10
votes
3answers
269 views

Halachic authority of books

To what extent do books on Halachah have authority? I was taught that the Gemara was "closed" and may no longer be challenged in terms of its Halachic authority. To what extent is this authority ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Rainbow as a bad omen

There is a popular idea that seeing a rainbow is a bad sign, as if the world is deserving of a deluge (c"v) and the only reason Hashem does not do so is because of His promise. Is there any source for ...
7
votes
3answers
835 views

Aside from the days set aside for impurity, what exactly is a man allowed to do with his wife in regards to intimacy?

A man cannot touch, stare, kiss or have relations with a woman he is not married with. On the days when the laws of impurity do not apply, what exactly can a man do with his wife? Assuming extra ...
6
votes
1answer
313 views

How does Judaism regard the different denominations of Christianity vis-a-vis Avoda Zara?

There's been lots of talk about whether Christianity is Avodah Zara. Are there any distinctions between denominations, say which ones have more statues?
6
votes
6answers
659 views

Why do the Sifrei Eme"s (i.e. Job, Proverbs, Psalms) have cantillation marks?

Why do the Sifrei Eme"s (i.e. Job, Proverbs, Psalms) have cantillation marks? Are they read to a tune or is it just punctuation for personal usage? Have they ever been read publicly with the tune? ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

Can a man remove hair?

May a man remove hair from his body through any of the following methods: Electrolysis Tweasing Plucking I am asking specifically about hair between the eyes (unibrow) but I would be interested if ...
15
votes
2answers
620 views

Is one allowed to drink alcohol on regular weekdays?

Is it permissible to drink alcohol in any circumstance other than Holidays and Shabbat? Please cite sources. CYLOR.
15
votes
2answers
1k views

How many of the 613 Mitzvos can we do only in Israel?

There are many Mitzvos we can not do in today's generation. For example there are no Korbonos, no slaves, etc. Per the Chofetz Chaim, there are 77 positive Mitzvos and 194 negative Mitzvos which can ...
14
votes
2answers
397 views

Stacking Seforim

Are we allowed to place less holy seforim on top of more holy seforim? I believe that the consensus is that you are only allowed to stack seforim in chronological order from top to bottom (e.g., ...
14
votes
1answer
278 views

Woman and Zimun: What is the requirement?

What is a woman's requirement to say Bircat Hamazon with a Zimun of women? What is a woman's requirement to say Bircat Hamazon with a Zimun of men?
13
votes
1answer
383 views

Can Purim Torah be heretical?

How far can one go with Purim Torah? Can one descend into heresy, so long as it is known that one is not serious?
13
votes
4answers
361 views

Commencing Shabbos: Shkiya behind a mountain

It is common practice nowadays for Shuls to publish the zmanim (times) to begin Shabbos (the Sabbath) and other activities. These times, it would seem, are based upon standard calculations of sunrise ...
12
votes
3answers
429 views

Yerushalmi Versus Bavli in Halacha

The halacha we have today is mostly sourced in Talmud Bavli(the Babylonian Talmud),Medrash and Zohar. I would like to know what Halachot in which we rule according to the Yerushalmi (the Jerusalem ...
12
votes
3answers
658 views

Am I allowed to view a Kotel Cam on Shabbos?

If there is a camera in Israel that is operating on Shabbos, am I (a person living in America, where Shabbos only starts 6 or 7 hours later) allowed to view such a camera? I suppose the same could be ...
12
votes
6answers
697 views

Mezonos ? Bread

Is there such a thing as Mezonos bread?
11
votes
2answers
714 views

Can a Kohen Marry a Woman with a Non-Jewish Father?

Is a Kohen allowed to marry a woman who is the daughter of a Jewish woman and non-Jewish man?
11
votes
2answers
315 views

Jewish definition of a charity

I know that Jews are supossed to give 10% of their income to charity, but what constitutes a charity? I know that Shuls, jewish schools and poor people in your community count, but what about secular ...
10
votes
4answers
332 views

All you need is love?

I once had a Hebrew professor state with absolute determination that "Ahavah" (the Hebrew word for "love") does not, in fact, mean love. His proof was twofold: 1. G-d could not have commanded us to ...
8
votes
1answer
187 views

Is there an exhaustive list of astronomical/environmental events for which there are blessings?

Inspired by: What Bracha should you say on a Hurricane? What Blessing Does One Make on a Solar Eclipse? Bracha for the transit of Venus? What b'racha do you say on seeing the Aurora Borealis (if ...
7
votes
2answers
199 views

Is there an imperative to have a fancy menorah?

Is it considered a meritorious practice to have a fancy/expensive/large menorah? Normally the imperative to beautify mitzvos is related to the mitzvah item itself (e.g. talis, tefillin, esrog), so ...
7
votes
2answers
5k views

Can a gentile go to Synagogue on Shabbat and what is forbidden on Shabbat for a gentile?

Is a gentile allowed to participate in Shabbat prayers in a Synagogue (of course he/she will not count for a minyan) if they do so in order to gain knowledge of Jewish customs for the purpose of ...
7
votes
3answers
637 views

Being Shaliach Tzibbur in a Congregation with a different Nusach

In Yalkut Yosef OC 101:10 rules that a Sephardi who is davening in an Ashkenazi minyan should not daven Nusach Ashkenaz as shaliach tzibbur. He can only be shaliach tzibbur if the minyan agrees to let ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Are Europeans Edomites?

