19

The most famous instance of Jews choosing to follow only the written Torah without the oral rabbinic interpretations would be the Karaites who flourished from about 760 CE to 1100 CE. Today their numbers are relatively small. Wikipedia gives a worldwide estimate of about 45,000 people, but the source of their numbers is not given. Karaite Judaism is ...


18

The Mesillas Yesharim is certainly one of the most influential and popular seforim ever written. It is considered a basic text in most yeshivos and is widely studied by Jews throughout the world (both in the original language and in translation). Before we can address the reasons for the immense popularity of this work, we first need to address one of the ...


14

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in 114:7 states: אָסוּר לִמְכּוֹר אֶת הֶחָמֵץ לְמוּמָר אוֹ לְמוּמֶרֶת; וְלֹא לְבֶן מוּמֶרֶת, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיְלָדַתּוּ מֵאֵינוֹ יְהוּדִי לְאַחַר שֶׁהֵמִירָה, כִּי לְעִנְיָן זֶה דִּינָם כְּמוֹ יִשְֹרָאֵל, וַהֲוֵי לֵהּ חֲמֵצוֹ שֶׁל יִשְֹרָאֵל שֶׁעָבַר עָלָיו הַפֶּסַח דְּאָסוּר בַּהֲנָאָה One may not sell one's Chametz to a Jew ...


13

If someone is born to a Jewish mother, regardless of her affiliation or observance, that person is 100% Jewish and allowed to marry another Jew. There is no conversion involved. I guess that this rabbi, in this situation, wants documentation that demonstrates that your friend's mother, and therefore your friend, is indeed Jewish. There are various ways this ...


13

Rabbi Richard Sarason, a faculty member at Hebrew Union College (the Reform seminary), talks about the history of these passages in an article about the newest siddur, Mishkan T'filah. He writes (emphasis mine): The earliest Reform congregational prayer book (Hamburg, 1819) includes all three paragraphs of the Sh'ma. [...] The deletion of the second and ...


11

Yes, the Sadducees did believe they were Jewish. However, the confounding factor in the quotes you provide is probably this: That in many gemaras, because of medieval censors, "Christian" or rather "Min" (Christian sectarian) was replaced with "Sadducee". See for example the London manuscript of Yoma 56b that you cited above. I have drawn a red arrow to ...


11

During the Second Temple Period, there were different sects with different interpretations of Judaism. The descendants of the Pharisees wrote the Talmud, which defined Orthodox Judaism as we know today. (What follows is from Rabbi Shneur Leiman's lecture on yutorah.org) The Dead Sea Scrolls belonged to a sect that was clearly not the Pharisees; it includes ...


11

The issue here is essentially one of lowest common denominator. A conversion will only be accepted by Group X if they think that Group Y, who oversaw the conversion, did so appropriately and successfully, following all the relevant laws as understood by Group X. Otherwise, Group X will continue to view the potential convert as a gentile with all that entails....


10

Non-halachic Reform Jews are those whose mother was not Jewish, yet they consider themselves Jewish because of either a heterodox conversion or patrilineal descent. We can mostly figure out the demographics from particular questions asked in certain surveys. According to the 2013 Pew Study on American Jews, 10% of American adults who identify their religion ...


10

Shulchan Aruch O.C. Siman 128 discuses the qualifications of a Cohen to recite bircas kohanim. Disqualification include having consumed too much alcohol, having a severe speech impediment, blindness, having taken a human life, having married a disqualifying wife (such as a divorcee) and the recent death of a close relation. The Shulchan Aruch (Sif 39) writes ...


10

If you read the original responsum of the committee (here), you will find that they choose to rule that all prohibitions other than homosexual male anal intercourse (such as the prohibitions of yihud and negiah) are all rabbinic and are superseded by the concept of kvod habriot. (How they deal with the issue of השחתת זרע לבטלה is less clear, which is likely ...


10

Yehuda Wiesen wrote a "Guide to Practical Halacha and Home Ritual for Conservative Jews" (available here), from which I quote (from the section concerning Shabbat): There are many and various so called minor restrictions, some of which the Conservative movement seems to follow and others that it does not. For example, Orthodox typically avoid use of ...


10

Being "Raised Jewish" in this context means that, to the degree that there is any religious experience in the home, it is of Jewish origin. So if they go to a house of worship, it will be a synagogue. If they do something of a religious commemoration in the month of December, it will be Chanuka, and most significantly if the child asks what religion they are,...


9

The perspective of Orthodox Jews vis-a-vis the Dead sea scrolls varies from non recognition, ambivalence, to outright excitement. For those who do not view it as a life altering find see them as 1. Either a validation of what was already known to them ie. Small variance in textual differences due to a very solid mesorah. 2. the other non canonical scrolls ...


