97
votes
5answers
3k 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? ...
68
votes
3answers
1k views

Does “reputation scoring” make “the Torah a crown to magnify yourself with”?

Is "reputation scoring" against the spirit of Pirkei Ovos 4 (5) "Rabbi Tzaddok would say: <snip> Do not make the Torah a crown to magnify yourself with, ...."
62
votes
5answers
5k views

What is the halachic source for objection to gay (civil) marriage?

New York State is considering legalizing gay (civil) marriages, so tonight on our answering machine we received a message urging us to pray that it doesn't pass because gay civil marriages were, you ...
46
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
46
votes
5answers
954 views

Were slave-related commandments observed in America?

Since there was slavery in the Americas between their discovery and 1865, do we know of any Jewish slave-owners there who observed slavery-related laws of Judaism?
45
votes
7answers
975 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 more-...
42
votes
5answers
4k views

Rejecting others' friend requests on Facebook [closed]

Inspired by this question: If one receives a friend request on Facebook, especially from another Jew, is it permissible to reject them? On the one hand, "חברים כל ישראל" - "All Jews are friends"; ...
42
votes
6answers
2k views

Are sea sponges kosher?

The sea sponge is scientifically classified as an animal, therefore maybe it would be considered unkosher, as seafood. On the other hand, it seems much more similar to a vegetable of some kind, so ...
41
votes
7answers
2k views

May I use my neighbor's Wi-Fi without asking permission?

My neighbor has never set up password protection on his wireless router. If I wanted, I could wirelessly connect to his high-speed Internet service. May I use his Internet service without asking him ...
38
votes
11answers
3k views

How do we know that God exists?

Simple enough question, and very much related to the topic. According to traditional Jewish sources, on what basis should people believe that there's a God?
37
votes
11answers
3k views

Why is it necessary to ask a Rabbi?

In various places on this site, including the FAQ, we have the following disclaimer: Like Wikipedia, this site makes no guarantee of validity, and does not offer professional (particularly ...
37
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
35
votes
10answers
1k views

How do I get myself to yearn for moshiach if I'm comfortable in the diaspora?

Intellectually I know that we're supposed to yearn for the coming of the mashiach and the in-gathering in Eretz Yisrael. I know that one of the Rambam's 13 principles calls for this. We pray for ...
35
votes
3answers
9k views

Should one ask a non-Jew attending synagogue to wear a yarmulke?

It says in Divrei HaRav (by R. Hershel Schachter, p143) that when they asked R. Aharon Kotler whether a non-Jewish secular studies teacher in a yeshiva should be asked to wear a yarmulke, he said he ...
34
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the point of having a rapist marry the woman he raped?

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (JPS) 28  If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, that is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; 29 then the man that lay with ...
34
votes
7answers
2k views

Is it permissible to erase the name of G-d from an E-reader?

Most people seem to be lenient about shemos on digital screens in general (though Bar-Ilan does avoid displaying the Tetragrammaton.) The letters on the screen are just light, there is nothing really ...
33
votes
13answers
8k views

Is Christianity Avodah Zara?

It is commonly accepted that Islam is not Avodah Zarah (idolatry) since Islam has a clear monotheistic theology with a belief in Allah that parallels our view of "kail" or Hashem. It is even ...
33
votes
6answers
5k views

Which alphabet were the original Torah scrolls in?

I've assumed that the Torah scrolls we read today as the same that Moses wrote. I always assumed it's been the same alphabet. However lately I came across documents explaining the evolution of the ...
33
votes
4answers
4k views

In a leap year, is the extra month Adar I or Adar II?

I'm implementing support for the Hebrew calendar in Noda Time, my date/time library for .NET. I think I'm mostly there aside from text support (although beta testers would be very welcome!) but one ...
33
votes
10answers
4k views

Reason behind pinky during hagba

Why do people lift their pinkies during Hagba?
33
votes
5answers
2k views

Can a Jew lose their Jewish Status?

Can a Jew lose their status as being a Jew by performing any action (example: performing idolatry, disavowing core beliefs, converting to another religion, etc)? Or once a person is a Jew then they ...
32
votes
26answers
2k views

About what were rabbis ahead of the times?

I have heard claims that experts in the world of Torah were significantly ahead of their counterparts in the world of natural science (or mathematics, or psychology, or…) in that they knew X (...
32
votes
11answers
1k views

Haman was Basar b’Chalav, so how could we eat him? [closed]

Esther 3:5 says, “וימלא המן חמה” Haman was filled with butter. This would presumably make his flesh basar b’chalav, but Shemos 16:35 clearly says “ובני ישראל אכלו את־המן” the Children of Israel ate ...
31
votes
6answers
4k views

Is it possible for a Gentile to convert to Judaism? [closed]

Is it possible for someone who is Gentile to convert to Judaism? What is the prevailing belief of Jewish people on this subject? What scripture backs up this belief? What do prominent Jewish ...
31
votes
2answers
657 views

Pronouncing Hashem's name in a song

Some people are very careful to say Hashem or Elokim when singing a song with one of G-d's names in it so as not to use His name in vain (related question), but I have also been told this is ...
30
votes
20answers
5k views

How to tactfully circumvent opposite-gender handshake

Say you're a man in a professional setting, and a woman who isn't used to dealing with observant Jews stretches out her hand to greet you -- but your practice is to avoid shaking hands even in ...
30
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “mi yodeya” mean?

