Questions tagged [science]

questions about science in relation to Judaism

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Hashkafic reasons for not teaching secular topics

What are hashkafic reasons that some Jewish schools not teach secular science and only focus on religious education, when there are doctrines in Kabbalah about the natural universe being ...
Kirk's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
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Genetic engineering an animal with a different kind of animal’s dna

Does halacha permit or prohibit a Jew to genetically engineer an animal with the DNA of another kind of animal, or is this considered “Kilayim” the forbidden mixing of two animal species? Sources for ...
Kirk's user avatar
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Are (some types of) malochim like software?

I've asked in the past whether malochim can be human. I'm not talking about that kind of malach now. I'm wondering whether it is a good metaphor to think of some types of malochim as being like ...
Moses Supposes's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
161 views

Scientifically testing segulos

I'm wondering whether anyone has done any scientific tests to establish whether any specific segulos have any statistically significant effect. Has anyone come across anything like this?
Moses Supposes's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
148 views

The search for invariants

In an interview, French Jewish intellectual Jacques Attali claimed that modern science is partly based on Jewish tradition because like talmudic discussions, it is based on the "search for ...
nayriz's user avatar
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2 answers
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Chazal contradicting science

I am curious. If there is a contradiction between statements of Chazal found in the Talmud, how are those reconciled in light of contradictory science, and if a Halacha is derived from a non-...
Kirk's user avatar
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3 answers
375 views

Preserving the planet - Is damage irreversible according to this midrash?

The medrash in kohelet rabah 7:13 says to not destroy the planet on grounds that there's no one who will be able to repair the damages. Is this an endorsement for Jews to be concerned with climate ...
Shababnik's user avatar
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Are quarks and atoms an observable physical manifestation of the Dvar Havaya that is keeping the universe in existence?

המחדש בטובו בכל יום תמיד מעשה בראשית In His goodness, He renews the work of creation every day, continuously As explained by the Baal Shem Tov and cited by the Baal Hatanya in Book 2, Ch. 1 of the ...
larry909's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
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Hand warmer on Shabbos

I was asked on Shabbos the following question: Can hand warmers be used on Shabbos? Does it make a difference if it was activated before Shabbos or can it be even activated on Shabbos? I was thinking, ...
fulltimekollelguy's user avatar
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119 views

Intelligent machines and their Halachic status

Given the recent advances in machine learning, such as the OpenAI GPT-3 (e.g. chatbot), it is not unreasonable to expect that artificial general intelligence (AGI) will be achieved in the foreseeable ...
user9806's user avatar
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Does explicit revelation really take away our free will?

I've seen it expressed in various answers and comments here (and elsewhere in general) that Hashem did not reveal things like explicit scientific knowledge in the Torah, performs regular open miracles,...
user9806's user avatar
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Kohanic in vitro Pregnancy

I have the following theoretical questions, from many I’ve met and even a real case of someone very special I met in a hostel in Israel. My assumptions are between parentheses after the list item. ...
Jake Armstrong's user avatar
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Rebbe Nachman of Breslov - "science tells you how, Torah tells you why". Anyone have a source for this?

Heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gag_myt1hWw Is this quotation correct? If so, where is the source? Thank you.
Rabbi Kaii's user avatar
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What is the definitions of fruits vs vegetables for different Halachic purposes?

IIRC, the scientific definition is simple - fruits contain seeds (apple or cucumber), and vegetables are all other parts of a plant (broccoli, carrots, or potatoes). What are some rabbinic definitions ...
Al Berko's user avatar
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Why are the planets so different from each other?

In Rambam's (originally Aristotelian) view the planets are heavenly bodies made of some magical crystal-like substance (i.e. Foundations_of_the_Torah.3.1). After we examined some of them, they turned ...
Al Berko's user avatar
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What rabbis did explicitly deal with Heliocentrism (accepted or rejected)?

Following the closed question "whats-the-earliest-acknowledgment-of-heliocentrism", I'm looking for any rabbinic sources that explicitly deal with heliocentrism.
Al Berko's user avatar
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Can one consume a triboluminescent food-substance on Shabbos?

May one consume a food exhibiting triboluminescence on Shabbos? Triboluminescence is where light is created from a material being crushed, rubbed, or ripped apart. When foods are infused with very low ...
Moshe's user avatar
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Is there modern scholarship on Sefer HaBris?

