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25

We are concerned with being the cause of somebody else erring. Parshat Kedoshim tells us "do not place a stumbling-block before the blind", which is interpreted to mean not only what it plainly says but also "don't be an enabler for a bad outcome". Causing somebody else to unknowingly transgress what God wants us to do is a pretty serious "bad outcome". ...


23

Ralbag (Gersonidies) has the earliest known use of a proof by mathematical induction in his mathematical work Maase Hoshev (1321 CE). Source: Rabinovich, N. L. (1970). Rabbi Levi Ben Gershon and the Origins of Mathematical Induction. Archive for History of Exact Sciences, 6(3), 237-248. Available in JSTOR here. (For comparison, the prevalent thought ...


18

My understanding (no source) is that, yes, twentieth-century rabbis kept copies. It wasn't necessary to type twice: they used carbon paper. I don't know about older rabbis, though. Update: However, see the comments on this answer.


18

Because "Alfasi" is really "al-Fasi". "Al-Fasi" is Arabic for "the Fezite" (Fez being the city in Morocco where he lived). So kind of like how the word "of" gets swallowed in "USA", the word "the" got swallowed in "Rif". Wouldn't have made much sense to make his acronym stand for "Rabbi Yitzchak The".


16

In a sense it goes back at least to the Gemara. R' Sherira Gaon points out that the names of some Amoraim that begin with ר (for example: Rabbah, Rava, Rafram) are actually shortened forms of "Rav" plus their personal name: רב+אבא=רבה (or רבא); similarly רב+אפרים=רפרם; and so forth. Also "Reish" (Lakish) is a similar short form for רבי שמעון.


16

"Emunat Chachamim" Comes from Avot 6:6 where a list of 48 ways of achieving Torah wisdom are mentioned. There are many commentatries on Avot in general and this mishna in particular, all saying slightly different things. However.. Traditionally, this phrase is meant to mean that you must trust those people who are wiser than you to give over the tradition ...


15

First look up the sources people quote, so that you know what they're saying inside. Then, when you ask you Rav, tell him I had this question and did some research. This is what I found, what is the practical Halacha? You can tell him where you got the idea about which sources to look up, but at that point it shouldn't matter. You're not telling him that ...


15

I would say the biggest explanation ahead of its time was not by the rabbis, but by the Torah, steadfastly defended by even the most rational rabbis in the face of prevailing secular thought. Up until 1929 (and perhaps even as late as 1949), the leading view in astronomy was that we lived in a steady-state universe with no beginning and no end. People often ...


15

This practice seems to be (at least) as old as the Gemara, as the Gemara states in Brachos 27b: 'R. Yirmiah b. Abba is different, because he was a disciple-colleague. [This can be proven by the fact that] R. Jeremiah b. Abba said to Rav: Have you made havdalah? He replied: Yes, I have; and he did not say to him, has the master made havdalah' In ...


14

Rabbi Yissachar Dov Illowy (Rabbi Dr. Bernard Illowy), a talmid of the Ksav Sofer, was the Rav of New Orleans at the time of the Civil War, and commented favorably on the right of the Confederacy to secede from the Union. For more information about him, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Illowy and http://www.yieb.org/schedules/classes/187.html ...


14

Anecdotally, I've heard that it is common for shluchim, as one of their first acts upon arrival in a new community, to purchase burial plots for themselves - thus demonstrating that they intend to remain there for the rest of their lives. Most of them do in fact do so. One example is R' Yehuda Leib Raskin, shliach in Casablanca, Morocco, who passed away in ...


14

In the days before copy machines and email it was certainly a common process among many letter writers Jewish and non-Jewish alike to write out copies of their own letters that they were sending. Not everybody did it but it was quite common. You can therefore find collections of letters sent by many people famous and not famous in historical collections. The ...


14

I think that by the Lubavitcher Rebbe the secretaries used to make a rough draft, send it in to the Rebbe for proofreading, get the Rebbe to write notes on it, retype the letter and send it. Therefore, the secretaries had the original copy in manuscript. Later, when the Rebbe stopped writing full letters, He used to respond in Ksav Yad on the margins of the ...


14

Yes, the painting is based on a popular picture of the Chofetz Chaim, which can be seen in The Schwadron Collection of the National Library of Israel (Jerusalem). The archive lists the picture as following: A photo portrait of Rabbi Israel Meir Cohen ("Chafetz Chaim"): printed silver, black and white, 7X12 cm. Portfolio also includes a copy of this ...


