Questions tagged [am-yisrael-jewish-nation]

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

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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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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
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
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
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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  • 42.9k
22 votes
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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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
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
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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15 votes
3 answers
381 views

Can a yefas toar be Jewish?

I realize that when the torah discusses אשת יפת תואר it specifies כִּי-תֵצֵא לַמִּלְחָמָה, עַל-אֹיְבֶיךָ (Devarim 21:10). When you go out (of the land of Israel) to wage war on your enemies (...
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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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  • 243
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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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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  • 32.7k
14 votes
2 answers
455 views

Does our literature discuss invalidating a conversion because the convert would not put his/her lot with the Jewish people?

When a person is interested in converting, there are really two questions they are asked: Are you prepared to accept the theology and observance of Judaism? Are you prepared to accept your identity ...
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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
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
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
12 votes
3 answers
615 views

Can a convert to Judaism have a Jewish mother?

The Mishna, Bikkurim 1:4, speaks of converts to Judaism who bring their first fruits to the temple, or who pray within a synagogue: אלו מביאין ולא קורין הגר מביא ואינו קורא שאינו יכול לומר אשר נשבע ...
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  • 18.5k
12 votes
1 answer
2k views

Joining a synagogue after two generations non-practising

My (Jewish) great-grandparents came to the UK from Poland during the second world war, but due to their experiences of violent anti-semitism, hid their Jewishness from the public in the UK. The result ...
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  • 221
12 votes
1 answer
282 views

What does it mean when the "nation says something"?

There are often cases in Tanach where the Bnei Yisrael speak/answer simultaneously. Is there a general rule behind what this means or does it change from verse to verse? It would seem difficult to ...
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  • 9,175
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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11 votes
4 answers
777 views

Difference between Jewish and Zionist?

I was in Israel last summer (Rehovot) visiting a close friend and his wife. In one of our very long conversations with them she said, "I would say I am not Jewish, but I am a Zionist". (...
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  • 213
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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10 votes
4 answers
2k views

Was Uriah Jewish?

Uriah the Hittite (mentioned in 2 Shmuel 11 and various other places) seems to be Jewish based on his name (Light of God). So why was he called "the Hittite"? Is there any opinion that he was not ...
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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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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
10 votes
2 answers
4k views

What is the difference between dati, chasidish, and charedi?

How would one explain the distinctions between datim, chasidim, and charedim, especially to an American Jew who didn't know much about the Israeli religious spectrum? In particular, are all chasidim ...
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  • 7,142
10 votes
4 answers
275 views

The Necessity of 12 Tribes

Why was it necessary for there to be 12 tribes, with different portions of Israel given to each? The Midrash even states that when the sea split, there were 12 separate paths for each tribe (Pirkei d'...
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  • 827
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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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
9 votes
2 answers
211 views

Chosen Nation? Or Last option? [duplicate]

We say every day "Asher Bachar Banu Mi'Kol Ha'amim" - Chosen from among all the nations. Yet we all know the famous medrash (quoted in Avodah Zara 2b) which says that G-d went to all the nations and ...
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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
9 votes
1 answer
253 views

Proving Jewish identity through gravestone

What needs to be considered to show that under a grave marker lies a Jewish person?
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  • 595
9 votes
0 answers
285 views

Half Jew half Gentile

I always thought it was a misconception to be "half-Jewish". Usually the speaker means one of their parents are Jewish, making them either fully Jewish or fully Gentile. However, I saw today that the ...
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  • 18.5k
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
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
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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8 votes
4 answers
2k views

Why didn't Esther reveal her origin earlier?

Mordechai tells Esther not to reveal her origin (Esther 2:10) ostensibly in the hopes that they would assume she was of ignoble birth and dismiss her (Rashi ad loc.). Once she is chosen by the king, ...
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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
8 votes
1 answer
260 views

Does one have to be Jewish to be a rabbi

In terms of what we call semicha today, does one have to be Jewish to receive or hold it? Is it simply an indicator of learning (like an academic degree) which could be reached by anyone? Knowing ...
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  • 36.7k
7 votes
3 answers
775 views

Theological Justification for Discrimination against Sephardim?

There have been numerous cases of Ashkenazi Haredi schools in Israel discriminating against Sephardim. I am personally very disturbed by what I consider to be a great chillul Hashem, and I find such ...
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7 votes
2 answers
211 views

Shavuos as a Marriage

There is an idea (which I initially became familiar with in my misspent youth from tamei sources but subsequently have seen it mentioned in tahor one's) that Shavuos is, as it were, a marriage between ...
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  • 13.1k
7 votes
2 answers
177 views

Is it forbidden to count Jewish people without uttering any words?

Related: Am I allowed to count people? We are not allowed to count Jewish people. But one can count other objects to represent the people and one can also speak the words of a possuk where the ...
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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
7 votes
1 answer
227 views

How can the child of a convert know/find out if the conversion was valid?

A non-Jewish woman converts to Judaism, marries a Jewish man, and has children. She has told her children that she was converted by an Orthodox beit din, to be sure that her children are all ...
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  • 171
7 votes
2 answers
804 views

What is the Significance of Ten Generations in the Torah when it comes to Genealogy

No Ammonite or Moabite shall be admitted into the congregation of the Lord; none of their descendants, even in the tenth generation-Deuteronomy 23:4 What is the significance of the ten-generation ...
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  • 361
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
7 votes
3 answers
312 views

Did Israelites who stayed in Egypt become halachically Jewish?

Some sources indicate that not all of the Israelites left Egypt during the Exodus. On the other hand, the initial "conversion" of the Israelites to Judaism occurred at Matan Torah at Mt. Sinai during ...
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7 votes
1 answer
277 views

What if someone accidentally gave an Aliya to a non-Jew?

A gabbai called someone up for an Aliya. Yaamod, Reuven ben Shimon Shlishi. Then, it turns out that Reuven isn't Jewish (he thought he was, his mother had a reform conversion and he thought that was ...
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  • 39.9k