72
votes
3answers
2k 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? ...
55
votes
2answers
885 views

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

I apologise in advance if this is not the place to ask this question. Is "reputation scoring" against the spirit of Pirkei Ovos 4 (5) "Rabbi Tzaddok would say: Do not make the Torah a crown to ...
46
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 ...
39
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
37
votes
5answers
3k 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"; ...
37
votes
7answers
687 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 ...
35
votes
7answers
1k 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 ...
33
votes
2answers
460 views

Were slave-related commandments observed in America?

Since there was slavery in the Americas between their discovery and 1856, do we know of any Jewish slave-owners there who observed slavery-related laws of Judaism?
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 ...
31
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
30
votes
2answers
1k views

What does “mi yodeya” mean?

What does "mi yodeya" mean?
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 ...
29
votes
3answers
965 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 ...
28
votes
11answers
960 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 ...
28
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
27
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?
26
votes
3answers
854 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 ...
25
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 ...
25
votes
5answers
683 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 ...
25
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
25
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
25
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
25
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
24
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
24
votes
3answers
662 views

Keeping Kosher at a secular company

How you do deal with keeping Kosher while working at a secular company? Its easy enough to bring my own lunch everyday, what I'm not sure how to handle are events like company lunches and other social ...
24
votes
2answers
409 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 ...
24
votes
2answers
863 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 ...
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 ...
23
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 ...
23
votes
7answers
2k views

Reason behind pinky during hagba

Why do people lift their pinkies during Hagba?
23
votes
2answers
314 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 ...
23
votes
2answers
520 views

Can a gentile break shabbos only on a Rabbinic level?

A non-Jew is forbidden from observing Shabbos. When someone is in the process of converting, we advise them to keep the entire Shabbos besides for doing one forbidden activity. A common practice is to ...
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 ...
22
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 ...
22
votes
9answers
686 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 ...
22
votes
5answers
698 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 ...
22
votes
9answers
559 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 ...
22
votes
5answers
564 views

If kings were supposed to be from Shevet Yehuda, why was Shaul from Binyamin anointed?

If kings were supposed to be from Shevet Yehuda, why was Shaul from Binyamin anointed?
22
votes
3answers
431 views

Placing stones on a grave

My office is situated right next to a Jewish cemetery. A coworker, noticing the yarmulke on my head, asked me why he sometimes sees stones placed on some of the gravestones. I told him that as far as ...
22
votes
5answers
953 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, ...
22
votes
6answers
553 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 ...
22
votes
6answers
627 views

Looking for more information about a story of positive atheism/heresy

In a 2006 article (original link no longer available), Rabbi Jonathan Sacks tells the following story: “DO YOU believe,” the disciple asked the rabbi, “that God created everything for a purpose?” ...
22
votes
5answers
504 views

Why do Jews physically resemble members of their “host” nationalities?

Why do Jews often so closely resemble the members of the nationalities amongst whom they have been living for only a few hundred years? How do features spread through such an exclusive population so ...
22
votes
6answers
465 views

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

What is the source of Gilgulim in Judaism? Are there people who disagree with its existence? Who was the first to mention it? What I am asking essentialy is what is the historical development of ...
22
votes
3answers
315 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 ...
22
votes
1answer
194 views

What do you do if you made a Tzedaka pledge and now the organization folded?

Recently a friend of mine asked me the following question. He pledged $500- to a Yeshiva, yet before he paid the pledge the Yeshiva closed. Does he still have to pay his pledge to another Tzedaka or ...
22
votes
1answer
402 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 ...
21
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?
21
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 ...
21
votes
8answers
979 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?

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