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

In a word, yes. The Midrash (Eichah Rabbah, intro. 2), paraphrasing Jer. 9:12, states: הלואי אותי עזבו ותורתי שמרו, מתוך שהיו מתעסקין בה, המאור שבה היה מחזירן למוטב "Would that, even if the Jewish people abandoned Me, they had kept My Torah! By being involved with it, the illumination in it would bring them back to the right path." Or as the Talmud (...


17

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 I were staying in a non-frum or non-Jewish home, the foremost thing on my mind (outside of all the more common halachos that you mention) would be the mitzvah of Kiddush Hashem, and the issur of Chilul Hashem. Remember that you may be an uncommon sight for them, in some cases even the only orthodox Jew they've ever observed up close. As much as we'd like ...


13

A large percentage of the families who are affiliated with groups with liberal Judaic practices, such as the Conservative and Reform movement, tends to become less affiliated after their children become bar/bat mitzva age. From my understanding, confirmation, although not a Jewish concept per se, seemed to be a great way of keeping the children and families ...


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 ...


12

Rav Moshe in his Igros Moshe EH 2:17 second paragraph he seems to make it clear that for davening it is for sure assur, and even when it is a wedding an Orthodox person should not go. This tshuva was regarding Conservative synagogues; I am guessing that all the more so this would apply to Reform.


12

A few ideas: Get into "round-table" discussions related to the Exodus somehow, in which everyone is encouraged to voice their opinions on the subject at hand. For example, citing the midrash about how the redemption was deserved by the Jews for not changing their "Jewish" attire and names can incite a socio-historical discussion about the role of ...


12

There is an argument between different Rabbis: Igros Moshe says that one is prohibited to invite someone to a synagogue if the only way one will be able to get there is by car. He says that there are several issues: Lifnei Iver (he is like one who places a stumbling block). He says this applies even if the people whom he invites live close enough to the ...


11

Report This "answer" records what I did this year and how it worked out. I drew from several suggestions in other answers here. Some context: the two seders had different but overlapping groups of attendees. One has always been a "when do we eat?" seder; the other spends more time but replaces a lot of the traditional content with other readings and ...


11

Strangely enough, I have found that those who aren't interested will tend to go with the flow if you state from the outset that you're going to read through the Hagadah. It will be dry. It may be boring. But if they are mature enough (not particularly opposed to ritual, and your question implies that they are not), just give everyone a Hagadah and say you're ...


11

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein discusses the issue here and quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach as permitting, provided one let them know that sleeping arrangements in the area can be provided. Rav Lichtenstein himself tends to agree, especially if there is a Jewish-educational aspect involved.


11

As the reform movement "loosely" based this ceremony on the practice of another religion, it would in fact be explicitly prohibited as chukos hagoyim to engage in it.


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 ...


10

The "quasi-Sephardic pronunciation" you refer to is actually Israeli Hebrew which the Conservative movement (and Modern Orthodox movement and Reform movement) have lately been teaching. The traditional Conservative movement was built off of the Reform movement which was built off of German minhag - thus a boy wears a tallis when he turns 13, regardless of ...


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

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

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

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 ...


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 the case ...


8

There are a couple of things that I do to engage people who may not be initially interested in sharing their thoughts. Go around the table and have everyone finish a sentence "slavery is..." "freedom is..." Do some prep work and print out a different quote for each person at the table. It can be from literature, torah, art whatever. Last year I chose ...


8

I think if people go into it with the attitude that they're going to be bored and it's just a ritual, don't try shoving things down their throats. One gimmick might be to "beep" out anyone if they mention Moshe's name (the original haggada made a point of leaving it out; we've since thrown in a paragraph in which it pops up once). Another idea is to outline ...


8

At least some people who "half-believe" the torah are in transition. Not everybody is a rock-solid believer from birth; for the rest of us, there will be some period during which you are trying to figure out what torah you accept from scientific validation ("yeah, it would be possible for the Sea of Reeds to do that"), what you accept because of publicity ("...


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