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23
votes
5answers
4k views

What is the original halachic source for a woman covering her collarbones out of modesty (tznius)?

Many contemporary instructions on women's modesty (tznius) say that necklines have to be high enough to cover the collarbones. I can certainly accept that if this is the communal standard, it should ...
23
votes
3answers
886 views

Does Down Syndrome make one a Shoteh?

I had a very strange experience and I would like to know what halacha thinks. I was in shul on Shabbos, and an adult with Down Syndrome ripped by opening the box of tissues. I was not going to say ...
23
votes
5answers
514 views

Why do fish die?

In Parshas Bereishis (Genesis 3:6), there's an interesting comment by Rashi. The Torah says: וַתֵּ֣רֶא הָֽאִשָּׁ֡ה כִּ֣י טוֹב֩ הָעֵ֨ץ לְמַאֲכָ֜ל וְכִ֧י תַֽאֲוָה־ה֣וּא לָעֵינַ֗יִם וְנֶחְמָ֤ד הָעֵץ֙ ...
23
votes
1answer
964 views

Who is Moshiach?

How do I know that someone is Moshiach? Will I just know? Are there requirements? If someone tells me that he is the Moshiach, is he to be believed. It would seem seem strange to say so.
23
votes
3answers
2k views

Can an Alien convert to Judaism?

Suppose we one day find an extraterrestrial walking on our planet that originated from another planet. The alien quickly learns all about religion and now wants to become a Jew. Do we let him? ...
23
votes
2answers
692 views

If I injure a bug, should I kill it?

I'm sure this has happened to lots of people: you somehow injure a bug (or some other animal). I have always heard that this is a case of Tzaar Baalei Chaim, and that you should kill the bug to ...
23
votes
2answers
673 views

Which way to face while praying on another planet

On Earth, we pray facing Jerusalem. On another planet, it makes sense to pray facing Earth. However, since planets move relative to each other, Earth might not be always in the same direction. In ...
23
votes
1answer
577 views

Saying Hashem's name when studying

I learned somewhere that when you are learning, if you are going to read an entire pasuk without interruption you can say Hashem's name, however if you are going to only say part of the pasuk (for ...
23
votes
5answers
2k views

The Origins of the Zohar - Why is it accepted as being true?

I've read arguments and counter arguments for the origins of the Zohar and I'm perplexed. I personally accept the truths in kabbalah and chassidut, but I didn't realize how the Zohar sort of just "...
23
votes
1answer
502 views

Can you learn from seforim written by someone who believed in Shabbetai Tzvi?

During the times of false messiah Shabbetai Tzvi, and for several decades afterwards, many well established rabbanim [1] believed him to be Moshiach. Some even maintained this belief after his ...
22
votes
8answers
895 views

Halachot learned from gematria

The Gemara in Nazir 5a learns that an unspecified nezirut is 30 days long from the pasuk "kadosh yihyeh"(Bamidbar 6,5) with יהיה- yihyeh having a gematria (Numerical value) of 30. Can anyone think of ...
22
votes
12answers
2k views

Is one a heretic if he does not believe in Kabbalah?

Is one a heretic if he does not believe in Kabbalah? Not necessarily that the Rashbi authored the Zohar, but in the general tenets of kabbalah including but not limited to: tzimtzum, sefirot, ...
22
votes
5answers
3k views

Nittle Nacht Meaning

What is Nittle Nacht? What does the name mean? What is its significance? Which Halachic authorities speak about it, and what do they say? What is the actual date for it? How is it effected this ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

Does Judaism have a concept of holy text literalism?

Apologies if this is an ignorant, foolish or offensive question. I am not Jewish, and am asking to satisfy my curiosity. Some time ago, on a political forum online, I was discussing religious ...
22
votes
6answers
3k views

What is the basis for eating in someone's house without a kashrut certificate?

No one asks for a kashrut certificate to eat in someone's house; they just make a rough judgement based on the host's reputation (the way they dress or behave, the circles they move in, etc.). That ...
22
votes
6answers
293 views

PTIJ: How do I know if MiYodeya cookies are kosher? What should I do on Pesach? [closed]

I understand many Internet sites including MiYodeya use cookies during authentication and leave them on my computer. I find this highly concerning for two reasons even if my computer is not Jewish, I ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

May (or should) a convert recite kaddish after his biological parents' deaths?

