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126 votes
4 answers
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Implications of Samoa skipping a Friday

This week, the island of Samoa is switching time zones, causing it to skip from Thursday directly to Saturday. Out of simple curiosity, what implications might this have on any Jews on the island? ...
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  • 1,311
94 votes
4 answers
3k views

Does "reputation scoring" make "the Torah a crown to magnify yourself with"?

Is "reputation scoring" against the spirit of Pirkei Ovos 4 (5) "Rabbi Tzaddok would say: Do not make the Torah a crown to magnify yourself with, ...."
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73 votes
12 answers
12k views

Why is it necessary to ask a Rabbi?

In various places on this site, including the FAQ, we have the following disclaimer: Like Wikipedia, this site makes no guarantee of validity, and does not offer professional (particularly rabbinic)...
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  • 46.9k
73 votes
5 answers
8k views

What is the halachic source for objection to gay (civil) marriage?

New York State is considering legalizing gay (civil) marriages, so tonight on our answering machine we received a message urging us to pray that it doesn't pass because gay civil marriages were, you ...
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  • 1,398
63 votes
9 answers
2k views

Did any Achronim comment on the American Revolutionary or Civil Wars?

I've heard that for instance, in the 1800s, the American rabbis in the South were pro-slavery, and the American rabbis in the North opposed to it. But what were the views towards America of the more-...
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  • 127k
59 votes
8 answers
8k views

How do we know that the civil Saturday is the correct Shabbat?

Disclaimer: I am not a religious Jew, this question is only out of curiosity. I understand that observant Jews observe Shabbat from Friday night to Saturday. And from this question and this it seems ...
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  • 691
56 votes
21 answers
18k views

Is Christianity Avodah Zara?

It is commonly accepted that Islam is not Avodah Zarah (idolatry) since Islam has a clear monotheistic theology with a belief in Allah that parallels our view of "kail" or Hashem. It is even ...
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56 votes
5 answers
2k views

Were slave-related commandments observed in America?

Since there was slavery in the Americas between their discovery and 1865, do we know of any Jewish slave-owners there who observed slavery-related laws of Judaism?
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  • 1,555
55 votes
28 answers
4k views

About what were rabbis ahead of the times?

I have heard claims that experts in the world of Torah were significantly ahead of their counterparts in the world of natural science (or mathematics, or psychology, or…) in that they knew X (...
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  • 73.2k
53 votes
12 answers
6k views

How do we know that God exists?

Simple enough question, and very much related to the topic. According to traditional Jewish sources, on what basis should people believe that there's a God?
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  • 629
51 votes
5 answers
4k views

Are sea sponges kosher?

The sea sponge is scientifically classified as an animal (kingdom Animalia), therefore maybe it would be considered unkosher, as seafood. On the other hand, its phylum Porifera is distinct and ...
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  • 964
50 votes
7 answers
7k views

Does the Torah discuss aliens?

Does the Torah discuss extra-terrestrial life and/or civilizations? Do any Torah sources exist which discuss what these hypothetical beings would be like and their status/nature? (eg. Would they be ...
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48 votes
5 answers
5k views

Rejecting others' friend requests on Facebook [closed]

Inspired by this question: If one receives a friend request on Facebook, especially from another Jew, is it permissible to reject them? On the one hand, "חברים כל ישראל" - "All Jews are friends"; ...
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  • 28.2k
48 votes
8 answers
5k views

What is the point of having a rapist marry the woman he raped?

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (JPS) 28  If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, that is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; 29 then the man that lay with ...
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48 votes
8 answers
6k views

Can a Jew lose their Jewish Status?

Can a Jew lose their status as being a Jew by performing any action (example: performing idolatry, disavowing core beliefs, converting to another religion, etc)? Or once a person is a Jew then they ...
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  • 5,156
47 votes
12 answers
2k views

How do I get myself to yearn for moshiach if I'm comfortable in the diaspora?

Intellectually I know that we're supposed to yearn for the coming of the mashiach and the in-gathering in Eretz Yisrael. I know that one of the Rambam's 13 principles calls for this. We pray for ...
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47 votes
7 answers
4k views

May I use my neighbor's Wi-Fi without asking permission?

