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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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What's your favorite weekly Torah section, and why?

There are 54 weekly sections ("parashiyos" or "sedras") in the Torah.1 Which of these is your favorite, and why? Answers I seek: Please don't answer with a section name with no explanation as to wh...

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

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Intentionally praying shacharis without tefillin

If someone b'mezid, intentionally, prayed shacharis without tefillin, would he have fulfilled his obligation? Or would he have to pray again with tefillin.

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

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Why not immerse in the early morning on erev Rosh Hashana?

Chaye Adam 138:5 writes: וראוי לכל אדם לטבול במקוה או בנהר ולא יקדים לטבול עד שעה קודם חצות היום In my own translation: It's seemly for every man to immerse in a ritualarium or a river [on the d...

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

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Extra-Tanachic accounts for Nitzavim prophecy?

In Nitzavim, Devarim 29:23-27 it says: "all nations will ask, “Why did the LORD do thus to this land? Wherefore that awful wrath?” They will be told, “Because they forsook the covenant that the LO...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Harel13‭

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How do we understand tzniut as a violation of lifnei eevar?

Growing up I was taught that the reason for the various restrictions on how a woman is supposed to dress according to orthodox standards, dubbed 'tzniut' was because lack of doing so was 'lifnei ee...

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

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How is God's name pronounced when there is a prefix?

The 4 letter name for Hashem is replaced with the word a/d-/nai (3 syllables). But my siddur doesn't put vowels under each instance, so I'm not sure how to say the word when it is preceded b a pref...

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

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Is the Sanhedrin supposed to serve as an international court?

Related to this question. Someone told me today that the nascent Sanhedrin, at one point, held a trial for Achamadenijad for crimes against Israel. Is the Sanhedrin ever meant to serve as a kind of...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Harel13‭  ·  edited 2y ago by DonielF‭

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Shalom Aleichem -- "shuvchem" instead of "tzeitchem"?

I've heard a setting (by Debbie Friedman) of the song "Shalom Aleichem" that, in the last verse, says "shuvchem" instead of "tzeitchem" (recording, mixed group of singers). A rabbi who knew her to...

0 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  edited 2y ago by DonielF‭

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Should the repetition of the amidah be discontinued?

My understanding is that the repetition of the prayer popularly referred to as the Shmoneh Esrei was instituted to assist people who were illiterate and could not say the prayer themselves. Since t...

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

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Why did the Davidic dynasty need to come from questionable relations?

On the one side of the family, we have the union between Tamar and Yehudah, which, while technically a fulfillment of Yibum, Yehudah thought she was a harlot. From this union came Peretz (Bereishis...

4 answers  ·  posted 4y ago by DonielF‭  ·  edited 2y ago by DonielF‭

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I've already made a siyum on a work. Can I make a full siyum a second time?

As a personal example, I completed learning all of Shas Mishnayot (with the Kehati commentary) for my thirteenth birthday. At the time, I made a siyum; with the Hadran Alach, the special Kaddish, t...

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

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Why does the verse state that one should "destroy" Maaser Sheni and Neta Reva'i?

Devarim 26:13: וְאָמַרְתָּ֡ לִפְנֵי֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהֶ֜יךָ בִּעַ֧רְתִּי הַקֹּ֣דֶשׁ מִן־הַבַּ֗יִת וְגַ֨ם נְתַתִּ֤יו לַלֵּוִי֙ וְלַגֵּר֙ לַיָּת֣וֹם וְלָאַלְמָנָ֔ה כְּכָל־מִצְוָתְךָ֖ אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוִּיתָ֑נִ...

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

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Do any scholars identify Tarshish with Tartessos, before the Malbim?

Among the classic Jewish works I've seen, Tarshish is nearly unanimously identified with modern-day Tunisia (Ibn Ezra, Targum Yonasan1, Rashi1); the two early dissenters I've seen quoted are modern...

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

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What are the requirements for the body of water used for tashlich?

For tashlich I'm used to joining a group, and thus somebody else figures out where to do it. But there won't be groups this year. I could of course return to any of the locations we've used in th...

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

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Making a Bracha on a smell test.

Some members of my family are required to take a "smell test" in order to attend school each day. Are they required to make a bracha בורא מיני בשמים like when usually smelling nice things, or is th...

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

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May one name a secular object using a Divine Name?

Once upon a time, I was on a trip up in north Georgia and stumbled across this gem: a security service branding itself as "Adonai Security, LLC." The tagline proceeds to make a pun in the same vei...

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

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Wearing the knots of tzitzis visibly.

I've heard from multiple people, that when wearing the tzitzis strings out, leaving the knots visible is a sign of haughtiness. Does anyone know of a source for this? How does doing this show haug...

