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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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Were Abraham's and Lot's guests the same?

Genesis 18 describes "אנשים [=men]" who came to visit Abraham. Chapter 19 starts "And the two מלאכים [=messengers, or angels] arrived at Sodom…" and proceeds to call them, too, "אנשים". Rashi and ...

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

71%
+3 −0
Is there a medrash that says that foxes and fish lived together?

In Brachot 61b:7 there is the famous parable of the fox trying to get the fish do go on the land. As part of the trick, the fox says: וְנָדוּר אֲנִי וְאַתֶּם, כְּשֵׁם שֶׁדָּרוּ אֲבוֹתַי עִם אֲב...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Dani‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by sabbahillel‭

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What is the connection between the "tarshish" in Ezekiel's vision and the city Jonah fled toward?

I noticed that Ezekiel 1:16, in describing his vision of something like a heavenly chariot (merkavah), says the words gleaned like tarshish, translated "beryl" by Sefaria and some others: מַרְאֵ...

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

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What happens if the goring ox was provoked?

Exodus 21:28-29 (and onward) gives us laws concerning the ox that gores. If it happens once, they kill the ox but do not punish the owner. But if the ox has a pattern of goring and the owner has ...

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

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What is the difference when Rashi says בגמרא מפרש and מפרש בגמרא?

When Rashi comments on a Mishna telling us that the gemara will explain, sometimes he uses the phrase בגמרא מפרש and sometimes he uses the phrase מפרש בגמרא. (see here) Why would Rashi use one ove...

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

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Why does Naomi talk in masculine form to her daughters-in-law?

In Rus 1:8, Naomi is telling her two daughters-in-law that they should return to their homes. וַתֹּ֤אמֶר נָעֳמִי֙ לִשְׁתֵּ֣י כַלֹּתֶ֔יהָ לֵ֣כְנָה שֹּׁ֔בְנָה אִשָּׁ֖ה לְבֵ֣ית אִמָּ֑הּ יעשה [יַ֣עַ...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Dani‭

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Is there consensus with in any major Judaic religious sect if Muslims are Noahides?

Is there consensus with in any major Judaic religious sect (Karaite/Rabbanite) if Muslims are Noahides (שומרי מצוות בני נח) or not?

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by deleted user

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Why do we remove wine from our cups at "דם ואש ותימרות עשן"?

During Maggid during the Pesach Seder, there is one point where we say דם ואש ותימרות עשן Blood, fire, and columns of smoke (ArtScroll Machzor translation) This is a quote from Yoel 3:3. A...

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

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Why didn't the dough rise during the night of the Exodus?

When it comes to the bread, my plain understanding of the Exodus is that the Israelites left Egypt with dough (Exodus 12:34) and later baked it into unleavened bread because it had not risen (Exodu...

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

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+2 −0
Handedness for t'fillin: nature or nurture?

I know that t'fillin are placed on the weaker arm, which for most people is the left, so that the stronger hand is the one doing the binding. I have heard, but don't remember where, that someone w...

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

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Why do we stop saying Mashiv Haruach?

From Pesach until Succos, we stop saying mashiv haruach umorid hageshem in shemoneh esrei. However, we would normally say it in the second blessing of the amidah, which is where we are only praisi...

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

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+2 −0
Why aren't worried about carrying matza on Shabas?

The Bavli in various places (e.g. Suka 42–43) explains that the rabbis did away with blowing shofar and taking lulav on Shabas lest one "take it to an expert to learn, and carry it four cubits in p...

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

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+1 −0
Groundbreaking disagreement in the Gemara?

Last Shabbat, one of the community, who came from Ethiopia, gave a lesson about the different customs an traditions that they had back there at Ethiopia. He was pointing out several major differen...

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

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Which ethical teachings are unique to Judaism?

Are there any ethical teachings found in the corpus of the written Torah which are unique to Judaism and are not found in other world religions current or past? If so, what are they?

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by withoutatrace‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Alaychem‭

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Rosh Hashanah vs Rosh Chodesh

The beginning of the Jewish year is referred to as Rosh Hashanah. The beginning of the Jewish month is called Rosh Chodesh. How come Rosh Hashanah has a "hey" (ה) in it, while Rosh Chodesh does n...

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

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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 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  edited 2y 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 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y 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 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y 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 2y 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 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y 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 2y 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 2y ago by msh210‭  ·  edited 2y ago by msh210‭

62%
+3 −1
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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+1 −1
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 ‭

33%
+0 −2
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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+3 −0
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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