My neighbor has never set up password protection on his wireless router. If I wanted, I could wirelessly connect to his high-speed Internet service. May I use his Internet service without asking him ...
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  • 2,853
46 votes
13 answers
3k views

PTIJ: Haman was Basar b’Chalav, so how could we eat him? [closed]

Esther 3:5 says, “וימלא המן חמה” Haman was filled with butter. This would presumably make his flesh basar b’chalav, but Shemos 16:35 clearly says “ובני ישראל אכלו את־המן” the Children of Israel ate ...
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46 votes
13 answers
10k views

Reason behind pinky during hagba

Why do people lift their pinkies during Hagba?
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44 votes
4 answers
14k views

Should one ask a non-Jew attending synagogue to wear a yarmulke?

It says in Divrei HaRav (by R. Hershel Schachter, p143) that when they asked R. Aharon Kotler whether a non-Jewish secular studies teacher in a yeshiva should be asked to wear a yarmulke, he said he ...
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  • 7,773
44 votes
1 answer
2k views

Setting aside Shabbat to answer the President's call

In an old MSNBC news story about Jack Lew, a Shabbat-observant Jew who was just appointed to be the new White House Chief of Staff, there's a story about his getting a call from President Clinton when ...
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  • 46.9k
42 votes
4 answers
6k views

In a leap year, is the extra month Adar I or Adar II?

I'm implementing support for the Hebrew calendar in Noda Time, my date/time library for .NET. I think I'm mostly there aside from text support (although beta testers would be very welcome!) but one ...
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  • 745
41 votes
5 answers
9k views

Which alphabet were the original Torah scrolls in?

I've assumed that the Torah scrolls we read today as the same that Moses wrote. I always assumed it's been the same alphabet. However lately I came across documents explaining the evolution of the ...
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  • 2,569
40 votes
23 answers
10k views

How to tactfully circumvent opposite-gender handshake

Say you're a man in a professional setting, and a woman who isn't used to dealing with observant Jews stretches out her hand to greet you -- but your practice is to avoid shaking hands even in ...
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  • 20.8k
40 votes
27 answers
2k views

Experience-based advice for focusing and slowing down prayers?

I tend to daven (pray) without sufficient focus and very quickly. In particular, I find that most of the time that I'm praying, my mind is on things other than the words that I'm saying. And, not that ...
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  • 46.9k
40 votes
13 answers
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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  • 3,009
39 votes
13 answers
6k views

Conversion: If G-d really wanted me to be a Jew (and observe mitzvot), why was I not born into a Jewish family

This question pertains to the issue of conversion, and if it makes sense in the Jewish context of some people being Chosen specifically by God. Before beginning, this poster is aware of the long, and ...
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39 votes
7 answers
10k views

Is one allowed to smoke Marijuana?

Not taking into account Dina D'malchusa, what are the Halachic problems with smoking marijuana? Is it allowed?
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39 votes
2 answers
8k views

You accidentally broke your fast. Now what?

What are you supposed to do if you inadvertently broke your fast*? Do you: keep going; extend it (if so, how long); cancel it (if so, do you make it up a different day)? *This question is for day-...
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  • 41.1k
39 votes
8 answers
49k views

Is there a problem with Triangle K? If so, what?

I want to know what the OU's or any other Orthodox kashrut agency's problem is with Triangle K. I have read about the Ralbag family which founded and runs the Triangle K and they are clearly Orthodox. ...
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  • 1,394
39 votes
8 answers
4k views

Is it permissible to erase the name of G-d from an E-reader?

Most people seem to be lenient about shemos on digital screens in general (though Bar-Ilan does avoid displaying the Tetragrammaton.) The letters on the screen are just light, there is nothing really ...
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  • 10.8k
39 votes
5 answers
3k views

While playing a computer game, may I "worship" one of the game's "gods" to help me win?

I sometimes play a certain computer role-playing game (RPG). In this game, my character (whom I might name after myself but who does not otherwise resemble me) fights mythological creatures and ...
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38 votes
3 answers
11k views

Questions about Polygamy in Jewish Law and Culture

I've recently been studying polygamy (having more than 1 wife), and had a few cultural questions. Was polygamy accepted at the time of David and Solomon? Were there any laws about it? Was polygamy ...
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  • 541
38 votes
8 answers
3k views

PTIJ: Using the Force on Shabbat [closed]

What halachic considerations must a Jewish Jedi take into account before using the Force on Shabbat? This question is Purim Torah and is not intended to be taken completely seriously. See the Purim ...
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  • 1,815
38 votes
3 answers
12k views

Why does my bottle of Kosher grape juice say that it's 'for sacramental purposes only'?

