Judaism AMA

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,035
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Early Israel was substantially a Socialist country. Imagine that when US imposed an embargo about selling weapons to Middle East, Israel obtained weapons from USSR through Czechoslovakia. At the end, you know, Marx was a Jew ... even if not an Orthodox Jew [this is evident!].

About this, I can talk about the Italian Jewish community: it's overall Socialist. Italian Jews tend to vote Democrat and to be critical with Israeli right.

But the real comment about this is ... so what? Israel is a democracy [the only real democracy in Middle East, by the way ...].
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,551
Republika Srpska
A bit of a controversial question:

how is the Bible interpreted? I mean, do Judaism holds that events in the Bible really happened as described in the Bible? Or do they interpret it metaphorically?
 

JoanOfArc007

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
3,800
USA
Abraham also know I respect you, Im not challenging you on Judaism clearly you know of the Jewish religion more so then myself.

A few more questions I have,

Would a proper Jewish state have national healthcare, in other words free healthcare for all?

Would a proper Jewish state allow alcohol to be served in restaurants and for that matter bars and nightclubs to be open?
 
Jul 2019
592
New Jersey
I think I'm going to leave off of this debate on whether or not a Jewish State can recognize homosexual marriages. If the discussion concerned actual scholarship or historical discussion I would be fine with continuing it, but at the current rate we aren't getting anywhere. I say every Jewish thinker has been unambiguously opposed to homosexual behavior for the past three millennia; you point to the opinion of contemporary Jews (the vast majority of whom aren't religious) who support such legislation. I don't think this conversation has the potential to go much beyond that.

You know alot about Judaism it seems, do you speak fluent Hebrew if I may ask? Would you say in Judaism its a requirement to speak or learn Hebrew. Is Hebrew the language of the earliest Jews or was it a different language?
I would divide Hebrew into two general categories: old Hebrew and modern Hebrew (a linguist can tell you that "old Hebrew" itself has changed many times over the millennia, but that's not my point).

Old Hebrew is the language of the Bible and the prayers. While there is no absolute religious commandment to understand Hebrew (as indeed, many religious Jews don't), I would still say that it's pretty important that one learn it if he can, in order to better understand the Bible and prayers.

Modern Hebrew (the Hebrew you hear spoken on the streets of Israel) is different. It is essentially a modern version of Hebrew, designed to be a colloquial language in the modern world. Although it is clearly a version of Hebrew, it differs dramatically from old Hebrew in its grammar and pronunciation. As far as I'm concerned there's no religious value in knowing modern Hebrew. I, personally, am fluent in both Biblical and modern Hebrew.

Would a proper Jewish state have national healthcare, in other words free healthcare for all?
Not everything is purely about religion. Judaism is not a political manifesto. The pros and cons of any secular policy ought to be debated and legislated through the normal legislative channels. A Jewish state is definitely called upon to more caring than, say, Ayn Rand, but the particulars of what makes good policy ought to be up to the legislature.

Would a proper Jewish state allow alcohol to be served in restaurants and for that matter bars and nightclubs to be open?
The Jewish religion has no problem with alcohol in moderation. As far as nightclubs and pubs are concerned, I honestly don't know what goes on in them. Personally, I've never entered either kind of establishment. It goes against my personal sense of religious propriety, but it's highly unlikely to be so corrosive as to necessitate their legal closure. If there are highly sexualized shows or kids in drag then yeah, I'd say shut them down. Otherwise, what do I know? Different people do different things.
 
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Aug 2016
977
US&A
It seems like @JoanOfArc007 is trying to argue for a concept of Judaism that doesnt see homoxuality as a sin. I am not interested in arguing, but the this led me to think of another question.

I have seen other atheists like myself claiming there is little evidence in the bible to support the idea of homosexuality being sinful, and that there are many passages that seem to contradict each other.

You have said there are multiple passages in the Torah (and the other books?) condemning homosexuality. Would you name some of the ones that demonstrate this most obviously?
 
Jul 2019
592
New Jersey
I have seen other atheists like myself claiming there is little evidence in the bible to support the idea of homosexuality being sinful, and that there are many passages that seem to contradict each other.

You have said there are multiple passages in the Torah (and the other books?) condemning homosexuality. Would you name some of the ones that demonstrate this most obviously?
That seems to me to be a rather astonishing claim, considering as there are two verses in the Book of Leviticus that explicitly and quite harshly condemn homosexual activity between males. Leviticus 18:22 states "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. " Later on in the same book (20:13), the Bible lays out the penalty for homosexual activity: "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them."

(I should add that the Oral Torah limits the possibilities under which the death penalty may be administered for any crime, to the extent that a court which killed even once in 70 years was known as a "bloodthirsty court", so in this instance the penalty is more symbolic than actual).

In any event, that's prettty explicit. To the best of my knowledge there is no contradiction to this. The Mishna and Talmud reference the prohibition against homosexual activity dozens, if not hundreds, of times throughout those works. Maimonides included in his Mishneh Torah both the prohibition against both homosexual and lesbian relations. Here's his text about male homosexual activity (Laws of Forbidden Relations 1:14) and lesbian activity (ibid 21:8). Like I've said, if we go through the entire corpus of Jewish law I can find you thousands of references of this nature.

"When a man enters into relations with a male or has a male enter into relations with him, once the corona is inserted [into the anus] they should both be stoned if they are both adults. As [Leviticus 18:22] states: "Do not lie with a man," [holding one liable for the act, whether] he is the active or passive partner."