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

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When bringing first fruits, why do we say to the priest "your God" rather than "our God"?

When bringing first fruits we are commanded to say the following to the priest: וּבָאתָ֙ אֶל־הַכֹּהֵ֔ן אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִהְיֶ֖ה בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֑ם וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֵלָ֗יו הִגַּ֤דְתִּי הַיּוֹם֙ לַיהוָ֣ה אֱלֹה...

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

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When the Mishnayos were compiled, were they compiled into the perakim we have today, or were they just compiled into masechtos?

Many times throughout Shas, it seems as if the Perakim are sliced in completely arbitrary places. To name a few examples: In Maseches Shabbos, the halachos of Tzad, trapping, are discussed in 13:5-...

1 answer  ·  posted 4y ago by DonielF‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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If voting doesn't do anything, should one vote?

All translations below are my own. Lev Melech B'Yad Hashem Shlomo HaMelech tells us (Mishlei 21:1): פלגי מים לב מלך ביד יהוה על כל אשר יחפץ יטנו [Like] streams of water is the heart of a king in t...

5 answers  ·  posted 6y ago by DonielF‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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How should one who hears lashon hara respond?

I've read a lot about lashon hara from the perspective of (not) speaking it. My question is from the other side: what are one's obligations, both halacha and ethically (per Judaism), upon witnessin...

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

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hearing half of a double-long תרועה

Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 587:3, cites a view that if someone heard half of a double-long t'ki'a (long shofar blast) in a way that was effective but the other half in an invalid way, then he's n...

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

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Was there a Soreg in Bayit Rishon?

I understand there was a little fence in Bayit Sheni called "HaSoreg"/"The Grille" which was meant to warn away gentiles and tme'im from entering the Chayil part of Har Habayit (according to the mi...

0 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Harel13‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Harel13‭

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Is there a list of the different types of deaths?

The Gemara in Brachot says: It was also taught in a baraita: Nine hundred and three types of death were created in the world, as it is stated: “Issues [totzaot] of death,” and that, 903, is the ...

0 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Harel13‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Harel13‭

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Nowadays, whom is Birkat Haminim directed at?

Today I saw this question: History of Birkas haMinim, which got me thinking: Nowadays, that we don't have Tzdokim or little Judaic Temple-cults like the Essenes, whom is the Birkat Haminim directed...

0 answers  ·  posted 3y ago by Harel13‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Harel13‭

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Sources for the meaning of David's name

I have often wondered about the meaning of David's name. I believe Da'at Mikra write that it may be a short form of Dodvahu (דודוהו), which also appears somewhere in Tanach and means Dod (friend) o...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Harel13‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Harel13‭

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Is there any davening unique to being said when alone?

I know that there are parts of davening that one can only say, or be involved with saying, in the presence of a minyan, but I was wondering if there were pieces of davening that can only happen whe...

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

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A year with eight Sh'minis is plenteous?

I've heard an idea that a year (like 5772) in which parashas Sh'mini is read eight times1 is a particularly auspicious one: the wording of the maxim is something like "sh'mona Sh'mini sh'mena" ([a ...

1 answer  ·  posted 10y ago by msh210‭  ·  edited 2y ago by msh210‭

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Plants before the Sun in the Order of Creation

Why does plant life precede the Sun in the order of creation given that plants need the Sun to do photosynthesis?

4 answers  ·  posted 9y ago by Kinnard Hockenhull‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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What is a “halachic annulment” of a marriage and when is it employed?

I’m stunned that this question wasn’t previously asked. The Gemara (Gittin 33a) discusses the concept of כל דמקדש אדעתא דרבנן מקדש - anyone who marries does so with the consent of the Rabbis. As di...

1 answer  ·  posted 4y ago by DonielF‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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Putting a suffering animal out of its misery - Mitzvah, Reshut or prohibition?

How does the concept of Tza’ar Ba’alei Chaim deal with putting an animal out of its misery by killing it in order to prevent unnecessary pain (of the animal)? For instance, when one sees an animal...

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

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Is Lashon Hara L'toelet Hutra or Dechuya?

We know that Lashon Hara L'toelet, for a positive purpose is allowed (under certain guidelines). For example, if I am helping someone not lose money by telling them that a person is a swindler, tha...

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

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What is the difference between אנכי and אני in the torah? [duplicate]

In the book of D'varim I've been noticing a lot more uses of אנכי instead of אני. Both words mean "I". I've heard that אנכי is more formal, and I know it begins the revelation at Sinai, though in...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  closed as duplicate 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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Difference between אני and אנכי

Throughout the Tanakh, I have come across אֲנִי (ʾani) and אָנֹכִי (ʾanokhi) many times, which both mean "I". What is the difference between the two words in Tanakh?

