16

Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Frederick. The "average" Jew does not have a symbol for "evil" or the "devil," especially the latter. The "devil" is a Christian innovation shared also by Islam, and which probably owes some of its origins from pagan and other non-Christian sources such as Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, both of which are dualistic religions. ...


13

The Babylonian Talmud (M'gila, page 3 column 1) relates in the name of Ravina: One who is afraid [for no apparent reason] — although he doesn't see [anything], his mazal sees [something]. The commentary of Rashi explains that "mazal" here refers to the person's angel. And the commentary Ben Y'hoyada explains that what his mazal sees (and he's afraid of) ...


9

The short answer to this question is that the midrashim read history backwards. That is, since we know, for example, that Yishmael is not chosen over Yitzchak to be the "carrier" of God's blessing and promise to Avraham, the author of the midrash assumes that there must have been something undeserving in him or he must have done something wrong. Therefore, ...


9

I don't know or care about the Kabbala or red string business. I will also add that Jews absolutely do honorably serve on jury duty in the United States, and believe that because all humans are expected to have systems of justice, it is absolutely allowed -- and required -- to apply whatever judgement (e.g. beyond reasonable doubt) is necessary for that ...


9

The Torah Prohibits a Rasha to bear witness as it says Shemos 23:1 "אל תשת רשע עד" (see Sanhedrin 27a). The Rambam defines the parameters of a Rasha Hilchos Eidus 10:2 and 10:4: אי זהו רשע כל שעבר עבירה שחייבין עליה מלקות זהו רשע ופסול שהרי התורה קראה למחוייב מלקות רשע שנאמר והיה אם בן הכות הרשע ואין צריך לומר מחוייב מיתת בית דין שהוא פסול שנאמר ...


8

Talmud Chagiga 15b http://dafyomi.co.il/chagigah/points/cg-ps-015.htm (a) Question: How could R. Meir learn Torah from Acher? The verse (Malachi 2:7) teaches that one should only learn Torah from a Rav who is similar to a Malach of Hash-m! (angel of God) (b) Answer: R. Meir relied on another verse (Mishlei 22:17, or Tehilim (45:11) which ...


8

Rashi on Numbers 22:5, s.v. "Eretz Benei Amo" ("the land of his people"), says Balaam was a special case: ואם תאמר מפני מה השרה הקב"ה שכינתו על גוי רשע, כדי שלא יהא פתחון פה לאומות לומר אלו היו לנו נביאים חזרנו למוטב, העמיד להם נביאים והם פרצו גדר העולם, שבתחלה היו גדורים בעריות וזה נתן להם עצה להפקיר עצמן לזנות:‏ If you ask, “Why did God bestow ...


8

Also to the contrary, see Talmud Kiddushin 29b, where the story is told of a demon that attacked people who entered the study hall. הוה ההוא מזיק בי רבנן דאביי דכי הוו עיילי בתרין אפי' ביממא הוו מיתזקי אמר להו לא ליתיב ליה אינש אושפיזא אפשר דמתרחיש ניסא על בת בההוא בי רבנן אידמי ליה כתנינא דשבעה רישוותיה כל כריעה דכרע נתר חד רישיה אמר להו למחר אי לא איתרחיש ...


8

I collected a few links that discuss this question, with several different suggestions for an answer. For example: The Rosh says that only those who did not believe in the Exodus died in the plague of darkness. The Chatam Sofer says that they were kept alive so that the miracle of the ground opening up will be done especially for them. See more in the links ...


7

I don't have a source for this, but I always assumed the idea was not Bilaams personal performance, but rather how the nations interacted with Bilaam. "I gave you a prophet and you asked him to help win wars and deliver curses. Couldn't you have asked him for some directions on how to live a meaningful life?" G-d's response to the unasked question is don'...


7

A few points. 1 - Yabia Omer authored by Rabbi Yehuda Leib Grobart questions why does it say the disciples of Avraham and Bilaam and not Avraham and Bilaam themselves. He answers that Bilaam looked to an outsider like a complete Tzadik however he was a fraud. The only way to tell the difference was by their students and that is why it says the disciples of ...


7

The Ramban to Shemos 32:7 explains that there were multiple tiers of sinners in the golden calf episode, all of whom had different intentions of varying degrees of infraction, but that it was the majority of the nation that sinned: אמר השם למשה כי עשו שתים רעות האחת כי שחת עמך וענין ההשחתה הריסת בנין... השני כי עשו עגל מסכה והשתחוו לו ויזבחו לו והנה העבירה ...


7

Somewhat to the contrary, there was a superstition among Easter European Jews that the dead held services in synagogues at night, a “minyan macabre” if you will. My grandfather z"l told me how in his youth he was afraid to walk near the town shul at night, lest he hear his name called up to the Torah at these spectral minyanim.


7

While I don't think that the premise for the question is very strong, as Titus may or many not have known about the technical severity of different relationships, and may or may not have cared, as there is no reason to assume that degrading the Temple depended on technical severity of prohibition, nevertheless, Maharal obviates the question. He writes in ...


