
90 views

Bitahhon vs. Hishtadlut

In discussing the six constant mitzvot, Jewish Pathways mentions that: "To achieve results, [one must] invest effort. But the materials, circumstances, and ultimate result are all provided by ...
0
votes
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 ...
4
votes
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 ...
10
votes
1answer
206 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
124 views

Why were there no Jewish philosophy tracts until the Rasag?

Jews had their first bump into philosophy when Alexander the Great conquered Israel (in the early Tanaic period). Since then, we lived under the Greeks and Romans for a few hundred years. Both of ...
5
votes
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 ...
1
vote
0answers
42 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
111 views

Is the idea that there is always at least one illness with an unknown cure - a Jewish idea?

I have heard many times that there will always be at least one illness that is uncurable. Is this a Jewish idea? What is its source?
8
votes
2answers
269 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
230 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 ...