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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Source in Jewish writings for Moshiach?

What is the source in Jewish writings (Pre-Rambam) that there is a concept of a Moshiach, and his nature?
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227 views

May we genetically engineer stuff?

The possibilities of genetic engineering continue to grow. May a Jewish scientist genetically engineer things?
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125 views

Is there a p'sak when dealing with de'os?

I was wondering if the idea of paskening applies to the de'os area of Torah. As an example there is a machlokes rishonim how to view Chazal's relationship with the science they relied on to pasken ...
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241 views

Following 'the spirit of the law' vs 'the letter of the law'

My question has several parts, and I'd love to hear your thoughts for all parts: What are the responsibilities of a Jew regarding the following of laws in general? Is it permissable to follow the ...
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243 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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63 views

Why does the Rambam require repentance, and not just more good deeds, before Yom Kippur?

The Rambam says if someone's virtues-vs-sins balance is even as of Rosh Hashanah, their verdict happens on yom kippur. If they did teshuva in those ten days, they get a pass; if not, they don't. ...
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184 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 ...
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176 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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106 views

What is the benefit of humroth?

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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237 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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149 views

If someone doesn't believe in the Gemara, is he a heretic?

If someone says "I believe that the Mishnayos/Braisos/Toseftas are accurate, but I think that the Gemara made mistakes and has no holiness. Is such philosophy heresy? What about someone who argues ...
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108 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?
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All ramifications of “Lo BaShamayim Hi” [closed]

What are all the ramifications of "Lo BaShamayim Hi"?
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170 views

Maimonides and the Allegory of the Cave

Does Maimonides ever refer to the Allegory of the Cave from Plato's The Republic?
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101 views

Ideology of R' S. R. Hirsch

Perhaps someone can summarize the idea of "Torah im Derech Eretz" as endorsed by R' Samson Raphael Hirsch.
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96 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 ...
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148 views

Why make a bracha on an earthquake but not on an eclipse?

According to this page, Chaza"l intentionally omitted solar and lunar eclipses from the list of natural phenomena upon which we make a bracha. The following explanation is given: "The Hebrew term ...
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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 ...
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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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101 views

Is “You Shall Choose Life” ever interpreted literally?

Inspired by Did people ever place actual physical stumbling blocks before the blind? In Devarim 30:19, we are told by G-d to "choose life": This day, I call upon the heaven and the earth as ...
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“Think about love for fellow Jews before praying” - source?

At the risk of being a guessing-game, I thought I'd read that before starting prayers (the beginning? The Amida?), one should take a minute to think about love for fellow Jews. Any source for this?
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Since G-d is Omnipotent Why Does He Need Our Prayers?

What are some good answers to the Question if God is all powerfull what does he need our Prayers for? I would appreciate as many answers as possibile
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219 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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Does God benefit from our keeping of the Mitzvos?

Does Hashem benefit from mankind doing the commandments of the Torah?
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Holiness in Intimacy

My understanding of one functionality of blessings is that they help one to take a moment and focus one's intent on the Creator and on one's higher purpose. This idea is especially poignant when one ...
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237 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 ...
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463 views

Bad Jew or Good Gentile?

Whom does Hashem love more: Gentiles who love Jewish people and Israel or Jews who are against Jewish people and Israel?
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Asking From Angels Borchuni Lshalom

Jews usaly do not ask angels for help as per the RAMBAM. He writes (in Sanhedrin, Perek 11) in the fifth Yesod ha'Emunah the prohibition against serving Avodah Zarah -- that not only should a person ...
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How can two contradictory ideas exist in Matzah?

מצה embodies two ideas: poor man’s bread (slavery) and free man’s bread (the bread that made in haste when they left Egypt). These ideas seem to contradict one another; how can they both exist in one ...
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130 views

Bride and Groom: King and Queen?

I was at a wedding recently where a Rabbi spoke under the Chuppah and said that a groom is like a king and a bride is like a queen. I have heard these sayings a num er of times in the past. What is ...
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Why do Teshuvah for an accidental חטא (sin)?

Why am I obligated to do Teshuvah if I do a חטא (sin) accidentally, according to Rambam (Hilchot Teshuva 1:1)? What am I doing Teshuvah for?
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64 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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113 views

What are the most important writings of Rav Kook for Emunah and Hashkafah?

I would like to return to learn some of the writings of Rav Kook in order to improve my Hashkafah and Emunah. In the past I attended an Israeli "dati leumi" yeshiva where i learnt a bit of them, but ...
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71 views

Tsnius for Women : Talmud Torah for Men

I have heard the idea that the concept of tsnius, or modesty, for women is equivalent to the command of Torah study for men. Once, I overheard this in a conversation between two men, one of whom I ...
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85 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 ...
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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 ...
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75 views

Mamzer honoring his father - why wouldn't he?

The Shulhan 'Aruch (240:18) writes that a Mamzer has an obligation to honor his father. Why might I think otherwise?
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152 views

What are the three impure klippot?

Kabbalah and Chassidus discuss the "three impure klippot" and Klippos Noga. What is the difference between each of these three klippos?
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54 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 ...
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86 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 ...
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231 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 ...
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137 views

Guaranteed olam haba?

Certain practices such as learning halachot daily or reciting ashrei three times a day are supposed to guarantee a person a place in olam haba. How exactly does this work? Can a person be an evil ...
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57 views

Does God's providence extend to all people or only righteous people?

Does God's providence (Hashgacha Pratit) extend to all people? to all individuals of the nation of Israel? or only to righteous people (צדיקים)?
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209 views

Does G-d approve or merely permit human consumption of meat?

Many vegetarians and vegans argue that G-d gave humans permission to eat meat only because of a human failing in abstaining anyway. My takeaway from that argument is that, in light of a more ...
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153 views

Importance of learning grammar

What are the traditional Jewish opinions about the importance of learning and speaking Hebrew with proper grammar (dikduk)?
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113 views

Will there be free will and a purpose to doing good in the messianic era?

I recently saw this question in the new Christianity stack exchange site, and it reminded me of a question I meant to ask as a follow-up to this question. With the assumption that evil exists so that ...
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How do you understand the Rambam on Free choice in Teshuvah 5:5?

What is the Rambam really bothered by in Teshuvah 5:5? רמב"ם הלכות תשובה פרק ה הלכה ה שמא תאמר והלא הקב"ה יודע כל מה שיהיה וקודם שיהיה ידע שזה יהיה צדיק או רשע או לא ידע, אם ידע שהוא יהיה צדיק אי ...
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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 ...
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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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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 ...