Why Does God Test Us?

The following is adapted from Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed. The concept that God puts people through trials is the most debated idea in the entire Bible. Most people assume (incorrectly) that God afflicts individuals not in response to their own sins but to provide them with an opportunity to earn reward. Trials are discussed […]

Is “Spare the Rod Spoil The Child” Meant To Be Taken Literally?

Dear Jew in the City- I heard that hitting kids in schools is still legal in 19 states and that unfortunately some of the most insular schools in the Orthodox world still hit kids and justify it with a Proverbs verse. Is that really what it means? Sincerely, Outraged in Ohio Dear Outraged- (For the […]

Why Do Jewish Men Wear Yarmulkes (Kippahs)?

Dear Jew in the City, When and why did Jewish boys and men start wearing yarmulkes, and are there any circumstances when a yarmulke need not be worn? M.L. Dear M.L., The practice of wearing a yarmulke (kippah in Hebrew) is an ancient tradition that has its roots as a “middas chasiddus” (an act of piety) before […]

Does Judaism Believe In Witchcraft and Magic?

Dear Jew in the City, With Halloween coming up, I was wondering what the Jewish view on witchcraft and magic is. Is it mentioned anywhere in Jewish texts? Do you need to believe in it to be an observant Jew? The ancients might have believed in it, but we now know that magic is a […]

How Can I Believe That Jonah Was Swallowed By A Fish?

The book of Jonah tells the famous story of a big fish (not whale) swallowing Jonah for three days until the prophet emerged unscathed. To someone like me with more of skeptical point-of-view, this episode is hard to swallow. Jonah had fled from the land of Israel after God set for him an unpleasant task, […]

What Is The Jewish View on Ghosts?

The Ghostbusters franchise has come back from the dead, raising questions on what Judaism teaches about ghosts. According to the Torah, do ghosts haunt our society, crossing over from the dead to appear before and communicate with the living? Texts spanning millennia offer two different approaches within Jewish belief. Judaism teaches that death does not […]

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