9
votes
2answers
702 views

Moral Culpability in the Garden

Did Adam and Eve have moral culpability in the Garden before they ate from the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil? It would seem that they were like small children in that sense, they were amoral--not ...
8
votes
1answer
208 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
6k 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
2answers
645 views

Minimum Shi'ur for Kiddush on liquor

What is the minimum Shi'ur (volume) of a cup required for making Kiddush on liquor? Is there a smaller amount required than there is for wine? What is the minimum Shi'ur of the liquor that one is ...
6
votes
6answers
900 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
2answers
251 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
689 views

What are the Halachic boundaries of Eretz Yisroel?

What are the Halachic boundaries of Eretz Yisroel?
34
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

How can we be sure that Judaism is the truth?

I borrowed (with permission) a question from Ahmed Han, which is: People of every religion claim that they are the ones in the right path. Even the people of sects in these religions think that ...
41
votes
7answers
860 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 ...
24
votes
21answers
703 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

Who is the last prophet in Judaism?

Who is the last person regarded as a true prophet in Judaism? What was his time frame?
27
votes
7answers
2k views

Are you allowed to save a non-Jew's life on shabbos?

Is a Jew allowed to violate shabbos to save a non-Jew's life?
24
votes
8answers
635 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 ...
17
votes
7answers
954 views

Am I liable to be stoned for my devotion to Hashem and the Jewish people?

I have spent over 2 years to this day praying for the Jewish people from the Koren Siddur and Machzorim. I have with my Rebbe's help tried to follow Jewish customs and laws, to my best ability. ...
13
votes
4answers
537 views

Why was Torah sheBal Peh not allowed to be Written?

The Gemara states that it is forbidden to write down the Oral Torah [1]: דרש רבי יהודה בר נחמני מתורגמניה דרבי שמעון בן לקיש, כתיב: +שמות ל"ד+ כתוב לך את הדברים האלה, וכתיב: +שמות ל"ד+ כי ...
11
votes
3answers
653 views

Why are people going back to paskining like the Rambam?

I have heard personally (and seen in chat) people (who are not Teimanim [for whom there is a tradition to rule like the Rambam]) ruling like the Rambam. I have heard that he has the authentic ...
7
votes
3answers
970 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 ...
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 ...
16
votes
1answer
517 views

Why don't we bow “correctly” during tefillah anymore?

According to the Gemara (Megillah 22b), and according to the RaMBa"M (Hil. Tefillah 5:13) (and apparently R' Avraham ben HaRaMBa"M was adamant), when we pray we are supposed to bow down ON our knees ...
14
votes
8answers
861 views

Answering Atheist about Torah miracles

How do we explain our belief in the story of Yonah living in a Fish, the Splitting of a sea, and all the other fantastic Miracles described in the Torah to a person who was not brought up religious; ...
11
votes
2answers
611 views

Is there any issue with using aerosols on Shabbos?

I've heard from many people that you shouldn't use aerosols (such as air fresheners, disinfectants or deodorants) on shabbos, usually citing some vague reason of changing the form from liquid to gas, ...
10
votes
4answers
664 views

Is it permissible to name one's child with a name from the opposite gender?

Is a person allowed to name a boy with a girl's name and vice versa? I remember seeing that one musn't, although in Nach one finds these things a lot. I understand it is not best practice for ...
8
votes
5answers
231 views

Laws of Abrogation

To my limited knowledge there is no such thing as "abrogation" within the Tanach. Such would seem to defeat the immutability of G-d's Law. This issue of abrogation comes up a lot in both Christian and ...
8
votes
2answers
508 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
9answers
732 views

Kabala in Halacha

Which of the major authors or codifiers of halacha. . . a) refer directly to or quote from kabala in their legal discussions? b) employ conclusions based only on kabala in their legal argumentation ...
6
votes
1answer
342 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?
20
votes
5answers
725 views

Understanding the story of Rabba and Rav Zeira

The Gemarah (Megillah 7b)describes how Rabba and Rav Zeira celebrated Purim together. While intoxicated Rabba kills (slaughters) Rav Zeira. The next day he resurrects him. The next year Rabba invites ...
14
votes
11answers
727 views

Garments that unintentionally require tzitzit

Have you ever encountered in the wild (i.e. owned, considered purchasing in a store, seen worn by an observant Jewish man) a garment that requires tzitzit but that was not made for them (i.e. not a ...
11
votes
1answer
355 views

Should I say “amen” to a malformed bracha?

If I hear somebody substantially mispronounce a bracha, should I say amen anyway (recognizing the intent) or remain silent? I'm not talking about nuances like pronouncing 'ayin or distinguishing ...
11
votes
4answers
350 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
568 views

Maaser Deductibles

Are there any expenses that one is allowed to "deduct" from his income before calculating the amount of Maaser one must give? For example, if one makes a hundred thousand dollars a year, but his ...
10
votes
4answers
713 views

Is cross-dressing permitted on Purim and if so why?

As part of dressing in costume on Purim is a person allowed to put on clothes normally worn by the opposite gender? If so, where does this heter come from in the face of the biblical prohibition ...
10
votes
3answers
278 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
345 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
396 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 ...
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
1k views

Is maaser calculated pre-tax or after-tax?

I have heard different opinions concerning whether taxes can be deducted before calculating maaser. It is logical to me that if you cannot deduct your expense to live in your house, you shouldn't be ...
7
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
656 views

Can a prophet add to or change the Torah?

Is it possible for a prophet to add to the Torah, or change any of it? Can a prophet say that God has told him that certain parts no longer apply or are wrong? How do we know?
6
votes
1answer
319 views

Shabbat in the arctic

If I were to travel to Barrow, Alaska in the summer, when there is no sunset, when should I light the Shabbat candles? (This is not a hypothetical question; I work remotely for an Alaskan corporation ...
6
votes
6answers
726 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? ...
5
votes
1answer
724 views

Being a houseguest in a non-frum or non-Jewish home

I'm Jewish, so I have to keep many laws in mind. Kashrut, tefillin, yichud, kol isha, and more. When staying as a houseguest in a non-frum or non-Jewish home, what are some of the issues I might ...
4
votes
4answers
887 views

Matrilineal Descent

I have heard that matrilineal descent (i.e. having Judaism passed down through the mother) comes from the Roman period when women were raped by Roman soldiers and the babies were then said to be ...
15
votes
2answers
674 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
429 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
300 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
4answers
483 views

Typing on Chol Hamoed

Is typing allowed on Chol Hamoed? Does it make a difference if whatever is typed will be printed afterwards?
13
votes
4answers
390 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 ...

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