Questions about the lives and personalities of Jewish religious authorities.

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24
votes
8answers
1k views

Why is it necessary to ask a Rabbi?

In various places on this site, including the FAQ, we have the following disclaimer: Like Wikipedia, this site makes no guarantee of validity, and does not offer professional (particularly ...
12
votes
12answers
753 views

Reliable Ask-a-Rabbi Websites

There are some times on this site where questioners will be directed to "ask their Rabbi." While it's always optimal to have such people discuss the question with their own Rabbi (and such action ...
12
votes
4answers
613 views

The Ability to Pasken

What gives someone the ability to Pasken? At what point do we say that he is knowledgeable enough to decide questions on a topic? Does this have to do with "Semicha"? Does it have to do with being a ...
12
votes
4answers
197 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
263 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?
15
votes
6answers
393 views

G'dolim or Rabbis Owning Pets

Are there any g'dolim (or rabbis of major influence) - past or present - who are known to have owned pets/kept animals for non-agricultural purposes?
8
votes
3answers
240 views

Meforshim Nick"names

It has become common practice to refer to most meforshim by acronyms of their name (eg Rashi, Rosh, etc.). When and why did this practice start, and is it proper?
34
votes
7answers
631 views

Did any Achronim comment on the American Revolutionary or Civil Wars?

I've heard that for instance, in the 1800s, the American rabbis in the South were pro-slavery, and the American rabbis in the North opposed to it. But what were the views towards America of the ...
12
votes
5answers
365 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
316 views

מרדכי = Mord'chi?

When learning with Jews of the Syrian community, I noticed that they pronounced מרדכי (the name of the halachic commentary on the g'mara) as "mord'chi", as if the final vowel were a chirik. Why is ...
5
votes
1answer
297 views

What forms of evidence do batei din accept to establish that someone is Jewish?

I am interested in the question, what forms of evidence do contemporary Orthodox batei din accept to establish that someone is Jewish? In particular, if you, your parents and grand-parents are ...
4
votes
1answer
121 views

Why refer to Isaac Luria as the Arizal, and not Arizatzal?

One of the common ways to refer to the R' Isaac Luria is "the Arizal". I understand this to mean, The Ari, zecher L'bracha (may he be mentioned/remembered for blessing). However, one usually refers ...
2
votes
2answers
161 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
234 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. ...
9
votes
1answer
162 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)? ...
8
votes
2answers
183 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
160 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
154 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?
5
votes
2answers
377 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
472 views

Do Rabbis have to be Jewish by ethnicity?

I am under the impression that a person can be received into Judaism from a gentile nation. My question is whether or not that person could conceivably then become a Rabbi? Please indicate whether ...
1
vote
0answers
83 views

Where can I find family history of Shalom Shachna Altshuler? [closed]

I'm looking for history about Shalom Shachna Altshuler, the father of the tzemach tzedek (Menachem Mendel Schneerson), and his family afterwards till now. Your help would be greatly appreciated in ...
21
votes
6answers
582 views

Looking for more information about a story of positive atheism/heresy

In a 2006 article (original link no longer available), Rabbi Jonathan Sacks tells the following story: “DO YOU believe,” the disciple asked the rabbi, “that God created everything for a purpose?” ...
11
votes
2answers
557 views

Origins of איל משולש and Vilna Ga'on's bathroom math

There is a well-known fact that the Vilna Ga'on studied math while in the bathroom since Torah was out of the question in an unclean place. It is also somewhat well-known that he produced the material ...
12
votes
6answers
243 views

Am I allowed to answer my friend's Halacha question?

Preface: Assume I am not an ordained Rabbi. Suppose I'm having lunch with my friend and he asks me "do I have to say a bracha on this dessert?" or "when's the last time I could daven mincha today?" ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

Why did nobody succeed the Lubavitcher Rebbe?

The late Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l had no successor as the rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. Why is this? Was it simply because he had no children? If so, why was nobody else ...
7
votes
2answers
198 views

Which Amora is mentioned most often in the Gemara?

Which Amora is mentioned most often throughout Talmud Bavli?
7
votes
2answers
258 views

Do “most leading Orthodox rabbis” really hold that brain-stem death is death?

