24
votes
8answers
1k 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 ...
23
votes
10answers
4k 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 ...
12
votes
6answers
660 views

does one have to take a Midrash/Aggadah literally?

Does one have to take a Midrash/Aggadah literally?
11
votes
7answers
649 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 ...
21
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
441 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.
25
votes
7answers
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?
21
votes
9answers
858 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"? ...
20
votes
4answers
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 ...
16
votes
2answers
1k 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, ...
31
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
12
votes
12answers
753 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 ...
19
votes
7answers
2k 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?
12
votes
7answers
760 views

Why wear Black hats

Why do people wear black hats if their kippa has 2 layers?
17
votes
6answers
586 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? ...
11
votes
5answers
966 views

Sheidim, fact or fiction?

Are there really such thing as sheidim? If so, what are they? Please include sources.
5
votes
5answers
513 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 ...
18
votes
6answers
611 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!
17
votes
5answers
696 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
893 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
722 views

May one use a computer script 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
457 views

When (if ever) are converts still related to their relatives?

It is my understanding that when a person converts to Judaism, certain halachic relationships are severed. So I have a couple questions about this. Which relationships are severed? Is a convert ...
5
votes
3answers
738 views

Do you have to close your blog / website on shabbos?

Do you have to close your blog on shabbos?
42
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
20
votes
8answers
912 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?
20
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 ...
19
votes
4answers
930 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
810 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?
30
votes
3answers
4k 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
280 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 ...
19
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
627 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
3answers
390 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 ...
15
votes
6answers
847 views

Why do some people wear their tzitzis out for people to see, and others don't?

Why do some people wear their tzitzis strings out for people to see, and others don't?
14
votes
6answers
393 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"?
13
votes
11answers
587 views

Garments that unintentionally require tzitzit

Have you ever encountered in the wild (i.e. owned, considered purchasing in a store, seen worn by an observant Jewish man) a garment that requires tzitzit but that was not made for them (i.e. not a ...
10
votes
1answer
260 views

When does a day start/end in the far North/South?

As I understand it, a day in the Jewish calendar is from sunset to sunset. How is this handled if you are living so far north or south that you have long periods of daylight or darkness?
8
votes
2answers
441 views

Is there any issue with using aerosols on Shabbos?

I've heard from many people that you shouldn't use aerosols (such as air fresheners, disinfectants or deodorants) on shabbos, usually citing some vague reason of changing the form from liquid to gas, ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Rainbow as a bad omen

There is a popular idea that seeing a rainbow is a bad sign, as if the world is deserving of a deluge (c"v) and the only reason Hashem does not do so is because of His promise. Is there any source for ...
16
votes
3answers
857 views

Bli Neder Loophole

Who came up with the Bli Neder loophole of: Bli neder I will help you do X Or Bli neder I will etc... And the list can go on and on. Who came up with addingBli Neder which basically means ...
15
votes
3answers
627 views

Can a man remove hair?

May a man remove hair from his body through any of the following methods: Electrolysis Tweasing Plucking I am asking specifically about hair between the eyes (unibrow) but I would be interested if ...
14
votes
4answers
609 views

What is the basis for eating in someone's house without a kashrut certificate?

No one asks for a kashrut certificate to eat in someone's house; they just make a rough judgement based on the host's reputation (the way they dress or behave, the circles they move in, etc.). That ...
13
votes
3answers
281 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
2answers
542 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
380 views

Yerushalmi Versus Bavli in Halacha

The halacha we have today is mostly sourced in Talmud Bavli(the Babylonian Talmud),Medrash and Zohar. I would like to know what Halachot in which we rule according to the Yerushalmi (the Jerusalem ...
9
votes
4answers
455 views

If the last day of Passover is Friday, may I eat chametz on the Shabbat right after?

This year, 5772, the last day of Pesach in Israel is on Friday. Is there any possible way that one could contrive to eat chometz on the shabbos immediately following Pesach?
9
votes
1answer
273 views

Sh'kalim, Kinim, Midos in daf yomi

Why are Sh'kalim (Y'rushalmi) and Kinim and Midos (mishnayos) learned as part of the standard daf yomi cycle for Talmud Bavli? And if the answer relies on some fact of publication, then (a) why ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Prohibition of a Kohen marrying a Zonah

In the prohibition of a Kohen marrying a Zonah (cf. Vayikra 21:7), what defines a woman as a Zonah? Is it just having had relations with a non-Jew, or does it also include having relations out of ...
7
votes
2answers
433 views

Minimum Shi'ur for Kiddush on liquor

What is the minimum Shi'ur (volume) of a cup required for making Kiddush on liquor? Is there a smaller amount required than there is for wine? What is the minimum Shi'ur of the liquor that one is ...

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