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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Belief in midrashim

The ramban in sefer havikuach asserts with regard to medrash " mi shemaamin bo tov, mi shelo maamin bo lo yazik" whoever believes in it, good, he who does not believe it, will not be harmed. Are ...
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563 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 ...
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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 ...
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202 views

How to define success in life?

What defines success in life (in a Jewish outlook)?
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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 ...
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224 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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215 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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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 ...
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443 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 ...
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151 views

Why does the 5th verse of “Yigdal”, not mention prayer as does the 5th principle of faith of the Rambam?

The piyyut, “Yigdal”, seems to put the 13 principles of faith of the Rambam in poetic form. With number 5, the author of Yigdal seems to have made a slightly different point to the Rambam by leaving ...
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351 views

Why does the belief in Mashiach require that one be anxious for his coming?

The question of why belief in Mashiach should be a fundamental belief (an ikkar/yesod of Judaism of the Rambam's 13) is asked here, and I answered it myself here. However, when it comes to this ...
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661 views

Which 20th-century Rosh Yeshiva studied under the mysterious Monsieur Chouchani?

Monsieur Chouchani was a mysterious figure who travelled around post-World War II and taught several great Jewish thinkers, including Emmanuel Levinas z"l and [yibadel l'chayim] Elie Wiesel. ...
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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, ...
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78 views

Tefilla: how to develop the habit of prayer?

This is a simple question, but still a struggle: how to develop the habit of prayer and, most important, how to like it? There was a time I used to say both shacharis and mincha prayers, sometimes ...
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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 ...
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154 views

The silence of the Rabbis — Should they have defended Bar Kamtza?

In Gittin 55b-56a, we read that a fellow named Bar Kamtza was humiliated by a host of a party in public view of all, including the rabbis. Bar Kamtza received an invitation to the party by mistake, ...
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272 views

Does the president of the USA have free will?

I don't remember where but I saw a chazal that states something to the effect of "the (non-Jewish) leaders of the world do not have free will". I would appreciate someone editing to source this. So I ...
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172 views

The concept of the “Tzadik” in Chasidut

I've recently started to learn about Breslev Chasidut and was amazed by many great advices of Rabbi Nachman zt'l but I am very confused to read things about the so called Tzadik of the Generation e.g. ...
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206 views

Fasting for non Religious Reasons?

I was recently asked to fast as a part of a multi-faith community fast as spiritual preparation for doing voter engagement work (I work for a multi-faith, multi-ethnic community organization.) Here ...
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וְהִתְקִין לוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ בִּנְיַן עֲדֵי עַד Is the translation of מִמֶּנּוּ **His** very self or his very self?

The Koren Sacks siddur translates the 4th of the 7 wedding blessings as: אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶת הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ, בְּצֶלֶם דְּמוּת תַּבְנִיתוֹ, וְהִתְקִין לוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ בִּנְיַן עֲדֵי עַד: who ...
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Would they have died anyway?

I preface my question by noting that this question can be uncomfortable to some people, but hope that this great community can answer it Take any tragic event where people died, be it 9/11 or the ...
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112 views

How to go about finding a personal Rav

The mishna in Avot (1:6) tells us: יהושוע בן פרחיה וניתאי הארבלי קיבלו מהם. יהושוע בן פרחיה אומר, עשה לך רב, וקנה לך חבר; והוי דן את כל האדם לכף זכות When living in different areas I have gone ...
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166 views

What is the need for angels?

Why did G-d create angels to assign them specific tasks (Bava Metzia 86b)? Since G-d is omnipotent, what is the need for angels -- why doesn't He perform these tasks directly?
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124 views

Animal rights vs other considerations in halacha and hashkafa

On a boat, Reuven owns five ostriches and one of them eats a diamond off of Shimon's hat which is on his head. Though we are not sure which one ate it we know with certainty that one of them did. ...
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159 views

The Necessity of 12 Tribes

Why was it necessary for there to be 12 tribes, with different portions of Israel given to each? The Midrash even states that when the sea split, there were 12 separate paths for each tribe (Pirkei d'...
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313 views

Does Orthodox Judaism have a generally held position on American politics? [closed]

The Pew Research Study on Jewish Americans says in part: On these measures (partisanship and ideology), the only other U.S. religious groups that are as conservative and Republican as Orthodox ...
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154 views

Can you pray something that isn't true or (at least) that the petitioner doesn't believe to be true?