6 answers  ·  posted 7y ago by Argon‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by msh210‭

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Can a Rabbi lose his ordination?

Suppose Reuven is ordained as a Rabbi (receives semicha). His teacher, Rabbi Yaakov, decides that he is learned enough and of the right character to serve as a Rabbinic authority and proclaims that...

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

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Status of the descendants of Yarcha

In Ki Tetzeh it says (Devarim 23:8-9): "You shall not abhor an Egyptian, for you were a stranger in his land. Children born to them may be admitted into the congregation of the LORD in the third g...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Harel13‭

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Why was King Hezekiah allowed to hide the Book of Healing, thereby causing otherwise preventable deaths?

Berachot 10b.5-7 teaches:1 מַאי ״וְהַטּוֹב בְּעֵינֶיךָ עָשִׂיתִי״? ... רַבִּי לֵוִי אָמַר: שֶׁגָּנַז סֵפֶר רְפוּאוֹת. תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: שִׁשָּׁה דְבָרִים עָשָׂה חִזְקִיָּהוּ הַמֶּלֶךְ, עַל שְׁלֹשָׁ...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by DonielF‭

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Is one in violation of Lifnei Iveir for setting himself up to sin later?

Avodah Zarah 6a.16-6b.1: והתניא: אמר רבי נתן, ״מנין שלא יושיט אדם כוס של יין לנזיר ואבר מן החי לבני נח? ת"ל (ויקרא יט, יד) ולפני עור לא תתן מכשול.״‏ It was taught in a Braisa: R' Nassan said, "Fro...

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

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"for you are…" in the blessings of sh'mone esre

The weekday amida has thirteen request benedictions in the middle, according to the usual count. Some of these end, after their respective requests, with "כי אתה…‏", "for you are…". Here's the rund...

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

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Can a woman blow the shofar during Elul for herself? Can anyone?

Does a woman fulfill the obligation to hear the shofar during Elul if she blows it for herself, or is this one of the mitzvot where a man (must? should?) perform the action on behalf of others? Fo...

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

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Seeking advice as a chazzan in training

As I am training to become a chazzan, a prayer leader, I'm constantly beset by critiques by the community, regarding "you should've done X differently." There's certainly many points which will var...

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

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Seeking an explanation for the verse associated with the fox in Perek Shirah

According to the work Perek Shirah, Yirmiyahu 22:13 is the verse associated with the fox (shual). What is the explanation for the link between the contents of that pasuk and the fox?

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

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Is there a source that the Shechina rests where there is peace between husband and wife?

I've heard many times (for example https://matzav.com/where-hashem-is-found-in-our-marriage/ https://www.aish.com/f/rf/Intimacy_in_Marriage.html https://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/is-hashem-...

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

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Blowing a Shofar with a mask over the wide end

Last night, as part of his weekly livestream COVID update, Rabbi Dr. Glatt quoted Rav Mordechai Willig that one should put a mask over the wide end of the Shofar while blowing to prevent spreading ...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by eliyahu‭  ·  edited 2y ago by MTL‭

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Question on Ekev: in what way are good things hard?

In the beginning of Ekev, Moshe says that Hashem tested Bnei Yisrael in the desert to see if they would remain faithful - "Remember the long way that the LORD your God has made you travel in the wi...

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

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At what distance may one hear the shofar on Rosh Hashana?

Due to the pandemic, on Rosh Hashana1 some congregations will be blowing the shofar outdoors to mitigate the health risks. In an urban area, this means someone could stay safely far away and yet s...

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

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Does "make for yourself a rav" normally terminate with the synagogue employment contract?

I was talking with a US rabbi from a liberal movement who left a congregation after 30 years. He told me that he needed to disengage from his now-former congregants, out of deference to the new ra...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

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Did Moshe have free will when he struck the rock in the wilderness?

We know that God told the entire torah to Moshe (with Moshe writing it down the second time) at Har Sinai. This must include the book of D'varim, because I have learned somewhere that there is a d...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by user8078‭

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Explanation about story in Maseches Shabbos.

The last story in Maseches Shabbos 157b:2 brings the following story: עוּלָּא אִיקְּלַע לְבֵי רֵישׁ גָּלוּתָא. חַזְיֵיהּ לְרַבָּה בַּר רַב הוּנָא דְּיָתֵיב בְּאַוּוֹנָא דְמַיָּא וְקָא מָשַׁח לֵיהּ...

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

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Determining Reshus Harabbim if a street is not busy on Shabbos

If a street has 600,000 people travelling on it during the week, but on weekends it does not since people aren't working, is it considered a Reshus Harabbim? Do we say that just because there are 6...

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

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