20
votes
3answers
370 views

Can I lend out a Library Book?

I just borrowed a wonderful book from the local library (let's assume Jewish library - but does it matter?). My friend sees the book and wants to read it. My library lets me keep the book for a week, ...
19
votes
2answers
676 views

What are the consequences of Vashti’s dual nature? [closed]

In Esther 1:9 we read, “ושתי המלכה עשתה משתי נשים” Vashti the queen was made of two women. Aside from being biologically surprising, what are the consequences of this in our understanding of the ...
19
votes
4answers
652 views

Does a Food Mashgiach have to Sacrifice his Life?

Suppose a Mashgiach of a food establishment is threatened to "keep quiet" about some of the questionable behaviors [for purposes of the question, consider both actual non-kosher, and possibly non-...
18
votes
1answer
520 views

Should someone tell a Jewish doctor about a tattoo of G-d's name?

Background: I am not Jewish. I have a tattoo containing G-d's name. I have been in the process of removing this tattoo using laser treatment. There seems to be some disagreement on whether or not ...
18
votes
2answers
5k views

Bracha for Quinoa

What Bracha do you make on Quinoa?
18
votes
2answers
1k views

Relationship between Samekh and Sin

What is the relationship between the letters samekh and sin? Did they ever have distinct sounds? Why do they exist as separate letters?
17
votes
9answers
1k views

Cleaning Tzitzis

What have you found to be the best way to wash tzitzis (i.e. easiest, least likely to invalidate, and most clean)?
17
votes
4answers
1k views

Why Yehoshua **Bin** Nun and not Yehoshua **Ben** Nun

The Torah refers to Yehoshua as Yehoshua Bin Nun. (See here for an example). Why Bin Nun and not Ben Nun? Are there any places in Tanach where he is referred to as Ben Nun? Is there anyone else in ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does the Hebrew alphabet not have letters representing vowels?

(Re-asking this question in a way more suited to SE.) The Hebrew alphabet is actually an abjad rather than a "true" Western-style alphabet, in that every letter represents a consonant, and vowels, if ...
17
votes
2answers
313 views

Why Not Eight Days Until a Convert's Circumcision?

Why doesn't a convert dip in the mikveh and then wait eight days until he gets his circumcision? The gemara (Yevamot 97b) says ger shnitgayeir kekatan shenolad dami (A convert is like a newly-born ...
17
votes
4answers
726 views

What is the source of the Magen Dovid (Star of David)?

What is the source of the Magen Dovid (Star of David) in Rabbinic Judaism? When was it first used, and for what?
17
votes
2answers
263 views

What defines a country to be a legitimate country?

There are a few Halachas that apply to a Jew's relationship with his country. For example, Dina Dmalchusa, another is not to rebel (although its Halachic strength is disputed, all agree that under ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

What was daily life like for Jewish women living in al-Andalus in the 10th/11th centuries?

The emir of Al-Andalus (approximately the Iberian peninsula) declared himself a new caliph, breaking off from the caliphate in the east, circa 950 CE. I have read that the next couple hundred years ...
16
votes
4answers
263 views

First time lighting Chanuka candles is on second night

If one didn't light Chanuka candles until the second night, how many candles should he light? According to the reason that we add a candle a night is "Maalin Bakodesh" (we always add in holiness), ...
16
votes
2answers
245 views

Calling a Jew a “guru”?

Is it appropriate to use the term "guru" to refer to an expert in matters of Judaism or Jewish law on the assumption that it will be understood as the second definition here, or is it inappropriate no ...
16
votes
2answers
188 views

Hagalah in Denver?

In high-altitude cities, water boils at a lower temperature than the standard 212 degrees Farenheit. For example, in Denver the boiling point is about 203 degrees. Can one kasher utensils with hagalah ...
16
votes
3answers
312 views

Is there tashlumin for n'ila?

Being that n'ila is a unique prayer, in that it only occurs once a year, can one make up (do tashlumin for) n'ila at the next prayer or the previous one at n'ila?
16
votes
2answers
304 views

Why was the parah aduma found in 2002 disqualified?

