34 votes

Does Judaism consider women inferior?

This is a fair question. You are far from the only person who feels this way. As an Orthodox woman who respects the traditional prohibition on Talmud study for women, as well as the many other Jewish ...
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  • 19.3k
31 votes

Does Judaism consider women inferior?

In addition, women are exempt and even discouraged from a large number of mitzvas that are central to Jewish practice, such as praying three times a day and laying tefillin. This is close to ...
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  • 95.6k
18 votes
Accepted

What if the Kohen Gadol accidentally kills someone?

Mishna in Makoth 2:7 וְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל שֶׁהָרַג , אֵינוֹ יוֹצֵא מִשָּׁם לְעוֹלָם A Kohain Gadol who kills goes to the Ir Miklat forever. They would have to appoint another one, to do the Avoda on Yom ...
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17 votes

Why don't some do yibum today, l'chatchilah?

Yevamos 39b: אבא שאול אומר הכונס את יבמתו לשם נוי ולשום אישות ולשום דבר אחר כאילו פוגע בערוה וקרוב אני בעיני להיות הולד ממזר Not l'shem mitzvah means doing Yibbum for the beauty of the woman, for ...
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16 votes

Why does Halacha not follow the simple reading of the Biblical text?

The question as currently phrased is asked by, among others, R. Yosef Albo in Sefer HaIkarim 3:23 (which is why I'm unsure as to why it still has a negative score). Since I don't have a better way of ...
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16 votes
Accepted

Why are Shabbat loopholes a good thing?

The "Letter of the Law" is binding. However, we do generally try to go beyond and satisfy a "Spirit of the Law" which is above the Letter of the Law. Therefore, loopholes which contravene the Spirit ...
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16 votes
Accepted

What defines an Almana?

The mishna in Y'vamos (6:4) indicates that a widow is forbidden to a Kohein Gadol whether she was a widow only from erusin (when intimacy was still forbidden) or whether she was a widow even from nisu'...
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  • 16.3k
16 votes
Accepted

Is "pikuach nefesh" on shabbos "hutrah" or "dichuya"?

This is a rather large dispute among the Rishonim, the early commentaries. See the Rashba (שו״ת ח"א תרפט): ולי נראה שהכל תלוי במחלוקת אם נאמר שבת דחויה או נאמר שבת הותרה אצל חולה. אם נאמר שבת ...
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16 votes

May a man marry the women with whom he committed adultery?

No. See Mishnah Sotah, 5:1: כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאֲסוּרָה לַבַּעַל, כָּךְ אֲסוּרָה לַבּוֹעֵל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שם) נִטְמְאָה, וְנִטְמָאָה, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא. אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ, כָּךְ הָיָה דוֹרֵשׁ ...
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  • 33.5k
15 votes
Accepted

Ship of Theseus in Halacha

This is known in Talmudic literature as panim chadashot ba'u lekan (lit. "a new face has come here"), and is the topic of discussion in Eruvin 24a. The upshot of the discussion is that, at ...
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  • 38.5k
14 votes

Why are Shabbat loopholes a good thing?

What you are discussing are not loopholes. If a person uses a wheelchair to get around, you don't say he's using a loophole. He's doing the best he can under the circumstances. If a person uses a ...
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13 votes
Accepted

Is a ban on government workers wearing religious symbols a gezeirat hamalchut for which one would be obligated to give up his life?

In Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 157:1, the Ramma quotes a Beis Yoseif saying that shaas hashmad is only when the gizeira (decree) is specifically against Jews. The Shach there (#6) clarifies that if ...
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  • 32.3k
13 votes
Accepted

How could Rav be disproved?

I thought to answer as follows: When the Gemara answers that Rav is a tanna, that is when the question is on Rav alone. In this case the question is on a joint statement of Rav and Shmuel. (Whether ...
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  • 48k
13 votes

Source why ביאה is not an option for שליח קידושין

R' Elchonon Wasserman in Kovetz Shiurim (Kesuvos 74a) brings this question from R' Akiva Eiger, and explains how the Kiddushin of Biah is fundamentally different from Kessef and Shtar, and why that ...
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  • 7,331
13 votes

When, halachically, does a sect of Judaism become an independent religion?

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt"l wrote an essay / teshuvah titled "Brother Daniel and the Jewish Fraternity" (Judaism 12:260-280, Summer 1963). Brother Daniel was a Catholic monk who ...
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  • 8,740
13 votes

Why were Er and Onan punished if they were under 20?

