Questions tagged [am-yisrael-jewish-nation]

Questions pertaining to the Jewish nation or 'Am Yisrael' - 'עם ישראל' in Hebrew

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2 answers
4k views

"Am I Jewish​?"

How can one tell if one needs to convert in order to be Jewish or if one is already Jewish? Would one's or one's ancestors' conversion to another religion or their lack of knowledge about Judaism ...
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48 votes
8 answers
6k views

Can a Jew lose their Jewish Status?

Can a Jew lose their status as being a Jew by performing any action (example: performing idolatry, disavowing core beliefs, converting to another religion, etc)? Or once a person is a Jew then they ...
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  • 5,156
31 votes
5 answers
7k views

Is it possible for a Gentile to convert to Judaism? [closed]

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 ...
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  • 1,088
25 votes
6 answers
1k views

When did Avraham Avinu become Jewish

Avraham Avinu is often called "the first Jew". When did he become Jewish. Was it when: He recognized G-d? G-d spoke to him for the first time? Covenant Between The Parts? When G-d changed his name? ...
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12 votes
5 answers
2k views

Why does the Torah forbid interest only on loans to Jews?

Why aren't we allowed to charge a Jew interest but we're allowed to charge a non-Jew?
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  • 3,059
9 votes
4 answers
2k views

Matrilineal Descent

I have heard that matrilineal descent (i.e. having Judaism passed down through the mother) comes from the Roman period when women were raped by Roman soldiers and the babies were then said to be ...
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9 votes
4 answers
888 views

Was Eisav Jewish?

Was Eisav Jewish? Eisav was born to the same father and mother as Yaakov. It may be possible to say that Yaakov was not Jewish either as it was before Matan Torah, however if Yaakov was Jewish, then ...
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10 votes
2 answers
8k views

My great great grandmother was Jewish - am I? [duplicate]

I've discovered that my great, great grandmother was Jewish - i.e. my mother's mother's mother's mother. She converted to Catholicism upon marriage. Are matrilineal descendants of a Jewess who ...
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14 votes
1 answer
17k views

Does a finding of Jewish blood in a DNA test make one Jewish?

I had a DNA test done and the results say that my DNA is group with Sephardic Jews. My last name is Steen and I have always heard that we were of Dutch ancestry and I do genealogy and have not found ...
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6 votes
3 answers
619 views

Comedy and Jewish Life

There are many Jews in America who publicly engage in comedy, whether as a career path or as a way of expressing themselves (blogs, art, etc.). Is there historical precedent to this? Are there any ...
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-6 votes
2 answers
4k views

When did the switch to matrilineal descent occur?

Does anyone know when the switch the matrilineal descent took place? I've seen other information about the potential impetus, but when did it become so? Was there even a switch?
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  • 2,437
14 votes
2 answers
876 views

Why do we say that Hashem chose us if He offered to the Torah to all the other nations first?

According to Midrash Sifri (Deuteronomy 343), Hashem first went around to all the nations and offered them the Torah before offering it to Bnei Yisroel. So why do we say in Kiddush and Birchas ...
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14 votes
3 answers
4k views

How does someone not know they're Jewish?

In this answer, someone said they got offended when people wore crosses, especially if they didn't know they were Jewish. I'm just wondering how someone can not know what religion they follow?
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2 votes
1 answer
239 views

Are Jews greater than angels?

In a spiritual sense which is greater - or if you prefer, has more kedusha - angels or Jews and why? Please explain and cite explicit sources, not inferences.
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8 votes
2 answers
556 views

Purchasing from a Jew

רמבם, הלכות מתנות עניים י:ז שמנה מעלות יש בצדקה זו למעלה מזו, מעלה גדולה שאין למעלה ממנה זה המחזיק ביד ישראל שמך ונותן לו מתנה או הלואה או עושה עמו שותפות או ממציא לו מלאכה כדי לחזק את ידו עד שלא ...
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5 votes
1 answer
518 views

How was Moses able to speak to at least 600,000 people?

The book of Exodus says that Israelites had 600,000 men of fighting age. And often it has paragraphs like this: Exodus 35:4 (JPS): And Moses spoke unto all the congregation of the children of ...
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2 votes
2 answers
2k views

Matrilineal descent & Zera Israel

Would someone with Jewish heritage from a distant foremother on their maternal grandfather's side be considered Zera Yisrael? In other words, does the person fit the definition of Zera Yisrael since ...
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11 votes
2 answers
825 views

May a halachically 'Jewish' Atheist work as a 'Shabbat goy'?