7

The Rambam writes in Hilchos Teshuvah 5:2 : אל יעבור במחשבתך דבר זה שאומרים טיפשי האומות ורוב גולמי בני ישראל, שהקדוש ברוך הוא גוזר על האדם מתחילת ברייתו להיות צדיק או רשע. אין הדבר כן, אלא כל אדם ואדם ראוי להיות צדיק כמשה רבנו או רשע כירובעם, או חכם או סכל, או רחמן או אכזרי, או כיליי או שוע; וכן שאר כל הדעות. Chabad translation : A person should not ...


6

There are certain cases in which it is appropriate to kill someone, and certain cased in which killing is inappropriate. Typically appropriate killing would be legal executions. For discussion of when extrajudicial killing is justified see here. The quote doesn't say anything about which cases are which. Rather, it says that killing certain people is ...


6

The Torah teaches, that as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin, mankind was given an inclination – or temptation – to do evil. This inclination is described in Bereishis (8:21) as, “The inclination of man's heart is evil from his youth.” An inclination is a pull or a drive. It acts upon the person, but it is not the person. This inclination does not make the ...


6

This is explicitly addressed in Avodah Zarah 3:7: שְׁלשָׁה בָתִּים הֵן. בַּיִת שֶׁבָּנוּי מִתְּחִלָּה לַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה, הֲרֵי זֶה אָסוּר. סִיְּדוֹ וְכִיְּרוֹ לַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה וְחִדֵּשׁ, נוֹטֵל מַה שֶּׁחִדֵּשׁ. הִכְנִיס לְתוֹכָה עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה וְהוֹצִיאָהּ, הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר. There are three houses: (1) A house which was initially built for idolatry, ...


5

Dovid Lichtenstein, in his excellent book Headlines 2, researched the question and brings many opinions. Among those who rule against learning from a confirmed sinner (sometimes only until they return to proper behavior) are the Rambam in Hilchot Talmud Torah 4:1 Likewise, a Rabbi who does not follow the good way, though he be a great scholar and all ...


5

The הגדה שלמה - (one of Rav M. M. Kasher's 3 Hagadot) says: From [Machzor?] Vitri ולפי שהוציא את עצמו מן הכלל של עבודת הקב"ה כפר בעיקר: שכל ככופר במצוותיו כאלו כפר בו כדכתיב ועשיתם את כל מצותי וסמיך ליה אני ה' א-לקיכם


5

Chapter 13 He explains that one should see them self "כרשע" as having the capacity for sin and should never let their guard down. But not actually as a rasha.


5

One of the main tenets of Judaism is that humans have free choice. That means that in spite being raised in a perfect environment with the the most righteous surroundings, a person can still choose to make the wrong decisions and be evil/do active that warrant punishment (the positive side of this is that we can also always choose positively, in spite of any ...


4

There's a famous story about Rabbi Meir (from the Talmud) who was bothered by some people in his neighborhood and wanted to pray for them to die. His wife Bruria talked him out of it with the following argument: "What do you think, that it is better to pray that the wicked die, because it is said, 'May sins cease from the earth' (Psalms 104:35)? But ...


4

Being righteous or not, is up to the individual person. G-d can give a person (i.e. Bilam) the gift of prophecy, but then it is up to him how he uses these gifts. Itro is an example of a gentile that searched very hard, and found the truth. When a person chooses a certain path, and has a strong will to go in that path, he/she get help and assistance ...


4

According to Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, not only are there no exceptions but it's specifically in the case of a rasha where being dan lechaf zechus is essential: "Know that you must judge all people favorably. This applies even to the worst of people. You must search until you find some little bit of good in them. In that good place inside them, they ...


4

TL;DR Regarding using a wicked person's name, the Ri seems to hold that it is permissible to give someone the same name as a wicked person, so long as that name historically did not uniquely belong to wicked people or to a single wicked person. The gemara (Shabbos 12b) cites a teaching in the name of Shevna Ish Yerushalayim. Tosafos (ad loc.) write: ...


4

An explanation from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, according to Chassidus/Kabbalah: נפש הבהמית עיקרו מדות , ואין לו שייכות לשכל (ולכן נקרא... ...(בשם "מלך זקן וכסיל", כיון שאין לו שייכות לשכל אמיתי The animal soul's [the Evil Inclination] essence is emotions, and it has no connection to intellect. (Therefore it is called by the name "king, old, and a fool" since ...


4

1) We do find examples of the foolishness of the Yetzer Hora. (This does not answer your philosophic point.) One example is in his confusion with our blowing of the shofar in Elul, not on Erev Rosh HaShonoh and on Rosh HaShonoh itself as this essay shows, page 10 by Rabbi David Myer “However, our Rabbis teach us that on Erev Rosh Hashanah one is not ...


4

On the one hand, the Gemara in Chagigah (15a) quotes Elisha b. Avuyah specifically after his apostasy: After his apostasy, Aher asked R. Meir [a question], saying to him: What is the meaning of the verse: God hath made even the one as well as the other? He replied: It means that for everything that God created He created [also] its counterpart. He created ...


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