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13

In a word, yes. The Midrash (Eichah Rabbah, intro. 2), paraphrasing Jer. 9:12, states: הלואי אותי עזבו ותורתי שמרו, מתוך שהיו מתעסקין בה, המאור שבה היה מחזירן למוטב "Would that, even if the Jewish people abandoned Me, they had kept My Torah! By being involved with it, the illumination in it would bring them back to the right path." Or as the ...


13

The Mesillas Yesharim is certainly one of the most influential and popular seforim ever written. It is considered a basic text in most yeshivos and is widely studied by Jews throughout the world (both in the original language and in translation). Before we can address the reasons for the immense popularity of this work, we first need to address one of the ...


12

If someone is born to a Jewish mother, regardless of her affiliation or observance, that person is 100% Jewish and allowed to marry another Jew. There is no conversion involved. I guess that this rabbi, in this situation, wants documentation that demonstrates that your friend's mother, and therefore your friend, is indeed Jewish. There are various ways this ...


11

A large percentage of the families who are affiliated with groups with liberal Judaic practices, such as the Conservative and Reform movement, tends to become less affiliated after their children become bar/bat mitzva age. From my understanding, confirmation, although not a Jewish concept per se, seemed to be a great way of keeping the children and families ...


11

Yes, the Sadducees did believe they were Jewish. However, the confounding factor in the quotes you provide is probably this: That in many gemaras, because of medieval censors, "Christian" or rather "Min" (Christian sectarian) was replaced with "Sadducee". See for example the London manuscript of Yoma 56b that you cited above. I have drawn a red arrow to ...


10

No, and it would be nearly impossible to determine. Every modern survey and census of Jews in America has been performed with the widest possible definition of Jew, in order to obtain the fullest and least-controversial numbers. This usually translates to counting someone as a Jew if they identify themselves as Jewish. (Source) For example, a recent ...


10

A few ideas: Get into "round-table" discussions related to the Exodus somehow, in which everyone is encouraged to voice their opinions on the subject at hand. For example, citing the midrash about how the redemption was deserved by the Jews for not changing their "Jewish" attire and names can incite a socio-historical discussion about the role of ...


10

There is an argument between different Rabbis: Igros Moshe says that one is prohibited to invite someone to a synagogue if the only way one will be able to get there is by car. He says that there are several issues: Lifnei Iver (he is like one who places a stumbling block). He says this applies even if the people whom he invites live close enough to the ...


9

According to Wikipedia, Jubilees was written in the later Second Temple era, well past the cut-off date for canonization in the Tanach. It was adopted by the Hasmonians (Chashmonaim), but despite the general Rabbinic dislike of the Hasmonians, it is not mentioned at all by "Pharisaic or Rabbinic sources," eg. the Mishna. Since the book was not canonized in ...


9

Rav Moshe in his Igros Moshe EH 2:17 second paragraph he seems to make it clear that for davening it is for sure assur, and even when it is a wedding an Orthodox person should not go. This tshuva was regarding Conservative synagogues; I am guessing that all the more so this would apply to Reform.


9

If I were staying in a non-frum or non-Jewish home, the foremost thing on my mind (outside of all the more common halachos that you mention) would be the mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem, and the issur of Chilul Hashem. Remember that you may be an uncommon sight for them, in some cases even the only orthodox Jew they've ever observed up close. As much as we'd like ...


9

Shulchan Aruch O.C. Siman 128 discuses the qualifications of a Cohen to recite bircas kohanim. Disqualification include having consumed too much alcohol, having a severe speech impediment, blindness, having taken a human life, having married a disqualifying wife (such as a divorcee) and the recent death of a close relation. The Shulchan Aruch (Sif 39) writes ...


8

Very simple. Due to the influence of Zionism and the state of Israel, where such pronunciation was adopted, the conservatives copied it at some point.


8

This is just my guess on things from what I've seen. There can be a lot of issues going on in each case, so it's worth taking an honest assessment of the full situation, and talking with a rabbi who's both knowledgeable and understanding. If both you and the event host demonstrate genuine caring and communication, that can help a lot of things too. I ...


8

Some of it may indeed be based on the attempt to claim that (G-d forbid) the Torah is not true at all. The early Bible critics did exactly that - nearly everything described in Tanach was dismissed as a fable. But then, when archeology began to turn up evidence that meshes with the Torah narratives, that approach became untenable. So the next logical thing ...


