Category Archives: Q/A

All questions and answers posted on Ask a Jew!

What is a High Sabbath?

For today’s question, we have the following.

What is the difference between a Sabbath day and a ‘High’ Sabbath day?

Question from Sherry

Thank you for the question and it is one you will find if you search for it you will find answers mostly from a Christian point of view. Within the typical Jewish faith and culture there isn’t a “High Sabbath” but you will find the closest term is Yamim Noraim or High Holy Days.

Yamim Noraim are important days within Jewish faith and culture which has their own rules and customs when it comes to those high holidays. Most High Holy Days most Jews will get involved with even if they are not that religious and are generally treated the same as if those days are the Sabbath

So what is a High Sabbath then? In short, it is a term found in Messianic Jewish and not one you will typically find within Judaism but they are days Messianic Jews and Christians treat the same as if it was the Sabbath.

So to answer the question – the difference is a “High Sabbath” is a day treated like the Sabbath within the Messianic Judaism faith but Judaism does have something much alike known as High Holy Days.

Polygamy within Judaism

Today I got a couple of questions from the same person but due to how my system works for how I get questions they will be answered out of order!

So today’s question is as follows.

My second question is, why are Jacov, David, Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Elkanah, Ashur, Caleb, Esau, Rehoboam, Lamech, Jehoiada, Abijah, and probably many I've not read about have multiple wives and G'd didn't tell them it was bad? Like, with Soloman G'd is angry because his wives have foreign gods he starts worshiping. 

But he's not angry that he has more than one wife. Abraham, Jacov and David and Moses appear to be very favoured in Yhwh's eyes. He said David is righteous, yet he has loads of wives. Moses was like one of the most holy, he wrote the tablets and went upon the hill directly with G'd... The ten commandments say don't commit adultery but that seems definitely not to apply here, because shortly after G'd gives rules to Moses about multiple wives. 

Basically, why do Jewish people now not seem to practice this now, compared to Muslims and other religions? I know Genesis 2 has the "one flesh" but it doesn't seem to be applying to just 2 people as G'd says in 2 Samuel 12:7-8 that he gave wives (as a gift) and would have given twice that many. Am I just missing some information about Jewish culture/a historical context.
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How long did it really take to make everything

Today’s question is regarding creation and just how long it took.

Do Jew believe G-d created the universe in 6 literal days as it is written or are they figurative days?

Sadly like many questions regarding the Torah you will find some will say yes, others will say no and very few are wrong based on the text within the Torah. How I am going to answer this is based on our modern understanding of science and further information we can find out within the Tanakh.

While it is true that it is written that it took six days for creation and we can confirm this via the word יום‎ or yom. The word yom is understood to mean “day” such as twenty four hours but it can also be read as a defined amount of time such as a year, seasons, eons and much longer defined time.

With this word alone we could make the debate that creation happened over six unknown amount of time and I would agree with this but what else is there to support this?

The next reason it is meaning an undefined amount of time is the order of creation itself suggest that an Earth’s day didn’t yet exist.

And G’d called the light day, and the darkness He called night, and it was evening and it was morning, one day.

Genesis 1:5

וַיִּקְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים | לָאוֹר֙ י֔וֹם וְלַח֖שֶׁךְ קָ֣רָא לָ֑יְלָה וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם אֶחָֽד:

This suggests that HaShem created the Earth first, then the Sun and then the Moon. Based on this alone it would be impossible for a twenty-hour cycle to have started yet.

I could go into a few more quotes about how time isn’t the same for ourselves and HaShem but I will leave it there to go back to the actual question – is it meant to be taken exactly as written?

Well, the answer there really is it’s up to you. There are two schools of understanding and evidence both ways that the first part of the Torah is meant to be understood as a moral lesson and that is why it is done like that while others debate it is written exactly like that so it should be understood exactly like that.

Just like the old saying goes – for every two Jews there will be three opinions. I hope it answers at least why you could see why it can be debated it took longer than six actual literal days.

Do Jews eat ducks?

Today’s question (and for those interested I am currently writing up another answer to a question likely out later in the week that I think you will find interesting) and it’s a simple one.

Do Jews eat ducks?

Yep, we do. Domestics ducks are kosher but I am not aware of how common it actually is eaten within Jewish households and there may be a reason for this – ducks are debated IF it is kosher. The reason for this is mostly due to the fact it is not outright said but ducks, at least to my understanding, are clean birds and ticks every box needed and thus is kosher.

You may hear some people debate that the “New Kings James” Bible (Christian) says ducks are swans but first that is a mistranslation and anytime you debate anything within Judaism it is best to look at the original Hebrew texts and not a translated version.

With that said if you are looking for a very well translated version of the Torah – I would recommend this version: The Hebrew Bible: by Robert Alter.

What is “Shavuot”?

Today’s question is

Message I was wondering if you could answer the following questions.

What is the Feast Of weeks? (Shavuot)

What is the significance of Shavuot?

What were the orders/instructions G’d gave the people for Shavuot?

(I want to apologize if I did not ask these questions properly or if I misspelled the words. My acts were not intentional.)

Question was slightly changed in order to write it as G’d out of respect.

Don’t worry about anything you may mis-spell you will often find a million different ways to spell things within Judaism due to different cultures.

What is the Feast Of weeks? (Shavuot)

Shavuot is one of the major festivals within Judaism which is held fifty days after the second day of Passover and there are two parts of it. The first is it used to be a festival regarding the end of barley harvest and the start of wheat and secondly, it marks the day Jews were given the Torah on Mount Sinai.

What is the significance of Shavuot?

What is more important than remembering the day we got the Torah? The sign outside of the harvest festival is we remember when we got the Torah and the importance it is to our lives and it is the exact moment HaShem and Israel sealed their covenant together for the rest of time.

What were the orders/instructions HaShem gave the people for Shavuot?

There isn’t really much we are told to do beyond customs but we commemorate the giving of the Torah by studying texts all night which is known as “Tikkun”. As it is originally a festival of harvest it is very common to decorate a house hold to bring “the outdoors to inside”.

Beyond that its mostly just to remember our covenant and the Torah. If I am missing something I will research further but there is nothing else we are told to outright do by HaShem.

The scrolls in the back

Today’s question is as below. For the three people still waiting for their question to be answered – I am in process of doing so.

What is written on the scrolls inside the Ark?

I am assuming you are speaking regarding the scroll found in the back of a Shul within the Ark and the answer is simple – it is the most important text of them all – the Torah!

I am going to link to a Wikipedia article that explains it in far more detail but in a nutshell it is a hand written copy of the Torah which is commonly known as the Sefer Torah.

Excluding commentary you can often find in a book form of the Torah (commonly called Chumash) they are the exact same between the books and the scrolls.

You can find more information about how it is made and much more on Wikipedia here: Sefer Torah.

The Jewish & Christian HaShem

Today’s question is an interesting one!

Hi, I am currently reading the bible and in the old testament right now. I was raised a Christian but am no longer religious.
I think the Old testament is not exactly the same as the Jewish version but still was hoping to get a Jewish perspective on something that I’m very curious about.
In the early books, God is portrayed as specifically interested in the Jewish people and it seems to me that God is seen as the Jewish God. Does that mean that Jews considered God to be exclusive to Jews? I mean, when Christians speak of God, do Jews consider that to not be the same deity?
I just don’t see anywhere so far where God is available to others. God may speak to others but it is always in the service of helping the Jews.
Thank you for addressing this. I hope it makes sense.

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