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Aug
21
comment Can a gentile volunteer to perform prohibited actions on behalf of a Jew on Shabbat?
@WadCheber I didn't necessarily think you thought that, but I've seen people advance that theory so often that I thought it was worth addressing.
Aug
21
comment Flying and sorcery
So you're noting that Sanhedrin 68a indicates the rabbis had knowledge of sorcery in general in order to make halachic decisions in various cases. There is a dispute regarding whether a non-Jew would be liable for performing magic, but Jews definitely are. The Sanhedrin might therefore be more interested in knowing about the witchcraft commonly used by Jewish violators, assuming there is such a distinction between various kinds of sorcery. So perhaps they knew the rule about grounding generally applied to Jewish witches, but they had no knowledge of Bil'am's magic. Interesting idea. +1
Aug
21
comment Can a gentile volunteer to perform prohibited actions on behalf of a Jew on Shabbat?
...I mention this just to preempt the notion that Jews who do this are somehow seeking to pass the sin onto a non-Jew while still getting the convenience of skirting Shabbat restrictions. As I alluded to above, it is not biblically forbidden for a Jew to have a non-Jew work for him on Shabbat, but there is a prophetic-level restriction against telling a non-Jew on Shabbat to work for you (based on Isaiah 58:13), and even benefiting from such work or arranging the work in advance prior to Shabbat is generally rabbinically prohibited.
Aug
20
comment Can a gentile volunteer to perform prohibited actions on behalf of a Jew on Shabbat?
These laws are complicated, and there are various exceptions, but it's generally prohibited for a Jew to have a non-Jew perform activities on Shabbat (whether for pay or not) that would be forbidden for the Jew to perform. While there are a number of reasons for this rabbinic restriction, note that none of them are ultimately based in the notion that non-Jews are required to observe the laws of Shabbat. In fact, as the Bible characterizes Shabbat as an intimate covenant between God and the Jews (Exod. 31:13,16,17), it would be inappropriate for a non-Jew to follow all the Shabbat observances.
Aug
20
comment Why don't Jews think Jesus is the messiah?
Also, regarding the translation of the verse in Isaiah 9, you may be interested in judaism.stackexchange.com/q/34228 and judaism.stackexchange.com/q/31907 (as well as judaism.stackexchange.com/a/38673).
Aug
20
comment Why don't Jews think Jesus is the messiah?
The messiah will be a warrior King, a priest King, or both. While there is a midrashic source that mentions that there will be three ancillary "messiahs" accompanying the primary Messiah descended from David (who is to be the actual king), and one of the ancillary messiahs is a kohanic priest, the Messiah with direct paternal lineage to David cannot be a kohanic priest by definition.
Aug
20
comment Convert without accepting mitzvos?
Aside from the Bach, all classical sources interpret the Rambam according to its plain meaning, i.e. that the conversion is b'di'avad valid even if the court failed to inform the convert of individual commandments and the repercussions of observance or non-observance (according to one reading of the Rambam) or if the court just failed to inform the convert of the repercussions of observance or non-observance (according to the alternative reading of the Rambam that fits with the Shulchan Aruch). Either way the Rambam requires the convert to accept the overall burden of mitzva observance.
Aug
20
comment Convert without accepting mitzvos?
The Rambam is nearly universally understood to require kabbalas hamitzvos bifnei sh'losha even b'di'avad (i.e. it is m'akeiv the conversion). The Bach is the only classical source that understands the Rambam as saying that the conversion is valid even if the convert did not accept the mitzvos in front of a court of three (even the Bach would probably interpret the Rambam as invalidating a convert who apparently intended not to accept the mitzvos at all). And the Bach continues and says this opinion is wrong. So no one both interprets the Rambam that way and says it can be followed.
Aug
20
comment Is it modest to compliment a woman on her modesty?
Hi, Erel. Could you just clarify the parameters of your question a bit more explicitly, per my comments on the below answer?
Aug
20
comment Is it modest to compliment a woman on her modesty?
Actually, rereading the question, OP seems like he may have been specifically referring to a stranger after all. I'll ask him to clarify.
Aug
20
comment Is it modest to compliment a woman on her modesty?
What if, for example, this is a case of a guy complimenting his sister? Or a girl complimenting her sister? This wasn't specified in the question so far as I noticed (assuming Erel wasn't specifically limiting the question to his own personal situation).
Aug
20
comment Is it modest to compliment a woman on her modesty?
Avoda Zara 18a is perhaps relevant in that flattering someone over their modesty could encourage an increase in outward displays of modesty in order to be noticed even more - which is contrary to the point. (This could also apply to flattering someone over any religious observance, but the irony is more stark with modesty). Of course, that's just one consideration that might apply in some cases. I can imagine various situations where encouraging modesty with compliments might be a good idea.
Aug
20
comment Flying and sorcery
Interesting, but isn't this essentially the same as the first two paragraphs in HaLeiVi's answer?
Aug
20
comment Should an unmarried woman light one or two Shabbat candles?
Just to clarify my above comment, I meant "otherwise" instead of "in which case." If you live at home with your parents, you don't have to light candles (except for the Chabad custom to light one anyway, if I recall correctly). If you live on your own, you do.
Aug
20
comment Are Orthodox Jews opposed to women singing in public, particularly if the woman is singing to a fussy baby in an attempt to soothe it?
@user613 That is the focus of this linked question.
Aug
19
comment Should an unmarried woman light one or two Shabbat candles?
In general, see OC 263‌​.
Aug
19
comment Should an unmarried woman light one or two Shabbat candles?
I'm not sure that this is the generally accepted custom outside of Chabad. Ultimately, the actual requirement for both married women and single folk is only to light one, but I think the custom is generally to light two (or more) regardless of your marital status. This all assumes the single person is not living in their parents' home, in which case they don't have to light at all (and I think that is the specific case where Chabad has the additional custom to light one candle, as opposed to zero for non-Chabad).
Aug
19
comment Text of the Mishna Brura (Online English)
... Also 202-241 and 429-452.
Aug
19
comment Text of the Mishna Brura (Online English)
A partial preview of some volumes can be found on Google Books (e.g. simanim 157-201, 274-307, 345-372, 373-428, 625-651, and 652-697).
Aug
19
comment Can אֲדֹנָי refer to a person or just to God?
Somewhat related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/58945. Also, this title can sometimes be used (not as a divine name) to mean something like "sir(s)" (e.g. B'reishis 19:2; see Sh'vu'os 35b).