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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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Does the narrator of Numbers assert that the Anakim come from the Nephilim?

The Nephilim are named only in two verses in the Bible, in Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33. Numbers 13:33 says that the Anakim come from the Nephilim, but different translations render this in a vari...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by curiousdannii‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by user8078‭

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(When) can one listen to Christian music, according to Igrot Moshe?

A post elsewhere cites Igrot Moshe (Yoreh De'ah 2:56) as saying that listening to (hearing?) Christian music is forbidden (asur). A comment there elaborates: He states that the restriction is r...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by user8078‭

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If the words come from Christian worship but aren't otherwise objectionable, can you use them for secular music?

Asking this question reminded me of another. As part of my (past) musical studies, I've studied historical compositions that set the "ordinary" of the Christian mass to music. The "ordinary" cons...

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

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Do Bnei Keturah need a Bris upon conversion according to Rambam?

Rambam paskens (Mishneh Torah, Kings and Wars 10:7-8): הַמִּילָה נִצְטַוָּה בָּהּ אַבְרָהָם וְזַרְעוֹ בִּלְבַד. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית יז, ט) "אַתָּה וְזַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ". יָצָא זַרְעוֹ שֶׁל יִשְׁ...

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

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Have other great Rabbis followed Rebbi Akiva's example for dying as a martyr?

The Talmud (Berachos 61b.9) relates the holy incident regarding Rebbi Akiva's martyrdom. He proclaimed "all my days I have been pained, waiting for this moment of fulfillment". Seeing as his commen...

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

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Can a sick pet eat food that would otherwise be forbidden?

I have heard that when dietary laws and serious medical conditions interact, there are grounds to be lenient on the basis of pikuach nefesh. I'm pretty sure I've heard this with respect to ingredi...

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

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Is learning Aleph Beis considered learning Torah?

In a number of sources we find learning Aleph Beis associated with learning Torah: notably Shabbos 31a, with the convert who Hillel persuaded with reversing the Aleph Beis; Shabbos 103b-104a, with ...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by DonielF‭

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Why did the Ark rest on Ararat?

Why did the Ark rest on Ararat? It seems random. Why not have it rest in Eretz Yisrael, for example?

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Harel13‭

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Why isn't there a source for a widow's time limit?

The Mishnah in Ketubot 57a.10 says: נותנין לבתולה שנים עשר חודש משתבעה הבעל לפרנס את עצמה, וכשם שנותנין לאשה כך נותנין לאיש לפרנס את ‏עצמו. ולאלמנה שלשים יום One gives a virgin twelve months f...

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

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What are these words on the back of a קלף?

I recently saw a piece of קלף that had these words on the back: Note: I'm talking about the words towards the bottom of the parchment, not Hashem's name. Notice how the words are written facing...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Dani‭

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Where was Lot during the famine?

In Lech L'cha there is a famine so severe that Avram has to leave Canaan and go down to Egypt for food. He leaves Egypt with great wealth, and then in Bereishit 13:1 he continues traveling with Lo...

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

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How did they use to sleep in the shul?

In Eruvin 74b.2, the Gemara rejects a proof by saying: לְעוֹלָם אֵימָא לָךְ קַיבְּלַהּ מִינֵּהּ, וְהָכָא חַזָּנָא הוּא דַּהֲוָה אָכֵיל נַהֲמָא בְּבֵיתֵיהּ וְאָתֵי בָּיֵית בְּבֵי כְנִישְׁתָּא The G...

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

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Was Sigd part of historical Jewish observance?

I noticed that my (paper) calendar reports that 29 Cheshvan is "Sigd". Curious about this day (on the Jewish calendar; they style secular stuff like Election Day differently) that I'd never heard ...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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Understanding the dispute between Rashi and Kallah Rabbasi on singing Song of Songs?

Sanhedrin 101a.2 teaches: תנו רבנן הקורא פסוק של שיר השירים ועושה אותו כמין זמר והקורא פסוק בבית משתאות בלא זמנו מביא רעה לעולם מפני שהתורה חוגרת שק ועומדת לפני הקב"ה ואומרת לפניו רבונו של עולם עש...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by DonielF‭

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What is the purpose of God asking Adam to name the animals?

In Bereishit 2:19 God brings all the animals to Adam to see what he will name them. This has long puzzled me, because: God created them and already knows their functions (He doesn't need Adam to ...

4 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by msh210‭

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After being expelled, did Adam and Chava build tents or houses for themselves or continue to live outdoors?

I've always assumed (but can't prove) that while Adam and Chava were in Gan Eden, and had they stayed, they lived out in nature -- they didn't require tents or other shelter. When they are expelle...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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Does "החג" include שמיני עצרת?

