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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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1answer
43 views

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!
30
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9answers
4k views

Why don't Jews think Jesus is the messiah?

Christians say that Jesus is the Messiah spoken of in the Old Testament; Jews disagree. Why couldn't Jesus be the Messiah spoken of? Or could he possibly have been?
11
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3answers
650 views

Is it wrong to be racist?

Is there anything wrong about being a racist? By racist I mean believing that certain groups of people are objectively worse in any qualitative way based on their race.
5
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2answers
348 views

Vilna Gaon's Criticism of the Rambam

As mentioned in this answer, the Vilna Gaon once criticised the Rambam for having been led astray by his own philosophy. I have seen this statement referenced also in this article on Seforim Blog and ...
1
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1answer
209 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 ...
9
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2answers
226 views

Does a dog know that it's a dog?

According to Jewish thought, do animals have the self-awareness to know that they exist? Do they know that they are animals? Does an animal differentiate itself from other animals?
22
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2answers
3k views

Why does the Hebrew alphabet not have letters representing vowels?

The Hebrew alphabet is actually an abjad rather than a "true" Western-style alphabet, in that every letter represents a consonant, and vowels, if they're indicated at all, require diacritics. This ...
20
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11answers
1k views

Why did G-d not stop the holocaust?

Why did G-d not stop the holocaust? Is there anything written to explain why He would not have stopped it? or why He would have allowed it?
2
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1answer
54 views

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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1answer
116 views

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 ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

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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0answers
57 views

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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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 ...
5
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3answers
89 views

Why does there have to be a written Torah?

I’d like to ask the opposite of this question. There, the OP asked why we have a distinct Torah SheBa’al Peh; wouldn’t it help to disseminate the Torah better if everything were written? Answers ...
2
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0answers
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'...
4
votes
1answer
205 views

What is the source for Rambam's thirteen principles?

What is the Rambam source for the thirteen principles, brought in his interpretation of the Mishna Sanhedrin 10:1? By that I mean what is his source that without these principles one does not go to ...
6
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4answers
2k views

What is the Orthodox Jewish view of the afterlife?

What is the nature of life after death, according to Orthodox Judaism as it exists today? I have tried to read up on this, but I often hear very conflicted views... I mean I once read that Sheol is ...
12
votes
2answers
564 views

Deviations of Ralbag from normative Jewish theology

In an article about the Rashba's views on science, Rabbi Dr. David Horwitz throws in the following sentence (p. 53): No less than a radical thinker than R. Levi ben Gershom (Ralbag), who had no ...
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6answers
1k views

What has the Holocaust taught us as a people?

The Holocaust was one of the most horrific and important events in our history. What have rabbis said are lessons we should take from it? I am looking for lessons that should apply to all Jews, ...
3
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2answers
78 views

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 ...
1
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1answer
30 views

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, ...
36
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13answers
3k views

Bereishit vs. science

How does Judaism deal with the differences between scientific evidence of the beginning of the world and the account(s) in Bereishit?
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1answer
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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1answer
52 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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2answers
51 views

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 ...
10
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4answers
294 views

What is the reason for שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום?

The gemara in Berachos 8a-b states: אמר רב הונא בר יהודה אמר רבי אמי לעולם ישלים אדם פרשיותיו עם הצבור שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום [...] שכל המשלים פרשיותיו עם הצבור מאריכין לו ימיו ושנותיו Rav ...
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votes
2answers
66 views

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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0answers
27 views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
113 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
163 views

Do sociopaths/psychopaths lack “דעת” of Good and Evil?

As YeZ points out in this answer, "daat" is the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Do sociopaths and/or psychopaths lack the דעת of the distinction between good and evil?
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3answers
91 views

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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2answers
87 views

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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3answers
47 views

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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2answers
52 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
130 views

Does God need to find out what happened? – Ralbag's seemingly contradictory comments

(Quick summary if you don't want to read the whole question: In Parshas Noach Ralbag seems to claim that God already knew what happened, while in Parshas Vayeira he seems to claim that God did not ...
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2answers
127 views

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
75 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
389 views

What are the three impure klippot?

Kabbalah and Chassidus discuss the "three impure klippot" and Klippos Noga. What is the difference between each of these three klippos?
6
votes
1answer
95 views

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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0answers
68 views

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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6answers
6k views

Does Judaism consider women inferior?

According to Orthodox Judaism, women may not be rabbis, be counted as part of a minyan, leyn from the Torah, or study the Talmud. It even says that to teach a woman Torah is to teach her obscenity!(...
2
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3answers
715 views

Bad Jew or Good Gentile?

Whom does Hashem love more: Gentiles who love Jewish people and Israel or Jews who are against Jewish people and Israel?
19
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2answers
2k views

What is the meaning of psak?

I have asked many people this question, and not yet got a comprehensive answer: What is psak? Like, let's say I have a certain piece of food of uncertain status. If I ask my 6 year old kid if it's ...
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1answer
48 views

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
130 views

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 ...
6
votes
3answers
541 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 ...
2
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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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6answers
591 views

Is there any reason to deny aliens according to Judaism?

Is there any reason that we couldn't believe in life on another planet somewhere? Is there any source that indicates to the contrary?
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1answer
54 views

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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2answers
57 views

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 ...