mevaqesh
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Is belief in Midrashim optional?
37 votes

There is dispute among the commentators as to whether or not Ramban meant that seriously or just said it for the debate. R. Yaakov Kamanetzky z"l writes (Emet L'yaakov Genesis 44:18) that Ramban just ...

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Can one go back in time to complete a minyan?
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23 votes

Rav Natrunai Gaon appears to address this. He writes: תשובות רב נטרונאי גאון - ברודי (אופק) אורח חיים סימן קכט ואף על פי שעובר זמן, תפילה Even if one travels through time, [his prayer] ...

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Was Rachav A Harlot (Prostitute)?
19 votes

Targum Yonassan followed by Rashi (2:1) explain that she was an inkeeper (that "zona" in this context relates to the word "mazon" for bread). Radak explains that she was actually a prostitute and that ...

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"Die, but don't transgress": what about torture?
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18 votes

The Talmud Ketubot (33a) shows that lashes are worse than death by stating that had Hananya Mishael and Azarya been tortured, they would have worshiped the statue. דאמר רב: אילמלי נגדוה לחנניה ...

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PTIJ: Who made the cholent?
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18 votes

The word cholent (טשאלענט) is numerically equivalent to 469; the same amount as לא טוב היות, that is it isn't good for man to be alone. This hints that the yesod of cholent is marital peace free of ...

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Why does Tanac"h frequently use the term for "knowledge" when referring to sexual relations?
17 votes

Ibn Ezra to Genesis (3:6) suggests that Adam had sex with Eve as a result of eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Therefore, sex is euphemistically referred to as knowledge. Additionally, he notes that ...

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

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 ...

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Does the Zodiac really have influence on our lives?
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15 votes

Rambam repudiates astrology, writing that only fools believe in astrology (Hil. Avoda Zara 11:17-8): יז ודברים האלו--כולן, דברי שקר וכזב הן; והן שהטעו בהן עובדי עבודה זרה הקדמונים לגויי הארצות, ...

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Did Avraham Avinu really have a daughter named Bakol?
15 votes

Bava Batra (16b) records a dispute (found earlier in Tosefta Kiddushin (5:17 in R. Lieberman's edition) regarding the interpretation of Genesis (24:1) which states that God blessed Abraham "bakol" (...

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Rainbows prior to the Mabul
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15 votes

According to Rav Saadya Gaon (commentary to Genesis 9:13) the rainbow was not a new phenomenon. Rather it was imbued with new meaning as the sign of the covenant. Similarly, Ramban, writes (commentary ...

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Was Malbim an innovator?
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15 votes

To summarize (and perhaps embellish) Prof. Yaakov Elman's The Rebirth of Omnisignificant Biblical Exegesis in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, which addresses all this at length, Hazal seemed ...

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Did Rambam have Rashi's works?
15 votes

Did Rashi's works even reach the lands in which the Rambam lived? To summarize Prof. Shamma Friedman's piece, scholars in the early 20th century assumed from Rambam's silence, that he did not have ...

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Version of the Tanach that pre-dates Jesus
15 votes

Scrolls found in Ketef Hinnom contain the priestly blessing (of Numbers ch. 6) as preserved from the First Temple Era (700-650 BCE) The Isaiah scroll found in Qumran: "has been carbon-14 dated at ...

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How do we understand the idea of something missing from the mishnah חסורי מיחסרא והכי קתני?
14 votes

The Meiri writes in his introduction to Avot that this is an example of the Ammoraim disagreeing with the Tannaim which they would occasionally do if the Sages of the generation agreed. So that would ...

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Why did Pharaoh only order the murder of boys?
14 votes

Rashi to Exodus (1:16) quotes a Midrash that the Pharaoh decreed to specifically kill males since his astrologers predicted that a male would save the Jews. This Midrash is pretty old, and is present ...

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First use of modern names for books of Torah
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14 votes

Sefer B'Reshit: the Yerushalmi (Sotah 1:10) already refers to it as Sefer B'reshit. This is also found in the Zohar (Raya Mehemna Vol. II Parashat Mishpatim 119b). Sefer Sh'mot: The Midrash Lekah Tov (...