What does "mi yodeya" mean?
30
votes
1answer
673 views

Setting aside Shabbat to answer the President's call

In an old MSNBC news story about Jack Lew, a Shabbat-observant Jew who was just appointed to be the new White House Chief of Staff, there's a story about his getting a call from President Clinton when ...
29
votes
7answers
1k views

How to respond to “but he does”

I mentioned to my coworker that I can't eat Domino's pizza, not even without meat, as it's not kosher. He pointed out in response that a fellow coworker of ours, whom I'll call Josh, and who is ...
29
votes
9answers
2k views

Bereishit vs. science

How does Judaism deal with the differences between scientific evidence of the beginning of the world and the account(s) in Bereishit?
29
votes
8answers
2k views

Using the Force on Shabbat [closed]

What halachic considerations must a Jewish Jedi take into account before using the Force on Shabbat? This question is Purim Torah and is not intended to be taken completely seriously. See the Purim ...
29
votes
3answers
3k views

Forbidden actions and the role of non-Jews

The question I am to ask is related to personal experience I've had but can be easily broadened. I am really asking for the sake of broadening my knowledge, and I apologize if any part of my question ...
29
votes
3answers
995 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 ...
29
votes
3answers
1k views

May one use a computer script or robot to do something specifically on Shabbos/Yom Tov?

May one run a program or machine that will operate on Shabbos, either by setting a timer to activate once Shabbos has started, or by leaving it running continually? What if the action is one that is ...
29
votes
6answers
1k views

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

What is the source of Gilgulim (reincarnations) in Judaism? Are there people who disagree with its existence? Who was the first to mention it? What I am asking essentially is what is the historical ...
28
votes
11answers
1k 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 ...
28
votes
4answers
8k views

Are children adopted by Jews Jewish?

I was adopted around the time I was three months old by my parents who are both Jewish. I do not know what religion my biological mother was, in fact I have very little detail about her at all. I was ...
28
votes
7answers
3k 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?
28
votes
4answers
3k views

bicycle on Shabbat?

Is riding a bicycle on Shabbat permitted within an eiruv, being ridden only on pavement (so no unintended plowing), for transportation and not exercise, and with the understanding that repairs aren't ...
28
votes
3answers
2k views

So you ate dairy after meat. Now what?

Whatever your tradition for waiting between meat and milk, let's say you forgot you were fleishig, and now realize that you have just eaten milk within your traditional waiting period. What are you ...
28
votes
1answer
872 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 ...
27
votes
7answers
886 views

How can we get people to stop talking (much, loudly) during minyan?

I know that lots of minyanim have the talking problem; has anybody solved it? I daven with a weekday shacharit minyan that has a noise problem. A couple of people are the main sources of the problem ...
27
votes
2answers
459 views

Matza on 14 Iyar

I have seen a custom (it seems to me primarily among Chassidim) to eat matza on 14 Iyar (known as Pesach Sheni). What is the earliest source for this custom? What are the reasons given for following ...
27
votes
4answers
461 views

Female praying in masculine language

When women daven (pray), even by ourselves, it is convention to daven with male-gendered words ("modeh" vs "moda" as one of many examples). Why is this; are there sources that say we should be doing ...
26
votes
5answers
756 views

How Is It That Rabbis Have Copies of Their Own Responsa?

(I could use some help with tagging.) There are many seforim out there that are the compiled letters or teshuvos of this or that Rabbi. Those that come to mind are "Igros Moshe", from R' Moshe ...
26
votes
7answers
6k views

Is one allowed to smoke Marijuana?

Not taking into account Dina D'malchusa, what are the Halachic problems with smoking marijuana? Is it allowed?
26
votes
2answers
6k views

Would a mermaid be kosher?

Tonight at religious school we were discussing Kosher laws and how to build/keep a kosher kitchen. While we were discussing different meats, one of the jokers in school asked if you could eat a ...
26
votes
8answers
776 views

Birthdays in Judaism

Is there any significance in Judaism attached to the day someone was born (aside for the 13th year)? Is there anything wrong with celebrating one's birthday? And is it more correct to celebrate the "...
26
votes
10answers
1k views

Is Rashi really pshat?

If Rashi on Tanach is a purely pshat oriented commentary, as professed several times, why do many of his comments originate from midrashim that most other "pshat" meforshim dismiss as "derech drash"? [...
26
votes
9answers
2k views

Is there any evidence that Rabbi Akiva's students fought alongside Bar Kochba?

Various sources say that "12,000 pairs" of Rabbi Akiva's students died between Pesach and Shavuos because they did not treat each other with respect. See Genesis Rabba 61:3, Ecclesiastes Rabba 11, ...

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