Questions about the lives and personalities of Jewish religious authorities.

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7
votes
2answers
189 views

What are the 3 things Rabeinu Gershom banned?

I've heard that Rabeinu Gershom (a 10th-11th century scholar) banned 3 things, and I know one of them is polygamy. Does anyone know what the other two are?
1
vote
1answer
71 views

Where is the Bandits/Teshuvah Midrash?

Rabbeinu Yonah writes (Shaarei Teshuvah 1:2) a parable in the name of "Midrash Koheles" that at first glance makes no sense. I have my own theory about a way to explain it, but I wanted to check what ...
-1
votes
2answers
143 views

Why have great rabbis written of their hard times?

Rambam: And that was a most terrible event as my brother drowned in the Indian Ocean, he had taken such care of me and now I was left alone and bewildered in a strange land. Rabbi Moshe ...
10
votes
2answers
180 views

Why is precedent set by individual rabbis, not courts?

The headline on this obituary for R' Eliyashiv ("A One Man Supreme Court") got me thinking - why do we invest so much power in precedents set by individual rabbis, as great as they may be, but not in ...
10
votes
2answers
161 views

Is it Halachically wrong to avoid the rabbi's sermon?

At some point in our history, the rabbi's Derashah, or sermon, went from being taboo to being so integral to the service that some Shuls have ushers to keep the doors closed at that time so that no ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Which rabbis permit food being kosher just based on the ingredients?

Kosherstarbucks.com give options of what to order based on different halakhic standards. They include the "No Utensils List" (CRC-recommended), the Regular list, and the Kosher by Ingredients list ...
13
votes
4answers
225 views

Who is the voice of Tosafoth?

Tosafoth were the sons-in-law, grandchildren, and students of Rashi (and their students), and "they" wrote a commentary on the Talmud that is often at odds with Rashi's earlier commentary. Sometimes ...
9
votes
2answers
201 views

Why did God give the Rabbis so much power?

The Torah demands that we adhere to the laws implemented by the Rabbis (I think the source is "don't veer from what they tell you to the right or to the left"). This has given the Rabbis far-reaching ...
7
votes
3answers
721 views

Why were some of the works of Rabbi Steinsaltz banned?

Apparently some of the works of Rabbi Steinsaltz were banned. What are the specific examples that prompted the ban? Is there a list of all of his works that have been banned, as I am interested in ...
5
votes
0answers
73 views

On What Subjects Does One Say Birchas HaTorah?

Must one say Birchas Hatorah before learning Aggadata in the Gemara? Biographies like Shem Hagedolim (a biography of various Rabbonim written by the Chida)? Artscroll biographies?
1
vote
1answer
410 views

I suspect I must do something, but don't want to. Must I check into the halacha?

I'm sometimes in a situation where, if I do nothing, I'll benefit. But I suspect Jewish law may actually require me to take action that will prevent the benefit. I'm not sure if I should ask my ...
12
votes
3answers
318 views

Why in judaism - when discussing the Torah - do I see a lot of answers referring to writings of different Rabbis?

Sorry for the simpleness of this question. I've been trying to study the Torah as much as possible. I do not know Hebrew (though I'd truly like to and would appreciate any advice on how to get ...
10
votes
1answer
143 views

When did Ben Azzai die?

Rabbi Shimeon ben Azzai is listed as having died twice, once as part of the 4 who enter "pardes" (chagigah 14b) and again as one of the 10 martyrs. Which of these traditions is correct, or is there a ...
4
votes
1answer
142 views

Rational approaches to superstitious ideas

Can one assume that there is a perfectly rational approach to superstitious ideas? May one go out of one's way to come up with rational approaches if these ideas bother him? My thinking is, ...
10
votes
1answer
176 views

Upon whom would one make this blessing?

Upon whom today would you make the bracha - Baruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech HaOlam She’chalak Mei’chochmaso Li’rei’av, that He bestowed of His wisdom to those who fear Him (Gemara Brachos 58a)? ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Smicha from R' Zalman Nechemia Goldberg?

One often sees that individuals' have smicha from R' Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. The smicha exams are typically considered more theoretical than that of the Israeli rabbinate, which requires more ...
7
votes
1answer
109 views

Why does the Gemara often mention that certain Amoraim were asleep?

I've noticed that in the Gemara you often see a pattern where two people are discussing an issue in front of an Amorah (e.g R' Yirmiyah) while he was asleep. After their discussion he wakes up and ...
9
votes
2answers
123 views

Who was the קדוש מרדוש?

