I'm secular, so I don't know much about halakha. From the little that I do know -- it seems like back in Ancient Israel, there were multiple levels of courts, with the Sanhedrin as the "Supreme Court" (were the different levels courts of appeals?). Now though, we just have batei din, and as far as I can tell (am I wrong?) there aren't any higher or lower levels.
Now, let's say I'm part of a beit din, and there's an issue similar to one the Sanhedrin (or another beit din) ruled on. Am I bound to follow their precedent (as in a common law system, where judges' rulings become part of the law), or can I rule differently (as in a civil law system)?
If the Sanhedrin were to be re-formed, could they rule differently than prior Sanhedrins, much as the Supreme Court can change law by ruling differently?
Am I missing something major by coming at this from a secular legal framework?
I'm a 20-something with a strong academic background in Jewish Studies, strong spiritual interests, but minimal experience practicing halakha. I've always struggled with prayer and am interested in learning about and practicing Jewish law as a way of working observance into everyday life, but Modern Orthodoxy would make things difficult with my less observant friends and family.
I'd love to talk to / hear from anyone who has experience interpreting and applying halakha on their own terms. Maybe that just looks like Reconstructionism, but I don't know if I align with that movement at large (my experience with it is limited). Anyway, would love to hear any stories, perspectives, or resources – thanks!
Just wondering if someone can outline what were the basic theological principles underlying halakha reform in Judaism. Many of the punishments described in early Judaism are similar to those used in Islam, but at some point Judaism either moved away from these punishments or made their application a procedural impossibility. So, just wondering what the theology was that drove or justified these changes.
I was recently trying to answer someone's questions about the role of women in Abrahamic religions and, like most people, I made the assumption that women in Islam had it shit and that women in Judaism had it pretty good.
But when I was asked to provide sources on the Jewish perspective, I found out that it was just the total opposite. OK, in the lived experience of most modern Jews, not Orthodox, women do have it better than Muslims. But in Orthodox Judaism, it turns out that women have a terrible time.
With respect in inheritance laws, sharia grants women 50% less than a Muslim's male heirs. But in halakha, women get nothing at all. In sharia, a woman's testimony is worth only half that of a man's. But in halakha, women cannot give testimony at all.
I was never religious to begin with, but I was always led to believe that we were better than everyone else because of our laws and that Hashim's laws were the gold standard against which the laws of men and other religion had to be compared. Well, if this is the case, I can't think of any religion that treats women worse.
Conclusion: Jewish law is incompatible with democracy and with human rights.
My father isn't Jewish, so my chabad rabbi who did my bar mitzvah told me that I should use my mother's name when being called up for an aliyah and always called me up by that name for the next few years, so up until now I've always used "my name ben my mother's name". However, some shuls I've recently been going to have taken issue with that when they call me up, and insist that I go by "ben Avraham". I want to find the halakha on it, because if I'm supposed to go by ben Avraham then I will but I want to learn it for myself and I don't even know where to start looking for something like that. Anyone know a starting point?
For no particular reason, here is a brief recap of Jewish thinking regarding the possession and use of nuclear weapons. I’m not sure any of these rise to the level of halakhic rulings, exactly, but they are opinions that have been staked out by various rabbis in the last 70 years.
Some general agreements:
Nuclear weapons, if possessed, may never be used. Use of nuclear weapons, and especially the weapons available today, violates several principles:
Tosafot on BT Shevuot 35b: explicitly prohibits the waging of war in a situation where the casualty rate exceeds a sixth of the population. [Note: I could only find the Tosafot in Hebrew so I can’t confirm this myself. It’s cited here ]
”Teshuvot Chatam Sofer, Orach Chayyim, 208, declares that not only is annhilation of one-sixth of the populace of the universe forbidden but also that war leading to genocide, defined as the extermination of one-sixth of a particular nation or people, is similarly prohibited.” (Bleich, J. David: Contemporary Halakhic Problems. Page 10).
Lord Immanuel Jakobovits, former Chief Rabbi of England: “...a defensive war likely to endanger the survival of the attacking and the defending nations alike, if not indeed the entire human race, can never be justified.” (Immanuel Jakobovits, “Rejoinders,” Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought 4.2 (1962): 198-205, at p. 202.)
However, sources disagree about whether you can possess and/or build up a stock of nuclear weapons.
Under the rubric of “lying to save one’s own life,” several authorities permit nuclear possession as a deterrent only. This includes Rabbi Maurice Lamm (Chair of Professional Rabbinics at YU for a long time, author of The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning among other works); and Rabbi Michael Broyde (Law and Religion program director at Emory; considered for UK Chief Rabbi).
Many sources are opposed to armament as well, feeling that it’s not really an effective deterrent, since using them is prohibited (and the actual use of the weapon won’t save your own lives). This includes Lord Rabbi Jakobovits (above); Rabbi Walter Wurzberger (former head of RCA, student of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik); Rabbi Samuel Dresner (leader in the Conservative Movement); Reform Rabbi David Saperstein; Reconstructionist leader Arthur Waskow; Mosheh Lichtenstein (Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion
I'm looking for some detailed discussions on the relationship and interplay between these three and why it's common in many, of not most to all communities for halakha to take a back seat when there is a conflict.
