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Questions tagged [hashkafah-philosophy]

Jewish philosophy as well as Jewish perspectives - i.e. not only formal philosophy. NOT for questions about Jewish practice unless there's a philosophical component.

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In the interest of being mekarev somebody is it permitted to minimize the spiritual & focus on the practical?

Are you allowed to convince an agnostic Jew to start keeping parts of the Torah for purely practical purposes like: prayer & faith have a calming effect, learning Torah sharpens the mind, Shabbos ...
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Height and holiness - why inconsistent?

This might seem a bit weird, but I see some logic: The Gemmorah in Kiddushin 69a discusses the facts that: מלמד שבית המקדש גבוה מכל ארץ ישראל וארץ ישראל גבוה מכל הארצות‏ This teaches that ...
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Why human procreation is not voluntary?

Physiologically, the process of procreation is all "out of our control", whether on the side of men or women. For example, women don't have a choice of deciding whether to get pregnant or not (think ...
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Can a person still be an Orthodox Jew and believe that the Torah contains narratives that are not scientifically correct?

I am taking the position that perhaps the Torah does contain narratives that are not scientifically correct, such as the creation and early human history narratives found in the first 11 chapters of ...
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1answer
199 views

Why is Abraham considered the “Founder of Judaism”?

Why is Abraham called 'the founder of Judaism' given that he didn't write its founding legislation, which is what 'founders' of other religions did (for example, Paul and Muhammed)? What place does ...
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63 views

A question of theodicy

A lot of people are bothered by the fact that bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. Chazal answers by saying that it all averages out in the World to Come. But I don'...
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1answer
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What גילוי פנים (G-d's closeness) looks like unlike הסתר פנים?

Besides some formal signs of "גילוי פנים" like the Temple or the prophecy that Am Israel enjoyed for about 1000 years from Matan Torah to the destruction of the first Temple. What are some general, ...
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51 views

Authenticity of Zohar--Bitul Torah?

As indicated in a prior thread on this site, there is good reason to doubt the authenticity of the Zohar, i.e., that it is attributable to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Question: if that is the case, ...
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95 views

Age of Universe [duplicate]

What is the most plausible way to reconcile the traditional dating of the universe (now 5779) with science's understanding that the universe is billions of years old?
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2answers
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Why is it called Zman Cheiruseinu (Time of Our Freedom), if we are still slaves of Hashem?

Pesach is called Zman Cheiruseinu (Time of our Freedom) presumably because we were freed from being slaves of Pharaoh. But, the Jewish nation is NOT halachically free to do whatever it pleases. We are ...
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Should one pray for something to happen or for the strength to do it oneself?

I was wondering if it is better to pray for a solution to a problem or pray for the strength to do it oneself. I would also be happy for a link to a passing prayer or discussion. Thank you!
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Are “Luck” and “Personal Providence” the same thing?

First, I need to set a "reference frame" for this comparison, to eliminate unneeded quarrels: I follow the approach (presented here as "The idea commonly espoused in the Jewish world today" thanks to ...
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2answers
112 views

Meaning of “Not holding on that level of emuna/bitachon”

(Hi newbie here :) I hope I'm writing this post correctly.) What does it mean when people say "I'm not holding on that level of emuna/bitachon"? I've seen and heard countless times when people say ...
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2answers
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If dew is automatic why do we have Tefillas Tal?

I heard in a dvar Torah that Tal, dew, is automatic (or much more so than rain). This is connected to the view that Pesach represents אתערותא דלעילא that is that HaShem helps us even though we are not ...
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When does hatred “make sense”?

The Talmud says that the Second Temple was destroyed because "senseless hatred" [sin'at chinam] prevailed. Yoma 9b אבל מקדש שני שהיו עוסקין בתורה ובמצות וגמילות חסדים מפני מה חרב מפני שהיתה בו שנאת ...
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If the Torah is compared to water how come we drown in water?

I admit I didn't expect it - a kid in our shul asked me that when I mentioned that the Torah is compared to water (B"K 82a): "דורשי רשומות אמרו: אין מים אלא תורה, שנאמר: הוֹי כָּל צָמֵא לְכוּ ...
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3answers
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If there were people before/during Avraham's life that recognised Hashem, why was Avraham chosen specifically?

