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1d
comment When should a commuter cyclist wear a tallit katan?
Someone asked R' Shlomo Aviner whether to wear them during really hot and uncomfortable weather, and he said to wear them anyway, even in the army and during war
Aug
20
comment Is there a historical, cultural, traditional, or scriptural explanation for the prevalence of Jews in the comedy business?
Also, "were there not enough graves in Egypt" was a pretty witty way to complain to Moses.
Aug
20
comment Is there a historical, cultural, traditional, or scriptural explanation for the prevalence of Jews in the comedy business?
One genetic/cultural explanation: for many centuries, especially among Ashkenazim, material conditions were very difficult but Talmudic scholarship (demonstrated by, among other things, excellent verbal abilities and analytical insight) was so respected that the richest families would make sure to marry their daughters to Torah scholars. This meant that exceptional Torah scholars were more likely to raise children in material comfort and thus more likely to have children who survived and reproduced. So genes for strong verbal abilities became prevalent within the Jewish community.
Aug
16
answered How to become observant Jew?
Aug
16
awarded  Organizer
Aug
16
revised How to become observant Jew?
removed irrelevant tag
Aug
3
revised What can one do to see clearer that God is really in charge of everything?
Responded to comment, sourcing material, changing spelling of gamzu
Aug
3
answered What can one do to see clearer that God is really in charge of everything?
Jul
27
comment What happens at an Orthodox Bat Mitzvah?
I've heard in some Yeshivish circles the girl will give a brief Torah drasha (though a rabbi might have helped her write it), similar to what a boy would say at a bar mitzvah.
Jul
20
comment Exercises in *yiras shamaim* (awe of the Lord)
See the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, which is online in English for free: bilvavi.net/english_trans (part 1, section 5 for example); see also here azamra.org/Advice/awe.html (Likutei Eitzot)
Jul
14
comment Is the Oral Law mainly of Divine origin or is it largely influenced by the rabbis/cultures of the time?
You're right about the slippery slope -- so disbelieving in particular statements of Chazal or kabbalah, to the extent this is permitted, should probably be something personal and individual and done in a spirit of humility, not something public and strident.
Jul
14
comment Is the Oral Law mainly of Divine origin or is it largely influenced by the rabbis/cultures of the time?
With regard to mystical texts, my understanding is that one is not required to believe in everything they say. However, we should be mindful that virtually no post-Zohar recognized Torah authority has ever challenged the truth of kabbalah in general (the only exception I can think of is one commentator to the Shulchan Aruch with very brief comment expressing doubt about the kabbalistic concept of gilgulim because of a lack of a source in Chazal.) So ideally we should have respect and reverence for it, as we do even the non-halachic statements of Chazal in the Gemara.
Jul
14
comment Is the Oral Law mainly of Divine origin or is it largely influenced by the rabbis/cultures of the time?
See here, page 8 (the whole thing is worth reading). web.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/hirschAgadaEnglish.pdf
Jul
14
comment Is the Oral Law mainly of Divine origin or is it largely influenced by the rabbis/cultures of the time?
The Ethiopians are not a very convincing proof against the validity of the Oral Torah, since we don't know their origin -- they could have been founded, for example, by converts who had access to the five books of the Torah but not the Oral teachings of the sages of that time. Or catastrophes or persecution may have led to the loss of any Oral Torah they had.
Jul
14
comment Is the Oral Law mainly of Divine origin or is it largely influenced by the rabbis/cultures of the time?
In addition, some authorities argue that much of the hashkafic and midrashic material in the Oral Torah is not necessary to accept; for example, Rav Hirsch seems to state that anything that you don't find reasonable you don't have to believe. This doesn't seem to apply, however, to the fundamental tenets of the faith, such as Rambam's 13 principles.
Jul
14
comment Is the Oral Law mainly of Divine origin or is it largely influenced by the rabbis/cultures of the time?
See the dispute between R' Slifkin and R' Meiselman. R' Slifkin argues (with many rishonim) that scientific statements were a product of their times. All traditional (that is to say Orthodox) Jewish authorities agree that the legal conclusions of the Oral Law are valid and from Sinai. However, certain matters, such as those relating to women, are only customary (often phrased in terms of dat yehudit)--for example, the Shulchan Aruch speaks of women washing their husbands faces, but rabbonim have explained to me that this is simply an example of what was generally expected of women at the time.
Jul
13
comment Does a married women going through the conversion process need to cover her hair?
The answer is good from a prudential point of view, but I don't think halachically there's any ruling one way or the other. A person in this situation should ask their rabbi or beis din for guidance. If the rabbi believes that the convert is completely committed to complete observance and will certainly cover her hair after she is converted and married, then perhaps he might be comfortable telling her to wait until the wedding. But it would certainly make sense to get used to doing it...(as with all the other mitzvos).
Jul
10
comment Not responding to insult
The essence of teshuva, repentance, is achieved through humility. One has to make oneself into nothing -- like a wasteland which people trample over. He must pay no attention whatsoever to opposition or to the contempt with which people may treat him. He should train himself to be silent and to be able to hear himself insulted without replying. One such as this is worthy of the name 'wise' and he will attain perfect repentance -- the 'Crown,' which is the summit of the Sefirot. This is the way to true and enduring glory, the glory of God (6). (Likutei Eitzos)
Jul
10
comment Not responding to insult
The true sign of a person who has returned to God is that he can hear himself insulted and remain silent. He can endure even the most murderous abuse with patience. Through this he reduces the blood in the left side of his heart (the seat of the animal soul) and slaughters his evil inclination. He will be worthy of partaking of the glory of God (6:2). (Likutei Eitzos)
Jun
9
comment If someone asks you to pray for them, is that shitoof?
This practice originated long before chassidus -- see Bava Basra 116a.