69
votes
3answers
2k views

Implications of Samoa skipping a Friday

This week, the island of Samoa is switching time zones, causing it to skip from Thursday directly to Saturday. Out of simple curiosity, what implications might this have on any Jews on the island? ...
27
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
34
votes
7answers
630 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 ...
18
votes
16answers
496 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
742 views

Minimum Age to Learn Kabbalah?

How old do you have to be to learn Kabbalah? (I think its 60 ) but it seems everyone learns it anyway (Maharal, Chassidus). Is there a defense or is it just done?
13
votes
8answers
1k views

How to learn gemara independently

Is there an organized path that a Ba'al Teshuva can follow to learn Gemara and prepare the Daf by himself? I mean after he is able to learn with Artscroll.
18
votes
2answers
506 views

Is a Jew allowed to participate on Christianity.SE?

I was browsing meta.Christianity.SE recently when I noticed a question with a rather obvious (and good) answer that had not been posted. I was about to go ahead and answer it when I realized there ...
17
votes
5answers
1k views

Why is Judaism not Racism?

I am only asking this question to educate myself, not because I am anti-semitic or for any other hidden agenda. I do not what to turn this forum into an ugly place. I realize this question is ...
13
votes
5answers
996 views

Why are women exempt from (many) time-bound mitzvot?

I have heard two reasons for women being exempt from time-bound mitzvot and both seem problematic, so either there are additional explanations or I am not properly understanding these two: Women ...
13
votes
1answer
370 views

What is the meaning of psak?

I have asked many people this question, and not yet got a comprehensive answer: What is psak? Like, let's say I have a certain piece of food of uncertain status. If I ask my 6 year old kid if it's ...
12
votes
1answer
233 views

What determines the sorts of cases in which one can deliberately not know the facts?

Halacha depends on the facts of a situation. Generally, when one cannot know the exact facts, he is expected to assume that they are as usual (rov), or as they were when last checked (chazaka). When ...
8
votes
2answers
397 views

Why do you make a Bracha on seeing a monkey?

Why do you make the Bracha Mishaneh Habriyos on seeing a monkey?
4
votes
7answers
629 views

Things we do not do because of Danger

What are things Brought down in Halacha that we do not do because of Danger?
1
vote
1answer
320 views

Does Jewish law forbid Internet usage?

The Ichud HaKehillos LeTohar HaMachane anti-Internet rally is coming up in a few weeks, on May 20, 2012. What do contemporary halakhic authorities say about the permissibility or prohibition of using ...
21
votes
6answers
428 views

Where does the concept of Gilgulim (reincarnations) in Judaism come from?

What is the source of Gilgulim in Judaism? Are there people who disagree with its existence? Who was the first to mention it? What I am asking essentialy is what is the historical development of ...
17
votes
10answers
701 views

How can I make a long summer shabbat a delight?

Where I live, shabbat ends at nearly 10PM at the peak of summer, and I find it challenging to get to the end of that without starting to develop some negative feelings. I try to spend most of Shabbat ...
15
votes
8answers
1k views

Phrasing of refuah prayer when praying for a non-Jew

How would you phrase a refuah (recovery from illness) tefillah (prayer) for a sick gentile? "Thomas ben [=son of] Mary"? "Thomas Smith"? Is it appropriate to include the name during the ...
14
votes
2answers
913 views

Can a non-Jew don tefillin?

May a non-Jew or a person who is in the conversion process don tefillin? If not, what are the reasons that they cannot?
14
votes
1answer
235 views

Can you learn from seforim written by someone who believed in Shabbetai Tzvi?

During the times of false messiah Shabbetai Tzvi, and for several decades afterwards, many well established rabbanim [1] believed him to be Moshiach. Some even maintained this belief after his ...
14
votes
1answer
356 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
4answers
314 views

Did courts ever execute?

The laws of capital crimes elucidated in Sanhedrin and elsewhere make conviction very unlikely. Makkot 1:10 famously tells us that a court that executes once in seven years is bloodthirsty, R. ...
12
votes
2answers
306 views

Inhaling prayers?

Elsewhere I ask whether it's sufficient to pray in a whisper. See there, please, for a description of whispering and how it differs from speaking quietly. Answers to that question indicate that ...
12
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
332 views

Who didn't recite Kabbalas Shabbos?

In this article, R. Michael Broyde writes that: Indeed, there have been prominent halachic authorities of the last generation who did not recite Kabbalat Shabbat. Can anyone provide examples of ...
11
votes
4answers
491 views

What does “to confuse the Satan” mean and why does it work?

There are several things we don't do in order "to confuse the Satan", like not blowing Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashana. How does it help? Does Satan not realize that Rosh Hashana didn't pass yet? He ...
11
votes
8answers
1k views

Where can I buy cheap seforim online?

Where can I buy seforim online for cheap prices? I mean real seforim.....not digital ones. I'm willing to buy seforim either new or second-hand.
10
votes
2answers
277 views

Shalom Aleichem in Kiddush Levanah

Why do we say Shalom Aliechem in Kiddush Levanah? And what should one do if there are no other people around (or not enough people around)?
10
votes
7answers
289 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
319 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
285 views

Is modesty a positive or negative commandment?

