12
votes
6answers
545 views

Why is there so much space and matter,etc. in the universe?

If the point of all of creation is for the Jewish people to accept and carry out the torah [I realize this is not axiomatic and may be a point of contention - see Shabbat 88a] what is the need for the ...
10
votes
1answer
830 views

Can a live video feed remove the prohibition of Yichud?

I was wondering if and how a public videostream could affect a potential yichud situation. For example, may a single guy and girl be secluded if they set up a continuously broadcasting camera and ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Why isn't the book of the Maccabees part of the Jewish canon?

I believe they are in the Christian canon... why not Jewish?
9
votes
5answers
193 views

Are there sources that any minute not learned Torah is a sin?

I was recently referred to the Even HaEzel on the Rambam in the 3rd chapter of Hilchos Melachim. Reb Isser Zalman Meltzer (the author) writes there that there is no sin of Bittul Torah for a regular ...
9
votes
1answer
424 views

Mentioning Yeshu's name?

Is there a source for not verbally (or in writing, for that matter) mentioning the name of Yeshu (the father of Christianity)? If there is such a source, what exactly is forbidden to say? Is it only ...
9
votes
5answers
454 views

Is the passage describing an approximation of pi or is it one of the miracles of Bais Hamikdash?

In Sepher M'lakhim we read how different measurement was taken. I wonder if this passage (Ⅰ M'lakhim 7:23) is describing an approximation of PI (3.1415...), or was this one of the hidden miracles? ...
8
votes
6answers
521 views

Rationalist Position on Bible Ancients' Long Lives

How would a rationalist interpret the long lives of the ancient people enumerated in the Bible, from Methuselah on down? Virtually no person lives more than 120 years today, even with the assistance ...
7
votes
4answers
298 views

Are there unnecessary words in torah?

I've been taught, often enough that I thought it was universal, that there are no unnecessary words in torah (chumash) — every word is there to teach us something. I've seen plenty of discussions in ...
7
votes
6answers
343 views

Saying words of prayer or Torah while an immodest photo or drawing is in your field of vision?

The halachah is clear (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 75) that one may not recite Shema, or any other words of Torah or prayer, while in the presence of parts of the human body that should be covered. ...
6
votes
1answer
432 views

Belief that a dead man will be the Messiah - Kfira?

Are there any documented halachik authorities that rule that the belief in a dead Messiah is beyond the pale of permitted Jewish belief and therefore would qualify as Kfira? If there are halachik ...
6
votes
2answers
858 views

Reasons for different minhagim regarding if and when to put tallit gadol over head?

I'm curious about the reasons and sources for the different customs about if and when to cover one's head with the tallit gadol during davenen. For example: cover head from after bar'chu until after ...
4
votes
5answers
801 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
514 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
676 views

Tzar Balay Chaim- Killing Pests?

Are you allowed to kill flies and other pests (mice, mosquitoes, etc.) or would that go under the prohibition of Tzar Balay Chaim?
1
vote
3answers
262 views

Did G-d create evil? [closed]

Did G-d create evil? Scripture says that G-d created everything, right? So then if G-d indeed created everything, does that mean He created evil? Is there Old Testament evidence for why He did or ...
27
votes
11answers
892 views

Seder advice when with people who aren't interested?

This may have some things in common with beginner's seder advice, but it's different enough that I'm asking separately. For family-obligation reasons, I sometimes find myself at a seder where most of ...
27
votes
3answers
844 views

Keeping Kosher at a secular company

How you do deal with keeping Kosher while working at a secular company? It's easy enough to bring my own lunch everyday; what I'm not sure how to handle are events like company lunches and other ...
19
votes
2answers
263 views

Why the custom to switch around negative-sounding numbers, such as שד?

Often in sefarim we find that if the number of the siman spells out something negative, such as siman 304 which has a letter value of שד, we switch it around so it no longer reads as a "bad" word. ...
19
votes
3answers
492 views

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 afternoon, before it is Shabbat for me, but after Shabbat has started there?
18
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
398 views

How to reconcile the possibility that Rashi had a slightly different text of the Torah

In the Parshah of Chayei Sara, in Bereishis 25:6, there is a Posuk that refers to הפילגשים - "the concubines". Rashi expounds that since the word is missing a Yud, it must be a reference to the fact ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there a list of Mitzvot and their corresponding body parts?

The Talmud (Makkot 23B)and the Zohar (1:170B - unverified English translation here) say that the 248 positive commandments correspond to the 248 limbs of the human body. (The Mishna (Ohalot 1:8) lists ...
16
votes
7answers
494 views

What justifications are there for not moving to Eretz Yisrael?

The Gemara in many places is clear that there is some level of mitzvah to live in Israel. This is also the accepted consensus among the rishonim. In the past, it was very difficult to move to Israel, ...
16
votes
2answers
215 views

People half-standing for אלקינו in zimun

When conducting a zimun with ten or more men, the nusach is to say "...ברוך אלקינו שאכלנו משלו". I have noticed that many people, when saying the word "אלקינו", get up from their seats at least a ...
15
votes
4answers
931 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
3answers
3k views

Taking a concubine (pilegesh) today

Moderator's note: As with all discussions of Jewish law on this site, any information included in this question or its answers is presented only for the purpose of understanding the relevant ideas, ...
15
votes
5answers
470 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?
15
votes
2answers
225 views

How and when does a prophet know that it's God who's speaking to him?