In 2002, various news sources reported that a red heifer was found and the Temple Institute in Israel declared it kosher. Many of these sources later reported that the parah aduma was disqualified ...
16
votes
7answers
572 views

What do you do with Kos Shel Eliyahu

The Minhag is to fill up an additional cup towards the end of the seder known as Kos Shel Eliyahu. I was just wondering what the various minhagim are as to what to do with it after the seder is over.
16
votes
3answers
4k views

What should I be aware of when using the term “Jew”?

As a gentile who finds himself writing about Judaism in the ancient world, I've found myself reluctant to use the word "Jew". I tend to use phrases like "Jewish people" and "Hebrew" when it makes ...
16
votes
6answers
1k views

High School Math in the Talmud

I'm currently tutoring someone in math that has an atitude of "what's the point of all this... why would I ever need this..." (which is typical of many high-schoolers). To try to pique his interest, I ...
15
votes
4answers
341 views

A practical joke that leads to a mitzvah

When I was in Yeshiva, someone somewhere in Klal Yisrael played a practical joke. Sometime during the week of Parshas Vayeishev, a text message went around saying something to the effect of "a 17 ...
15
votes
2answers
368 views

Why aren't Yemenites an ed echad on locusts?

I've heard that the reason we (most of us) don't eat the locusts enumerated as kosher in the Torah is that we cannot identify them. That is, we don't know what type of locust is referred to by the ...
15
votes
6answers
386 views

Why are there colored splotches on the pages on many Jewish texts?

On many editions of the Chumash, Talmud, and even many more-modern books, you look at the side of the book (opposite the spine) and there are random colored splotches printed on the pages. (For ...
15
votes
1answer
367 views

According to Halacha, may we endanger many Jewish lives in order to definitely save one Jew?

For example, what does Halacha say about the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange? "Save" means "free from captivity," although in many cases it's the same thing as saving his\her life (e.g. if we didn't ...
15
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the Gorel Hagra?

What is it? How is it performed? May one perform it? And, if so, when may it be used?
15
votes
6answers
598 views

Avoiding accidentally eating cheese

Whether one waits 6 hours, 3 hours, 1 hour, or somewhere in between, it is a common occurrence to find people mistakenly eating milk/cheese/yogurt too soon after meat. It seems like a problem that ...
15
votes
8answers
737 views

Why is “Shalom Aleichem” always plural?

Why do we say Shalom Alaichem to one person if Alaichem is plural? Is it saying you and all of the Jews? Is that why it's plural?
15
votes
3answers
430 views

Why do plastic bags and not fuselages protect against impurity?

In a picture on this article, we see a kohen who has enclosed himself in a plastic bag so as to avoid becoming impure as a result of flying over a cemetery. Why is it that a pressurized fuselage does ...
15
votes
1answer
207 views

Out-of-order minyan participation

Some shuls have several minyanim back to back. If one arrives before the Torah reading of the 8:30 minyan and has finished davening before the Torah reading of the 9:30 minyan (to whose Kedusha one ...
14
votes
4answers
977 views

Why do Jewish people sway while praying?

Is there a reason that people sway back and forth while praying? I saw a lot of people pray like this, but I'm too shy to ask them why do they do this.
14
votes
4answers
350 views

Women and Mayim Acharonim

I very often eat at meals where after the meal, all of the men wash mayim acharonim, but none of the women do so. I am aware of a number of halachic sources that say both men and women should wash ...
14
votes
2answers
226 views

Why should the patriarchs have lived to 180?

Rashi to B'reshis 25:30 says that Avraham should have lived to the age of 180 had his life not been cut short. Yitzchak lived to 180. The Daas Z'kenim to B'reshis 47:8 quotes a midrash as saying ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

The laws behind the separation of men and women

In Israel there is a hot debate because of instances on some communities where extra steps are taken to separate men and women in every day life. For example in some bus lines women seat in the back ...
14
votes
2answers
213 views

How “with” the congregation do you have to be in order to say the 13 Divine Attributes (middos)?

