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18 votes

Did the Ba'al Shem Tov actually exist?

I think the Ba'al Shem Tov had to have existed in some way (even if it's not the way we've been taught), as I doubt an entire branch of Orthodox Judaism would base itself off the teachings of a ...
ezra's user avatar
  • 18.7k
18 votes

What is the process called to become a Rabbi?

Semikhah is the name of the process through which a rabbi is ordained in Rabbinic Judaism.
veAnx's user avatar
  • 239
17 votes
Accepted

Is a female Torah scholar accorded the same honors as a male?

R. Yehuda Aiash (Shut Beit Yehuda YD 28) rules that in general any honour which one must accord a male (such as standing up for an older man), one must accord an equivalent female as well: פשוט דכל ...
mevaqesh's user avatar
  • 35.6k
15 votes

Sefaria and Rabbinic Endorsements

"Sefaria is one of my favorite things in the entire contemporary Jewish world. It is taking cutting-edge technology and doing something very spiritual by it. What it is doing is opening up the ...
Yair Rand's user avatar
  • 484
13 votes
Accepted

Speaking negatively about Rabbis

The Mishnah in Sanhedrin says "... an apikores has no share in the world to come." Commenting on this records the Gemara (San. 99b): רב ור' חנינא אמרי תרוייהו זה המבזה ת"ח Trans.: Both Rav and R. ...
Oliver's user avatar
  • 12k
13 votes
Accepted

Does the Talmud continue to use extra Tanachic sources?

As @TamirEvan stated in the comments, Ben-Sira appears a few times in the Talmud, for example: Sanhedrin 100b: "The verse states: “All the days of the poor are terrible” (Proverbs 15:15). The ...
Harel13's user avatar
  • 25.6k
13 votes

Pri Chadash and Coffee

Beer Heitev to Orach Chayim 89:3 (ד״ה מותר) quotes the Pri Chadash saying: Coffee can be drunk (before prayer), particularly in Egypt where their thinking doesn't work properly without coffee. וכ&...
Mevakeish's user avatar
  • 404
12 votes
Accepted

Rav Chaim Kanievsky's learning schedule

In Rebbetzin Kanievski's biography it is written that R Chaim Kanievski completed every year Mishna, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi, Nach, Rambam, Tur, Shulchan Aruch with commentaries, Mishnah ...
mbloch's user avatar
  • 51.9k
11 votes

Did any Achronim comment on the American Revolutionary or Civil Wars?

R. Hayyim Joseph David Azulai twice refers to the American Revolution in his diary. Both times he is talking about the negative effect the war was having on the finances of Jews in Amsterdam who had ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 49.3k
11 votes
Accepted

What was the ultimate fate of Rabbi Elisha ben Abuyah (Acher)?

The story is brought down in Chagiga 15b: When Acher died, they said, "We cannot judge him to punishment [in Gehinnom], but we cannot enter him into the World to Come. We cannot judge him to ...
Nic's user avatar
  • 3,705
11 votes

Did the Ba'al Shem Tov actually exist?

Aside from the fact there are countless prominent Rabbis from his time who state clearly that they met and learned with him face to face, such a the Maggid of Mezerich, any student of history is aware ...
Yaacov Deane's user avatar
  • 14.9k
11 votes
Accepted

What were the first rabbinic reactions to the rise of Islam?

We don't have much sources from the era. It was, after all, the era of the Savoraim, who were mostly focused on editing and redacting the Talmud.1 The following are the earliest sources I was able to ...
Harel13's user avatar
  • 25.6k
10 votes

Examples of Rabbis who had strong disagreements and were amicable

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook and Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld were practically polar opposites in terms of hashkafa (for example, in response to Rabbi Kook setting up the Eretz Yisrael Chief Rabbinate, ...
Harel13's user avatar
  • 25.6k
10 votes

How to get an urgent answer if your local rabbi isn't reachable

The best option is probably the Beis Din of your own community; see if they are reachable by phone; they may well be. That said, someone I sort of know has experience with the following hotlines in ...
SAH's user avatar
  • 19.8k
10 votes

Does the Talmud continue to use extra Tanachic sources?

Adding to @Harel13's answer, four points: The Gemara in Yevamot 86b says the following: אמר רב חסדא בתחלה לא היו מעמידים שוטרי' אלא מן הלוים שנאמר (דברי הימים ב יט, יא) ושוטרים הלוים לפניכם עכשיו ...
moses's user avatar
  • 3,627
10 votes
Accepted

Gezerah D'Rabbah in the Beit Hamikdash?