"Lesbian relations are forbidden. This is "the conduct of Egypt" which we were warned against, as [Leviticus 18:3] states: "Do not follow the conduct of Egypt." Our Sages said: What would they do? A man would marry a man, a woman would marry a woman, and a woman would marry two men.

Although this conduct is forbidden, lashes are not given for it, for it is not a specific prohibition and there is no intercourse at all. Therefore such women are not forbidden to marry into the priesthood as harlots, nor does a woman become prohibited to her husband because of this, for this is not considered harlotry. It is, however, appropriate to give them stripes for rebellious conduct because they performed a transgression. A man should take precautions with his wife with regard to this matter and should prevent women who are known to engage in such practices from visiting her and her from visiting them."



All this having been said, I would be greatly interested in hearing where this prohibition is contradicted. I would also add that the "contradictions" many people see in the Bible is due to their ignorance of the Oral Torah, which generally resolves these sorts of questions.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,800
SoCal
Abraham, I've got another question for you: Does your branch of Orthodox Judaism encourage people to have lots and lots of children? If so, are you personally planning to follow your movement's advice in regards to this--if this question is not too personal, that is?
 
Jul 2019
592
New Jersey
Abraham, I've got another question for you: Does your branch of Orthodox Judaism encourage people to have lots and lots of children? If so, are you personally planning to follow your movement's advice in regards to this--if this question is not too personal, that is?
Yes. I believe (as does most of my religious community) that bringing more God-fearing and decent human beings into this wretched world is one of the best things we can do to make it a better place. Humans are the greatest natural resource we have, and the more people we have who are living uprightly, honestly, and industriously, the better our world will be. For context, I'm from a family of 8; my wife's from a family of 12.

To answer your second question, let me just say that I'm 23 and already have a son and a daughter (my daughter was actually born two and a half weeks ago). I'll add that my financial situation and prospects are better than many others', so I can't say what I would believe (and do) if things were tighter.

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

These next two questions were addressed earlier, so I'm going to copy-paste my responses:

notgivenaway said:
Does Judaism believe in an afterlife, similar to Christianity or Islam?


One of my biggest pet peeves is this belief bandied about on the internet that Judaism doesn't believe in an afterlife. That's false, false, false, full stop. Not only does the Torah repeatedly refer dying as being "gathered to one's ancestors", but the Talmud (in numerous places, particularly the 11th Chapter of Tr. Sanhedrin) also deals extensively with matters pertaining to the afterlife. There is, however, some disagreement on what the World to Come is actually like.

To start with, there are alot of people, most of whom fall roughly in what you might call the antirationalist camp, believe that "elsewhere", those who died are reunited with some aspect or another of their earthly bodies and there rewarded or punished for their actions in this world. This is based on a parable attributed to R. Judah the Prince in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 91a) which goes as follows:

"A flesh-and-blood king has a beautiful orchard laden with luscious fruit. He appoints two guards, one lame and the other blind. The lame one says to the blind one: I see luscious fruit in the orchard. Put me on your shoulders and we will gather and eat. The lame man is hoisted up by the blind man, and they go to the fruit and eat. The owner of the orchard appears one day and asks: Where is my luscious fruit? The lame guard answers: Do I have legs to walk? The blind guard answers: Do I have eyes to see? What did [the king] do? He placed the lame guard on the shoulders of the blind guard and judged them as one. So God takes the soul, injects it into the body, and judges them as one."

The rationalists, led by Maimonides, reject this concept of post-mortem physical reward and punishment, and maintain that the reward and punishment received in the world to come is of a purely spiritual nature. They have Talmudic backing (Berachot 17a) as well: "In the World to Come there is no eating nor drinking nor propagation nor business nor jealousy nor hatred nor competition, but the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads feasting on the brightness of the divine presence."

Most contemporary Jews, including myself, ascribe to this second understanding of the afterlife, although there remains a fundamentalist minority who adhere to the first position.


Maki said:
How is the Bible interpreted? I mean, do Judaism holds that events in the Bible really happened as described in the Bible? Or do they interpret it metaphorically?
Here are two of my previous posts (both lightly edited for clarity and pertinence).

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. 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.
The story of Exodus is considered to be literally true. It is the founding story of the Jewish people, and throughout the Bible God and the prophets repeatedly invoke the Exodus as a debt which we owe God and must repay through following His laws. That said, some of the other stories, such as Adam, Eve, and the snake in the Garden are subject to dispute. I'd say the majority of religious authorities maintain that the stories are literally true, but there is a prominent minority (including Gersonides and possibly Maimonides as well) who consider this story an allegory to the human condition. I strike a middle ground. While I believe that the stories (with the exception of the story of Adam and Eve) are literally true to a certain degree, the method of their presentation also allude to deeper philosophical truths, and as such we can only infer their general historicity - not necessarily the historicity of each and every particular.
All this being said, the subject is rather controversial. In my opinion many people go overboard in both directions - the extreme literalists and the people who interpret everything as allegory. When I read the Bible I tend to focus more on the moral teaching than historical exegesis, and I happily accept that it is an incomplete historical source. That said, it's a fundamental of Judaism that the Bible is all true, even if its meaning is somewhat unclear.
 

Port

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
2,090
portland maine
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.
Parshot Vaethannan, Deuteronomy has Moses pleading to cross the Jordan River to enter the given land. God angrily says no and tells Moses not to bring up the issue again I never understood why? What would have happened if Moses lead the Israelites into the chosen land?.