I am aware that in Judaism, adherents are forbidden from performing many types of work on the Sabbath/Shabbat/Shabbos. Although it has come to my attention that some consider the employment of a '...
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6 votes
3 answers
5k views

Do Jews think that all the unbelievers would go to hell someday?

I wonder whether Judaism teaches that those unbelievers or those who are Jews but nevertheless lead a sinful life would go to hell someday when judgement time comes.
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  • 868
1 vote
4 answers
678 views

What is the source of hatred perceived by Jews in different parts of the world?

I don't know if this is off topic but a similar question is here at Christianity SE and I thought it would be interesting to ask the corresponding one here. It intrigues me how people from other ...
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1 vote
1 answer
209 views

Voting for Jews in elections

In a civil election, does Judaism teach that one should vote for Jewish candidates over non-Jews? What if the voter supports the other candidate's positions on every other issue much more?
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19 votes
7 answers
4k views

Why is Judaism not Racism?

I am only asking this question to educate myself, not because I am anti-semitic or for any other hidden agenda. I do not want to turn this forum into an ugly place. I realize this question is ...
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  • 199
30 votes
4 answers
16k 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 ...
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  • 401
15 votes
3 answers
4k views

How did Moshe know he was Jewish?

Shemot 2:11 says how Moshe went out to see the suffering of his people: וַיְהִ֣י ׀ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֗ם וַיִּגְדַּ֤ל מֹשֶׁה֙ וַיֵּצֵ֣א אֶל־אֶחָ֔יו וַיַּ֖רְא בְּסִבְלֹתָ֑ם וַיַּרְא֙ אִ֣ישׁ מִצְרִ֔י ...
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  • 22.8k
2 votes
1 answer
328 views

What was the 'evolution' of determining who is part of the Jewish people?

Starting with Abraham and continuing till modern halacha. how has the halacha regarding who is part of the Jewish people changed? What were the causes of the change, and the reasoning, and the change ...
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  • 18.6k
7 votes
2 answers
216 views

Why switch the reference from "גוי" to "עם" in Tachanun?

Why does the prayer "Shomer Yisra'el" in Tachanun say in two of the verses the word גוי in the first and last phrase, but עם in the middle phrase? שומר גוי אחד שמור שארית עם אחד ואל יאבד גוי אחד .....
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  • 23.8k
6 votes
0 answers
285 views

Jewish Status of the Patriarch's Wives?

Judaism is clear on the matrilineal descent. Yet it's not clear to me that the Matriarchs after Sarah were "Jewish" - they were Abraham's relatives, they were not Canaanites as requested by Abraham, ...
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  • 417
5 votes
1 answer
761 views

Does God discriminate between Jewish and non-Jewish people?

I often wonder if God has a different attitude towards people who are not Jews. Why Jews are consisdered to be most favored nation? Does that mean that all other people are inferior to Jews? Wouldn't ...
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  • 903
4 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why are children from a gentile wife not considered Jewish with a Jewish father?

Why are children who have a Jewish Father and gentile mother not considered Jewish?
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  • 41
3 votes
5 answers
5k views

What's the difference between "Jew", "Israelite" and "Judaizer"? [closed]

What's the difference between "Jew", "Israelite" and "Judaizer"? Can these three terms be used interchangeably? Can only one or only two of these terms be applied to one person?
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  • 319
2 votes
2 answers
241 views

Why was King David Punished for Sending Others to Conduct a Census?

If there is no agency for sin, why was King David punished for sending people out to conduct a (forbidden) census? (Explanation of agency: The Talmud says "ein sheliach l'dvar averia," which means, ...
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  • 7,437
31 votes
8 answers
16k views

Why is the Jewish Population so small?

Judaism is one of the oldest religions, but there aren't many Jews compared to Muslims and Christians. What are main reasons behind that?
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  • 848
17 votes
3 answers
418 views

Where are the lost tribes?

Are they spread all round the nations? If so, how will they still be Jewish, surely they will have assimilated so many generations later? Or are they spread within the Jewish nation? I learnt in the ...
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  • 2,949
10 votes
3 answers
937 views

Is believing that God, Israel, and Torah are one Avodah Zarah?

The Zohar said that God, Israel, and Torah are one. I thought Judaism is strictly monotheistic. When Jesus said, "I and the father is one", he was being a heretic. So how come the Zohar includes even ...
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  • 4,295
13 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why Do Converts Change Their Names?

