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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200 views

How can people effectively bless when blessing is God's domain?

How do people have the power to bless? Yitzchak's blessings for his sons pretty much came true, and similarly later when Yaakov blesses his children and earlier (in the inverse) Noach curses Canaan. ...
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English translation of Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim (Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed) on the Internet?

Is there an English translation on the Internet of Rambam's philosophic treatise on Jewish philosophy, Moreh Nevuchim?
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Moreh Nevuchim: To learn or not to learn?

I have come across many people who believe that it is inappropriate to learn Moreh Nevuchim especially at a younger inexperienced age. However, it seems that many important issues are discussed in the ...
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Theological Aspects of Hebrew Grammar

Are there any aggadic, kabbalistic, halachic or other theological teachings related to the grammar or morphology of Hebrew? I am not referring to the orthography (or anything at all related to ...
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Does Judaism permit sexual relationships outside of marriage?

I am eager to know more about different religions from Islam to Judaism. Furthermore, how different religions look at women and comparing their kinds of approaches to the matter of gender and ...
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Why is it neccesary to have an Oral Law?

Why was it necessary to have an oral law? Couldn't we have avoided inaccuracies and machlokot in the mishnah, gemara and etc by writing it down originally?
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Why does the 5th verse of “Yigdal”, not mention prayer as does the 5th principle of faith of the Rambam?

The piyyut, “Yigdal”, seems to put the 13 principles of faith of the Rambam in poetic form. With number 5, the author of Yigdal seems to have made a slightly different point to the Rambam by leaving ...
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558 views

Why does God allow slavery?

How could a kind G-D allow his people to use slavery on their weaker contemporaries and neighbors and yet be so strict with other requirements?
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Jewish alternative to a Christian self-help book

I had a bad psychological trauma some time ago and I felt the urgent need to review myself. I found that reading self-help books helped me. I tried to learn Mussar books (Mesillat yesharim, Chafetz ...
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Why bother with n'vi'im?

I was asked the following question recently and, incapable of doing it justice on my own, am seeking a cogent printed answer to give the questioner. If God wishes to express an unequivocal directive ...
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821 views

Which 20th-century Rosh Yeshiva studied under the mysterious Monsieur Chouchani?

Monsieur Chouchani was a mysterious figure who travelled around post-World War II and taught several great Jewish thinkers, including Emmanuel Levinas z"l and [yibadel l'chayim] Elie Wiesel. ...
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Tefilla: how to develop the habit of prayer?

This is a simple question, but still a struggle: how to develop the habit of prayer and, most important, how to like it? There was a time I used to say both shacharis and mincha prayers, sometimes ...
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Was Rambam affected by Islam?

Was Rambam's philosophy affected in any way by Islamic culture or religion? If so, could that influence have influenced his interpretation of halacha? This question is inspired by an ongoing ...
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323 views

Does the president of the USA have free will?

I don't remember where but I saw a chazal that states something to the effect of "the (non-Jewish) leaders of the world do not have free will". I would appreciate someone editing to source this. So I ...
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251 views

Fasting for non Religious Reasons?

I was recently asked to fast as a part of a multi-faith community fast as spiritual preparation for doing voter engagement work (I work for a multi-faith, multi-ethnic community organization.) Here ...
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Do traditional sources address how time “works”?

I’m sorry for such a convoluted question, but this has been bothering me for some time now. While the title isn’t quite accurate, I couldn’t think of a better way to phrase it - feel free to edit if ...
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Would they have died anyway?

I preface my question by noting that this question can be uncomfortable to some people, but hope that this great community can answer it Take any tragic event where people died, be it 9/11 or the ...
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How do we understand Talmudic predictions of Moshiach?

There are some predictions in the Talmud for when Moshiach/Messiah will come. Avoda Zara 9b brings a Beraisa and Rabbi Chanina that say when Moshiach will come (the opinions are a few years apart), ...
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וְהִתְקִין לוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ בִּנְיַן עֲדֵי עַד Is the translation of מִמֶּנּוּ **His** very self or his very self?

The Koren Sacks siddur translates the 4th of the 7 wedding blessings as: אֲשֶׁר יָצַר אֶת הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ, בְּצֶלֶם דְּמוּת תַּבְנִיתוֹ, וְהִתְקִין לוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ בִּנְיַן עֲדֵי עַד: who ...
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The concept of the “Tzadik” in Chasidut

I've recently started to learn about Breslev Chasidut and was amazed by many great advices of Rabbi Nachman zt'l but I am very confused to read things about the so called Tzadik of the Generation e.g. ...
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145 views

Animal rights vs other considerations in halacha and hashkafa

On a boat, Reuven owns five ostriches and one of them eats a diamond off of Shimon's hat which is on his head. Though we are not sure which one ate it we know with certainty that one of them did. ...
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127 views

Truth in a vacuum and Emes

The rules of mathematical logic classify a vacuous truth as being true. Therefore, if I say "All of my answers with score >500 have been accepted," that is a true statement according to the rules of ...
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159 views

How come Bais Hillel is usually lenient and Bais Shammai usually stringent?

It seems like the Bais Hillel had a tendency to be lenient in Halachic matters vs the Bais Shammai, it was a sort of a presumption to them in which they were almost always successful to back up with ...
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197 views

Why no “Musaf” for Korban Pesach?

Your average Jews in Temple times did not go participate actively in the regularly scheduled Temple offerings. For them, probably the biggest sacrificial experience of the year was the Korban Pesach ...
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901 views

Does demolition of terrorists' homes have any basis in Judaism?