May (or should) a convert recite kaddish after his biological parents' deaths? I think the answer is that yes, he may do so out of respect for them (even though, in a strict halachic sense, he is no ...
22
votes
12answers
11k views

Talmud Study, Where to start [closed]

I would like to start to study Talmud, BUT do not know how, where to start. My Jewish training is basically non-existent. I learned how to read the Hebrew words in the Siddur, Machzor, and Chumash - - ...
22
votes
6answers
5k views

How should a werewolf celebrate Pesach? [closed]

Werewolves are known for their transformation at the full moon. Unfortunately, for Jewish werewolves, this poses problems with holidays such as Pesach, Sukkot, (Shushan Purim, Pesach Sheini, Tu ...
22
votes
11answers
9k views

How does "eilu v'eilu" work out with an absolute truth?

I'm under the impression that religious Judaism believes in absolute truths. That being the case, how does the concept of "eilu v'eilu divrei elokim chaim" (Eruvin 13b) work out? When two scholars ...
22
votes
5answers
6k views

Is there a list of Mitzvot and their corresponding body parts?

The Talmud (Makkot 23B)and the Zohar (1:170B - unverified English translation here) say that the 248 positive commandments correspond to the 248 limbs of the human body. (The Mishna (Ohalot 1:8) lists ...
22
votes
3answers
1k views

Does an ivory spoon make hot tea non-kosher?

Both the handles of cutlery and entire spoons have been made of elephant ivory, which is from a tusk (a tooth) of an elephant. Elephant is of course not a kosher animal. Presumably, then, these spoons ...
22
votes
4answers
3k views

Why are Shabbat loopholes a good thing?

I'm not Jewish but do know that strict observance of religious laws is important in Judaism. I recently visited one of our suppliers in Israel and the hotel and office block had sabbath elevators. ...
22
votes
9answers
7k views

Phrasing of refuah prayer when praying for a non-Jew

How would you phrase a refuah (recovery from illness) tefillah (prayer) for a sick gentile? "Thomas ben [=son of] Mary"? "Thomas Smith"? Is it appropriate to include the name during the ...
22
votes
6answers
4k views

Looking for more information about a story of positive atheism/heresy

In a 2006 article (original link no longer available), Rabbi Jonathan Sacks tells the following story: “DO YOU believe,” the disciple asked the rabbi, “that God created everything for a purpose?” “I ...
22
votes
5answers
4k views

PTIJ: Why is everyone here so angry? [closed]

I thought everybody here seemed like a nice bunch, and I had nothing to be afraid of, but I discovered in Tehillim I was wrong! מִֽי־י֭וֹדֵעַ עֹ֣ז אַפֶּ֑ךָ וּ֝כְיִרְאָתְךָ֗ עֶבְרָתֶֽךָ Mi Yodeya, ...
22
votes
8answers
14k views

Why did nobody succeed the Lubavitcher Rebbe?

The late Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l had no successor as the rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. Why is this? Was it simply because he had no children? If so, why was nobody else ...
22
votes
5answers
5k views

Is using a (non-touch-screen) Kindle on Shabbat permitted?

A Kindle is an e-book reader that uses "e-ink" rather than an LCD screen. It has physical controls to turn pages. (This question is not about the newer ones with touch screens.) If left unused it ...
22
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
4k views

Orthodox Visits to Other Denomination Sanctuaries

Why is it that some people won't set foot in another's sanctuary, even if it was for a non-prayer function? Can an orthodox person be in a reform style temple sanctuary for a lecture or concert? I ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

Going from an nonreligious reform Jew to a religious one?

I turned sixteen a couple of weeks ago and the real world is starting to open up to me. My father is a Christian, but my mother is Jewish which makes myself and my siblings Jewish. We went to ...
22
votes
2answers
649 views

Is there a halachic problem with the Columbia University seal on the floor of the library?

The seal of Columbia University has the YKVK (G-d's 4 letter name) on the floor of the library. People walk on the seal. Is this chilul Hashem or is there some other halachic problem with this? Does ...
22
votes
1answer
439 views

a wheelchair user's taking "steps" before sh'mone esre

The Shulchan Aruch, OC 94:5, writes: Suppose someone is sitting on a boat or wagon [and saying sh'mone esre (amida)]. If he can stand up when he reaches the point of bowing, he should stand, so as ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

PTIJ: Oscar the Grouch getting Tzara'at on his garbage can [closed]

If Oscar the Grouch gets Tzara'at on his garbage can, is that considered Tzara'at of clothing or Tzara'at of one's home? This question is Purim Torah and is not intended to be taken completely ...
22
votes
3answers
2k views

What is a woman's obligation when it comes to T'fillah?