This exact question was asked by the Tosafist R. Yehuda Ben Elazar in his commentary to Genesis 38:10: וא"ת למה נענשו ער ואונן והלא לא היו אלא בני ח' שנה כדאי' בסדר עולם ואמרי' בית דין של מעלה ...
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  • 48k
13 votes
Accepted

Rabbi Shlomo Goren and the Langer Case

R. Goren wrote a 200 page book explaining his position (linked in Joel K's answer). If you're looking for something shorter and easier, R. J. David Bleich discussed this topic in the first volume of ...
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  • 48k
12 votes

Is the first of the 10 Commandments considered a mitzvah?

Rambam in Yesodei HaTorah ch. 1 explicitly uses this as the source for the commandment to know of Hashem’s existence. יְסוֹד הַיְסוֹדוֹת וְעַמּוּד הַחָכְמוֹת לֵידַע שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם מָצוּי רִאשׁוֹן. ...
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  • 33.5k
11 votes

Why is it necessary to ask a Rabbi?

I recently wrote an article for Torah Musings that focuses on a part of the answer that hasn't been focused on yet. "What does Mesorah Mean?" http://www.torahmusings.com/2015/08/what-does-masorah-mean ...
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  • 8,740
11 votes
Accepted

Yoreh Yoreh vs. Yadin Yadin

These two semicha 'tracks' cover different areas of halakah: Yoreh Yoreh covers areas that deal with the day to day questions that rabbis might receive, such as questions on kashrut or taharat ...
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11 votes
Accepted

Can online smicha programs theoretically be valid?

Define "theoretically valid". They do leave someone with the book-knowledge we demand of rabbis, and therefore someone with online semichah should not feel like a charlatan if he expects people to ...
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  • 8,740
11 votes
Accepted

Is making someone believe you came to see him, while you were really there anyway, allowed?

This seems practically identical to a problem posed in Chullin 94b: Mar Zutra the son of Rabbi Nahman was once going from Sikara to Mahuza, while Raba and Rabbi Safra were going to Sikara; and ...
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  • 1,846
11 votes
Accepted

Is "tzaar ba'alei chaim" from the Torah, and if so what's the source?

The question of whether tza'ar ba'alei chaim (the prohibition of causing undue pain to animals) is biblical (mideoraita) or rabbinic (miderabbanan) is the subject of significant debate in Bava Metzia ...
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  • 38.5k
10 votes

Why did God need to command the Jews not to kill?

A Medrash states that G-d offered the Torah to the children of Eisau. They rejected it, saying they could not accept this very commandment against murder. This begs the question: Eisau's descendants ...
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  • 5,212
10 votes

Who is the Ba'al Nefesh of the Mishnah Berurah?

R. Herschel Schachter quotes an informative anecdote (in this essay): Rabbi Yehuda Amital (shlit”a) relates that when he was a teenager learning in yeshiva, when the students learned Mishna Berura ...
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  • 11.8k
10 votes
Accepted

What happens to the debts after Shmitat Ksafim?

Summary The answers to both of your questions (1. Does shemitat kesafim annul the loan, or merely forbid the lender from claiming? and 2. Does shemitat kesafim happen automatically?) would appear to ...
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  • 38.5k
10 votes
Accepted

Maggid Mishnah on relying on approximations for π and √2

The Maggid Mishnah in Hilchos Shabbos (17:26) says that one may rely on π=3 It actually is commenting on the Rambam's statement that a circle of circumference three has diameter one. It says that ...
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  • 73.2k
9 votes

Why does Halacha not follow the simple reading of the Biblical text?

Your question is based on the assumption that what chazal did was reinterpret. In fact the "Torah" as we know it today that was given at mt. sinai included both the oral and written traditions. when ...
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  • 4,005
9 votes
Accepted

What happens if the Kohen Gadol is replaced while someone is in the Ir Miklat?

Rambam Rotzeah 7:9 (English) אחד כוהן גדול המשוח בשמן המשחה, ואחד המרובה בבגדים; ואחד כוהן גדול העובד, ואחד הכוהן שעבר: כל אחד מארבעתן שמת, מחזיר את הרוצח.‏ If any of the current or former ...
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  • 95.6k
9 votes
Accepted

Why do we don a tallit before laying tefillin?

This is a good question, and really it's probably a better question than the answers out there. For context, we have to realize that this question (order of operations for donning Tzitzit and ...
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  • 95.6k

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