Given that: There are two types of Mitzvoth (commandments), 'Aseh and Lo Ta'aseh (positive and negative; ie., "Thou Shalt" and "Thou Shalt Not"). a. Positive commandments, with some exceptions can ...
9
votes
5answers
1k 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".]
7
votes
2answers
351 views

Teaching Written Torah to Christians

There is an idea mentioned by the Rambam, but not in the Mishneh Torah as I recall, that it is permissible to teach Wrtitten Torah to Christians because they accept it as Divine and don't study it in ...
6
votes
0answers
125 views

Rishonim saying Ester took place during the second bayis

Elsewhere on this site, avi cited sources to the effect that, contrary to the Bavli (M'gila), the events recounted in the book of Ester took place after the second bes hamikdash was built. Do any ...
5
votes
0answers
109 views

What are the practical limits of shaimos in the common era? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Hashems name on device I've tried to always be careful in regard to shaimos, but I'm still having difficulty understanding how it maps out in the age of the computer. ...
4
votes
5answers
659 views

ALL Names of God

Where can I find an exhaustive list of all of the names of Hashem (preferably שמות and כינוים) in Tanach and elsewhere? Is this too ill-defined a topic to have an exhaustive answer? Do the 70 in the ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Is it permissible for a Jewish woman to marry a Muslim man and vice versa?

As both Abrahamic religions, Islam and Judaism have the same God and share a common law then how do Rabbis see the marriage of a Jewish woman marrying a Muslim man and vice versa? Also how is it like ...
3
votes
4answers
451 views

Make for yourself a website?

Can a site like mi.yodeya.com be used for one to fulfill our sages mandate of "Make for yourself a Rav"? Obviously I meant this facetiously. Of course a website cannot take the place of a rav, but ...
23
votes
3answers
593 views

Keeping Kosher at a secular company

How you do deal with keeping Kosher while working at a secular company? Its easy enough to bring my own lunch everyday, what I'm not sure how to handle are events like company lunches and other social ...
18
votes
5answers
552 views

After chumashim with notes and Rashi, what's the next torah commentary I should acquire and study?

When I read the torah text (parsha or otherwise) I currently use a couple of chumashim with notes, and Rashi. I know some Hebrew but am not fluent. I'm ready to stretch beyond what I'm reading now ...
16
votes
3answers
466 views

When did Ruth convert?

In the book of Ruth it never openly states that she converts and in fact she is referred to as Ruth the Moabite throughout the text. At what point, chronologically, did she in fact convert?
16
votes
2answers
1k views

If a woman converts to Judaism while pregnant, will her child be a Jew?

If a woman converts to Judaism while pregnant, will her child be a Jew once born?
16
votes
2answers
655 views

Why doesn't the OU put DE on food packages anymore?

The OU used to put DE next to the OU symbol when a product was Dairy Equipment. Such a product can not be eaten with meat but can be eaten right afterwards (you don't need to wait the amount of time ...
16
votes
4answers
696 views

Orthodox Visits to Other Denomination Sanctuaries

Why is it that some people won't set foot in another's sanctuary, even if it was for a non-prayer function? Can an orthodox person be in a reform style temple sanctuary for a lecture or concert? I ...
15
votes
4answers
701 views

How can pigs and shellfish be kosher for bnei Noach?

As a ben Noach, I watch what meat I eat. I eat kosher or halal cut meat only. However, I think that bnei Noach aren't forbidden from eating pig meat or shellfish. How would I make sure that such meat ...
15
votes
2answers
881 views

Can one throw out a Menorah?

Is it an issue to discard a menorah that has been used for the mitzvah of Neros Chanuka? What if the menorah is made from something not usually used for a menorah? For example,bottles, cans, ...
15
votes
1answer
289 views

Why don't people bentch on a kos nowadays?

Bentching with a kos (recite Grace after Meals with a cup of wine) was clearly a popular thing to do in the times of the gemara. Additionally many Ashkenazi rishonim (Rosh, Ri, and many other ...
15
votes
7answers
549 views

Eating Meat: What Changed?

Adam wasn't allowed to eat meat. After the mabul (Flood) we were suddenly permitted to eat (Bereshit 9:3). What changed (ie what was the reason we weren't allowed to before, why are we allowed to now ...
15
votes
4answers
1k 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?
14
votes
3answers
296 views

Humming during shmoneh esre

On shabbat for shacharit and mussaf, I am usually still davening shmoneh esre by the time the chazzan gets to kedusha. In this situation, can I hum to the tune of kedusha? This essentially boils down ...
14
votes
5answers
406 views

Saying “Laberiut” “God bless you” or “Gesundheit”

Is there are source for saying "Laberiut" "God bless you" "Gesundheit" or any other response to a sneeze? In other words, are there posekim who mention it in Halacha?

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