Have there been any studies, examinations, comparisons, discussions etc. of Sefer HaBris in light of modern (~21st Century) science. I'm looking for elaboration on this book particularly within a ...
Dr. Shmuel's user avatar
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How many species of animals did God create in total?

In Rabbis' views, how many species of animals did God create in total? How did those views evolve with time and scientific understanding?
Al Berko's user avatar
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4 votes
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Believing Universe to be older than 6k years K'firah (heresy)?

I know that the age of universe and/or earth is not one of the 13 ikarim. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan held it could be much older. But he wasn't a posek (at least he wasn't known as one) and was controversial. ...
benny's user avatar
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Why don't humans have the best version of organs?

Scientifically speaking, a better version of an organ could be found in many animals (besides the human brain, maybe). IIRC, octopuses have better eyes, birds have a more efficient cardiovascular ...
Al Berko's user avatar
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8 votes
3 answers
431 views

What tool did Raban Gamliel use to determine how close his ship was to the port?

In Mishna Eruvin 4:2, Raban Gamliel tells his colleagues "I looked out from our ship just before it got dark, and determined we were already within 2000 amot of the harbor." Bartenura says ...
Shalom's user avatar
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Chullin 3:7 and Monopterus Cuchia

The Gemara (Niddah 51b) says that there will never exist a fish with scales and no fins. Then comes in the Monopterus Cuchia, a fish which has scales, yet does not possess any fins. Does anyone have ...
Torahlover613's user avatar
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Was linseed (flaxseed) oil in common use in time of the Mishna/Gemara?

Go to any location 200+ years old in America, and they'll tell you all about the value of linseed (flax seed) for paint. Which makes me wonder, was it a "thing" in the time of the Talmud? ...
Shalom's user avatar
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Did Bible Characters Typically Drink Water?

I've always heard that in the medieval era, people drank dilute beer all the time because the water wasn't safe. We find all over Tanach accounts of people "eating bread and drinking water." ...
Shalom's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
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Measuring Moon's elevation in units of length

Rosh Hashanah 24a: The Sages taught in a baraita: If one witness says that he saw the moon two plow handles high above the horizon, and the other one says it was three plow handles high, their ...
sds's user avatar
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2 votes
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41 views

What do Chazal say as to why Avram and Terach left Ur Kasdeem

The Torah in Bereishis does not elaborate as to why Terach and Avram left Ur Kasdeem. Could it have been because of a massive earthquake and the fear that it might reoccur and harm the family? The ...
chanina Yaacov's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
350 views

How do Jews discern genuine spiritual experiences from hallucinations?

When believers appeal to their private spiritual experiences to argue for their faith, skeptics typically respond by dismissing their stories entirely, conjecturing that these are more likely cases of ...
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Revisiting cryonics and halaha

I thought it would be interesting to revisit the halachic permissibility of cryonics. This previous answer mentions a view that requires >50% chance of the preserved person being brought back to ...
user9806's user avatar
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1 vote
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Chemical analysis of Niddah Ma'ros

Is a rabbi allowed/endorsed/obligated to conduct a laboratory chemical analysis of Niddah Ma'ros before he Paskens? Are there precedents? Are there rabbis who perform it on a regular basis?
Al Berko's user avatar
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-1 votes
1 answer
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Biblical attribution of intelligence and feelings to the human heart

Traditionally, the human heart was considered the residence of the animated soul and numerous Biblical passages refer to that ancient belief: "You shall love the LORD your God with all your ...
Al Berko's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
306 views

Why did Rambam include scientific explanations in the first chapters of Mishne Torah?

The first several chapters of Mishneh Torah (ch.3-4) include some pseudo-scientific (Aristotelian?) passages, seemingly unrelated to practical Halacha, for example, "The celestial spheres are ...
Al Berko's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
340 views

Why aren't peas mentioned in the Tanach/Talmud?

Or if my premise is wrong, please correct me? Guns, Germs, & Steel talks about early domesticated crops of the Fertile Crescent. No surprise that he quickly mentions wheat, barley, olives, dates, ...
Shalom's user avatar
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-2 votes
1 answer
154 views

What is breathing for, according to sages?

Initially, God breathed a soul into Adam through his nostrils (Gen 2.7). So we definitely know that breathing (נשימה) is linked somehow to the soul (נשמה). We require breathing to survive and without ...
Al Berko's user avatar
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-4 votes
1 answer
89 views

What is the mechanism of death by poisoning?

