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Q&A

General Q&A about Judaism, Jewish texts, and Jewish life. This site does not give personal advice.

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Are we expecting Eliyahu to drink the fifth cup of wine?

Many kids I know (including past-me) think that Eliyahu drinks from the fifth cup at each seder. I've been to several where parents encouraged this belief, perhaps as a way of keeping the kids awa...

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  edited 1y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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Why aren't we required to eat matzah every day during Pesach?

Shemot 12:15 tells us: "Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread". But our tradition (I don't know the source, sorry) is that we are required to eat matzah only at the seder(s). Otherwise, the c...

2 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by manassehkatz‭

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How does agency work for selling chameitz?

Each year my rabbi arranges the sale of chameitz for me (and anybody else who asks), and I know that I could also do this online. Either way, I provide some basic information, like the location of...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by manassehkatz‭

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Does all of Israel sell its chametz through the chief rabbinate? If so, why?

It's been reported that the same non-Jew buys all of Israel's chametz before Pesach. Indeed, I've heard that all rabbis in the country who are authorized to sell chametz transfer that authority to ...

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by msh210‭

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Seudah shlishit before Pesach: what's the source for omitting bread?

When Pesach starts on a Saturday night, I understand that we are forbidden to eat matzah on that Shabbat (because we don't want to diminish the experience at the seder), but that we also aren't all...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by msh210‭

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Why do we forgive past incarnations every night?

In the first paragraph of Krias Shema Al Hamita, we say that we forgive: ...לְכָל־מִי שֶׁהִכְעִיס וְהִקְנִיט אוֹתִי אוֹ שֶׁחָטָא כְנֶגְדִּי בֵּין בְּגוּפִי בֵּין בְּמָמוֹנִי... ...anyone who ha...

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by Dani‭

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הֶעֱלֵיתָ vs. הֶעֱלִיתָ

When reviewing parashas Ki Sisa I noticed that 32:7 has הֶעֱלֵיתָ heelesa for "you lifted" whereas 33:1 has הֶעֱלִיתָ heelisa. Why?

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by msh210‭  ·  edited 1y ago by msh210‭

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Giving food to a spouse for Mishlo'ach manot

I live with my wife and one of my responsibilities is to do the food shopping. Often, she gives me a list and I go. If I come home with something not on the list, can I hand it to her on Purim and...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by rosends‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Isaac Moses‭

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Does charity on Purim have to be "new" donations?

When giving matanot l'evyonim on Purim, I know that the mitzvah is fulfilled by giving money out on THAT day -- but must it be money that was set aside to be given on that day? If I have a box and...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by rosends‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Isaac Moses‭

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Shehecheyanu on Purim

What is the shecheyanu for on Purim night? The one before the morning megillah reading is (according to the announcement in shul) for the mitzvos done in the daytime. But in the preceding night, w...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by rosends‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by AA ‭

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Ein somchin al Hanes - Purim

In the megillah, Mordechai tells Esther that if she doesn't go to the king, salvation will come from another source. While this is an admirable show of faith isn't he being somech al nes, reliant o...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by rosends‭

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Blotting out Haman's name only some of the time?

At megillah readings, I'm used to people making noise to blot out every mention of Haman's name. Tonight I was at a Chabad reading and they had a different custom: they blotted out the mentions th...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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After the destruction of the temple, why didn't we revert to a temporary mishkan?

I read a blog post tonight that started out by asking why we don't have a mishkan today -- we had the mishkan in the wilderness before the temple was built, after all, so if we can't have the templ...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Peter Taylor‭

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Should rabbis come up with new ideas about niddah. [closed]

Should rabbis have a new look at niddah today since doctors have come up with new ideas about it unknown to previous doctors.

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by interested‭  ·  closed 2y ago by Isaac Moses‭

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Can one fulfill the obligation of megillah on Purim via Zoom?

I have heard (but have no source) that, to fulfill the obligation of reading the megillah, one must either be physically present for a reading or, if listening by phone, follow along in a kosher sc...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by manassehkatz‭

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Why marry at eighteen if one's reasoning isn't great yet?

Although I can't seem to find it now, I recall a rule that says that no one under the age of twenty can sell real property that he's inherited. Why? Because people under the age of twenty are not t...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by msh210‭  ·  edited 2y ago by msh210‭

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Talmudic proverb based on Job 42:10 — source?

