7
votes
2answers
4k 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
622 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
3answers
359 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
1answer
272 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
2answers
1k views

What makes something “chukat goyim?”

One of the most famous examples I have heard is that one should not even tie one's shoes like the non-Jews do in times of persecution. That seems rather excessive. What if the Jews started doing some ...
5
votes
2answers
210 views

Time for t'filah and you don't have a siddur: better to daven from memory or wait (and possibly miss the time)?

If the set time comes to daven (on a weekday, let's say) and you unexpectedly don't have a suitable (or any) siddur,1 does halacha call for you to wait (and possibly miss that amidah entirely), or ...
5
votes
3answers
474 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 ...
5
votes
6answers
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 ...
5
votes
3answers
268 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
295 views

Did Rashbi Write the Zohar?

In my experience, many religious Jews think that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai wrote the book we have today called the Zohar. The Zohar is a Jewish work of mysticism that was published in the 13th century. ...
2
votes
1answer
303 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?
18
votes
9answers
1k 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
2k 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 - - ...
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
387 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
307 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
494 views

Why do you make a Bracha on seeing a monkey?

Why do you make the Bracha Mishaneh Habriyos on seeing a monkey?
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 ...
17
votes
5answers
866 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
304 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
989 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
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
4answers
334 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
3answers
559 views

When does somebody living in space (e.g. ISS) observe Shabbat?

I understand that Jewish astronauts have been advised to observe Shabbat by Cape Canaveral time, by analogy with traveling to a place that doesn't have daily sunrise/sunset where some rule you use the ...
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
1answer
215 views

May I rely on the halachik leniency of others?

If "Reuven" believes the halacha to be one way and "Shimon" believes it to be more lenient may Reuven rely on Shimon to do something for him based on this leniency? Here is a 100% fictional ...
7
votes
2answers
452 views

לשון הקדש: the oldest language?

Rashi to B'reshis 2:23 says that the language Adam spoke was one that Rashi calls לשון הקדש, lashon hakodesh (or l'shon hakodesh), and that contains the words אִשָּׁה and אִישׁ. Keeping to Rashi's ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Do Jewish people have a collection of books which are the equivelant of the Christian Old Testament?

One claim that is made in our Christian Church is that the Jewish people use the Old Testament and that Christians use both the Old Testament and the New Testament. How correct is this statement? Do ...
19
votes
7answers
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 ...
17
votes
3answers
319 views

Anonymous glosses in the Shulchan Aruch

The Rama wrote a series of glosses to the Shulchan Aruch to reflect standard Ashkenazi practice, as the Shulchan Aruch was weighted towards the Sephardim. These glosses have been reprinted in almost ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

Shaking hands with the opposite gender?

What's the story: Can a man shake hands with a woman (or vice versa) in a business setting?
16
votes
2answers
2k views

Mikvah - Non Jewish Husband

Can a woman use a Mikvah if her Husband is not Jewish (She is currently on the road to becoming a BT)
15
votes
5answers
332 views

What are Rambam's “עיקרים”?

Rambam, in his Commentary to the Mishna (Sanhedrin 10), enumerates 13 "עיקרים" or "יסודות", which he holds are the core "principles" that every Jew is expected to believe. (Summary in English.) But ...
14
votes
2answers
429 views

Translation to Greek

I just read in parashat ki tavo that the torah was translated into 70 languages and written on giant stones, yet the talmud says the translation of the torah to Greek many years later was considered a ...
14
votes
2answers
244 views

How big, and what exactly, is “Kedei Kelipah”?

{Kedei Kelipah is a term used in Kashruth for the amount of something that needs to be removed in order to allow one to treat the remnant as Kosher. (This only applies under certain conditions, which ...
12
votes
4answers
695 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
548 views

What is the conceptual definition of tzniut?

When the concept of tzniut is discussed it is defined as 'modesty' and used overwhelmingly in regard to sexuality. However we know there are other uses for the term such as from the gemarah (Megillah ...
11
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?
11
votes
5answers
611 views

Do Jews believe in Heaven and Hell?

In yeshiva I was always told about gan eden and gehinnom, and how the good go to the former place while the bad go to the latter. However, in popular culture, Jews are always said to not believe in ...
11
votes
6answers
665 views

40 Days Before Conception

It is written somewhere (I don't remember exactly where) that 40 days before conception, it is called out in Heaven who that person will marry. However, if the person gets married multiple times how ...
11
votes
11answers
380 views

How do you improve your Kavvanah [concentration]?

Building on my blog post here, I ask: How do you improve your concentration when davening?
10
votes
2answers
600 views

Is the material permitted to learn on Tisha B'av available online?

From Aish.com: Other prohibitions include...Learning Torah, since this is a joyful activity. It is permitted to learn texts relevant to Tisha B'Av and mourning -- e.g. the Book of Lamentations, ...
10
votes
37answers
2k views

words often mispronounced [closed]

What are some words commonly mispronounced? (Not by elision/reduction (like ה׳‎→אדְני‎) or assimilation (like תזכרו‎→תשׂכרו‎), but rather words that are pronounced wrong ...
10
votes
8answers
788 views

Why are there eight days of Chanukah if there were only seven miracles?

There is a famous question asked by the Beis Yosef (R' Yosef Karo): Why do we celebrate eight days of Chanukah if the miracle lasted only seven? The jug of oil contained enough to be lit for one day, ...
9
votes
2answers
198 views

Free will a prerequisite for punishment?

I read that the angel Metat was subjected to 60 pulsei de-nura (Aramaic: פולסא דנורא "lashes of fire"). I have been taught that angels do not have free will. Did this angel act from free will or did ...
9
votes
1answer
154 views

Second day of Shavous

The main reason for the second day Yom Tov is because in the times of the Beis Hamikdash when we decided to declare months based on the seeing the new moon there where certain places that the ...
8
votes
2answers
932 views

If the label says O-U D, but the warning label for allery sufferers says “no dairy”, do we consider the product dairy or not?

I attended a fantastic lecture on kashrus and dairy products by Rabbi Zushe Yosef Blech, shlita, who was asked an interesting question: Can you eat Oreo cookies after a fleishig meal? It was pointed ...
8
votes
2answers
184 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
288 views

Making a Siyum on major sections of learning but not a codified unit

If someone completes a major section of Talmud Torah that is not a formal unit (eg., Basar BeḤalav), may/should one make a Siyum?
8
votes
2answers
362 views

Are Jews permitted to martyr themselves?

Are Jews permitted to martyr themselves? For example, if it is a question of converting or being killed, is the Jew permitted to sacrifice himself rather than convert? Separately: which would be ...

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