According to the view that the 13 Divine Attributes ("Hashem, Hashem, Keil Rachum...") are considered a davar shebikedushah and therefore require a minyan for their recital, an individual doesn't ...
14
votes
2answers
395 views

Goshen, the most immoral part of Mitzrayim

Rashi on Vayikra 18:3 says (as understood by the Mizrachi) that the most immoral part of Mitzrayim was Goshen, where the Jews had settled — indeed, according to B'reshis 45:10, Yosef chose it as ...
14
votes
2answers
300 views

Why does the torah give us exact dates for the flood?

This question asks why the flood didn't end on the 18th of Cheshvan (one year after the start). My question is more basic: why does the torah give us precise dates here at all? Bereishit 7:11 tells ...
14
votes
3answers
409 views

Why did Achashveirosh take Esther if she was already married?

According to the opinion that Queen Esther was married to Mordechai. Achashveirosh was looking for unmarried girls (Esther 2:2–4). Why did he take a married woman? Especially considering that Queen ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Can a Cohen marry a bat niddah?

Can a Cohen marry a bat niddah? Are Cohens generally restricted from marrying baalot teshuva because of the possibility that they may be b'not niddah?
14
votes
2answers
695 views

How should non-Jews observe Rosh HaShanah?

The second mishnah in Rosh HaShanah says that "all the people of the world" are judged on Rosh HaShanah. How should non-Jews observe the Day of Judgment?
14
votes
2answers
654 views

Do Shaving Restrictions Apply to Bearded Women?

For example, if a woman were to have a beard, would she be permitted to shave it off with a razor or otherwise destroy it, or do these restrictions apply to both men and women?
14
votes
5answers
2k views

Can you be buried in a Jewish Cemetery if you have a tattoo?

Can you be buried in a Jewish Cemetery if you have a tattoo? I.e., is it just urban legend that you can't?
14
votes
1answer
473 views

In case of diphallia, how is brit-milah affected?

Diphallia is a rare medical condition in which a male infant is born with two penises. Does brit-milah requires both penises to be circumcised? Is there any reference in the litterature about such ...
14
votes
2answers
324 views

Is there a halachic problem with the Columbia University seal on the floor of the library?

The seal of Columbia University has the YKVK (G-d's 4 letter name) on the floor of the library. People walk on the seal. Is this chilul Hashem or is there some other halachic problem with this? Does ...
14
votes
4answers
557 views

using two plastic cups for Kiddush

I know making kiddush with a plastic cup is problematic because of requirements. I have seen people using two plastic cups: what is the source for this and is it legitimate?
13
votes
3answers
241 views

Can I omit ברוך השם לעולם אמן ואמן to catch up in Maariv?

If the Shaliach Tzibbur for maariv (outside of Israel) goes too quickly for me to start the Amidah with him, is there a source which would allow me to omit the section ברוך השם לעולם אמן ואמן? This ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the bracha when one eats the Torah? [closed]

I keep seeing all these questions which discuss "Purim Torah, Ingest" but they don't seem to address the rules of actually ingesting the Torah. I don't know how to treat the Torah when I eat it. If ...
13
votes
2answers
133 views

Does Shmita apply in Jordan?

Since the East bank of the Jordan River was given to shevet Reuven as an inheritance, was Shmita observed there as well? If so, does shmita still apply there?
13
votes
1answer
211 views

How do I say vidui in Selichos in a meaningful way?

We say vidui three times in selichos. Many words are uttered in a relatively short time. How can we do this in a meaningful way that is not "vidui peh"? I have heard tell of one of the gedolei ...
13
votes
2answers
359 views

How are the two tales of dancing in vinyards on the 15th of Av related?

The Mishna tells us (Taanis 26b) that on the 15th of Av, unmarried girls would borrow clothes, dance in the vineyard, and invite the unmarried men to choose them for marriage. The Talmud (Taanis 30b) ...

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