8

Strangely enough, I have found that those who aren't interested will tend to go with the flow if you state from the outset that you're going to read through the Hagadah. It will be dry. It may be boring. But if they are mature enough (not particularly opposed to ritual, and your question implies that they are not), just give everyone a Hagadah and say you're ...


8

During the Second Temple Period, there were different sects with different interpretations of Judaism. The descendants of the Pharisees wrote the Talmud, which defined Orthodox Judaism as we know today. (What follows is from Rabbi Shneur Leiman's lecture on yutorah.org) The Dead Sea Scrolls belonged to a sect that was clearly not the Pharisees; it includes ...


7

At least some people who "half-believe" the torah are in transition. Not everybody is a rock-solid believer from birth; for the rest of us, there will be some period during which you are trying to figure out what torah you accept from scientific validation ("yeah, it would be possible for the Sea of Reeds to do that"), what you accept because of publicity ...


7

As the reform movement "loosely" based this ceremony on the practice of another religion, it would in fact be explicitly prohibited as chukos hagoyim to engage in it.


7

Maimonides says no, though it is preferable that the mohel be a Jewish adult male. A Gentile should not preform the circumcision, but if he does, it need not be repeated (I assume by way of drawing blood). Shulkhan Arukh agrees. So for Sephardic Jews, there is no problem as long as the mohel is Jewish, and it is preferred that he not be a Gentile. However ...


6

I believe R' Moshe Feinstein has a responsum regarding an Orthodox rabbi performing a wedding at a heterodox synagogue, in which he says "your job as rabbi is to perform weddings, regardless of location", but I don't recall if he addresses the sanctuary-vs-social-hall aspect. Hopefully I'll find it later?


6

The "quasi-Sephardic pronunciation" you refer to is actually Israeli Hebrew which the Conservative movement (and Modern Orthodox movement and Reform movement) have lately been teaching. The traditional Conservative movement was built off of the Reform movement which was built off of German minhag - thus a boy wears a tallis when he turns 13, regardless of ...


6

I think if people go into it with the attitude that they're going to be bored and it's just a ritual, don't try shoving things down their throats. One gimmick might be to "beep" out anyone if they mention Moshe's name (the original haggada made a point of leaving it out; we've since thrown in a paragraph in which it pops up once). Another idea is to outline ...


6

There are a couple of things that I do to engage people who may not be initially interested in sharing their thoughts. Go around the table and have everyone finish a sentence "slavery is..." "freedom is..." Do some prep work and print out a different quote for each person at the table. It can be from literature, torah, art whatever. Last year I chose ...


6

Report This "answer" records what I did this year and how it worked out. I drew from several suggestions in other answers here. Some context: the two seders had different but overlapping groups of attendees. One has always been a "when do we eat?" seder; the other spends more time but replaces a lot of the traditional content with other readings and ...


6

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein discusses the issue here and quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach as permitting, provided one let them know that sleeping arrangements in the area can be provided. Rav Lichtenstein himself tends to agree, especially if there is a Jewish-educational aspect involved.


6

Strictly speaking such a question would have to be addressed on a case by case basis, as the criteria are not straightforward and different areas of halacha don't always use the same criteria. Assessing a Jew's halachic status within the Jewish community depends on a wide range of factors of which the objective fact of his observance (or lack thereof) is ...


6

The gemara actually asks (basically) your question. A few lines later, Rava asks R. Simeon ben Menassia: based on your reasoning I understand why we break Shabbat when it will for sure lead to more net Shabbat observance. But how do you learn that we break Shabbat even when it is only doubtful that there will be more net Shabbat observance? Rava (and the ...


6

A Conservative kesuba can be suspect. As noted in Rabbi Emanuel Feldman's book, "Tales Out of Shul," as a young Orthodox rabbi in Atlanta in the 1960s, he was under tremendous pressure by wealthy members to do a quicky conversion to the member's child's non-Jewish fiancee. He would refuse, and those members would leave the shul and join a Conservative shul, ...


6

If you read the original responsum of the committee (here), you will find that they choose to rule that all prohibitions other than homosexual male anal intercourse (such as the prohibitions of yihud and negiah) are all rabbinic and are superseded by the concept of kvod habriot. (How they deal with the issue of השחתת זרע לבטלה is less clear, which is likely ...



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