I'm trying to locate the source for a rabbinic saying quoted in a Christian commentary on the book of Job by the Hebraist Franz Delitzsch. Here's the relevant bit of the passage: The Talmud has ...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by David‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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Why is מוציא לחם more of a problem than מתיר אסורים or מלביש ערמים?

The Gemara (Berachot 38a) cites a dispute whether the blessing on bread is המוציא or מוציא. The issue is that the blessing must reflect the past tense; while everyone agrees that מוציא is past tens...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by DonielF‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by simyou‭

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(When) can halacha with a stated reason be revisited in light of new information?

I saw the following question, asked by David Ziants, on mail-jewish today: In Daf Yomi, have just started chapter 7 of Mesechet Pesachim, and the first Mishneh talks about on how the Korban Pesa...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by DonielF‭

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Besamim and the Tree of Knowledge

I have heard many times that one of the reasons we use Besamim for Havdallah is because smell is the only sense that didn't benefit from the Eitz Hadas. The Bnei Yissaschar says that smell is the ...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by eliyahu‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Isaac Moses‭

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What's the reason for Caleb, Achsah and Othniel story?

In Joshua 15:16-19, it is related a short episode of Caleb, Othniel and Achsah. In Judges 1:12-15, it is related the same story (almost copy paste). Why do you think this story was considered sign...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by artaxerxe‭

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In which volume is the Sdei Chemed’s rebuttal kuntrus printed?

In the original printing of Sdei Chemed (about 18 volumes, some posthumous) there was a kuntrus adjoined at the end of the fifth volume (I saw this on the oztar hachochma). This kuntrus entitled ב...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Dr. Shmuel‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Dr. Shmuel‭

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Disposing of a Christian bible written in Hebrew?

While sorting through boxes of books in the attic, I came across a Christian bible written in Hebrew. (Some family member was apparently given it by a missionary when living in Israel and didn't d...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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Why is Shlissel Challah permissible?

In ancient times, the Roman pagan holiday of Saturnalia included a practice of baking some type of cake with a fava bean hidden inside, with a prize for whoever got the piece containing the bean. I...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by DonielF‭  ·  edited 2y ago by msh210‭

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Are there any sources for counting Druze men as part of a Jewish minyan?

I was talking to a Druze friend of mine a couple weeks ago, and the topic turned to religion. My friend is fairly knowledgeable about a lot of religion-related things (including for the Druze relig...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Mithical‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Aliza‭

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When to say fleishik versus fleishike (in English)

I was recently asked what the difference was between the words fleishik and fleishike, and was unable to come up with an answer. If it were just a matter of masculine/feminine case coming over from...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Aliza‭

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Why do Egyptian priests keep land while Levites don't get any

In Gen 47:22, during the years of famine, Joseph takes land from everyone except the Egyptian priests. This is in direct contrast to the Jewish priests who will not own land in the Land of Israel....

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by ckoppelman‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by simyou‭

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Does the Torah guarantee free speech?

There are certain categories of speech which are outright forbidden by the Torah (various forms of gossip, profanity, blasphemy, curse, etc.). Theoretically speaking, could the Sanhedrin legislate...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by DonielF‭

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Lesser-known Shabbos Zemiros

Are there any printed or audio/visual collections of Shabbos Zemiros which didn't make it into the standard repertoire?

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by simyou‭  ·  edited 2y ago by msh210‭

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Why do we destroy t'rumah and challah instead of giving it to a kohein?

I was thinking about t'rumah, which historically was designated for a kohein but today we destroy, and similarly taking challah, which we burn. Why isn't this a violation of bal tashchit, do not w...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by msh210‭

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(How) does the home gardener tithe?

This past year I grew some vegetables for the first time. I don't live in Eretz Yisrael, so I know I don't have to tithe my produce, but it made me wonder: what if I did? How would I go about tha...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by AA ‭

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What exactly is "cooking"?

I'm having trouble putting this question into words so hear me out, while I struggle: What is cooking halachically? I don't mean "at what temperature does cooking happen?" but more like "what is ...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by rosends‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by manassehkatz‭

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Read the wrong haftara. Now what?

Suppose someone started reading a haftara for a different week, or according to a different custom for the same week, or a piece of navi that's not a haftara at all. What should the community do? ...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by msh210‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by ploni‭

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Does a living brother fulfill his own pru ur'vu during a Yibum marriage?

If a man is required to father a boy and a girl (according to B"Hillel in Yevamos 61b), but is married to his late brother's wife (the brother died, childless) then do (all) the children who are bo...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by rosends‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by msh210‭

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What does אלוף mean in the context of Eisav's family tree?