According to a recent NYTimes piece on the new organ donation law in Israel, Most leading Orthodox rabbis -- as well as Israeli law -- agree that a person dies when his brain-stem stops ...
5
votes
1answer
363 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. ...
-2
votes
2answers
665 views

Why does someone wanting to get married need to show an Orthodox ketubah from a maternal ancestor?

My friend is due to get married soon and has been asked by her Orthodox Rabbi to provide proof that she is jewish by showing that she is descended from jews. She doesn't have her parents Ketubah so ...
-2
votes
1answer
370 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 ...
8
votes
0answers
107 views

Who wrote the anonymous explanations of Rashi printed within the text of Rashi?

Who wrote the anonymous explanations of Rashi printed within the text of Rashi? Sometimes when reading Rashi's commentary on the Torah one finds comments in parentheses that say things such as: ס"א, ...
8
votes
1answer
138 views

Baal haTanya's donning shel yad seated

I have heard that the baal haTanya put on his t'fila shel yad while seated (as S'faradim do). Does anyone have a source for this (or for the opposite: that he put on his shel yad standing)? If he ...
7
votes
2answers
162 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?
7
votes
1answer
257 views

Was Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ever formally ordained? (Given semicha?)

Did Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ever formally receive semicha? From whom? I recall reading that he studied a great deal with his father, and that his first responsum was written "at his father's orders."
6
votes
2answers
112 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
134 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
74 views

Consulting a local orthodox rabbi if there isn't one?

For questions where I'm supposed to consult my local orthodox rabbi, if there isn't one, what am I supposed to do? There is a LOR in the city where I live (a Chabad shliach) but he frequently declares ...
5
votes
1answer
90 views

Chazon Ish and Medicine

I have recently studied the Chazon Ish's work Emunah U'Vitachon and in the opening pages, the Chazon Ish displays a vast knowledge of human anatomy. Also, the Chazon Ish successfully mapped out a plan ...
5
votes
3answers
159 views

What sages were known to have revived the dead?

The Talmud speaks of several rabbis who successfully appealed to G-d to revive a deceased colleague or some other individual. As I recall, one revived rabbi asked to be return to the world of the ...
5
votes
2answers
823 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
190 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
156 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
2answers
474 views

Rav Yaakov Moshe Hillel and wearing tzitzios out

Does someone know anything about Rav Yaakov Moshe Hillel shlita hamekubal stating that tzitzios should be worn outside the clothes? I read it once but without any sources on a web forum. It would be ...
4
votes
2answers
127 views

Measurements used in Halacha

What is the underlying argument between the Chazon Ish and Rabbi Chaim Naaeh and Reb Moshe Feinstein? I know they argue in amounts, but what is the underlying argument? How did each get the ...
4
votes
3answers
596 views

Reb Moshe Feinstein in the New York Times

Reb Moshe Feinstein was once interviewed by the New York Times where he answered questions like how does Klal Yisroel know who is a Gadol? Does anyone know when it was, and does anyone know where I ...
4
votes
2answers
876 views

Chazon Ish neurosurgery diagram

There is a well-known story about the Chazon Ish, where someone who was scheduled to undergo a neurosurgical procedure came to him for advice, and the Chazon Ish drew a diagram for the surgeon ...
3
votes
1answer
68 views

What to present to the rabbi

My friend is going to meet rabbi, to talk about house management, and she wants to bring some present to him. What you would present to the rabbi, and what you should not to? Please explain why.
3
votes
2answers
152 views

Origin of the Escalator analogy

What is the origin of the escalator analogy of always striving for growth? I'm referring to the analogy that, in life, like a person climbing a downward escalator, if one is not constantly striving ...
3
votes
3answers
184 views

How to say Adonainu Moreinu VeRabeinu in Aramaic

I have heard people translate "Adoneinu Moreinu VeRabeinu" (please don't ask where) into Aramaic as "Adonana Morana Verabana". I assume that the "a" is an aleph at the end. However, I realized that ...
3
votes
1answer
103 views

Is there such a thing as dispassionate p'sak?

(Inspired by http://mi.yodeya.com/questions/6008/psak-halacha-by-ai) Much is made of the need for poskim to be well-experienced people who have been involved in a number and variety of Jewish ...