9

The atheist is still a Jew; his (non-)belief does not exempt him from the obligation not to violate Shabbat. This answer elsewhere by DoubleAA discusses benefitting from melacha done by a Jew. It stands to reason that if you can't benefit from the work anyway, there's no benefit to you in asking him to be your "Shabbat goy", so let's look first at ...


8

Of course, Chabad (or anyone else really, but they may use different language) would consider someone practicing Avodah Zarah in its most egregious form still Jewish, but Chabad, both the non-Meshichist side and the Meshichist side, reject this completely. See here for some links to source letters. Note that the one from the Beis Din of Crown Heights is ...


8

The main argument of the Shebbatai's disciples was that his apostasy, his conversion to islam, as well his death was supposed to happen. His Apostasy Sabbatai‘s followers were instructed to reject the halakha and used mystical reasons to justify their position by explaining that the rejection of the mitzvot was a key step in messianic redemption, as ...


8

Maimonides says no, though it is preferable that the mohel be a Jewish adult male. A Gentile should not preform the circumcision, but if he does, it need not be repeated (I assume by way of drawing blood). Shulkhan Arukh agrees. So for Sephardic Jews, there is no problem as long as the mohel is Jewish, and it is preferred that he not be a Gentile. However ...


8

The Rambam apparently believes that the tinoq shenishba is defined by the attitude he/she was raised with toward Torah, not only their ignorance of it. And so even after learning Torah, as long as his motivation was at least founded on the initial bias against believing its truth or applicability, the tinoq shenishba is not held to account. To quote the ...


8

We can't possibly know how God judges people after they die. We know that he is compassionate, and I think it's safe to assume that he isn't going out of his way to punish people for things they didn't really understand. On the other hand, perhaps a person who believes himself to be Jewish but still violates halacha does receive punishment even though he was ...


8

According to Maimonides, who is the only major Halachic commentator to rule on these matters, the Moshiach (the Messiah) will teach all people and encourage them to serve G-d. They will be inspired by his wisdom and will all unite in the service of G-d in harmony. This includes religious Jews, non-religious Jews, and non-Jews. Furthermore, the Zohar says ...


8

The musar movement is mostly associated with Rabbi Yisra'el Salanter and his students. There is a lot that could be said about it, but I will write mostly about the more controversial aspects and differences in Jewish practice, rather than, for example, psychological insights. Rabbi Yisra'el advocated taking the time to learn works of musar. Already in his ...


7

There are vast differences just among the modern Orthodox. If you want "official", you'd have to define some authority to whom everyone subscribes, which is impossible. The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism issues rulings that are supposed to be binding, but aren't, on all member synagogues. Much less are they followed by individuals. Orthodox ...


7

A Conservative kesuba can be suspect. As noted in Rabbi Emanuel Feldman's book, "Tales Out of Shul," as a young Orthodox rabbi in Atlanta in the 1960s, he was under tremendous pressure by wealthy members to do a quicky conversion to the member's child's non-Jewish fiancee. He would refuse, and those members would leave the shul and join a Conservative shul, ...


7

In an nutshell and as was stated, a person born a Jew is a Jew for life and a person not born a Jew isn't a Jew until he goes through a formal conversion process. While one who adheres to certain tenets of Christianity is removed from the Jewish community (ie his "Jewish" status is compromised) he is still bound by Jewish law (assuming his adherence is a ...


7

By turning on the light at his request, you would be causing him to violate the commandment of "lifnei 'iver -- placing a stumbling block before the blind." The Rabbis interpret this to forbid one Jew to cause another to sin. See MT Laws of Murder 12:14 for source.


7

I have just compared the weekday ma'ariv services in the following two books: Siddur Sim Shalom for Weekdays, September 2003 (2nd printing) Expanded Artscroll Siddur, Wasserman Edition, 2010 I found the following differences: Sim Shalom has two versions of the beginning of the t'filah, the usual text (page 142a) and the same text with the imahot inserted ...


7

depends whether you truly investigated the truth on this topic or whether you were just interested in writing papers. if the latter, tremendous burning regret. if the former, God will help you find it. And if He doesn't for whatever reason, though this is unlikely, then it's not your fault. Here are some relevant quotes on this from a major Jewish ...


7

This is totally incorrect. Even if a Jew sins sufficiently to merit being punished with karet, he is still a Jew. An example would be those who succumbed to the Spanish in 1492 and converted to christianity but did teshuvah (repented) and managed to escape to Amsterdam. While it is true that Reform (as a movement) is not Judaism in the eyes of Orthodoxy, ...


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