I recently noticed that the bottle of Kedem Kosher grape juice that I purchased has a notice on the label which reads 'FOR SACRAMENTAL PURPOSES ONLY'. I assume this means that it's being sold to be ...
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  • 38.5k
38 votes
6 answers
7k views

bicycle on Shabbat?

Is riding a bicycle on Shabbat permitted within an eiruv, being ridden only on pavement (so no unintended plowing), for transportation and not exercise, and with the understanding that repairs aren't ...
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36 votes
9 answers
5k views

PTIJ: Which Dr. Seuss books should one obtain? [closed]

The Torah warns us that we should not accumulate too many Dr. Seuss books, as it states in Deuteronomy 17:16 רַק, לֹא-יַרְבֶּה-לּוֹ סוּסִים One should not amass Seusses Being that one should only ...
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36 votes
10 answers
5k views

Is there any evidence that Rabbi Akiva's students fought alongside Bar Kochba?

Various sources say that "12,000 pairs" of Rabbi Akiva's students died between Pesach and Shavuos because they did not treat each other with respect. See Genesis Rabba 61:3, Ecclesiastes Rabba 11, ...
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  • 15.7k
36 votes
4 answers
7k views

What are the sources for women to wear/ not wear pants?

I have heard that the argument is beged ish / kli gever, and I have heard people say that even if that was once a real reason for it it doesn't apply today for various reasons. I understand that the ...
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  • 701
36 votes
7 answers
3k views

Where does the concept of Gilgulim (reincarnations) in Judaism come from?

What is the source of Gilgulim (reincarnations) in Judaism? Are there people who disagree with its existence? Who was the first to mention it? What I am asking essentially is what is the historical ...
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  • 2,222
35 votes
2 answers
7k views

Would a mermaid be kosher?

Tonight at religious school we were discussing Kosher laws and how to build/keep a kosher kitchen. While we were discussing different meats, one of the jokers in school asked if you could eat a ...
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35 votes
6 answers
7k 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! (...
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  • 19.3k
35 votes
10 answers
2k views

Birthdays in Judaism

Is there any significance in Judaism attached to the day someone was born (aside for the 13th year)? Is there anything wrong with celebrating one's birthday? And is it more correct to celebrate the "...
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  • 38.2k
35 votes
9 answers
3k views

Avot keeping Mitzvot

How are we to understand the tradition that the patriarchs kept all of the mitzvot in the Torah (see for example: the last mishna in Kiddushin (4:14), Rashi on Bereshit 32:5, etc.) in light of the ...
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  • 3,810
35 votes
4 answers
2k views

Pronouncing Hashem's name in a song

Some people are very careful to say Hashem or Elokim when singing a song with one of G-d's names in it so as not to use His name in vain (related question), but I have also been told this is ...
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34 votes
9 answers
6k 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?
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  • 1,301
34 votes
14 answers
8k views

How can we be sure that Judaism is true/the truth?

I borrowed (with permission) a question from Ahmed Han, which is: People of every religion claim that they are the ones in the right path. Even the people of sects in these religions think that ...
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34 votes
5 answers
1k views

Is PDF avodah zarah (idol worship)? [closed]

A good rabbi always anticipates questions before they're asked, so when you start asking Rabbi Google "how do i convert to...", he's quick to suggest Judaism. And Islam. And Christianity. ...
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  • 22.8k
34 votes
3 answers
4k views

Forbidden actions and the role of non-Jews

The question I am to ask is related to personal experience I've had but can be easily broadened. I am really asking for the sake of broadening my knowledge, and I apologize if any part of my question ...
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  • 443
33 votes
2 answers
5k views

Abbreviations before/after names

What are the more common abbreviations one might see printed before or after a person's name, and what do they mean? Please include honorifics (R'=Rabbi) as well as memorial - or prayerful - suffixes ...
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