I had always thought that Europeans descended from Yafet, not Shem, and certainly not Shem, Avraham and Yitzhak. I am aware that it was common in the past to equate Rome with Edom, but I always ...
7
votes
3answers
370 views

Posek vs. Rabbi?

It seems to me obvious that certain sheilos are best dealt with by only the leading Rabbanim. At the same time colloquially we often say a Rabbi has "paskened" a sheilah when the answer is fairly ...
6
votes
3answers
505 views

Source for the prohibition against Nivul Peh (foul mouth)

What is the source for the prohibition against Nivul Peh (using foul language)? Is it Biblical? Rabbinic? "Asmachta" (based on a principle derived from the Torah but ultimately not considered a ...
6
votes
1answer
290 views

Where are the rules for naming parshiyot explained?

Here I asked about the naming of parshat Noach and parshat Toldot. Is there someplace where parsha-naming questions like this are addressed in general, or are answers to individual questions ...
6
votes
6answers
757 views

Why is the word for G-d in Genesis plural?

The word for G-d in Genesis 1:1 is plural in all the manuscripts, there's no debating that it's plural. So really it should read "In the Beginning Gods created the heavens and the earth". Why is this ...
5
votes
3answers
278 views

“Amen” to informal blessings and wishes

There are various strict rules regulating the manner and timing of saying "Amen" following a blesing. In fact, the Gemara (Berachot 47a) lists some pretty severe punishments for people who violate ...
2
votes
1answer
314 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?
33
votes
6answers
3k views

Does the Torah discuss aliens?

Does the Torah discuss extra-terrestrial life and/or civilizations? Do any Torah sources exist which discuss what these hypothetical beings would be like and their status/nature? (eg. Would they be ...
24
votes
21answers
679 views

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
17answers
653 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 ...
18
votes
9answers
2k views

Archeological proof of Exodus?

Is there empirical proof that the exodus from Egypt and related happenings (like Har Sinai etc) did in fact occur (i.e: Archeological proof)? I believe in the Torah, but how would you prove to someone ...
16
votes
11answers
3k views

Talmud Study, Where to start

I would like to start to study Talmud, BUT do not know how, where to start. My Jewish training is basically non-existent. I learned how to read the Hebrew words in the Siddur, Machzor, and Chumash - - ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

Why don't Jews sacrifice animals anymore?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Jews do not currently sacrifice animals like ancestors long ago. Why do Jews not currently sacrifice animals? Will there be a time when sacrificing returns once again? How ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Where can I find examples of R. Yishmael's 13 talmudic rules?

We read Rabbi Yishmael's 13 principles of interpreting torah in the shacharit service and many of the explanations seem fairly straightforward, but I am not a very advanced student and I find I don't ...
10
votes
2answers
412 views

“bad impression” vs “Judge your friend favorably”

There are two commonly known halachic concepts. "Marit Ayin", a bad impression, and "Dan Lekaf Zechut", "Judging favorably". Here is a nice article on the concept of Marit Ayin and it briefly talks ...
10
votes
2answers
315 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?
8
votes
2answers
511 views

Why do you make a Bracha on seeing a monkey?

Why do you make the Bracha Mishaneh Habriyos on seeing a monkey?
7
votes
7answers
224 views

All the many, many details

I understand a number of reasons why the Jewish community keeps so many rules to the level of minutiae. But why SUCH a level of intricacy in some of these laws? I looked through a large book on the ...
20
votes
5answers
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
8answers
2k 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 ...
20
votes
5answers
1k views

Moshe's age and the timeline of the exodus

Moshe was 80 when he approached Par'o before the makos, and the makos lasted a year, so he turned 81 in the Adar before the Jews left Mitzrayim. As he turned 120 in the Adar before the Jews entered ...
16
votes
3answers
311 views

Do I have to forgive a repeat offender?

If somebody has repeatedly wronged me (in the same way) in the past, am I obligated to keep forgiving him if he asks? On the one hand, maybe this time he finally is really doing teshuva; on the other ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

Nittle Nacht Meaning

What is Nittle Nacht? What does the name mean? What is its significance? Which Halachic authorities speak about it, and what do they say? What is the actual date for it? How is it effected this ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Giving gifts to non-Jews at Christmastime

Is it okay at Christmastime to give a gift to a boss or for kids to give gifts to teachers if they are not Jewish?
12
votes
4answers
336 views

Voting for a person that will not uphold Torah values

It is well known that Rabbi Avigdor Miller Zatzal strongly condemned those that voted for candidates that would not uphold Torah values. Yet there were many Gedolim that had no problem voting for such ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

How Do I Know If it's a Hebrew Leap Year?

How can I tell if a given year is a Hebrew Leap Year? The simpler, the better. [Assuming we are using a fixed calendar, not like the "olden days".]
10
votes
4answers
426 views

what are the limits of “mesira”?

It seems that most people have an idea that you cannot report a Jew to the non-Jewish authorities (police, government, etc) except for extreme circumstances (imminent danger, abuse, etc). However, ...
10
votes
1answer
531 views

Married woman covering hair

Is it strictly necessary for a married woman to keep her hair covered in the following situations? If not, how important is it? 1) When alone in the house 2) When alone (or with husband) in the ...

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