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22
votes
8answers
1k views

Bereishit vs. science

How does Judaism deal with the differences between scientific evidence of the beginning of the world and the account(s) in Bereishit?
22
votes
5answers
511 views

Why do Jews physically resemble members of their “host” nationalities?

Why do Jews often so closely resemble the members of the nationalities amongst whom they have been living for only a few hundred years? How do features spread through such an exclusive population so ...
20
votes
17answers
953 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 ...
18
votes
7answers
719 views

Why the vast difference of opinion about the age of the Universe?

5770 and 13,000,000,000 is a big difference! I am looking for a good explanation to the difference opinion of the age of the universe. Please help me out!
18
votes
3answers
659 views

Premature birth contradicting science

I am a teacher at a private all-girls Jewish high school. There are two science teachers in the school, and both of us are Christian. I was talking with my fellow science teacher recently, and she ...
18
votes
4answers
677 views

Does artificial meat grown in a petri dish have the halachic status of meat?

Scientists are developing means of growing artificial meat in a petri dish. Does such 'meat' have the halachic status of meat? Source: ...
18
votes
2answers
349 views

Mushrooms in a Vineyard

The bracha on a mushroom is "shehakol" because the Talmud (Berachot 40b) correctly (I think) states that mushrooms do not derive their nutrients from the ground. If a mushroom is growing in a ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

Time Travel and Judaism

Has time travel ever been discussed before in terms of Judaism? According to Judaism would (should) it be possible to travel through time?
14
votes
8answers
651 views

Reconciling the evidence for the Uncertainty Principle with belief in an omniscient G-d

One of the foundations of modern quantum mechanics is the Uncertainty Principle. This principle is not an assumption, but rather is derived from assumptions made with regard to the structure of ...
14
votes
7answers
434 views

why half-believe the Torah?

(I'm not sure this is on-topic, and feel free to close it if it's not, of course.) I understand some who study the Bible claim natural reasons for things we recognize as miracles, from the plagues of ...
14
votes
3answers
338 views

Let there be light! But from where?

According to Genesis 1:3, "And G-d said, Let there be light; and there was light." What light is the Torah referring to if the sun which produces light by day was created only on the 4th day of ...
13
votes
1answer
211 views

Who knows science?

On whom does one recite the blessing "ברכת שנתן מחכמתו לבשר ודם" (the blessing recited on non-Jewish scientists)? Does he have to be a Ph.D? Does he have to have inventions to his name? Did he have ...
12
votes
1answer
420 views

Does a finding of Jewish blood in a DNA test make one Jewish?

I had a DNA test done and the results say that my DNA is group with Sephardic Jews. My last name is Steen and I have always heard that we were of Dutch ancestry and I do genealogy and have not found ...
12
votes
1answer
144 views

In what way are mushrooms considered “non-nutritive”?

The Mishnah (Eruvin 26b) states that water and salt can't be used as the food for eruv chatzeiros or eruv techumin (thus Rashi; according to Tosafos only the latter). Rashi explains that this is ...
11
votes
3answers
427 views

Time dilation and waiting between meat and milk

Suppose Ploni eats some meat. He then gets in a spaceship and accelerates to some significant percentage of the speed of light for a short trip into outer space, and then returns home. At the time ...
11
votes
2answers
599 views

Can an Alien convert to Judaism?

Suppose we one day find an extraterrestrial walking on our planet that originated from another planet. The alien quickly learns all about religion and now wants to become a Jew. Do we let him? ...
11
votes
3answers
287 views

Would a genetically engineered red heifer be usable?

Assuming that a non-Jew chose to create a genetically engineered parah adumah (red heifer) and further assuming it met all the halachic requirements --no two black hairs, hadn't been used for work ...
10
votes
6answers
282 views

Does the colouring of animals depend on what the mother sees before conception?

What is the meaning of the hishtadlus that Yaakov made with the conception of the animals starting at 30 (37)? Is it or was it a natural thing that the colouring of animals depends on what their ...
10
votes
4answers
569 views

How to reconcile Biblical Flood story vs science and history?

Genesis spends a good deal of time -- Chapters 6 through 11 -- discussing the "mabul mayim", a flood that killed all humanity outside the ark. Here is what the Torah's text says about the universality ...
10
votes
2answers
299 views

Kosherizing Water using Distillation

Suppose I have water that was cooked with non-kosher food. I then take the water and distill it. Would this water be considered permissible to drink?
10
votes
1answer
183 views

What is the “Kos Shel Ikrin,” a potion that renders one infertile?

The Talmud discusses the "Kos Shel Ikrin" (Cup of the Barren, or Cup of Roots), a potion that rendered a woman or man infertile. The recipe for this potion is on record in tractate Shabbos and there ...
9
votes
6answers
527 views

Can halacha change based on scientific research?

Shabbat 39a says: "With regard to heating food in the sun itself, everyone agreed that one is permitted to place food in the sun to heat it, as it is certainly neither fire nor a typical form of ...
9
votes
2answers
221 views

Cryonics in Judaism

I was recently reading an article about cryogenics, there are around 200 bodies frozen in cryogenics labs around the world, and in the article they said that in the near future they may be able to ...
9
votes
3answers
249 views

How do scientists such as Natan Aviezer and Gerald Schroeder understand the fourth day of creation?

If I understand correctly, scientists such as Natan Aviezer and Gerald Schroeder have readings of Genesis Chapter 1 that fit with the current scientific understanding of how the universe/planet/life ...
8
votes
6answers
457 views

Rationalist Position on Bible Ancients' Long Lives

How would a rationalist interpret the long lives of the ancient people enumerated in the Bible, from Methuselah on down? Virtually no person lives more than 120 years today, even with the assistance ...
8
votes
4answers
334 views

Would synthesized meat be Kosher?