Rabbi Avigdor Miller said that it used to be that gerim (converts) and baalei teshuvah (repentants) who had been given non-Jewish names did not change their names when they became part of the Jewish ...
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  • 5,905
9 votes
1 answer
394 views

Extent of matrilineal descent [duplicate]

Am I a Jew if my mother's mother's mother's mother's mother was a Jew? Even if along the line one of my foremothers converted to another faith? I'd just like a better understanding of matrilineal ...
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  • 2,099
8 votes
1 answer
360 views

Halachic significance of the plurality of Jews living in Israel

I once heard that if Israel has the largest Jewish population, it has a significant effect on certain Halachot. What are the criteria for this, and what halachot are affected? (Shmita is the one most ...
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  • 18.6k
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

The blessing for 600,000 Jews

The Gemara (Berakhot 58b) mentions that upon seeing 600,000 Jews one says the blessing "Baruch...Chacham HaRazim" (Who knows all secrets), and this is halacha (Sh.A. O.C. 224:5). Does any know of any ...
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  • 10.7k
5 votes
1 answer
271 views

What's "chosen" about Jews?

Jews are commonly referred to as "the chosen people". I've heard it comes from Exodus 19:5 ("וִהְיִיתֶם לִי סְגֻלָּה מִכָּל הָעַמִּים", "ye shall be Mine own treasure from among all peoples", JPS). ...
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  • 73.2k
4 votes
0 answers
63 views

Should you show preference to a Jew/ Jewish establishment? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Purchasing from a Jew If you have the opportunity to do business or make purchases with either a non-Jew or a Jew equally is there any reason to prefer the Jew over the non-...
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2 votes
1 answer
338 views

Isaiah 53 How does Israel's suffering atone for the sins of the nations?

Isaiah 53:4 Indeed, he bore our illnesses, and our pains-he carried them, yet we accounted him as plagued, smitten by God and oppressed. דאָכֵן חֳלָיֵנוּ הוּא נָשָׂא וּמַכְאֹבֵינוּ סְבָלָם וַאֲנַחְנוּ ...
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1 vote
7 answers
437 views

What is the basis for the focus on the difference between Jews and everybody else?

I have noticed that in a large portion of the questions and answers here, the distinction between Jews and other people is repeatedly emphasized. I know enough about the Tanakh to understand that ...
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  • 2,052
1 vote
1 answer
347 views

Who is a Jew according the Tanach?

Does the Tanach give guidelines to Identify who is a Jew and who is not?
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  • 1,854
0 votes
1 answer
144 views

Rabbis and Politics

Why do some of the Israeli Left (politically) argue that they believe in the teachings of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai over the teachings of Rabbi Akiva?
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0 votes
1 answer
169 views

The definitions of Judaism and Jew

An infinite loop: Judaism according to Google is "the monotheistic religion of the Jews". And Jew is "a member of the people and cultural community whose traditional religion is Judaism and who ...
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13 votes
4 answers
5k views

Does a Jewish grandmother (mother's side) really get one accepted as a Jew? [duplicate]

My grandmother (mother's side) is 100% Jewish and even living in Israel. As far as I know, that makes, me a Jew, too. But it feels a little bit strange to say that I am Jewish just because my ...
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  • 133
11 votes
1 answer
2k views

"Don't say 'lehavdil' between one Jew and another."

In today's Parashat Hashavu'a Chat, I used the qualification "lehavdil" (*) to apply to a pun that jokingly and innocuously related the actions of Datan and Aviram to those of a community member here. ...
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  • 46.9k
9 votes
3 answers
398 views

Were the eirev rav Jewish?

Were the eirev rav Jewish? If they were in fact Jewish why are they described by the term eirev rav instead of just referring to them as we would any other Jew? If they were not Jewish why were they ...
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  • 3,908
8 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why only beginning with the fourth plague is the exemption of the Jews mentioned?

In Moshe's warning to Pharaoh (in Hashem's name) of the fourth plague, arov, he adds (Ex. 8:18-19): וְהִפְלֵיתִי בַיּוֹם הַהוּא אֶת-אֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן אֲשֶׁר עַמִּי עֹמֵד עָלֶיהָ לְבִלְתִּי הֱיוֹת-שָׁם ...
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  • 89.2k
7 votes
1 answer
100 views

Could B'nei M'nashe have been placed with R'uven and Gad as a remedy to their separatism?

Does the following idea have any validity? Is it brought down anywhere? When members of the tribes of R'uven and Gad approached Moshe to unwaveringly request settlement on the east bank of the Jordan,...
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  • 23.3k