Today, in a shiur, I heard someone quote an opinion of the "קדוש מרדוש" (pronounced "Kadosh Meradoosh", I think). The Bet Yosef in E"HE 35 seems to quote the מרדכי who quotes him, so apparently he's a ...
7
votes
1answer
116 views

How did they establish in the USA, post-WW II, that a Rav had smicha prior to the Holocaust?

This is probably something that happened many times after World War II, when documentation was lost. Here's the scenario: A rabbi, who had led a kehila (congregation) in a small town in ...
15
votes
2answers
283 views

Insults in the gemarah

Why do tanaim and amoraim use disparaging terms (bavlai tipshai, for instance) or insults when talking with one another. If there is something positive to be learned from this behavior why is it no ...
8
votes
1answer
144 views

Unique signature of the Chida

The Chida has a very unique signature. What is the significance of this signature (if any)? Is it in any way related to the seven kabbalistic seals? Are there other similarly unusual signatures by ...
7
votes
2answers
181 views

What are the different [para-]rabbinic roles in the UK?

If you look at the "Our Rabbis" page on the website of the United Kingdom's United Synagogue, you'll find people with the personal titles "Rabbi" or "Reverend," and with the organizational roles ...
5
votes
1answer
401 views

Why did Rabbis stay away from Amei Haaretz?

The Gemara tells Torah scholars that they should not mix with Amei Haaretz, and shouldn't be around them, eat with them, etc. The reason is that the Torah Scholars would learn from their bad ways. ...
6
votes
2answers
113 views

Information about the office of the Chief Rabbi of England

Who determines the Chief Rabbi of England? Is he picked by a general vote of all Shul attendees in Great Brittan? Is he picked by a committee picked by boards of different Shuls? What are his ...
8
votes
1answer
182 views

How does the Rabbanut Harashit work?

Who picks the Chief Rabbi of Israel/Cities? Is it a vote of all citizens/Shuls/Politicians or all of the above? Who picks the lower Dayanim on the Rabbanut Beis Din? Is it the "Chief Rabbi" or some ...
7
votes
3answers
180 views

Semicha and Gneivas Daas

If today's semicha is only an "echo" of the true semicha which ceased with the loss of the sanhedrin then Why do we still give it? Why isn't it gneivas daas (the assumption is that people who have ...
9
votes
1answer
365 views

Are there any Synagogues or Rabbis available in Pakistan?

There was once a very thriving Jewish community available in Pakistan. There was a Synagogue in the port city of Karachi as well till 1985. What is the current situation now? What if someone would ...
5
votes
1answer
62 views

Chafez Chayim checked copies of (which) books?

I've heard that the Chafetz Chayim inspected each page of each printed copy of the Mishna B'rura to be sure that it was printed correctly (with no large ink splotches or the like). Is there a ...
14
votes
5answers
308 views

Rabba bar bar Chana

There is a rabbi in the Talmud referred to as רבה בר בר חנה. Why is he called that way? It says that Rabba was the grandson of Chana. Who was Chana? Was it(?) a woman? Why wasn't he called after his ...
0
votes
1answer
59 views

Respected Haskamot [closed]

Sometimes I find a interesting looking Sefer (I know...I know...don't judge a book by it's cover) and want to take a look at the content. To my surprise, there are many Haskamot (approbations) from ...
2
votes
1answer
327 views

Accurate list of Gedolim [closed]

Wikepedia's list is missing certain Gedolim. Where can I access a list of Gedolim that would be virtually unarguable?
9
votes
1answer
209 views

Why was Rabbi Yitzchok Alfasi known as the Rif - rather than the Ria? (הרי"ף - רבי יצחק אלפסי)

Rabbi Yitzchok Alfasi was known as the Rif. The Roshei Teivos of his name is רי"א, and as far as I know there is no other historic figure known as the רי"א. Then why was he known as the Rif?
8
votes
1answer
463 views

How is a Chabad-Lubavitch synagogue typically owned/governed/directed?

I'm used to an Orthodox Union-type synagogue that has a board, a president, and a rabbi as an employee. How does it work with a Lubavitch shul?
4
votes
2answers
233 views

Sefer Torah Lishma **not** from the Ben Ish Hai?