Israel is currently implementing a policy of demolishing the homes of terrorists, even after they have been 'eliminated', as a deterrent to others. Is this kind of action OK, according to halacha + ...
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449 views

Does Orthodox Judaism have a generally held position on American politics? [closed]

The Pew Research Study on Jewish Americans says in part: On these measures (partisanship and ideology), the only other U.S. religious groups that are as conservative and Republican as Orthodox Jews ...
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328 views

Issurei arayos worse than rape

Why does the Torah treat forbidden relationships, even when consensual, more seriously, from our perspective, than it treats rape?
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Can you pray something that isn't true or (at least) that the petitioner doesn't believe to be true?

In the Aruch HaShulchan OH 581:4, he writes regarding the selichos we recite before Rosh HaShanah: האחת: דאלו שאינם מתענים, ובהסליחה מוזכר לשון "תענית" או "צום" – לא יאמרו זה, דלא ליהוי כדובר שקרים. ...
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If Lev Melech B'yad Hashem, why bother voting? [duplicate]

We have a concept in Jewish thought that rulers do not have free will concerning public affairs, based on the verse in Mishlei 21:1 'לב מלך ביד ה, the heart of a king is in the hand of Hashem (See ...
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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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Lubavitch and Geocentricism

I read here in an article by Rabbi Gil Student that the late Lubavitcher Rebbe zy"a believed in the geocentric model despite the modern scientific evidence to the contrary. What is the source for this ...
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The meaning of Tzadik

I am having difficulty in understand the meaning of Tzadik. Maimonides says "One whose merit surpasses his iniquity is a tzadik". I have trouble in understanding this sentence. Can someone explain the ...
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Commemorating Death

What are some sources about when it is appropriate - if ever - to celebrate the death of an enemy? My question is inspired by last night's news of the death of Osama Bin Laden, naturally, as well as ...
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What is the traditional/common Haredi “non-Hasidic” response to using the “Three Oaths” as an anti-Zionist argument?

Kesubos 111b lists the "Three Oaths" made incumbent on the Jews and the nations during the Exile. The "Three Oaths" have served as a cornerstone of anti-Zionist literature (http://www.nkusa.org/...
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Will money fall from the sky if you pray for it?

If you daven for a parnasah and then just sit back will money come to you?
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258 views

What were Alter Halpern's main issues with Marcus Jastrow's Dictionary?

I have heard that Alter Halpern, a Rabbi in England, published an article or kuntres presenting issues with Marcus Jastrow's Dictionary (for the Talmud, midrash, targum), i.e Sefer HaMilim. What ...
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How to choose 'your' rebbi?

When a person is choosing who they will learn from as their rebbi, are there any guidelines or rules that govern the decision making process? First a definition of what a rebbi is (for the purposes ...
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If the odds are against you in life (Bais Shammai's opinion), why did G-d bother?

I'm asking this question only because I recall hearing an answer, but unfortunately I don't remember the answer, or from which rabbi. Help me please? Mesilas Yesharim says G-d made creation out of ...
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If we can't understand G-d at all, why do our sources try?

I have for a long time been been confused and dismayed that, although our sources -- including kabbalistic ones -- acknowledge frequently, emphatically, and without limitation that לית מחשבה תפיסא בך ...
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Holiness in Intimacy

My understanding of one functionality of blessings is that they help one to take a moment and focus one's intent on the Creator and on one's higher purpose. This idea is especially poignant when one ...
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281 views

Good inclination or evil inclination in the womb?

The Posuk says: ויתרוצצו הבנים בקרבה (בראשית כה, כב)‏ To which Rashi comments: כשהיתה עוברת על פתחי תורה של שם ועבר יעקב רץ ומפרכס לצאת, וכשהיתה עוברת על פתחי עבודה זרה עשיו מפרכס לצאת ...
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What does it mean that God “remembers” something?

In verses such as Noach 8:1 ("And God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark, and God caused a spirit to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided"), ...
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What is an overview of Judaism's arguments against the “unconscious violinist” analogy used to support abortion in the case of rape?

I am looking for the response of any denomination that is against abortion in the case of rape that has also responded to the scenario below or something similar to it. "A Defense of Abortion" (...
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When is it moral to line up and kill thousands of little girls? A question on the Torah's morality

I am bothered by an incident in the Torah that seems morally unacceptable. After the incident with Pinchas, the Torah records that Klal Yisroel were commanded to attack Midian to avenge their attempt ...
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355 views

Why did God created physical impulse towards the “wrong” women

When I was young and had struggles with my "yetzer hara" - sexual impulse, I was fascinated by the Jewish attitude towards that impulse. God created this impulse for a purpose. It is meant to push ...
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254 views

No More Zechuth Avoth?

The Gemara (Bab. Shab. 55a) discusses when Zechuth Avoth ceased. I am aware of several opinions in Tosafoth that it ended for wicked people, or it ended for everyone but the very righteous or it ended ...
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Are there examples of Tanaim, Amoraim,Rishonim, Achronim using secular sources for Limud Torah?

For instance, although I cannot find the source-I do believe the Vilna Gaon told a Talmid of his to translate the Elements of Euclid (Geometric proofs, inter Alia) to Hebrew in order to augment ...
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Is there any precedent to read the first 11 chapters of Genesis as metaphorical?

I believe this will be related to a similar question about a statement by Rabbi Sacks. Rabbi Jeremy Wieder said in a lecture titled Non Literal Interpretation of Scripture in Jewish Tradition (and ...
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Why the Brain (Moach) as the source for thought is not mentioned in Torah?

Wherever the Torah refers to thinking and feelings of Anger, compassion, etc. it always mentions the Heart as the controlling organ (also Kidney) but NEVER the Brain? (Even in the Gemara the Moach is ...
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No Olam Habah for these?

At the end of Gemorah (Tractate) Sanhedrin, there is discussion of people who are not Zocheh to get into Olam Haba (Gan Eden). Is there a comprehensive list somewhere of people mentioned throughout ...