22
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there any evidence that Rabbi Akiva's students fought alongside Bar Kochba?

Various sources say that "12,000 pairs" of Rabbi Akiva's students died between Pesach and Shavuos because they did not treat each other with respect. See Genesis Rabba 61:3, Ecclesiastes Rabba 11, ...
22
votes
6answers
653 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?” ...
22
votes
5answers
513 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 ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

You accidentally broke your fast*. Now what?

What are you supposed to do if you inadvertently broke your fast*? Do you: keep going; extend it (if so, how long); cancel it (if so, do you make it up a different day)? *This question is for ...
22
votes
6answers
494 views

Where does the concept of Gilgulim (reincarnations) in Judaism come from?

What is the source of Gilgulim in Judaism? Are there people who disagree with its existence? Who was the first to mention it? What I am asking essentialy is what is the historical development of ...
22
votes
3answers
326 views

Female praying in masculine language

When women daven (pray), even by ourselves, it is convention to daven with male-gendered words ("modeh" vs "moda" as one of many examples). Why is this; are there sources that say we should be doing ...
22
votes
2answers
447 views

If I injure a bug, should I kill it?

I'm sure this has happened to lots of people: you somehow injure a bug (or some other animal). I have always heard that this is a case of Tzaar Baalei Chaim, and that you should kill the bug to ...
22
votes
1answer
202 views

What do you do if you made a Tzedaka pledge and now the organization folded?

Recently a friend of mine asked me the following question. He pledged $500- to a Yeshiva, yet before he paid the pledge the Yeshiva closed. Does he still have to pay his pledge to another Tzedaka or ...
21
votes
9answers
605 views

How do I get myself to yearn for moshiach if I'm comfortable in the diaspora?

Intellectually I know that we're supposed to yearn for the coming of the mashiach and the in-gathering in Eretz Yisrael. I know that one of the Rambam's 13 principles calls for this. We pray for ...
21
votes
4answers
588 views

Am I allowed to give my kid a non-Hebrew (non-Jewish?) name?

I'd seen some poster that said it's horribly wrong to ever give your kid a non-Jewish/non-Hebrew name. Is that the norm?
21
votes
8answers
549 views

Is one allowed to smoke?

Nowadays, since there are studies that show that smoking is dangerous to health, is one allowed to smoke or is it violating "Venishmartem Meod Lenafshosechem"?
21
votes
7answers
467 views

Birthdays in Judaism

Is there any significance in Judaism attached to the day someone was born (aside for the 13th year)? Is there anything wrong with celebrating one's birthday? And is it more correct to celebrate the ...
21
votes
3answers
445 views

Must a jew-by-choice who is a firstborn observe the fast of the firstborn

I'm interested in the question of whether a ger who is firstborn (of both parents, say, to keep things simple) must follow the rules for Ta'anit B'khorot. There are some remarks on the wikipedia page, ...
21
votes
4answers
537 views

Maintaining Tzniut in Uncomfortable Social Situations

How can a teenage girl, who recently started practicing the laws of tzniut as well as feasible, balance those laws with the prohibition against embarrassing her family members, who are embarrassed to ...
21
votes
4answers
295 views

Glasses and Shema

The Shulhan Aruch records the custom of placing one's hand over his eyes in Shema in order to increase concentration. What about someone who wears glasses? Must he move them or remove them?
21
votes
4answers
1k views

How does one explain God to little kids?

As I understand it, the ability to understand abstract concepts develops gradually in kids and is certainly not all there when they first start having conversations. This comes into play when kids ...
21
votes
2answers
468 views

Why are none of the Pharaohs in the Torah identified by name?

Throughout the Torah, the various Egyptian Pharaohs are always referred to as simply "Pharaoh" or "the king of Egypt" (or both), but never with any other parts of their official titulary. By ...
20
votes
5answers
1k views

Surviving the zombie apocalypse? [closed]

One of Maimonidies 13 principles of faith is believing in the resurrection of the dead wherein the dead will arise from their graves. My question is have chazal provided any guidelines for how we are ...
20
votes
6answers
3k views

Is it a discouraged or an unacceptable practice for a Gentile to keep the Sabbath?

According to Jewish Law and tradition, is it acceptable, discouraged or totally unacceptable for a Gentile to keep the Sabbath according to the regulations spelled out in the Torah and the Talmud and ...
20
votes
2answers
1k views

Riding the Subway on Shabbat

Assuming that there are no problems regarding paying for it (either you entered the system before Shabbat, or a non-Jew paid for you): What are the halakhic issue with riding the subway on Shabbat? ...
20
votes
2answers
268 views

Matza on 14 Iyar

I have seen a custom (it seems to me primarily among Chassidim) to eat matza on 14 Iyar (known as Pesach Sheni). What is the earliest source for this custom? What are the reasons given for following ...
20
votes
2answers
540 views

Voting in a church?

Are you allowed to vote inside a church? (Answers supplying sources would be preferred, as always.)
20
votes
1answer
326 views

Is there any source for not sharing a baby's name before the bris?

For some reason, I have it ingrained in me that a baby boy's name before the bris is a secret and should not be shared. Are there any sources for this, or is it something made up?
20
votes
2answers
213 views

Source of non-verse in Selichot

In Ashkenazi Selichot, the following set of verses from Tanach (patterned around the opening verb ז.כ.ר.‏ to remember) appears towards the end of the Selichot service (there may be some slight ...
19
votes
6answers
4k views

What does Judaism think about homosexuality?

