Judaism AMA

Jul 2019
107
New Jersey
#1
Hi!

I am an extremely religious Orthodox Jew with a higher than average religious education. As with all religions, there is a great deal of misinformation about the Jewish religion, its history, and its laws. So ask away, and I will answer to the best of my ability. Just realize that obviously Judaism - even orthodox Judaism - is not monolithic, and there are very frequently differences in opinion. I am expressing my own, although I will attempt to back it up with traditional sources (i.e. the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, Maimonides, etc). And just so you are forewarned - some answers may not be very popular. If you don't want to hear the answer, please don't ask the question.
 
Jul 2019
107
New Jersey
#3
Just to clarify, I'm not planning on being rude or mean, but if someone asks what Judaism's stance is on something it clearly forbids, I'm not going to hide that.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
33,712
T'Republic of Yorkshire
#4
Just to clarify, I'm not planning on being rude or mean, but if someone asks what Judaism's stance is on something it clearly forbids, I'm not going to hide that.
I wasn't targeting the warning specifically at you. But these kinds of topics have a habit of getting heated.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
26,214
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#5
Shalom Abraham.

I've got a cultural question [note that I'm a comparative theologian]: in my library at home there is the Babylonian Talmud. I have wondered several times how exactly is the Talmud in relations with the Torah [and enlarging the perspective the Tanakh]. Is there a hierarchy or in some way the Talmud can in some contexts be considered prevalent?
 
Mar 2019
1,244
Kansas
#6
Hi!

I am an extremely religious Orthodox Jew with a higher than average religious education. As with all religions, there is a great deal of misinformation about the Jewish religion, its history, and its laws. So ask away, and I will answer to the best of my ability. Just realize that obviously Judaism - even orthodox Judaism - is not monolithic, and there are very frequently differences in opinion. I am expressing my own, although I will attempt to back it up with traditional sources (i.e. the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, Maimonides, etc). And just so you are forewarned - some answers may not be very popular. If you don't want to hear the answer, please don't ask the question.
With the holy books at the core of your faith. Are they considered to be the inspired word of God or the inerrant word of God, or something else entirely. The story of Exodus. Is it expected to be taken as an article of faith, or is it seen as an allegory to explain some philosophical point of your faith?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
18,741
SoCal
#7
Serious question: Once technology will evolve up to the point that two or more men could reproduce without the help of any woman (and likewise allow two or more women to reproduce without the help of any man), what is the halakhic status of any resulting children going to be? I mean, such children are going to have two or more genetic fathers but no genetic mothers, and Jewish status is traditionally passed down through the mother.

*Note: This will become possible once we are able to create artificial eggs from male DNA and artificial sperm from female DNA. (We're not allowed to talk about genetics on this forum, but I am simply talking about the application of DNA to reproduction here--so I hope that this is broad enough that I don't get in trouble for mentioning it here.)
 
Jun 2018
471
New Hampshire
#8
Hi!

I am an extremely religious Orthodox Jew with a higher than average religious education. As with all religions, there is a great deal of misinformation about the Jewish religion, its history, and its laws. So ask away, and I will answer to the best of my ability. Just realize that obviously Judaism - even orthodox Judaism - is not monolithic, and there are very frequently differences in opinion. I am expressing my own, although I will attempt to back it up with traditional sources (i.e. the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, Maimonides, etc). And just so you are forewarned - some answers may not be very popular. If you don't want to hear the answer, please don't ask the question.
Greetings, welcome to Historum.

As a Christian, I have always been very much fascinated with Orthodox Judaism since the Christian faith has its roots in the Jewish religion and the Torah.

So my question is, what is the Orthodox Jewish doctrine of the afterlife?

And also, I've noticed in the news that Orthodox Jewish communities don't always look favorably on archaeological excavations in Israel since these are iftem seen as disrespectful to the dead. Is this the standard Orthodox position? Or are there some in the Orthodox Jewish community who support archaeology as a method of studying the Hebrew past?
 
Likes: Futurist
Jul 2019
107
New Jersey
#9
@AlpinLuke

I'll preface my response by defining a few terms before we begin. The first and most confusing term is Torah itself, because on the one hand it is commonly used as a catch-all term to denote any Jewish teaching, but on the other hand it is more narrowly defined as the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). For the purpose of this post I'm going to use the latter definition. The Torah is deemed, in classical Judaism, to be the literal word of God to Moses (with the exception of the last several verses), and is the ultimate source for Jewish law (With regards to @MG1962a's question, I will address the question of literalism in a future post). The Torah, however, is only a small part of the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh - what Christians call the Old Testament). The remainder of the Bible is not considered the direct word of God, but rather books written by men with the assistance of a divine spirit. As such, the remainder of the Tanakh holds lots of ethical, but little legislative value. All of this is known as the Written Torah.

However, when one looks at the Torah, one finds it to be terribly vague as a legal code. Complex legal subjects are addressed in few words, which of course leaves a tremendous amount of questions as to the Law's legal parameters. In Jewish tradition, the Written Torah is only one component of the law God gave to Moses - the rest of the law, orally transmitted by the prophets and priests, is known as the Oral Torah. The Written Torah is only the tip of the iceberg; I once saw a good description of the relation between the Written and Oral Torahs by Samson Raphael Hirsch, where he said that the Written Torah is basically the "notes" to the "lecture" of the Oral Torah.

In any event, the Oral Torah was transmitted orally for over 1,000 years. However, by the year 200 CE Judah the Prince, leader of the Jewish nation in Judea, realized that due to the Roman persecution of the Jewish people the Oral Torah would be forgotten if it wasn't written down. Accordingly, he redacted the Mishna, which was a summary of the Oral Torah and the disagreements over its interpretation over the past three centuries. However, the Mishna was written to be memorized, also in a rather terse style, and so it fell to Judah the Prince's students and basically the next two centuries of scholars to write elaborations on the Mishnaic text. These elaborations form the bulk of the two Talmuds, the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds.

Thus, the Talmud forms the basis for our interpretation of the Oral Torah as expressed in the Mishnah, which is itself a clarification of the Written Torah's laws. The Talmud has many different opinions on all sorts of things, so it's impossible to take a single Talmudical passage as completely authoritative, but taken as a whole the Talmudic corpus is the foundation for Orthodox Jewish law. Hope that was clear enough.

------------------------------------

Wow! So many questions so quickly! Don't worry guys, I'll get to you all, but just give me time. It takes time to write quality responses. A chicken lays an egg every day, but it takes a human nine months to have a child. I hope my reponses will be more like kids than chickens. ;)
 
Jul 2019
107
New Jersey
#10
Serious question: Once technology will evolve up to the point that two or more men could reproduce without the help of any woman (and likewise allow two or more women to reproduce without the help of any man), what is the halakhic status of any resulting children going to be? I mean, such children are going to have two or more genetic fathers but no genetic mothers, and Jewish status is traditionally passed down through the mother.

*Note: This will become possible once we are able to create artificial eggs from male DNA and artificial sperm from female DNA. (We're not allowed to talk about genetics on this forum, but I am simply talking about the application of DNA to reproduction here--so I hope that this is broad enough that I don't get in trouble for mentioning it here.)

That question's well above my pay grade. When the issue becomes a reality I'm sure the leading halakhists will hash it out between themselves. Basically, I don't know. It's a complicated question.
 
Likes: Futurist

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