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What does it mean for one's soul to "be like dust to everyone"?
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14 votes

Most undertand this to be a prayer for the trait of humility; specifically as expressed by ignoring the abuse of others. This is implied by the Chovos Halevavos (Shaar Hac'nia ch. 10): והששי כי ...

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Source that hearing the Megillah does not require Hebrew understanding?
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13 votes

The Mishna in Megillah (2:1) states: והלועז ששמע אשורית יצא A foreigner who heard [it] in Hebrew fulfills his obligation. The Talmud (18a) elaborates: והלועז ששמע אשורית יצא וכו', - והא ...

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Who is Herbert?
13 votes

Herb is another name for Solomon. As is stated in I Kings (5:21): ויהי כשמע חירם, את-דברי שלמה--וישמח מאד; ויאמר, ברוך יהוה היום, אשׁר נתן לדוד בן חכם על-העם, הרב הזה. And it came to pass, ...

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Where does the Tiferes Yisroel discuss Edward Jenner and smallpox?
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13 votes

Tiferet Yisrael (Boaz) on Avot 3:14 cited and translated here.

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Problem with Likkutei Maharil
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12 votes

Prof. Yedidya Alter Dinri records in his Hakhmei Ashkenaz B'Shilhi Y'mei HaBeynayim (pp. 278-9) as cited by R. Yisrael Peles in Yeshurun (20 p. 890) that many Aharonim held that Likkutei Maharil (aka ...

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What does it mean that God "remembers" something?
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12 votes

Rav Sa'adya Gaon writes in Emunot V'deot (Ma'amar 2 s.v. v'hinei ani) that in reference to God, remembrance refers to salvation: ובהצלת הברואים מענין שמצער אותם קוראים אותו זכירה, שאמרו (בראשית ח' ...

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Is there a constant Mitzvah for women?
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12 votes

There are six commandments applicable to males at all times: Know there is God. Don't believe in other gods. Belief in unity of God. Love God. Fear God. Don't be lead astray by your eyes and heart. ...

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Would Harry Potter be killed as a sorcerer?
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12 votes

There are several factors to be considered to determine whether or not Harry Potter would be liable to prosecution under the witchcraft clause. Is he Jewish? Regarding his Jewishness, as noted the ...

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Could stones cut with a high powered laser be used to build the Beit Hamikdash?
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11 votes

Although the verse in Exodus (20:22) doesn't specify the type of metal used to cut the mizbeach, the verse in Deuteronomy (27:5) writes specifically that iron is prohibited. This is similarly implied ...

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What age were Leah and Rachel when they got married
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11 votes

The Seder Olam Rabba (ed. Leiner) states (ch. 2) that they were twins and were both 22 when they got married: נמצאו רחל ולאה נשאו בנות כ"ב כ"ב, שהיו תאומות Thus, Rachel and Leah were both ...

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What does Judaism think of math?
11 votes

Math (מת) is numerically equivalent to עמכם רע (evil is with you) this obviously renders all forms of mathematics thoroughly forbidden. Additionally, the Torah refers to practitioners of the ...

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Praise of Mishneh Torah amongst the Rishonim
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11 votes

The Meiri (13th cent.) describes the unique features of the Mishneh Torah in his introduction to Beit HaBehira: That it is omits the Talmudic dialectics, and presents just ruling. That it is written ...

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Brachot that don't come from the Gemara?
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11 votes

The Beit Yosef (OH 46) notes that this blessing is not found in the Talmud. In Be'ur HaGra to Shulhan Arukh (OH 46:6), the Vilna Gaon comments on both the opinion of the Shulhan Arukh, who states that ...

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Why is alcohol not prohibited?
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11 votes

Rabbenu Avraham ben HaRambam writes: If God would forbid everyone to drink wine and alcohol as he forbade non-kosher animals and fowl, not all would be able to comply...such a prohibition would ...

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