We know that Shem lived during the life of Avraham Avinu, described as Malki Tzedek. Why is Avraham considered the first to spread ethical monotheism (concluding in G-d choosing him) if it's known ...
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3answers
132 views

What happens the second you die?

What do our sources say about what happens the second you die. I’m pretty sure I heard somewhere that one’s soul comes out of their body and they float around the room. Are there any fascinating ...
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2answers
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Judaism's view on the vast economical inequity between people

While the lack of uniformity of the physical world remains a mystery of the Big Bang (how come that what once was unified and homogenous shattered into pieces so different in sizes - from photons to ...
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1answer
74 views

Gan Eden vs. Olam Haba

Please correct me if I'm wrong: The purpose of creation is to create a בית בתחתונים for G-d. The more mitzvos Jews engage in, the more they are guided by their soul's desire to give as opposed to ...
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Mechanisms of protecting Judaism from misuse

As we can see with Nazi Germany, democracy can be a dangerous thing. Many countries try to override democracy with a special status of the supreme court, able to invalidate the parliamentary laws (to ...
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1answer
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How can the Sanhedrin ever err?

On the one hand we know that if a Sanhedrin issued an erroneous decision (which was acted upon) they must bring a sacrifice (Vayikra 4:13). On the other, we have the concept of "lo bashamayim hi" (...
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2answers
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Should one refuse torah insights from heaven?

I have heard a story that the Vilna Gaon was offered torah insights by some sort of divine source, either an angel, a maggid or something else. The story goes that he refused those insights because ...
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1answer
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Why is Hashem being separate from his creation a more acceptable belief than His creation being within Him?

I've read and been told that Hashem is separate from his creation because he is infinite and therefore he can't have the finite objects of the universe be a part of him. He must be uniform. I've ...
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3answers
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What is the theological basis for changes in the practices of Judaism over the centuries?

There are many events or practices in the Old Testament which might seem brutal to a modern Western person; for example, I remember reading a passage about a man who was stoned to death for collecting ...
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540 views

What does the Rambam mean when he says that the planets have souls?

Rambam states in Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah, Chapter 3, Section 9 that each of the planets have a soul, knowledge, and intellect. כל הכוכבים והגלגלים כולן בעלי נפש ודעה והשכל הם והם חיים ועומדים ...
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0answers
57 views

How does Rav Saadia Gaon account for the suffering of children?

I came across this excerpt from Rav Saadia Gaon on reincarnation (on mesora.org, where they cite it as Saadia Gaon: “The Book of Beliefs and Opinions” “Refutation of Reincarnation” Yale Judaica Series,...
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1answer
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Does God care about things that don't affect the Jews?

There is a trope in Judaism that God smites even the greatest Empires when they oppress the Jews. Does God ever smite nations that are wicked to other non-Jews? We do have the example of Sodom, but ...
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What was God's original plan regarding Adam?

I would like to research the common ground for our understanding of G-d's original plan of the creation if Adam didn't sin. According to Sanhedrin 38, he was fully developed at noon, having 6 hours ...
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Purposes of Marriage in Judaism [duplicate]

Why do we get married according to Judaism? What is the point behind us working so hard to get married? Presumably it is not just to bear children! I have heard of a concept of two halves coming ...
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The mishnah of four things not to look at

There is a Mishnah in Hagigah 11b which says: כל המסתכל בארבעה דברים ראוי לו כאילו לא בא לעולם מה למעלה מה למטה מה לפנים ומה לאחור ...: Whoever looks at four matters, it would have been better ...
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A widow using her deceased husbands semen to conceive?

If a husband has some of his semen frozen/saved and then dies, what halachic and hashkafic issues have to be addressed when deciding if his widow is allowed to/can/should use that semen to become ...
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Why was it specifically Gavriel who is Hashem’s messenger to guide events?