Scientists are preparing synthesized meat for human consumption. See here for a excerpt, and two articles here and here. My question is: Would this meat be considered Kosher? Might it depend on the ...
8
votes
3answers
543 views

Why does the Talmud assume a woman cannot get pregnant on the first act of intercourse?

There is a rule in the Gemara (Yevamot 34a) that אין אשה מתעברת בביאה ראשונה. The question is why the Talmud assumes that a virgin cannot conceive on her first act of sexual intercourse if the hymen ...
8
votes
1answer
286 views

Retention of urine causing infertility?

In several places in the Gemara (Yevamos 64b, Bechoros 44b) it is stated that holding back urine for an extended period can cause a man to become infertile. In the latter place the Gemara gives a ...
7
votes
3answers
147 views

Animals sixth sense

It seems that there is evidence that animals possess a sixth sense, such as in their fleeing from the area struck by the huge tsunami of 2005 well before the earthquake which triggered it occurred. Is ...
7
votes
1answer
300 views

What are some understandings as to how animals populated different continents after the flood?

What are some understandings as to how animals populated different continents after the flood? Did some species of animals survive the flood? Or are we to understand that the flood only affected the ...
7
votes
1answer
113 views

Is the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly mentioned anywhere in Rabbinic literature?

My late great grandfather was a torah scholar, but with all his learning, he never knew that a caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly. He was amazed when someone told him about the common ...
7
votes
2answers
404 views

In light of modern science, why is bee honey still kosher?

My understanding of why bee honey is kosher is because the talmud says that the honey is not a by-product of the bees. They simply store the nectar in their body to transfer it and then expel it, ...
7
votes
3answers
262 views

Is olive oil unhealthy?

The Gemara in Brachot 35b says that the proper bracha on pure olive oil is "Borei Peri HaEtz". However, it says that this refers to when you mixed the oil with some אניגרון which Prof Marcus Jastrow ...
7
votes
4answers
336 views

How does salt “add heat” (mishna in Shabbos 4(1))

The mishna in Shabbos 4(1) tells us which materials may not be used to insulate foods for Shabbos because they "add heat". One of these materials is salt. Can anyone explain how salt can add heat ...
7
votes
1answer
236 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
162 views

Shofar from an extinct animal

After paying a trip to the Natural History Museum in London I found myself wondering... would it be allowed (to any extent) to use a shofar of an animal that has kosher simanim but is extinct? There ...
7
votes
1answer
210 views

Mission to Mars: halachic challenges

There is talk in the scientific community of a manned Mars mission: sending an elderly couple to slingshot past Mars and return to Earth as a trial mission, toward eventual other missions that will ...
6
votes
1answer
161 views

What does Maimonides say about geocentrism?

I have read that Maimonides described the universe in a geocentric fashion, but I have not been able to find the specific passages to which they refer. What does Maimonides say about geocentrism?
6
votes
1answer
86 views

Cultured Beef and the 7 Laws of Noah

I know there have been questions on whether lab meat would be Kosher or not, halavi or besari... I see another potential debate. According to http://culturedbeef.net/what-is-it/, "Cultured Beef is ...
6
votes
2answers
151 views

What does Judaism have to say about the origin of elements?

What does Judaism have to say about the origin of the elements? I mean chemical elements like hydrogen, oxygen, gold, sulfur, etc. Is this discussed at all?
6
votes
1answer
154 views

What is “blood that moved from one place to another”?

I'm learning laws of salting in the Shulchan Aruch. One concept I'm battling to understand is "דם שפירש ממקום למקום" - blood that moved from one place to another. Here's a good example of my ...
5
votes
1answer
217 views

Do those who practice family purity get cervical cancer less?

Is there a good study which shows that those who practice family purity get cervical cancer far less? Not just comparing Orthodox women to other groups, but amongst Jews? And is conclusive.
5
votes
3answers
240 views

Would time travel be assur/mutar?

Inspired by this question which the author states is not a question of issur/heter. Assuming time travel is possible (to the future or past) is there any reason it should be assur?
5
votes
2answers
169 views

Science of the Rishonim on “celestial spheres”

In the writings of the Rishonim, it is not uncommon to see explanations of pesukim or of aggadic concepts using the "celestial spheres" model of the universe. The Rambam in particular uses the idea ...
5
votes
2answers
136 views

How to determine what a “normal wind” would do to a sukka

What a "normal wind" ("ruach metzuya") would do affects various laws of sukka construction. For example, in this guide from the Star-K to using sechach mats, they require that sechach-eligible ...
5
votes
1answer
92 views

Can you experiment on animals?

May a person perform or otherwise participate in experiments on live animals which will cause the animals pain? I would assume this is forbidden under tzaar baalei chayim. But perhaps there is a heter ...
5
votes
0answers
50 views

Does the Torah ever allude to Earth being a spherical celestial body in space?

Taken at face value, the instances in which the Heavens and Earth are mentioned in the Torah, it is the Heavens above and Earth below. From what I gather, many secular scholars take from this that the ...
5
votes
0answers
84 views

Can dew really make an eggshell fly?

In פרשת בשלח 16:14, it says -- The layer of dew went up, and behold, on the surface of the desert, a fine, bare [substance] as fine as frost on the ground. On that verse, Rashi says ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

how old is Judaism?

How old is Judaism - not legendary, but indicated by science? What are the oldest scriptures found of the story of Moses, for example? Or are the scriptures imported from very different cultures so ...
4
votes
2answers
201 views

Stars are living creatures?

the Rambam in yesodei torah says that stars are creatures with intellect. how do we reconcile this with modern science which says that they are merely inanimate balls of hydrogen and helium gas.