theology - Why would Pharaoh's heart be made כבד by G-D?

I've always loved the account of the 10 plagues (who doesn't?), but I always felt a little odd about the several times (7, in fact) Pharoah's heart was made "hard/heavy" by G-d because I'm a strong believer in free-will, and that didn't seem fair/just to me. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that Pharaoh was a good guy -- he was given plenty of chances, and time and time again, he was stubborn and did not obey G-d, but this makes it all the more peculiar to me. Why would G-d need to make Pharaoh's heart heavy if it already was? For years, I j...Read more

theology - Range of G-d's educational methods in the Torah

It is a positive Mitzvah to "emulate G-d's ways" (Rambam Deot, 1). To be a better father to my kids, I'm trying to see what educational methods does G-d exercise in the Torah to His sons when they misbehave.As we can see the Torah testifies that the Jews weren't very obedient, to say the least. And G-d reacted to they misdeeds very promptly. Strangely, it appears to come down to two methods: G-d gets furious and kills his naughty sons immediately or He tells others (Moses, other nations, plagues) to kill them. E.g. the Golden Calf, Aharon's son...Read more

theology - How can God be just in light of Deuteronomy 23:3?

Deuteronomy 23:3: A bastard shall not enter into the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation shall none of his enter into the assembly of the LORD.I asked a similar question here - Why can't an illegitimate child enter the temple?But perhaps I did not clarify myself enough and got answers that explained the verse without addressing the goodness of God issue.So here I ask again.How is it just to punish a child (in any way, be that entering congregation or something else) who did not have any participation in the sin?Looking at it i...Read more

theology - Why did the Davidic dynasty need to come from questionable relations?

On the one side of the family, we have the union between Tamar and Yehudah, which, while technically a fulfillment of Yibum, Yehudah thought she was a harlot. From this union came Peretz (Bereishis 38:15-29), the forebear of David HaMelech (Rus 4:18-22). On the other side of the family, we have Rus, a descendant of Moav. He was born from the union of Lot with his eldest daughter (Bereishis 19:36-37).Continuing down the line, David himself married Bas Sheva, after seeing her beauty and sending her husband Uziah to the front lines of the war to b...Read more

theology - How can G-d fight other gods?

During Passover, we read the following passage, from Exodus 12:12: וְעָבַרְתִּי בְאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בַּלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה, וְהִכֵּיתִי כָל בְּכוֹר בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מֵאָדָם וְעַד בְּהֵמָה וּבְכָל אֱלֹהֵי מִצְרַיִם אֶעֱשֶׂה שְׁפָטִים, אֲנִי יי.‏ And God said, "I will go through the land of Egypt on that night… and I will mete out justice against all the gods of Egypt. I the Eternal.God Himself is saying that He will fight other gods. How can God fight other gods, if other gods don't exist?...Read more

theology - How can we know God?

How can we know God? Isn't God unknowable? We learn and study and follow God's commands and pray, but how do we know God (as opposed to what God wants)?What is a true way to know GOD better? Which commands in Torah are related to my question?...Read more

theology - Measuring the universe in G-d's cubits (Eruvin 21a)

In the following passage (Eruvin 21a in William Davidson edition) the sages try to determine the size of the Torah scroll that Zachariah saw in his prophecy: In order to determine the measure of God’s cubit, the Gemara cites a verse that describes the size of the span between God’s thumb and little finger (in a manner of speaking). And it is written: “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure” (Isaiah 40:12). If the entire world measures one sq...Read more

theology - Does G-d's closeness necessitate anthropomorphism?

A big part of our Jewish theology and philosophy is based on our desire to be closer to G-d (hope it's accepted unanimously). All of our analogies are built around the personification of G-d, whether we refer to Him as the Master/the King, the Father or the Spouse.But let's try to visualize a greater view of G-d, like Rambam's. Let's imagine that we relate to G-d as amebas or ants relate to us. In this view, all the aforementioned analogies are invalid and irrelevant as our scopes of intelligence are incompatible. And, therefore, no communicati...Read more

theology - Please specify the identity and function of Metatron in Judaism

The title is pretty much self-explanatory. I know that Christianity doesn't support the existence of Metatron, as the Scripture in which Metatron is mentioned isn't a part of the Christian Bible. However, some branches of Jewish liturgy might (I don't know so I am asking) bear more specification on this fascinating subject. Please specify the first mention (chronologically) of the Metatron in the Scripture and comprehensively present his role in the grand scheme of things.Thank you in advance....Read more

theology - Where is Heaven located?

God is infinite, omnipresent, beyond time and space, but what about angels and heaven? Surely they have limitations with regard to time and space? In the (Tehilas hashem) siddur, before Shema, it says: "and the ophanim and the holy chayot [angels] with mighty sound rise towards the seraphim and facing them offer praise: Blessed be the glory..."Doesn't this demonstrate some sort of spatial placement? So where is Beis Din Shel Maalo located?...Read more

theology - Does Hashem care about Halachah Lemaase?

Upfront: this is a metaphysical/theological questionIn many (almost all?) areas of Jewish practice, there are a number of different and at times diametrically opposed opinions as to what the practice should be. Even if say that all opinions are true (eilu veilu) in some sense, we can only do one thing in practice, and hence one of the opinions is chosen to be halacha lemaase [of course different individuals/groups may choose different opinions as their halacha lemaase, as decided by the posek they ask].My question is - after 120, does G-d care ...Read more