I commonly see "החג" (or "חג"), literally "the holiday", explained as referring to the holiday of Sukos. I wonder whether it's correct or whether, as I suspect, it refers to the combined celebrati...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by msh210‭  ·  edited 2y ago by msh210‭

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Why does the text in B'reishit refer to God in the plural?

Throughout Parshat B'reishit, Hashem (God) is referred to in the plural multiple times. This includes in B'reishit 1:26: ויאמר אל-קים נעשה אדם בצלמנו כדמותנו... And God said: We will make a man in...

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

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Why is the birth of Kayin written strangely?

In Bereishis 4:1, the Pasuk describes the birth of Kayin: וְהָאָדָם יָדַע אֶת־חַוָּה אִשְׁתּוֹ וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד אֶת־קַיִן וַתֹּאמֶר קָנִיתִי אִישׁ אֶת־יְהוָה Now the man knew his wife Chava, and ...

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

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Why did Abraham refuse to accept Bera's proposal

In Genesis 14:21-23, after Abraham returns, king of Sodom proposes him to take the riches, with him keeping the people. Abraham didn't accept it with a great vow before God and as such, avoiding to...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by artaxerxe‭  ·  edited 2y ago by artaxerxe‭

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Hiding in a tree or hiding among the trees?

As I was reading Beresheet 3:8 today ("וַיִּתְחַבֵּא הָאָדָם וְאִשְׁתּוֹ מִפְּנֵי ה' אֱלֹוקים בְּתוֹךְ עֵץ הַגָּן"), it suddenly occurred to me that though I had never thought about the term "בתוך ...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Harel13‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by sabbahillel‭

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Which of the Asseres Hadibros is most important?

Which of the Asseres Hadibros is most important? I remember hearing that its jealousy, but any sources (either that its jealousy or any other one) would be greatly appreciated.

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by eliyahu‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by eliyahu‭

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Why must there be a contradiction between the seventh day of Passover and the eighth day of Sukkot?

Pesachim 68b teaches: רבי אליעזר אומר אין לו לאדם ביום טוב אלא או אוכל ושותה או יושב ושונה רבי יהושע אומר חלקהו חציו לאכילה ושתיה וחציו לבית המדרש R' Eliezer says, "A person on Yom Tov can either ...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by DonielF‭

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Can a Levi be called up in place of a Yisrael?

In my Simchas Torah experience, there's at least as many cycles of aliyos as there are Kohanim and Leviim, such that if anything a given Kohen or Levi may end up with multiple aliyos on a given Sim...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by DonielF‭

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"דִבַּרְתִּי צֶדֶק" in Ps. 40:10?

For "בִּשַּׂרְתִּי צֶדֶק בְּקָהָל רָב" (Psalms 40:10), a copy I have has instead "דִבַּרְתִּי צֶדֶק בְּקָהָל רָב". I assume this is just a transcription error, but wonder whether perhaps it is, rat...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by msh210‭

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Why is "life from confusion" included in the agricultural Hoshana-prayer?

The theme of the "Adama mei-arer" Hoshana-prayer that we say on Hoshana Rabba appears to be asking God to protect our agriculture. With one possible exception, every element appears to be about the...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Isaac Moses‭

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Where is Rabeinu Gershom's commentary on the first half of Menachos [in the ancient editions]?

There are instances when I cannot use my Oz Vehadar edition of tractate Menachos, and thus I am forced1 into using an older edition, i.e. the old-fashioned Vilna printings2, from, like, two-thousan...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Dr. Shmuel‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by user8078‭

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Is closing the Succah door ‘hiddur-Mitzvah’?

If I am doing my ‘like-living’ in the Succah, is there any benefit to closing the door? Meaning, the open door is the only thing standing between the Succah becoming an entirely sealed structure. I...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Dr. Shmuel‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Dr. Shmuel‭

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Internet Bavli resource

I am hoping (b'li neder) to start, relatively soon, a regular regimen of study of the Talmud Bavli. My goal is to learn large swaths of the g'mara, gaining broad knowledge, but without taking the ...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by msh210‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Dr. Shmuel‭

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Can one intentionally wait for a "painful" situation to be exempt from Sukkah?

The Gemara states (Sukkah 26a.9 et. al.): מצטער פטור מן הסוכה One who is in pain is exempt from Sukkah This is codified as halacha in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 640:4. Suppose it's going to pour...

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

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Believing prayer works

Are there any sources that discuss how one can internalize the belief that their prayers have a real effect on the world?

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Harel13‭

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What does it mean that Yisrael dwelt in sukkot in the wilderness?

The plain reading of Vayikra 23:43 says that Yisrael dwelt in sukkot while they were in the wilderness. Rashi on this verse says that the "sukkot" that Israel dwelt in were the divine clouds of gl...

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

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Why are we only worried about choking now?

