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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (5)

1
vote
3answers
204 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
194 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
209 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
118 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 ...
6
votes
7answers
195 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
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
61 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
227 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
109 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
217 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
115 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
582 views

What does “to confuse the Satan” mean and why does it work?

There are several things we don't do in order "to confuse the Satan", like not blowing Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashana. How does it help? Does Satan not realize that Rosh Hashana didn't pass yet? He ...
4
votes
2answers
2k 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
7k 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
93 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
108 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
209 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
132 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
263 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
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
112 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
292 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
235 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
95 views

Astrology in the Torah

The Torah seems to have many examples where astrology is deemed real. (such as the astrology predictions that Moshe would be struck by water which made Paraoh throw the jewish males in the nile river. ...
10
votes
4answers
372 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?
3
votes
1answer
75 views

Kalam Cosmological Argument

Wikepedia writes: The Kalām cosmological argument is a variation of the cosmological argument that argues for the existence of a first cause for the universe, and the existence of a god. Its ...
4
votes
2answers
267 views

Is believing that God, Israel, and Torah are one Avodah Zarah?

The Zohar said that God, Israel, and Torah are one. I thought Judaism is strictly monotheistic. When Jesus said, "I and the father is one", he was being a heretic. So how come the Zohar includes even ...
5
votes
1answer
155 views

simple faith versus blind faith

There is a view that it is better to avoid studying philosophical works such as the Rambam's guide for the perplexed or the Shaar Yichud from Duties of the Heart. This is based on the idea that Emunah ...
6
votes
1answer
189 views

Jewish views on patriotism/nationalism

I heard a lecture in which a rabbi espoused very negative views against nationalism in a July 4th speech. What are Jewish sources that counter his claim, that is, sources in which the Rabbis/great ...
0
votes
1answer
52 views

Are we destined to be evil?

It seems like from the very first chapters of the Torah, mankind is destined to be evil and transgress the law of God: The very first couple make the only sin they can. The second child the world ...
9
votes
3answers
767 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
89 views

Rambam held of Timtum halev?

There is a famous story of the Rambam in the name of R' Chaim Brisker: "When the Rambam visited Yemen, he met a certain gaon of the geonim of the time. And after the Rambam returned home, this ...
3
votes
1answer
162 views

Importance of learning grammar

What are the traditional Jewish opinions about the importance of learning and speaking Hebrew with proper grammar (dikduk)?
15
votes
1answer
229 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) ...
3
votes
1answer
172 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?
6
votes
3answers
380 views

Was Rambam affected by Islam?

Was Rambam's philosophy affected in any way by Islamic culture or religion? If so, could that influence have influenced his interpretation of halacha? This question is inspired by an ongoing ...
5
votes
4answers
244 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
65 views

Why is Akaidas Yitzchak considered a good thing?

I'm having some difficulty understanding the incident of the Akaida. God tested Avraham by commanding him to take his son as a human sacrifice to see if he would obey even this (Genesis 22). However, ...
1
vote
1answer
79 views

Eavesdropping: permitted or prohibited?

Is there a halachic or hashkafic problem with eavesdropping? Maybe it could be like reading another's mail which Rabenu Gershom made a gezera about.
2
votes
1answer
174 views

Why do some Jewish groups wear a uniform?

My impression of male Chareidi Jews is that they only ever wear a white shirt with a black suit shoes and hat, no tie. I also get the impression that particular other (possibly Chassidic) groups have ...
14
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
405 views

How can I know a rav has daas Torah

I have been privileged to know rabbis of great wisdom and knowledge who could address my issues with unique and helpful insights through the prism of Torah. I always understood them to have "daas ...
0
votes
1answer
144 views

why was technology withheld for so long from man

Why did God withhold the discovery of modern technology from man until recently? what is the reason for this and why does this reason not apply in our era? (according to the shaar bitachon ch.3 God ...
12
votes
2answers
254 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. ...
-1
votes
2answers
230 views

How do those who adovcate chumrah understand this Gemorah (Gitin 55-56)

Because of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, Jerusalem was destroyed. It happened this way: A certain man had a friend named Kamtza and an enemy called Bar Kamtza. He once made a party and said to his ...
4
votes
0answers
92 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, ...
5
votes
3answers
182 views

Why do we say God will be one when we also say He already is?

Aleinu ends with the phrase "on that day God will be one and His name will be one". While we could interpret this to mean that "on that day everybody else will agree with us on this", the plain ...