Yabia Omer vol. 9 Orah Haim sim. 96: גם ראיתי בקובץ "משנת חכמים", (תשרי תש"ס), במאמר מאת הרה"ג עזריאל מנצור (עמוד לה) שכתב, ששאל על זה מאת הרה"ג יעקב מוצפי זצ"ל, ואמר לו, שספר "תורה לשמה" אינו ...
6
votes
1answer
170 views

Was the Tzemach Tzedek related to the Metzudos Tziyon/Dovid? [closed]

The Tzemach Tzedek (of Lubavitch)'s father's name was Shalom Shachna Altshuler. Is he related to the Metzodos Tziyon?
3
votes
1answer
4k views

Difference between the Mishnah, Gemara and the Talmud

As a non-Jew, I would like to know the difference between the Mishnah, Gemara and the Talmud. I understand that the Oral Law was not written down until after the destruction of the second temple. That ...
4
votes
1answer
110 views

List of titles before different Rabbis

It is customary to put many honorific titles before most modern day Rabbis (I've even seen seforim that write Harav Hagaon etc. etc. So-And-So). Many times one sees long lines of adjactives praising ...
2
votes
1answer
167 views

Rif, Rosh, and Rambam about the Techelet

The Petil Techelet company (I believe) makes three types of colored strings: Raavad- 1 full string of blue Tosafot- 2 full strings of blue Rambam- 1/2 string of blue Does the Rif or Rosh mention ...
4
votes
1answer
165 views

Following old Rabbi's Pesak

Let's you asked your old rabbi a question and he answered you, but not let's say you lost contact with him or some other story. Do you still have to follow this pesak or can you change?
4
votes
1answer
240 views

HaGaon HaRav Asher Weiss Shelita and Techelet

Does anyone know if HaRav HaGaon Asher Weiss wears Techelet? Also, why or why not?
3
votes
2answers
223 views

Gedole HaDor: who and how

1)Who do we know to refer to as a "Gadol?" 2)How do we determine who is a "Gadol?" For example, how did we determine that Rav Elyashiv is a Gadol? A Gadol HaDor is known as one of the most ...
7
votes
2answers
146 views

What financial arrangement did Rambam have with his jeweler brother?

I was taught in yeshiva that as a young man, Rambam just studied Torah and was supported by his brother, who was a jewel merchant. Then his brother died at sea, so Rambam became a physician. Recently ...
5
votes
2answers
947 views

List of Techelet Wearers

I was looking online for a list of people famous for deciding or influencing halacha, who currently wear Ptil Techelet Techelet. However I could not find one. Does such a list exist? If not, could ...
2
votes
1answer
78 views

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman said Baruch Shepetarani with Shem UMalchut?

I heard a story about Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auebuch that he said "Baruch Shepetarani" for his son with Shem UMalchut. Does anyone have a source for this story? Usually we only say Baruch ShePetarni ...
15
votes
5answers
456 views

Can we argue with gedolim when we are sure that we are right?

I recently saw a teshuva by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Ohrach Chaim Volume 1 Teshuva 109, that quotes a letter from Rabbi Menashe Klein asking a question on Rabbi Moshe's psak but saying that he does not ...
6
votes
4answers
154 views

Asara Haruge Malchut (Ten Martyrs), why were 10 Rabbis killed?

In Vayigash, Rabenu Bahya (also the Zohar) comments and says that the reason we had Asara Haruge Malchut because the brothers sold Yosef. However, Reuven didn't sell Yosef, so why should the ...
6
votes
1answer
117 views

Receiving Rabbinic smicha from a group

Is it possible for a man to receive his smicha simply from the fact that the Jews of his time all agree he should be a Rabbi? (I know this leaves out the ceremony part of it.) If a man so clearly ...
25
votes
5answers
719 views

How Is It That Rabbis Have Copies of Their Own Responsa?

(I could use some help with tagging.) There are many seforim out there that are the compiled letters or teshuvos of this or that Rabbi. Those that come to mind are "Igros Moshe", from R' Moshe ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Which Hasidic rabbi has no beard, and what is the story?

There is a famous Hasidic rabbi who has no facial hair, and I seem to recall that there is a famous story as to why. But I can remember neither which rabbi (or of which sect), nor the story. I do not ...
7
votes
2answers
239 views

Semicha (ordination) by Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky Zatzal

I have never met anyone or heard of anyone that has received Semicha (rabbinic ordination) from Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky Zatzal. Did Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky ever give anyone Semicha? If the answer is ...