When God addressed Moshe there was an accompanying miracle (and there's midrash about Avraham's case being special too), so it was pretty clear what was happening, but how did the other prophets come ...
15
votes
2answers
354 views

Computer working on Shabbos

Can I leave my computer on downloading over Shabbos?
14
votes
4answers
3k views

B'siyata D'shmaya or Baruch Hashem

Often, at the top of written work, Jews write either ב"ה, which stands for Baruch Hashem =blessed is the Name i.e., God, or בס"ד, which stands for b'siyata d'shmaya =with Heavenly help. What is the ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

Werewolf in the Torah

I have been told that there are Pirushim on the Torah who speak of werewolves. Can anyone locate them?
14
votes
7answers
1k views

Do Chasidim avoid wearing ties?

Do Chasidim not wear ties as a rule? If so, is this by design or an accident of history? If by design, where can I find said intended reason in print?
13
votes
4answers
545 views

What's a good technique for a not-so-strong person to do [Ashkenazi] Hagbaha?

I've seen many people shy away when asked to do Hagbaha (‏הגבהה‏), thinking themselves too weak. I know for a fact that it doesn't take that much strength to do it correctly, so I'd love to ...
12
votes
2answers
359 views

Why is Moshiach a “fundamental belief” (iqar)?

In what sense is belief in the eventual coming of Moshiach fundamental to Judaism? Rambam famously includes it as the twelfth in his list of iqarim, but why? Considering the other iqarim, Judaism ...
12
votes
3answers
329 views

Understanding of Ps. 137 before the exile

Psalm 137 starts (in my own translation) On Babylon's rivers, there, we sat, also cried, in our remembering Zion. and continues to describe the scene. Ibn Ezra cites some who hold that David ...
12
votes
3answers
512 views

Nose Job in Halacha

Is a nose job allowed Hallachicly? Not all cosmetic surgeries, but rhinoplasty in particular, as I heard that rhinoplasty is allowed because we see by a Kohen that having an abnormally long nose is a ...
12
votes
1answer
699 views

Food in bathroom

Is one allowed to take food into the bathroom? I heard that the prohibiton is only on the type of bathroom used years ago.
12
votes
4answers
251 views

How do we know what the Chazzan should say aloud?

In many siddurim, the text indicates a position, toward the end of each normal paragraph of prayer, where the Chazzan is supposed to start reading aloud, so that everyone knows when it's time to go on ...
11
votes
4answers
362 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, ...
11
votes
1answer
191 views

Why are some bakashot made on Shabbat?

As I understand it, we don't make prayers of request (bakashot) on Shabbat (cf Rambam Shabbat 30:12). For that reason, we omit so many liturgical requests because of shabbos - e.g., Avinu Malkeinu, ...
11
votes
2answers
342 views

Reading secular books on shabbat?

Which prominent halakhic authorities permit (or forbid) the reading of secular books, magazines, and newspapers from Friday evening until Saturday nightfall? Why? Is it uvda dechol? What if it is ...
11
votes
1answer
293 views

Understanding discouragement of converts

Why do we discourage converts? I know that Naomi did so with Rus, but Moshe doesn't seem to do so with Yisro. Why wouldn't Judaism want to encourage converts? Furthermore is it a responsibility merely ...
11
votes
2answers
363 views

What is a woman's obligation when it comes to T'fillah?

In Orthodox practice it is commonly thought that women are not obligated in T'fillah (parts of it anyway) due to its time-bound nature. However, what is a woman's obligation? Which prayers must she ...
11
votes
3answers
588 views

Talis Gadol for Unmarried Individuals

In my minhag (and I believe it's minhag Ashkenaz), unmarried men do not wear a Talis Gadol (only a Talis Katan). Why is this so?
11
votes
1answer
869 views

Drinking cold kosher beverages in a non-Jewish relative's house

Let's say you're staying at a non-Jewish relative's house. He bought you kosher food because he knows you keep kosher. He buys you a drink such as milk. You see him pour the drink for himself into his ...
11
votes
9answers
691 views

do we really have free choice?

I was told Hashem created us with free will; so we can make a choice to do good or evil, right? Well, Hashem knows what we are going to do in 10 minutes. So do we really have free will? Hashem can see ...
10
votes
1answer
128 views

embarassing an anonymous person online

There is a prohibition to embarass other people (Sanhedrin 99a). Does this apply also to anonymous online people despite that nobody knows their identity and therefore they should not feel embarassed ...
10
votes
4answers
707 views

Why do men or boys have to cover their hair, but not unmarried women?

Whatever the reasons for covering hair (e.g. fear of heaven), they seem to equally apply to men and women. So why don't unmarried women have to cover their hair?
10
votes
1answer
314 views

Can one make a siyum mesechta if it was learned in English translation?

If someone has some trouble with Aramaic and learned parts of a mesechta in English translation (for example with an Artscroll Gemara), can he still make a siyum?
10
votes
6answers
1k views

Is it forbidden for a woman to learn Gemara?

Is it forbidden for a woman to learn Gemara?

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