The four deaths mentioned in the Jewish law have a very straightforward physical impact on the body. All of them cause inability to breathe which is linked to "maintenance" of the soul, and ...
Al Berko's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
146 views

Overpopulation and the Tree of Life

Had it not been for the sin of Adam and Chava, I've read sources that say we would have been able to eat from the Tree of Life, which would means that humanity would never die. What would keep the ...
Castle's user avatar
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-1 votes
2 answers
171 views

What does "omniscience" really mean?

Standard teaching is that God is omniscient. But what does the word mean? To most, it means "One who knows everything". To me, it means "One who knows everything that there is to ...
Maurice Mizrahi's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
163 views

Mistake in Ezekiel's vision

I seem to recall that in the Guide to the Perplexed, the Rambam says that when Ezekiel's vision speaks of four heavenly spheres (according to the Rambam's interpretation), it was because during ...
dlp's user avatar
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Is the Tanya the first rabbinic work to reflect a new scientific understanding of the circulation of blood?

The Tanya was first published in 1796. In chapter nine of the Tanya (in the shi’ur for today, Teves 9), the Alter Rebbe writes: The abode of the animal soul… is in the heart, in the left ventricle, ...
Chaim's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
187 views

Resources that bring out interesting scientific/historic/academic related discussions from the daf?

I have a relative that invests a few hours a day learning daf yomi, yet he recently admitted that he does this solely because he believes it's a good thing thing to do but not because he actually ...
mix's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
316 views

Database of Gematria, Notarikon, and Temurah Findings

I have been aware of Gematria, but now just learned of Notarikon and Temurah. There is a cool twitter feed by the TilingBot on hyperbolic tessellations. It is essentially a database of all the types ...
Lance's user avatar
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0 votes
2 answers
146 views

Why is marble not considered a stone?

Hilchot Tumat Tzara'at 14:8: הַלְּבֵנִים וְהַשַּׁיִשׁ אֵינָן חֲשׁוּבִין כַּאֲבָנִים Bricks and Marble aren't considered stones. What is the reason for this decision?
Zarka's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
496 views

The Netziv on Evolution

The Wikipedia page titled Jewish views on evolution states the following about the Netziv. When scientists first developed the theory of evolution, this idea was seized upon by rabbis such as ...
user6591's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
154 views

Reconciling the Rashbam's understanding for leaning left with the anatomy of the throat

The Gemara (Pesachim 108a) rules: פרקדן לא שמיה הסיבה הסיבת ימין לא שמה הסיבה ולא עוד אלא שמא יקדים קנה לוושט ויבא לידי סכנה Lying prone is not called leaning. Leaning right is not called ...
DonielF's user avatar
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6 votes
0 answers
173 views

What blessing would one have said on seeing Einstein for example?

The Oruch Hashulchan O Ch 224, 6 says הרואה חכם מחכמי ישראל שגדול בתורה מברך: "ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם שחלק מחכמתו ליריאיו, Someone who sees a Jewish Torah sage makes the blessing “ ...
Avrohom Yitzchok's user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
332 views

Has nature changed since Talmudic times

Looking at the Gemoro, people used to believe that babies born at 7 months were more likely to survive at 7 months than 8 months. A male is born face down whereas a female is born face up. Another ...
AlHal's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
70 views

What specifically was the ancient Jewish practice of rubbing an infant's throat?

The Jewish Encyclopedia article on "Consecration" says that the later "rubbing on" of oil aka "anointing" has roots in the practice of rubbing an infant's throat in preparation for receiving a mother'...
Ruminator's user avatar
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-3 votes
2 answers
228 views

Empirical evidence of Sages' intellectual superiority

Throughout ages, our Sages engaged in Halachic, scientific and philosophical arguments between themselves and with other nations' philosophers. We hold that the truthfulness of Talmudic discussions ...
Al Berko's user avatar
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-1 votes
3 answers
113 views

Sources that G-d miraculously and deceptively conceal His deeds

In the debate on veracity and historicity of the Biblical stories and claims many assert that after an event in discussion G-d miraculously wiped all evidence or replaced it to look natural. For ...
Al Berko's user avatar
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4 votes
4 answers
3k views

How did Gdoley Israel react to the landing on the Moon?

IMHO, landing on the Moon did/could seriously undermine the bases of the Jewish religious view about the nature of the celestial bodies. How did Gdoley Israel react/deal with the landing on Moon (and ...
Al Berko's user avatar
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