In Orach Chaim 607:1 it says: צריך להתודות במנחה קודם סעודה המפסקת‎‎‎‎ One must say vidui at mincha prior to the final meal before the fast. The Mishnah Berurah explains: קודם סעודה המפסקת - שמא...

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

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Ancestry of the Mishmarot Kehunah

In 1 Divrei Hayamim 24:4 it says about the dividing of the Mishmarot Kehunah: "The sons of Eleazar turned out to be more numerous by male heads than the sons of Ithamar, so they divided the sons o...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Harel13‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Harel13‭

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Why is cholam sometimes pronounced like segol (Chabad, Yom Kippur)?

I learned what I understand to be a S'fardi or maybe Israeli pronunciation of Hebrew. I'm aware of the differences between this and the usual Ashkenazi pronunciation. My question is about variati...

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

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Why does Rashi leave out an example?

In Devarim 32:48 the pasuk says: וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה בְּעֶ֛צֶם הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּ֖ה לֵאמֹֽר That very day the LORD spoke to Moses Rashi on Devarim 32:48 writes: וידבר ה' אל משה בעצם היום...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Dani‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Dani‭

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Naming a daughter when there's no minyan around

Normally in my experience, a baby girl is named in the presence of a minyan, generally at a Torah reading. If her parents are not expecting to be with a minyan for the foreseeable future, should th...

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

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When does not forgiving become holding a grudge?

Yoma 87a and Rambam Hilchot Teshuvah 2 both describe requirements for doing teshuva and gaining forgiveness. According to them, the one doing teshuva must first make restitution and then, in front...

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

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Fasting 3 fasts.

There is a somewhat famous minhag for a child to fast the three fasts preceding His/Her Bar/Bas Mitzvah. Is there any halachic source for doing this, or is it an unnecessary adopted custom?

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Dani‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by DonielF‭

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Must one forgive those who wronged him but do not ask forgiveness?

The Rambam writes (Hilchot Teshuvah 2:10, Sefaria's translation): אָסוּר לָאָדָם לִהְיוֹת אַכְזָרִי וְלֹא יִתְפַּיֵּס אֶלָּא יְהֵא נוֹחַ לִרְצוֹת וְקָשֶׁה לִכְעֹס וּבְשָׁעָה שֶׁמְּבַקֵּשׁ מִמֶּנּו...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by DonielF‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Dani‭

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What does a beginning shofar blower need to know to correctly make the sounds?

On Rosh Hashana I heard somebody say something like: if you can't get to a public shofar blowing, at least this is a commandment that is relatively easy to fulfill on your own -- most people, this ...

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

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What happened to the end of the Aleph-Beis in Kol Mekadesh?

One of the songs commonly sung on Friday night, which begins Kol Mekadesh Shevi'i, follows an alphabetic acrostic. After the introductory stanza, each stanza contains four phrases: the first three ...

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

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Seeking list of prohibitions which force one to do an action

Generally speaking, whenever the Torah tells us "do not do X," the context is "do not do a specific action" (don't eat non-Kosher, don't do work on Shabbos, etc.). In a select few prohibitions, how...

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

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Source of Chasam Sofer's prediction.

I recently heard that the Chasam Sofer wrote, that the year 5780 would be a very bad year, but the year 5781 would be a very good year. Does anyone know if this is true or where he wrote this?

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

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What role does the Satan play in Jewish theology?

There are multiple references to the "Satan" in Jewish texts, most notably in the book of Eyov (Job), where God allows the Satan to devastate Eyov's life, including killing his family. We also have...

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

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Longest list of practical differences in shas.

The Gemara in Ketubot 54b.10-55a.2 gives a list of 14 practical differences.1 Are there any other places in Shas that list more than 14 practical differences? The context/background has nothing ...

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

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May Jews bow as a courtesy?

Like many Jews, I have been taught that Jews don't bow; many people trace this prohibition to Mordechai not bowing to Haman. This custom can be further traced to Exodus 20:5 - "You shall not bow do...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Aliza‭  ·  edited 2y ago by DonielF‭

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What specific action fulfills the commandment to write a sefer torah?

At my synagogue we're currently writing a sefer torah in honor of our retiring rabbi. I know that the 613th mitzvah is to write a sefer torah, and have been taught that participating in the writin...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  edited 2y ago by DonielF‭

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Should you bring the ketubah on vacation?

When a family goes on vacation, does the wife have to bring her Ketubah with her, since she should have it available at all times?

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

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Why aren't weddings on specific days?

In Mishnah Ketubot 1:1, it says: בְּתוּלָה נִשֵּׂאת לַיּוֹם הָרְבִיעִי, וְאַלְמָנָה לַיּוֹם הַחֲמִישִׁי. A virgin is married on the fourth day [of the week] and a widow on the fifth day Why don't...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Dani‭  ·  edited 2y ago by DonielF‭

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