13

There is no one simple answer for this; however, if you had to pick the one biggest name among Sefardi rabbis living today, that would be Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, shlit'a. While not all Sefardim follow him all the time, his word is definitely given a great deal of weight. Is that who you had in mind? The Shulchan Aruch (written about 450 years ago) is ...


13

Here are a few, off the top of my head: Often there are factors that you may not think are relevant when asking your question, but could certainly be. You may have looked up some kosher-kitchen question about vegetables, not knowing that onions have very different laws than potatoes. There are plenty of gray areas in halacha where the conclusion may be ...


13

Virtually unarguable? God Himself is called "Gadol" by King David in Psalm 145:3. To this day, I don't think anyone would disagree on that one. גדול יהוה ומהלל מאד ולגדלתו אין חקר The Lord is great and very much praised, and His greatness cannot be searched. (Chabad.org translation)


13

Be'er Hagolah at the end of Yoreh Deah 334 lists the following: Not to marry more than 1 wife. Someone who is in Cherem should not be a Shaliach Tzibur. A person should not be away from his wife more than 18 months. Not to rent a house from a non Jew if a Jew is living there. Not to cut off a page of a Sefer, even to write on it. Not to embarrass a Baal ...


13

Shemaya and Avtalyon, two great rabbis from the 1st century BCE, are identified in the Talmud (Gittin 57b) as converts. So it seems that converts can become rabbis, and even important ones. I know of no sources that imply the law on this matter was different before that point. See also this question: Can a convert be a prophet?


12

It was certainly very common, but I can't find a requirement in the talmud (which was written in the few hundred years around your target timeframe), and I find two one talmudic counter-example: Sotah 4b says that Ben Azzai was unmarried. (See comments: not a rabbi.) On Kiddushin 71b R. Yehudah of Pumbeditha is asked why his son, R. Yitzchak, is not yet ...


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

The Semichah that was given at least through the time of the Gemara was the real semichah. Moshe literally "leaned" on Yehoshua (and made him a link in the tradition of Sinai). Sometime Following the destruction of the Second Temple, semichah was lost (at least until the 4th or 5th centuries CE, and maybe even continued on a small scale until the time of ...


11

This article (PDF) says: Credit for being the first "legitimate" Hasidic rebbe to settle in the United States appears to go to the Ukrainian Twersky family. R. David Mordecai Twersky, a descendant of R. David Twersky, the Tolner Rebbe, settled in New York in 1912. Earlier in the article, though, he mentions reports from 1893 in New York and 1894 ...


11

See the sefer Pardes Yosef on parshat Teruma chapter 25 sub ubb"b d"y [= ubibava batra daf yod] where it is described how the Besh"t was asked about a Talmudic source which says that every Torah prohibition has a permitted aspect to it, so where is heresy permitted? His answer was that in performing the mitzvah of charity, one should help the poor man as if ...


11

Its only considered a psak if it's a new case that requires original analysis. If you are just reciting a halachik fact, it is not a psak halacha. It does not require a posek and the person can still go and ask someone else. (I heard a similar statement b'shem R' Hershel Schachter).


11

The Kaliver Rebbi. It was pulled out by the Nazis Yemach Shemom. http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%A7%D7%95%D7%91%D7%A5:Kaliver_rebbe.jpg


11

There's an interview with Rabbi Tendler where he indicates that normally Rabbi Feinstein would write many responsa out, longhand, in both a letter to the questioner, and a gray-speckled-paper notebook for his own copy (and later publication). He was meticulous about his responsa. It's also not unheard of, after the death of a great rabbi, for editors to ask ...


11

There are, perhaps, several factors to consider: In Chabad thought, the rebbe is more than just a leader, Torah teacher, spiritual guide, etc. All of these roles, and many more, are outgrowths and expressions of his being the נשמה כללית, the "all-encompassing soul" of the Jewish people (see Tanya, ch. 2). Now, of course, barring an explicit statement by ...


11

If you find that your questions are not being received as they were intended and they were asked with the proper deference (כבוד רבך ככבוד שמים), perhaps you need to ask your question of authorities who are willing to address it, or are comfortable saying they don't know the answer - but may research it. Or, you can ask your question here where you have a ...


10

I have heard - though I don't know of any written source for this - that the Divrei Chaim, R' Chaim of Sanz (1793-1876), was critical of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation (or maybe more generally of his anti-slavery stance), seeing it as flouting Noach's prophecy as recorded in Gen. 9:25. Apparently I had my facts doubly wrong: This statement is ...



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