27
votes
9answers
2k 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 ...
26
votes
11answers
5k 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 ...
14
votes
6answers
781 views

does one have to take a Midrash/Aggadah literally?

Does one have to take a Midrash/Aggadah literally?
12
votes
8answers
763 views

Avot keeping Mitzvot

How are we to understand the tradition that the patriarchs kept all of the mitzvot in the Torah (see for example the last mishna in Kidushin, Rashi Bereshit 32:5, etc.) in light of the many obvious ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

Abbreviations before/after names

What are the more common abbreviations one might see printed before or after a person's name, and what do they mean? Please include honorifics (R'=Rabbi) as well as memorial - or prayerful - suffixes ...
28
votes
9answers
2k 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?
7
votes
1answer
547 views

Hashems name on device

Is there any issue regarding deleting electronic files with Hashem's Name, and also is there any issue taking such a device into the bathroom.
18
votes
6answers
701 views

When did Avraham Avinu become Jewish

Avraham Avinu is often called "the first Jew". When did he become Jewish. Was it when: He recognized G-d? G-d spoke to him for the first time? Covenant Between The Parts? When G-d changed his name? ...
7
votes
5answers
1k views

Why don't Jews think Jesus is the messiah?

Christians say that Jesus is the Messiah spoken of in the Old Testament; Jews disagree. Why couldn't Jesus be the Messiah spoken of? Or could he possibly have been?
25
votes
5answers
2k views

Is it possible for a Gentile to convert to Judaism?

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 ...
19
votes
7answers
796 views

Why the vast difference of opinion about the age of the Universe?

5770 and 13,000,000,000 is a big difference! I am looking for a good explanation to the difference opinion of the age of the universe. Please help me out!
22
votes
3answers
3k views

Questions about Polygamy in Jewish Law and Culture

I've recently been looking into polygamy (having more than 1 wife), and had a few cultural questions. Was polygamy accepted at the time of David and Solomon? Were there any laws about it? Was ...
22
votes
9answers
967 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"? ...
8
votes
4answers
486 views

Why a human Messiah?

I understand that Mashiach is going to be a human. What is the source for this, and are there any explanations why it must be so? Can't G-d Himself redeem us?
28
votes
3answers
936 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 ...
22
votes
7answers
3k 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?
7
votes
3answers
451 views

Will the king messiah be a prophet?

By the phrase "king messiah," I am referring to the individual who is expected to come and restore the kingdom of David. (For example, the exact individual that Rambam writes about in this portion of ...
15
votes
6answers
680 views

Halakhic International Date Line issues

According to halakha, where is the international date line? More specifically, I have heard that some people say you should observe Shabbat on Sunday in Japan & New Zealand and/or on Friday in ...
14
votes
6answers
1k views

Sheidim, fact or fiction?

Are there really such thing as sheidim? If so, what are they? Please include sources.
13
votes
13answers
910 views

Reliable Ask-a-Rabbi Websites

There are some times on this site where questioners will be directed to "ask their Rabbi." While it's always optimal to have such people discuss the question with their own Rabbi (and such action ...
17
votes
5answers
851 views

Halachic Restrictions not in the Torah, and “shall not add”

How can halachic restrictions that are not in the Torah be reconciled with the Deuteronomy 4:2 passage, which says, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

Why can't electricity be manipulated on Shabbat?

Why can't we use and change electricity on Shabbat and YomTov? By this I mean why can't we turn on and off lights...? I'v heard Rabbis say that its because you can't complete a circuit on Shabbat, ...
15
votes
8answers
964 views

Why wear Black hats

Why do people wear black hats if their kippa has 2 layers?
25
votes
7answers
2k views

Reason behind pinky during hagba

Why do people lift their pinkies during Hagba?
21
votes
8answers
551 views

Is one allowed to smoke?

Nowadays, since there are studies that show that smoking is dangerous to health, is one allowed to smoke or is it violating "Venishmartem Meod Lenafshosechem"?
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Is a mechitza required for dancing at Jewish weddings? Why?

If the men and women aren't dancing together, is it strictly required that there also be a mechitza between them? If so, why? What guidelines would this mechitza have to meet? Or is it simply a smart ...
16
votes
4answers
437 views

Stripes on a Talis

Is there any reason for the stripes on a talis? Does the color of the stripes have any significance?
6
votes
6answers
621 views

Why don't we just follow the shittah of Moshe Rabeinu?