What are the reasons for which a halakhic ruling that is currently being practiced can be considered no longer applicable or valid? One reason that makes sense to me is if it happened sufficiently recently and was based on a simplistic understanding of the science it was employing, then it should be reconsidered. Re: Electricity on shabbat.
Something I've seen come up often in this subreddit is that many Orthodox/frum members seem to have a negative response when the topic of non-Orthodox Jews observing particular mitzvot and/or minhagim arises. For example, every time the issue of kashrut comes up with regard to Judaism as a whole, at least one person inevitably makes some remark about non-Orthodox Jews not "really" keeping kosher, etc.
So, what is it that you'd prefer? Would you rather that anyone who's not the frummiest person in the world avoid practicing Judaism at all-- and if so, where would you draw the line as to who's "frum enough"? How would you feel, for example, about a person who kept a strictly kosher kitchen in their home, but had a more relaxed policy when eating at friends' houses, or about a person who davened 3x a day but (voluntarily, and in a not-necessary-for-preserving-life kind of job) worked on Shabbos? I'm curious to hear your thoughts, and your reasoning for them. Seems like this could be an interesting thing for this community to discuss, as it's a topic that seems to arise often yet doesn't get blatantly talked about a lot.
Note: in an effort to help keep this community accessible for everyone, and avoid sending people on a google goose-chase, I've decided to start defining words that not everyone may know in my posts, since I know we have many community members who are considering conversion, weren't raised in a very observant household, etc. If anyone thinks this is annoying or unnecessary, please let me know and I'll avoid it in the future.
Note: I'm tired of seeing the same old tired out threads in here. Everything is so, "well, this thing I perceive as terrible exists, so therefore God doesn't exist." While there is some merit to those discussions, it's very drab in this sub when conversations like that pop up on an average of every 2.8 days. Let's actually debate something about religion for a change.
To the Jews here, whose halakha do you follow and why? What factors do you take into account to make that chesbon? While this would seem like a side question, it's necessary to ask, how soon do you see yourself living in Israel? When do you choose to go by the Mishna Berura vs stam Shulkan Aruch vs Rambam? Do you have different rishonim or acharonim you reach to for certain halakhot?
The reason for the Israel question is because a halakhic sefer like the Mishna Berura is not practical to being a Jew living in Israel. It's a very galus halakha approach. If you read something like Rambam, he writes all his shitot out as letchachila Israel, b'diavad galus. Sure, you can learn how to prepare your house for Pesach with the Mishna Berura and how to observe shabbos, but what does it say about the Korban Pesach or offerings that need to be brought when the temple is rebuilt?
Also, Shavua tov!
Hi there! Quick question for /Judaism. Yesterday, the hot water went out at my boyfriend's apartment. We're coming off a massive snowstorm and it's cold and miserable.
I told him that we needed to call the landlord and he said that since he was orthodox he was unavailable until after shabbos. My bf isn't jewish and I don't know what orthodox means in his eyes-but guessing modern orthodox, not haredi (for the record, my mother is jewish but I am non-practising).
Regardless, I couldn't believe the man is essentially unreachable even in case of emergency. Say it hadn't been the hot water but the heat, for instance. So my question is, isn't there an ethical and more importantly halakhic basis for him having a means of contact? I would be happy to knock on his door or whatever but we only know where his office is. I know he's obligated to practice business ethically. Is there anything else? I know you can break Shabbos if it's life-threatening but how about if you're causing human suffering? Thoughts? We live in area where landlord-tenant relationships are tough because of issues like his. My bf otherwise has a good relationship with the guy so I don't want to push it but this whole situation makes me livid and I'd like to approach this logically and respectfully if possible.
This was the best title I could come up with for this post.
Recently I was made aware that gerim's (Jews by choice/converts) biological parents (or whoever were their parental figures) are no longer halachically their parents. Obviously gerim become the ben/bat of Abraham and Sarah. I just had never considered the implications of being halachically separate from your parents and would like to hear about gerims' experience with this aspect of their life. Do gerim tell their parents this? How would one tell your parent's this?
What implications does this have in life cycle events- the chuppah, brit milah, saying kaddish?
Thank you for satisfying my curiosity!
I spend most of my spare time inventing stories, and one of these worlds is a sort of United Kingdom of Israel with '20s technology.
It is my understanding that driving is included in the 39 prohibitions, as well as "striking a spark", and many other activities vital to 20th century warfare.
How would an all-Jewish force, with no shabbos goy and a mega-Orthodox point of view, deal with these restrictions when conducting vital military operations that unavoidably spill over onto the Sabbath? In a Western-Front/counter-insurgency situation, I would imagine that these would be serious handicaps, although I guess the favour of the Almighty kind of evens things out =]
From my understanding, the only changes that are allowed to Jewish law is for more stringency i.e. building a "fence" around the Torah. Has there ever been a case in history where one of these "fences" has been removed? The best example I can think of would be reversing the chronology of Judaism going from polygamous to monogamous.