Questions about the lives and personalities of Jewish religious authorities.

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31
votes
9answers
2k 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 ...
14
votes
13answers
1k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
329 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?
40
votes
7answers
820 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
226 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
445 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?
12
votes
4answers
728 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 ...
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 ...
17
votes
5answers
492 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
253 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?
-3
votes
4answers
224 views

Why does Halacha not follow the simple reading of the Biblical text?

There are many Halachot which appear to contradict explicit Biblical statements. For example, that an "Eye for an Eye" means monetary compensation. Why does Halacha not follow the simple reading of ...
9
votes
2answers
371 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
428 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 ...
28
votes
21answers
1k views

About what were rabbis ahead of the times?

I have heard claims that experts in the world of Torah were significantly ahead of their counterparts in the world of natural science (or mathematics, or psychology, or…) in that they knew X ...
7
votes
2answers
300 views

Where can I find responses to biblical criticism?

Where can I find well documented source material by strictly orthodox Rabbis or scholars which directly address most (or all) of the major themes of academic biblical criticism such as, but not ...
6
votes
3answers
325 views

What is the status of the psak of a Maharat?

If an orthodox male Rabbi bestows semicha on a woman (dubbed Maharat), what is the status of her halachic decisions? This question is irrespective of whether or not the male Rabbi should confer ...
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?
5
votes
3answers
208 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
138 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
686 views

What was Rabbi Judah ben Samuel's method for predicting the Beginning of Messianic Times?

John Hagee said this on a recent program and in his book The 4 Blood Moons (chapter 16): Rabbi Judah heHasid – “In the ninth jubilee Jerusalem will once again come back into the possession of ...
17
votes
7answers
338 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?" ...
7
votes
3answers
723 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
246 views

Examples of Rabbis who had strong disagreements and were amicable

I'm looking for examples of Rabbis who had a serious disagreement and were nevertheless very kind and thoughtful towards each other. The main reason I'm asking for examples is to illustrate what a ...
6
votes
3answers
120 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
275 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. ...
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
1answer
267 views

Speaking to a Rabbi in the Third Person

Is there a source for requiring one to refer to his Rabbi in the third person and not referring to a rabbi in the second person (i.e. "you")? I can not recall any reference to this requirement in ...
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
181 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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
1answer
420 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
769 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
506 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
952 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
253 views

What is the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah?

I've heard many things about this "Great Assembly," mostly about how they established davening (prayers). However, there appears to be a lack of specific information about this institution. So: ...
3
votes
2answers
66 views

Why do we reject Rabbi Chiya's opinion?

The Gemara says (in Yevamos 42b-43a as well as other places) that "וכי רבי לא שנאה ר' חייא מנין לו". In context of Yevamos, it means that if there is an argument in a Mishna and a Stam in a Braisa, we ...
1
vote
0answers
122 views

Pictures of rabbis in the living room

Are there any poskim prohibiting hanging Pictures of Rabbis in ones house? Lots of people do it but I never understood why this is not prohibited due to too much kavod for human being, which is close ...
1
vote
3answers
229 views

Are gedolei Yisroel fallible?

Is there a source to assert that the leaders of the Jewish people at any given time are always correct in how they lead (perhaps because their decisions are divinely inspired), or is it possible to ...
1
vote
0answers
97 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 ...
22
votes
6answers
738 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
645 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Why are challenges to respected rabbis not treated seriously?

Say someone disagrees with the Chazon Ish or has a problem with the Aruch HaShulchan in a particular halachic area. Sure, they're no gadol, and they might have not even learned an extensive volume of ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

Is this the Chofetz Chaim?

What is the story behind this picture being known as the image of the great Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan(Chafetz Chaim)? Is it him in fact? Where does it come from? The only true picture (that I am ...
15
votes
2answers
285 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 ...
13
votes
9answers
749 views

What to call the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe

Often times a few different rebbes are mentioned (either previous Chabad rebbes or rebbes of other Chasudusim) in the same talk and then the word "The Rebbe" comes in and it's ambiguous. I have heard ...
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
160 views

Napoléon's Sanhedrin

In 1806, Napoléon Bonaparte convened a synod of French rabbinim (mainly Alsatiens and Bordelais) to ascertain halachic opinions on a set of questions. What is the halachic standing of this synod's ...
8
votes
1answer
138 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, ...