When the Torah lists Eisav's family tree, it calls a lot of people "aluf" (often translated champion): טו אלה אלופי בני עשו בני אליפז בכור עשו אלוף תימן אלוף אומר אלוף צפו אלוף קנז: טז אלוף קרח...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Mithical‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by msh210‭

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What does this abbreviation stand for?

What does this mean? (written about a rabbi of renown, often the author of a book, or the person buried, listed on a headstone) הבחור כמ“ר I have my guesses but I'd like a real answer, not my gut...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by rosends‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Isaac Moses‭

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Avinu Malkeinu as part of Tachanun

I know the following: The word "considered" will surely invoke the response "by whom." I have no answer but want to know the breadth of opinions. The question begs "what does it matter?" I have...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by rosends‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by manassehkatz‭

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Are flowers muktzah on Shabbat?

If one had placed a bouquet of flowers in a vase prior to Shabbat, is it considered muktzah? In what scenario would it be permissible to move it on Shabbat?

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by ploni‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by msh210‭

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What are the flaws in the ten kal vachomer arguments in the torah?

This d'var torah discusses kal vachomer arguments in torah: Rashi is bothered that these two arguments have some sort of flaw. He wants us to realize that this isn’t so difficult, as there are t...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  edited 2y ago by msh210‭

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Why "את אבי מורי בעל הבית הזה" when inapplicable?

Toward the end of ברכת המזון (the prayer after a bread meal), we include a litany of short prayers that start "הרחמן" ("May the merciful one do such-and-such"). In the Ashkenazic version, one of th...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by msh210‭

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What's wrong with salmon skin?

I bought a package of frozen salmon filet pieces in Israel; they'd been imported from Poland. The package reads, in part: מטעמי הכשרות חובה לשטוף את העור או להסירו לפני השימוש.‏ In my own tra...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by msh210‭  ·  edited 2y ago by msh210‭

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Lights for 24 hours or 3 hours on 8 days -- which is better?

One understanding of the Channukah miracle is that oil that should have lasted for 1 day lasted for eight and the famous question is "if it should have lasted for 1 day, then why is the miracle an ...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by rosends‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by robev‭

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Purity and Channukah

I'm trying to figure something out about Channukah: When the victorious Jews cleaned the temple they found only enough oil to light the menorah for 1 day and it took another 7 days before they had...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by rosends‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by robev‭

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Why did Yaakov propose his payment scheme?

In Vayetze, Genesis 30:25–43, Jacob and Laban come to and execute a strange agreement: Jacob agrees to tend Laban's sheep under a payment scheme as follows: First (as explained by Rashi to verse...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by msh210‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by manassehkatz‭

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Sources discussing electric cars on Chol Hamo'ed

I was reading about driving a car on Chol Hamo'ed and the article stated that many see the melacha of driving as tied to havarah (which I assume to refer to the burning of gas via combustion). The ...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by rosends‭

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Do you say Baruch Dayan Ha-emet immediately, regardless of where you are when you learn the news?

Upon learning of someone's passing, I have been taught, we immediately say baruch dayan ha-emet. I have also been taught that we don't say blessings (or learn torah) in inappropriate locations. M...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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Why the large נ in the thirteen midos?

Exodus 34:7 ("נֹצֵר חֶסֶד לָאֲלָפִים נֹשֵׂא עָוֺן וָפֶשַׁע וְחַטָּאָה") is written in Torah scrolls with a large initial letter nun. My kid wants to know why. (I checked several commentaries and fo...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by msh210‭  ·  edited 2y ago by msh210‭

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Not referring to children by nicknames

I have heard there are some who refrain from referring to their children by nicknames. This was a very long time ago, and I cannot recall the reason nor the source. What could be the reason for th...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by ploni‭  ·  edited 2y ago by ploni‭

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Did any ancient Jewish writers address the differences in Jeremiah's source texts?

The Septuagint's version of Jeremiah is one eighth shorter than the Masoretic Text's version. In the Dead Sea Scrolls is evidence of both versions. Did any ancient Jewish writers (such as in the M...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by curiousdannii‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Harel13‭

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Shgagah with the killing of the son of the Amalekite ger?

In Shmuel 1:31:4 it says that Shaul committed suicide rather than be captured alive by the Plishtim. Later, in Shmuel 2:1:2-15 it says that the son of an Amalekite ger who was in the ranks of Shau...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Harel13‭

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