In the Aruch HaShulchan OH 581:4, he writes regarding the selichos we recite before Rosh HaShanah: האחת: דאלו שאינם מתענים, ובהסליחה מוזכר לשון "תענית" או "צום" – לא יאמרו זה, דלא ליהוי כדובר שקרים. ...
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Does demolition of terrorists' homes have any basis in Judaism?

Israel is currently implementing a policy of demolishing the homes of terrorists, even after they have been 'eliminated', as a deterrent to others. Is this kind of action OK, according to halacha + ...
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162 views

What is the purpose of t'chias hamasim?

Given the following: (note please feel free to argue with any of these premises, but please also cite a source) t'chias hamasim will only occur for the righteous the righteous who are currently dead ...
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The meaning of Tzadik

I am having difficulty in understand the meaning of Tzadik. Maimonides says "One whose merit surpasses his iniquity is a tzadik". I have trouble in understanding this sentence. Can someone explain the ...
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620 views

Why a human Messiah?

I understand that Mashiach is going to be a human. What is the source for this, and are there any explanations why it must be so? Can't G-d Himself redeem us?
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Where is it taught that Hashem doesn't give a person test that he can't overcome?

I heard various rabbonim say that Hashem doesn't give a person test that he can't overcome. Where is the source for this?
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182 views

How can people effectively bless when blessing is God's domain?

How do people have the power to bless? Yitzchak's blessings for his sons pretty much came true, and similarly later when Yaakov blesses his children and earlier (in the inverse) Noach curses Canaan. ...
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190 views

Commemorating Death

What are some sources about when it is appropriate - if ever - to celebrate the death of an enemy? My question is inspired by last night's news of the death of Osama Bin Laden, naturally, as well as ...
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364 views

Will money fall from the sky if you pray for it?

If you daven for a parnasah and then just sit back will money come to you?
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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 ...
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227 views

Good inclination or evil inclination in the womb?

The Posuk says: ויתרוצצו הבנים בקרבה (בראשית כה, כב)‏ To which Rashi comments: כשהיתה עוברת על פתחי תורה של שם ועבר יעקב רץ ומפרכס לצאת, וכשהיתה עוברת על פתחי עבודה זרה עשיו מפרכס לצאת ...
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If the odds are against you in life (Bais Shammai's opinion), why did G-d bother?

I'm asking this question only because I recall hearing an answer, but unfortunately I don't remember the answer, or from which rabbi. Help me please? Mesilas Yesharim says G-d made creation out of ...
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458 views

Hashem is here and there and everywhere?

Is Hashem really in front of us, behind us, next to us, etc?
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287 views

Hyperbole in the Gemara?

There are many times where the Gemara says that someone who does something is equivalent to one who is "kofer b'kol" or killing someone (for example regarding lashon harah in Erchin 15b I have always ...
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392 views

Why does evil exist?

I realize this is a very common question, but the problem of evil is an important one, and as far as I can tell, has not been asked here. In short, why does G-d allow evil to exist?
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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 ...
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346 views

Why did God allow slavery?

How could a kind GxD allow his people to use slavery on their weaker contemporaries and neighbours and yet be so strict with other requirements.
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No More Zechuth Avoth?

The Gemara (Bab. Shab. 55a) discusses when Zechuth Avoth ceased. I am aware of several opinions in Tosafoth that it ended for wicked people, or it ended for everyone but the very righteous or it ended ...
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Talking to objects and Avoda Zara

This question inspired by This question here at programmers.se There is a concept in some programing circles called "Rubber Ducking", where one expresses a problem to a rubber ducky and through that ...
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414 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.
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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 ...
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497 views

What does “servant of G-d” mean?

The mussar texts are replete with the idea that we should be servants of God, and the first paragraph of the shema itself says "and you shall love your god with all your heart and all your might." So ...
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371 views

What was the value of the Rishonim's philosophical inquiries about God and the world?

Many Rishonim used the philosophy of their time or previous times to 'prove' God's existence and/or learn about the nature of the world. 1- Why did they do this? (Is there a mitzvah to use ...
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If Lev Melech B'yad Hashem, why bother voting?

We have a concept in Jewish thought that rulers do not have free will concerning public affairs, based on the verse in Mishlei 21:1 'לב מלך ביד ה, the heart of a king is in the hand of Hashem (See ...