Among all of the Malachim, Gavriel seems disproportionately involved in human events: He was responsible for saving Chananiah, Mishael, and Azariah from the fiery furnace (Berachos 4b, Pesachim 118a-...
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Meaning of Zekher Livracha (ז"ל - Of blessed memory)

The literal translation of ז"ל is "of blessed memory" What does it mean to bless memory? How does it help the soul?
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2answers
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Spiritual Boredom

Because of all the routines, standard prayers, repeating cycles etc, someone told me that going to the synagogue became quite boring for him. He still saw the value of those things, but he didn’t ...
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1answer
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Is everyone who dies in his 50s Chayav Kares?

I've come across a bunch of great Rabbanim: Poskim, Mekubalim and Tzadikim who passed away within their 50s. The Gemara in Moed Katan 28a says: אמר רבה: [מיתה] מחמשים ועד ששים שנה זו היא מיתת כרת....
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Source for R' Soloveitchik's teaching about why we don't stand for a baby in utero?

There's a famous teaching from Niddah 30b that a baby is taught the entire Torah in utero. Someone once referenced this gemara and asked The Rav, if that's the case why don't we stand for a pregnant ...
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2answers
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Do you have to be a Chabadnick to follow the Shulchan Aruch Harav?

If I'm a bred and born ashkenazic male, who's been taught to follow the Mishna Brurahs Psakim all his life. Would it be significantly different to follow more or less by the Shulchan Aruch Harav? ...
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102 views

Is there anything wrong with not eating bread to avoid reciting Birkat Hamazon?

Is there anything wrong with not eating bread during the weekdays to avoid reciting Birkat Hamazon?
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1answer
51 views

Is the Tanya only for those that are a Benoni?

What about those that want to get from the level of Rasha to Beinoni, is there a book for that? It is called Sefer shel Beinini and the few things I've read in it seem to be instructions directed for ...
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Jews and Gentiles [duplicate]

For what purpose were the gentiles created by Hashem ?
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Is faith being built on 'mind, heart and actions'?

I've found this article online and part of it - from the words: "Philosophers of religion have observed that the word 'faith' covers a number of types or categories of religious existence..." till "...
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What causes a person to do Avodah Zarah?

In relation to "Definition of Avodah Zarah": I would like to know what drives or causes a person to worship Avodah Zarah in the first place; i.e. what lies at the core of it? Is there a reason why it’...
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Interpretations of (pseudo)hallucinations vis a vis the Talmud’s interpretations of dreams

The Talmud (last chapter of Berachot, 55a ff.) contains a long treatment interpreting various visions one may experience “בחלום” (in a dream). If when under the influence of a psychoactive drug an ...
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2answers
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Definition of Avodah Zarah

Looking at different explanations regards Avodah Zarah, different/various forms of idolatry, I tried to sum things up, I tried to get to get a definition out of it based on their common denominator. ...
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1answer
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What is the source for attempting to avoid daily challenges?

What is the source for the oft-repeated idea of trying to avoid daily challenges/nisyonos? As one example, in daily prayers, we say "...וְאַל תְּבִיאֵנוּ...וְלֹא לִידֵי נִסָּיוֹן" - "Do not bring us ...
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1answer
39 views

Can materialistic values be learned from the Book of Amos?

Someone once told me that being too materialistic isn't a good thing. One day when I was reading the Tanakh, I happened to read Amos Chapter 6 and as far as what I've interpreted from it, I think, ...
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Does a Ben Noach, who keeps the seven mitzvot but has bad hashkafah, get punished by Hashem?

Does a Ben Noach, who keeps the seven mitzvot but has bad Hashkafah, get punished by Hashem? For example, if the B'nei Noach says things that are kefira for a Jew like saying that the Oral Torah is ...
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1answer
63 views

Do Hillel & R Akiva contradict Mamrim 3 & Y"D 158:2?

How do you reconcile Hillel (1) and Rabi Akiva (2) with the Mishnah Torah (3) and Shulchan Aruch (4)? "What is hateful unto you, do not do unto your neighbor. That is the whole Torah, all the rest is ...
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2answers
74 views

Incorporeal Resurrection

I was under the impression that, in contrast to Maimonides' distinction between techiyath hameithim (resurrection of the dead) and olam haba (the world to come), those Medieval/Renaissance period ...