My question can apply to virtually all mitzvos where there is a disagreement in the standard way to fulfill them. If one reads the hakdama (introduction) to the Rambam's peirush mishnayos (commentary ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Jews allowed to pray and join Muslim congregation in Mosques and Experiences

I had read somewhere in Maimonidian literature that Jews are allowed to pray in Mosques. Is it even allowed for them to Join the Muslim congregation and pray the Salat for they worship the same God ...
21
votes
8answers
1k 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?
32
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 ...
11
votes
2answers
8k views

Are the Jews today still waiting for the Messiah to come?

Are the Jews still today waiting for the promised Messiah to come? If so, then what kind of Messiah are they expecting right now? When do they expect him to come?
17
votes
6answers
1k views

First steps for someone considering conversion

I am 25 years old and I am truly interested in converting. I too also only believe in G-d. I live my life to certain rules that others I see aren't strong enough to live by. I want to know what I ...
15
votes
4answers
984 views

What is the machlokes between the Gra and Ba'al HaTanya?

What is the famous argument between the Vilna Gaon and the Ba'al HaTanya in understanding the Sod HaTzimtzum? And what are some ma'areh mekomos in their works where this Machlokes is seen?
18
votes
3answers
448 views

Can you become “more tamei”? If not, why do we worry about it today?

Without the temple and access to the ritual of the red heifer, we're all tamei (ritually impure) today with no way to fix it. Yet we work to avoid situations that would make us tamei (e.g. kohanim ...
14
votes
3answers
326 views

Do people have an effect on the mood of God?

If a person commits idolatry or fornication he is sinful. Not only that, but the curse of Hashem is with that person. On the other hand, if a person does a lot of mitswots (commandments) and believes ...
12
votes
3answers
887 views

Who is Moshiach Ben Joseph and what does/did he do?

I am asking this as someone who has never heard of Moshiach Ben Joseph. I would appreciate detailed answers, or maybe links to places that explain it. I have been interested in Judaism for a long ...
14
votes
2answers
755 views

Bootstrapping problem: havdalah ends shabbat (for one who didn't daven ma'ariv) but lighting the candle is melacha?

This answer to a question about melacha before havdalah notes that in that situation one should say "baruch hamavdil bein kodesh l'chol" first. Does that apply to lighting the havdalah candle? I ...
8
votes
2answers
311 views

Halachot of Lashon Naki (clean speech)

What is the halachik source, if any, for lashon naki (clean speech)? Is there a portion of Talmud that deals with the specifics? On the surface, it seems to be employed inconsistently, by which I mean ...
6
votes
3answers
351 views

What's the deal with all the washings?

Sometimes we wash with a cup, sometimes not; sometimes we wash twice, sometimes thrice; and not everyone agrees on method or pattern in all cases. Who says which ways we are supposed to wash, in ...
3
votes
1answer
109 views

Halacha of Shechita

Which Sefer or Sefarim is/are used in practical application of Shechita? General Halacha follows the שלחן ערוך, but does it in all areas?
51
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
22
votes
16answers
2k 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 ...
23
votes
2answers
335 views

Is it a mitzva to escape the death penalty?

If someone is being led to his death by bes din (a Jewish court), is he supposed to try to escape, since, in general, saving one's own life is paramount? More: normally, we say that if someone is out ...
30
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
20
votes
2answers
1k views

Riding the Subway on Shabbat

Assuming that there are no problems regarding paying for it (either you entered the system before Shabbat, or a non-Jew paid for you): What are the halakhic issue with riding the subway on Shabbat? ...
18
votes
4answers
688 views

Does artificial meat grown in a petri dish have the halachic status of meat?

Scientists are developing means of growing artificial meat in a petri dish. Does such 'meat' have the halachic status of meat? Source: ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

Mixed swimming in a pool?

What are the issues with mixed swimming, from a tzniut point of view? Does it make a difference if the swimmers are or aren't Jewish? For example, are there issues with me swimming with my wife and a ...
15
votes
2answers
434 views

Does a convert have a clean slate?

When a non-jew converts to Jusaism, must he still do teshuva from past sins, or does the "reborn" concept stretch far enough to consider him "sinless"?
12
votes
2answers
648 views

Is the winding פ in this sefer torah kosher?

Leaving aside all other issues with the text as displayed, are the pehs acceptable, or do they actually need an inverted vav on the inside (instead of these whirls).

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