In Orthodox practice it is commonly thought that women are not obligated in T'fillah (parts of it anyway) due to its time-bound nature. However, what is a woman's obligation? Which prayers must she ...
22
votes
7answers
801 views

Can a single-parent father be exempt from time-bound mitzvot?

Rabbis such as Abudraham have explained a woman's exemption from positive time-bound commandments (mitzvot shehazman grama) in terms of a woman's ongoing and preliminary role in supporting her ...
22
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the source of the Magen Dovid (Star of David)?

What is the source of the Magen Dovid (Star of David) in Rabbinic Judaism? When was it first used, and for what?
22
votes
3answers
3k views

Are there any sources that prohibit childhood vaccinations?

The consequences of depressed childhood vaccination rates in some American communities, in the form of a building measles outbreak, have been in the news lately. All public schools and most private ...
22
votes
4answers
4k views

Relationship between Samekh and Sin

What is the relationship between the letters samekh and sin? Did they ever have distinct sounds? Why do they exist as separate letters?
22
votes
4answers
681 views

If a woman had more than one husband, to which would she be united at the Resurrection?

Ezra Stiles was a Congregationalist minister in Newport, Rhode Island in the late 18th century. He was a frequent visitor to the Newport Synagogue and there met Rabbi Raphael Hayyim Issac Carregal, a ...
22
votes
3answers
2k views

What kind of kippah is this?

This photo of my great great grandfather was taken around 1900. He's a Lubavitch Jew from Belarus. His name is Zalman Malkin. He is from Liozna. The story of his life is here. I was wondering if his ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it forbidden to wear a snap-brim Borsalino fedora on Shabbos?

The Talmud, at Shabbos 138b, presents the opinion that one may not wear a siyana -- which Rashi defines as a wide-brimmed hat — on Shabbos if it has a brim that is one tefach (hand-bredth) wide ...
22
votes
2answers
431 views

People half-standing for אלקינו in zimun

When conducting a zimun with ten or more men, the nusach is to say "...ברוך אלקינו שאכלנו משלו". I have noticed that many people, when saying the word "אלקינו", get up from their seats at least a ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

How is gender halachically determined?

I apologize if this is a sensitive topic, but it seems that this question is foundational to some of the discussions that appear here. I hope that my wording is appropriate. If I understand correctly,...
22
votes
1answer
485 views

Deleted attacks on the Shulchan Aruch in Pri Chadash

The bibliography in the English Me'am Lo'ez haggadah says of Pri Chadash that it "often strongly attacks the opinions of the Shulchan Aruch. Its strongest language was deleted from later editions." ...
22
votes
5answers
600 views

Gabai speaking during chazaras hashatz, kaddish or kriyas hatorah for the sake of the tzibbur

Is a gabai allowed to speak during chazaras hashatz, kaddish and/or kriyas hatorah for the sake of the tzibbur (e.g. to ask someone if they are a Kohen or Levi)?
22
votes
2answers
485 views

Does Jewish Law Recognize Bankruptcy?

If someone borrowed money and then declared bankruptcy, does he still have a halachic obligation to pay it back? If the lender was a corporation (bank, etc.). If the lender was a friend. Do we say ...
22
votes
2answers
339 views

Why the custom to switch around negative-sounding numbers, such as שד?

Often in sefarim we find that if the number of the siman spells out something negative, such as siman 304 which has a letter value of שד, we switch it around so it no longer reads as a "bad" word. ...
21
votes
12answers
3k views

PTIJ: Is it permitted to time travel on Shabbos? [closed]

The Torah specifies (Shemos 16:29) “Let everyone remain where he is: let no one leave his place on the seventh day”; one may not exit one’s premises on Shabbos. Does this include traveling through ...
21
votes
9answers
21k views

Are there any Jewish people alive today who can identify themselves as coming from a particular tribe?

The Christian "New Testament" claims Paul (Saul) was of the tribe of Benjamin. Since Roman times have there been any people who can validly claim they were from a particular tribe? At least at that ...

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