41
votes
4answers
2k views

How do we know that the civil Saturday is the correct Shabbat?

Disclaimer: I am not a religious Jew, this question is only out of curiosity. I understand that observant Jews observe Shabbat from Friday night to Saturday. And from this question and this it seems ...
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?
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 - - ...
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
427 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
319 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
523 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
244 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
4k 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
4answers
2k views

Is practicing Yoga against Torah?

What does Halacha and Halachic Authorities have to say about the permissibility of a Jew practicing Yoga? Is it Avodah Zarah? If it is problematic, are there methods of doing it where it would be ...
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
317 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
445 views

G'dolim or Rabbis Owning Pets

Are there any g'dolim (or rabbis of major influence) - past or present - who are known to have owned pets/kept animals for non-agricultural purposes?
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
348 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
380 views

Is belief in a G-d a commandment?

I am studying to convert to Judaism and one of the questions I was asked was about the Ten Commandments. I remember reading at that time that there was debate about the division of the statements ...
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
439 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
554 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 ...
10
votes
8answers
522 views

Why do we sing “Echad Mi Yodeya”?

Why do we sing the song "Echad Mi Yodeya" at the seder?
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 ...
3
votes
3answers
246 views

Belief in midrashim

The ramban in sefer havikuach asserts with regard to medrash " mi shemaamin bo tov, mi shelo maamin bo lo yazik" whoever believes in it, good, he who does not believe it, will not be harmed. Are ...
17
votes
12answers
2k views

Why is techeles not universally accepted?

The Machon Ptil Tekhelet has (to my mind) some pretty compelling arguments as to why the Murex Trunculus is very likely the genuine chilazon from which techeles (blue dye) for the mitzva of tzitzis is ...
16
votes
4answers
574 views

Why is Sha'ar Ha'Yichud of Chovos Ha'Levavos so “controversial”?

I have heard that Sha'ar Ha'Yichud of Chovos Ha'Levavos is controversial, and that one needs a rebbe in order to learn it. What does the author say that is so difficult to understand?
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
2answers
898 views

What happens to the family of a Kohen today if his wife is a victim of rape?

What happens to the family of a Kohen today if his wife is a victim of rape? What are the steps taken and how does this come to be resolved according to halachah and in the most constructive way for ...
15
votes
3answers
346 views

Is it heresy to follow secular dating on the destruction of the first Temple?

There is a discrepancy between rabbinic and secular sources regarding when the first Temple was destroyed -- a difference of some 165 years or so, which are called the "Missing Years." My question is ...
14
votes
2answers
256 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
3k views

Putting on tefillin late

For whatever reason, I was unable to put on tefillin while davening shacharit this morning. However, I have access to tefillin now, and the sun has not yet set. After I put on the tefillin, what ...
12
votes
4answers
728 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
584 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
5answers
536 views

Existence of Heaven and Hell

I heard from a Jewish colleague that the concept of Heaven and Hell were not originally part of Judaism. I couldn't find references to these concepts in the Old Testament. So Were these part of ...
11
votes
5answers
707 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
720 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
404 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
1answer
240 views

Electronic communication immediately before wedding

Is it permissible to chat with your future spouse during the week before the wedding when you are not supposed to see each other face to face? Are any, all, or none of the following permissible: ...
10
votes
3answers
479 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
2answers
607 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
7answers
614 views

Why did G-d not stop the holocaust?

Why did G-d not stop the holocaust? Is there anything written to explain why He would not have stopped it? or why He would have allowed it?
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
806 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
208 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
159 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
1k 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
3answers
325 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
248 views

How could the numerals יה and יו be used irreverently?

I was told that in the sequence of numerals with Hebrew letters, the numbers 15 and 16 are rendered with טו and טז instead of יה and יו to prevent the tetragrammaton from being formed irreverently. ...
8
votes
4answers
810 views

Walking by an Automatic Door on Shabbos

Is one allowed to walk by an automatic door on Shabbos, if he/she has no benefit of the door opening (i.e. not walking in)? How does this case compare/contrast to the walking by an automatic light on ...
8
votes
4answers
638 views

tap water on Pesach

The New Croton Reservoir supplies much of New York City's tap water, and people are allowed to — and do — go out on boats and fish. I'd venture a guess that almost every Saturday and Sunday, a piece ...

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