9
votes
7answers
290 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
7
votes
5answers
382 views

Why does evil exist?

I realize this is a very common question, but the problem of evil is an important one, and as far as I can tell, has not been asked here. In short, why does G-d allow evil to exist?
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 ...
18
votes
13answers
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
1answer
554 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
493 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
4answers
472 views

Why is the torah so misleading without the oral law

In parsha ki tetze (Devarim 22) it says if a man takes a wife, hates her, accuses her of not being a virgin, etc. Then the elders spread out the bedsheet to see if there is blood of virginity. If not, ...
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?
11
votes
2answers
696 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
660 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, ...
11
votes
4answers
493 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
4answers
763 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
2answers
535 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
795 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
263 views

Why do we pray for G-d to smash down our fellow Jews?

My question refers to the twelfth blessing of the Amida, which seems to contravene the Biblical mitzva of ahavas yisroel*: "And for the slanderers let there be no hope; and may all wickedness perish ...
20
votes
5answers
790 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 ...
19
votes
3answers
648 views

Can I cause a Melacha to happen in a place where Shabbat has already started?

Can I cause a Melacha to happen in a place where Shabbat has already started? For example, if I live in New York, could I send a fax (causing the machine to print a document) to Israel on Friday ...
15
votes
2answers
1k 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
2answers
732 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.
14
votes
11answers
789 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
742 views

How is gender halachically determined?

I apologize if this is a sensitive topic, but it seems that this question is foundational to some of the discussions that appear here. I hope that my wording is appropriate. If I understand ...
11
votes
1answer
376 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
364 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
877 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 ...
11
votes
6answers
903 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
760 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
392 views

Continuing to drink a Beverage after Birchas HaMazon?

Perhaps this is a simple matter that I should be embarrassed not to know (which I am even if it isn't because I need to learn hilchos b'rachos better and always forget to look this question up) ...
9
votes
2answers
235 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
6answers
2k views

Good books for non-Jews who are interested in understanding Judaism, especially branches of Orthodox judaism

I have found that the first thing to do when you want to learn something about a subject, is to start with the idea that you know absolutely nothing. I understand, for example, that Judaism has ...
8
votes
4answers
457 views

Relations with messianists

Do any rabbis comment on how to relate to members of the subset of Chabad who believe that the Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l was the Messiah? For example, do non-messianist Orthodox rabbis ...
8
votes
3answers
378 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
3answers
3k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
333 views

A Lubavitch custom of reciting zecher and zeicher in “Ashrei”?

My cousin, a Lubavitcher, says both zecher and zeicher (that is, both זֶכֶר with a segol and זֵכֶר with a tzeire) in "Ashrei". I noticed this when I visited him a good few years ago, and assumed it ...
7
votes
3answers
450 views

Is there any precedent to read the first 11 chapters of Genesis as metaphorical?

I believe this will be related to a similar question about a statement by Rabbi Sacks. Rabbi Jeremy Wieder said in a lecture titled Non Literal Interpretation of Scripture in Jewish Tradition (and ...
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
7answers
263 views

Resources for learning about the foundations of Judaism

I recently met an intelligent Soviet immigrant interested in learning more about Judaism. He would like to start with understanding the basics. Such as: How do we understand G-d? What are the ...
6
votes
3answers
711 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
346 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
4answers
11k views

Rules for Cutting Nails

My question about nail-cutting is whether each of the following is halacha, minhag, or old-wives' tales. Not cutting both fingernails and toenails on the same day. Not cutting nails at night (is ...
4
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
21
votes
6answers
14k views

Is there a problem with Triangle K? If so, what?

I want to know what the OU's or any other Orthodox kashrut agency's problem is with Triangle K. I have read about the Ralbag family which founded and runs the Triangle K and they are clearly Orthodox. ...
19
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
19
votes
5answers
922 views

Did the Rambam believe in magic?

If you read through Chapter 11 of the Rambam's laws on Idol Worship, you'll see what seems to be the Rambam forbidding anything that even resembles magic, all while calling such practices foolish and ...
15
votes
2answers
2k 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
472 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
327 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?
14
votes
4answers
439 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
618 views

Is one allowed to have a Thanksgiving Meal?

Is celebrating Thanksgiving with a formal sit down meal against Halacha?
13
votes
4answers
537 views

Typing on Chol Hamoed

Is typing allowed on Chol Hamoed? Does it make a difference if whatever is typed will be printed afterwards?

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