Questions tagged [science]

questions about science in relation to Judaism

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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 ...
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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 ...
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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.
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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?
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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. ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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? ...
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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." ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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?
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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, ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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, ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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?
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 “ ...
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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 ...
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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'...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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How can constant creation of new stars explained theologically?

"... we get on average about one new star per year, and one star dying each year as a planetary nebula in the Milky Way.... therefore there are about 275 million [born] per day, in the whole ...
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2 votes
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What defines a human in Judaism?

As a follow up to "creation-of-super-humans", The Gene-modification technologies promise interesting developments in human evolution/changes, both physical and intellectual. On the physical side - ...
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How does creation of a new species of super humans align with Judaism?

One of the most promising scientific fields of the nearest future is bio-technologies especially genetic modifications, starting with gene-therapy, genetic enhancements, and, as the process is ...
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Is there a concept of "peer review" in Rabbinical Judaism?

"Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competences as the producers of the work (peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a ...
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Would teleportation be allowed? [closed]

Suppose 'teleportation' like the transporter in star trek - where you are disassembled atom by atom, and reassembled in another location - becomes a reality. It will then likely become the most ...
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Websites or books about the Torah and history of the world

I am looking for recommendations of good websites and books that talk about various ways of understanding the 'conflicts' between the Torah and a modern understanding of the age of the universe, the ...
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Why the fact that the Earth is spherical is a deep secret according to Zohar?

Following "zohars-knowledge-about-earths-shape" and related to my other question "why-did-G-d-create-the-earth-spherical": Zohar (Vayikra 10a) states the following, seemingly pointing to the fact ...
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Arguments against evolution

In trying to find the best, most factually based argument against evolution, I found this which said that it just doesn't make sense because why would a creator take so long. Are there any other ...
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Why did G-d create everything important off-center?

I hope not to argue that the Heliocentric view is true as is our current understanding of [our position in] the Universe, the Earth is rotating around the Sun, that is rotating around the center of ...
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The science behind making liver kosher

It seems that salting and soaking liver is insufficient to release the blood sufficiently to make it kosher. It needs to be broiled (or is there some other method that also works?) What's the science ...
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Does Earth geography resemble anything metaphorical?

All I know about the traditional geographical metaphorism is that Jerusalem is the center of the world and the whole inhabitable space is divided between the 70 nations (besides the plain facts, like ...
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Why did G-d create the Earth spherical?

I hope nobody questions the fact of the spherical Earth. Just as spherical as all other celestial bodies. Many argued whether we knew this fact or not, but I don't recall that those who claim we ...
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Source that אמונת חכמים applies to the Sages' knowledge besides Halachah

Tons of Jewish responsa (incl. this site) is based on a common belief/premise that the Talmudic Sages knew what they say and that everything they said is true - אמונת חכמים (see this question on this ...
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