An additional application is the prohibition to sprinkle purifying water on a tamei meis on Shabbos, even if that would allow him to offer his Korban Pesach. Pesachim 69a והזאה מאי טעמא לא דחיא שבת ...
H. Eugene Walters's user avatar
10 votes
Accepted

Shlomo Yosef Zevin a Rav at 9 years old

The Aruch Hashulchan died in 1908 (source, see footnote 9), and according to the article you brought, Rav Zevin was born somewhere between 1886-1888 (in fact, it was 1888). Therefore, he could have ...
רבות מחשבות's user avatar
9 votes

On What Subjects Does One Say Birchas HaTorah?

The Gemara in Maseches Berachos (11b) clearly tells us what types of learning require a blessing. א"ר יהודה אמר שמואל השכים לשנות עד שלא קרא ק"ש צריך לברך משקרא ק"ש א"צ לברך שכבר נפטר באהבה רבה אמר ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 49.3k
9 votes
Accepted

Audio or video lectures of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan zt"l

For the original recording of the famed Age of The Universe speech which was given at the Midwinter Conference of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists on February 18, 1979 (later published in ...
Dr. Shmuel's user avatar
9 votes

Talmid Chacham today

The halachic term is indeed applied even today (although the qualification is debatable). Rema (YD 243:2) rules that all laws relating to a TC apply even today save for the penalty for embarrassing a ...
Oliver's user avatar
  • 12k
9 votes

Who is Rabbi Shimeon who discusses with Rabbi Yochanan in Gemara

The edition of Shas at HebrewBooks.org contains a footnote suggesting that it is indeed R. Shimon b. Lakish. It notes that there are manuscripts with this reading, as well as the parallel text in the ...
Joel K's user avatar
  • 43.4k
9 votes

Do Rabbis admit emotional involvement in their rulings?

There are plenty of instances in which poskim relate their personal feelings in a psak. The first that came to my mind is R. Ovadia's famous ruling (Yabia Omer vol. 6, Even Ha-Ezer #3) that widows of ...
Aryeh's user avatar
  • 11.6k
9 votes

Rabbi who killed children?

This case is mentioned in the Beit Yosef (YD 157): מעשה ברב אחד ששחט תינוקות הרבה בשעת השמד שירא שיעבירום על דת It happened that one rabbi slaughtered many children in a time of persecution for ...
Double AA's user avatar
  • 99.1k
9 votes

What does שליט"א stand for?

For what it's worth, the Otzar of Roshei Teivot on Bar Ilan lists both שיחיה לאורך ימים טובים ארוכים and שיחיה לאורך ימים טובים אמן. I prefer the latter, because the former is redundant, as pointed ...
רבות מחשבות's user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

Who is Rabbi Koryah?

Coincidentally, I happened to research this just last summer. There are two sages that can be identified by this name, one a tanna and the other an amorah: The tanna Rabbi Chelbo of Koreya: This sage ...
Harel13's user avatar
  • 25.6k
8 votes
Accepted

Two Rabbi Akivas?

There were not two Rabi Akivas. What the Gemara is saying is there were two Tana'im with different opinions as to what Rabi Akiva actually said. One presented his version in a Mishna, and one ...
user6591's user avatar
  • 33.6k
8 votes

How many rabbis does a synagogue have and what is their role?

This answer is based on my experience only, which is primarily with Orthodox synagogues. Many synagogues have many members who happen to have completed the requisite course of study and become rabbis,...
msh210's user avatar
  • 73.7k
8 votes

Earning semichah with just a test

Just knowing a lot of halacha does not make someone capable of being a posek. A posek is someone who is not just familiar with the Psak Halacha in the Shulchan Aruch or the Mishna Brerura, but it is ...
Shoel U'Meishiv's user avatar
8 votes

When the Torah was almost lost and one (or several) Rabbis saved it?

Yevamos (62b): שנים עשר אלף זוגים תלמידים היו לו לרבי עקיבא מגבת עד אנטיפרס וכולן מתו בפרק אחד מפני שלא נהגו כבוד זה לזה והיה העולם שמם עד שבא ר"ע אצל רבותינו שבדרום ושנאה להם ר"מ ור' יהודה ...
IsraelReader's user avatar
  • 4,990
8 votes
Accepted

Yose b. Yoezer and Yose b. Yohanan received from them. Who does "them" refer to?

Rabbeinu Yonah writes that the 'them' is Shimon HaTzaddik and Antigonos. Before they studied under Antigonos they studied under Shimon HaTzaddik. It could also mean the Men of the Great Assembly (...
Russell's user avatar
  • 692

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