Is being gay a sin? Can one be a Jew and a gay person at the same time? How does the Jewish community think about gays?
19
votes
12answers
398 views
+100

Experience-based advice for focusing and slowing down prayers?

I tend to daven (pray) without sufficient focus and very quickly. In particular, I find that most of the time that I'm praying, my mind is on things other than the words that I'm saying. And, not that ...
19
votes
16answers
582 views

SE Challenge: Halachot in which rulings range from permissible to Torah violation?

Inspired by my previous question regarding heating up soup on Shabbat, I present a challenge to the Judaism StackExchange community -- List halachot which have halachic decisions ranging from ...
19
votes
8answers
2k views

Conversion: If G-d really wanted me to be a Jew (and observe mitzvot), why was I not born into a Jewish family

This question pertains to the issue of conversion, and if it makes sense in the Jewish context of some people being Chosen specifically by God. Before beginning, this poster is aware of the long, and ...
19
votes
7answers
760 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!
19
votes
7answers
2k views

Washing hands for eating pizza

How many slices are required to make you responsible to wash on Pizza?
19
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is the Jewish Population so small?

Judaism is one of the oldest religions, but there aren't many Jews compared to Muslims and Christians. What are main reasons behind that?
19
votes
2answers
352 views

Naming after the living. Why is it considered bad?

This is a fairly straight forward question. I am under the impression that this is bad. This is why you don't see many Moishe Abromowitz, III. Why is this bad, and why isn't that practice carried ...
19
votes
8answers
1k views

Do gentiles have neshamot?

As I have seen here, some say that only Jews have a neshama, others say that all humans have one. There was a reference there only of the former opinion (Jews only), and I know from elsewhere that ...
19
votes
3answers
511 views

When blogging/emailing/etc., do I use “God” or “G-d”?

Is there a religious problem with typing out the name: "G-o-d"?
19
votes
3answers
779 views

Can you bowl on shabbos?

In the movie the Big Lebowski Walter explains that he is shomer shabbos and that he can't "roll" (meaning bowl) on shabbos. My question is, if he were able to get to the alley without violating ...
19
votes
1answer
242 views

a wheelchair user's taking “steps” before sh'mone esre

The Shulchan Aruch, OC 94:5, writes: Suppose someone is sitting on a boat or wagon [and saying sh'mone esre (amida)]. If he can stand up when he reaches the point of bowing, he should stand, so as ...
19
votes
4answers
1k views

Can a Jew lose their Jewish Status?

Can a Jew lose their status as being a Jew by performing any action (example: performing idolatry, disavowing core beliefs, converting to another religion, etc)? Or once a person is a Jew then they ...
19
votes
3answers
235 views

Must EMTs and others rend Kriyah each time they see a patient die?

I was looking at Yoreh De'ah 40:5 (יו"ד סימן ש"מ ס"ק ה) and Moed Katan 25b (כה עמוד ב), which require Kriyah (garment-rending) for all who are there at the time of death. It would seem to me that an ...
19
votes
2answers
429 views

What kind of kippah is this?

This photo of my great great grandfather was taken around 1900. He's a Lubavitch Jew from Belarus. His name is Zalman Malkin. He is from Liozna. The story of his life is here: ...
19
votes
2answers
555 views

Is a Jew allowed to participate on Christianity.SE?

I was browsing meta.Christianity.SE recently when I noticed a question with a rather obvious (and good) answer that had not been posted. I was about to go ahead and answer it when I realized there ...
19
votes
3answers
629 views

While playing a computer game, may I “worship” one of the game's “gods” to help me win?

I sometimes play a certain computer role-playing game (RPG). In this game, my character (whom I might name after myself but who does not otherwise resemble me) fights mythological creatures and ...
19
votes
2answers
251 views

Why the custom to switch around negative-sounding numbers, such as שד?

Often in sefarim we find that if the number of the siman spells out something negative, such as siman 304 which has a letter value of שד, we switch it around so it no longer reads as a "bad" word. ...
19
votes
3answers
382 views

Is it a sin to escape the death penalty?

If someone is sentenced to death by a Jewish court and is being held prisoner until the sentence can be carried out, if he escapes, is that a sin for him?
18
votes
10answers
644 views

What are the most essential Jewish websites?

What websites are essential bookmarks on a Jew's internet browser? I am thinking broadly of resources like a place to get online texts or a particularly good blog etc... Please include links as well ...
18
votes
5answers
600 views

After chumashim with notes and Rashi, what's the next torah commentary I should acquire and study?

When I read the torah text (parsha or otherwise) I currently use a couple of chumashim with notes, and Rashi. I know some Hebrew but am not fluent. I'm ready to stretch beyond what I'm reading now ...
18
votes
6answers
260 views

how to survive if you are hanging on to some aveiros

Is there a strategy or saying / quotation (chasidish, chazal, etc.) that addresses what to do if there are some aveiros that one is not ready to give up on but wants to feel good about doing the other ...
18
votes
2answers
473 views

Where did “shabat shalom” come from?

What is the source for the greeting "שבת שלום"? Where is it earliest attested in print? What does it mean?
18
votes
2answers
580 views

May (or should) a convert recite kaddish after his biological parents' deaths?

May (or should) a convert recite kaddish after his biological parents' deaths? I think the answer is that yes, he may do so out of respect for them (even though, in a strict halachic sense, he is no ...
18
votes
4answers
610 views

When did Ruth convert?

In the book of Ruth it never openly states that she converts and in fact she is referred to as Ruth the Moabite throughout the text. At what point, chronologically, did she in fact convert?
18
votes
3answers
684 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 ...

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