Are answers based on the Samaritan Pentateuch considered as being answers?

I don't think we'd allow answers based on the New T.

Case in point: This answer. Fascinating answer, but not based on traditional sources.

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    I look forward to seeing the answers from more experienced MYodeans. I thought this was a Jewish site and have never heard of the Samaritan Pentateuch being a relevant text in our tradition. But I have to admit that I don't know much about the Samaritans, didn't know they had a Pentateuch and look forward to learning more about them. This being said, if we started to have too many of these questions/answers on the site, it would significantly diminish its value for me as a learning experience
    – mbloch
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 9:30
  • @mbloch - couldn;t have said it better. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 10:11
  • Relieved.... for one minute I wondered if you were wearing a Samaritan Shtreimel on your MY pic :->
    – mbloch
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 10:13
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    See meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/q/1298 and its answers. Oh, and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samaritan_Pentateuch
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 13:26
  • Do we need/want to make a difference between streams within Judaism (e.g., Orthodox, Conservative, Reform) and outside/peripheral to Judaism (e.g., Samaritans, Karaites)?
    – mbloch
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 13:30
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  • @Daniel many thanks, I saw this, but for me there is a very big difference between discussing Jewish perspectives incl. non-Orthodox ones, and discussing non-Jewish perspectives. The former rely on an agreed corpus of law (Written, Oral, halakhic development through the poskim), the latter often rely on the Torah and different developments of it (if at all). Makes it hard to relate/discuss
    – mbloch
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 16:14
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    Interestingly, according to Wikipedia (more-definitive sources welcome!), Samaritans don't consider themselves Jewish but Karaites do. Whether a group's claims about their Judaism (or lack thereof) are relevant is a different question, but I'm just putting that out there. I don't think we really want to get into "who is a Jew" questions, but if a group has already said they're not, are they in scope? (OTOH, question scope and answer scope might be different, hence this wafflng comment.) Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 16:29
  • I've pinged the author of the linked answer to make him aware of this discussion. (I don't think he's been on meta yet.) I'm hoping he can clear up the question of whether Samaritans hold that they practice Judaism. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 17:58
  • @mbloch There's really nothing to worry about in terms of your overall experience meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/1298/… (unless you can't be happy on a site where only 95% of posts are interesting)
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 18:06
  • @DoubleAA no worries and thanks - I was making a point of principle - it's been a wonderful experience so far
    – mbloch
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 18:11
  • @MonicaCellio I think the answer to your questions was provided above from Wikipedia. Samaritans do not say that they practice Judaism (Karaites indeed do). They simply say that they practice the most original form of Torah observance. This is why they do not accept NK. They only have a different book of Joshuah. But they do observe passover (which is most significant difference) and other Torah commandments (Shabbat, Mezuzot et.c) so that indeed makes them most observant of all Jewish sects. They do call themselves Jewish if i am not mistaken. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 21:43
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    @AleksandrSigalov I am sorry that you feel excluded by this site, which -- as a site about modern Judaism -- does take into account the whole of traditional Judaism, including Nach and the oral torah and the subsequent halachic literature. Even though not everything here will apply to you, I hope you can feel comfortable participating in the parts that do. We also have Jews from non-Orthodox movements that understand the oral law and halacha differently and even though not everything here applies to them, some does and I think they're engaging with that. I hope you can make a home here too. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 22:21
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    Thank you @MonicaCellio. I appreciate it. I try to be respectful and I always back up my statements with verses from the Written Torah. Unfortunately I got lot's of down-votes here. I also published and translated Dead Sea Scrolls: Here is a link to my site. I hope you will find it useful: link All available DSS fragments of the Written Torah do not contain any significant differences so they are useless for the most part. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 22:45
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    Neither Karaites nor Samaritans are "those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more [about Jewish law and tradition]. They are not our target audience and don't belong on this site.
    – LN6595
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 19:15

2 Answers 2


I think that we should not accept answers that draw religious authority from sources not known to be Jewish (which includes those known not to be Jewish). Who is (or isn't) Jewish can be a thorny problem and I am not talking about Jewish pluralism here, but if a group does not even claim to be Jewish, that would seem to qualify as a "no". (Claiming to be Jewish might not be enough for "yes", but our community should discuss specific cases as they come up.)

However, answers that use information from such sources, without treating them as authoritative for Judaism, are ok. (Of course sources should be clearly disclosed, but that's true for everybody.) These might or might not be good answers; that's what votes are for.


  • A halacha answer based on the gospels or Christian theologians: no

  • A history answer about second-temple-era Pesach practices based on the gospels as historical accounts: yes

  • A history answer about second-temple-era Pesach practices based on Josephus: yes

  • A halacha answer based on Samaritan sources: no (because they don't claim to be Jewish)

  • A halacha answer based on Karaite sources: I don't know, see also here

  • A halacha answer based on J4J sources: no (they claim to be Jewish but we explicitly reject their claim)

  • A Tanakh text-interpretation answer based on rabbinic tradition: yes, duh (this is just here for context)

  • A Tanakh text-interpretation answer based on analysis of ancient languages, lexicons, and other secular linguistic work: yes

  • A Tanakh text-interpretation answer based on the Samaritan Pentateuch, Dead Sea Scrolls, or other contemporary sources: yes

  • A Tanakh text-interpretation answer based on faulty translations such as some Christian ones: yes, but downvote (wrong answers are still answers)

  • Any answer based on known-fraudulent sources: no (we should not be a platform for spreading such material, even if heavily downvoted)

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    Do Samaritans not claim to be Jewish? I thought they thought they are traditional Judaism and what we practice is a version which was messed up a while back by 'that evil King David' who moved the focus of Judaism to Jerusalem.
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 17:37
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    @DoubleAA hmm, I see what you mean. I thought they claimed to be, basically, the true heirs, "unlike the people practicing Judaism as we know it", but if they claim that they are in fact practicing Judaism and the rest of us are the ones who shouldn't be using that word, then that would muddy the waters. I was unable to find anything that speaks with authority from their community -- perhaps our Samaritan-knowledgable newcomer can help. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 17:41
  • I guess it depends how 'semantics' we want to be. They think they are practicing the correct version of my religion. They probably wouldn't want to use the word "judaism" to describe it, because it derives from 'judah' who they think messed everything up. Is our site about "judaism" the word, or the religion which most of us call "judaism"?
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 17:42
  • I assume you mean "Judaism" and not "is a Jew", right? (The rest of this comment assumes as much.) "A halacha answer based on J4J sources: no (they claim to be Jewish but we explicitly reject their claim)": if so, we're going by what we consider Judaism and not what claims to be Judaism, which leads back to the meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/q/1298 question.
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 21:05
  • @msh210 I mean "Judaism", yes. For J4J I'm saying that even though they claim to be practicing Judaism, in their specific case we reject their claim and don't allow, because it's so egregious. Nobody else within the Jewish community counts them as a Jewish group, while lots of people do count Conservative, Chabad, Reform, and others (even with plenty of disagreement about specific beliefs and practices). That's my read on the community, not an attempt to change policy, so if I've misunderstood, I'm certainly open to correction! I think we've deleted J4J stuff in the past. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 21:18
  • Yeah, perhaps we need to special-case J4J.
    – msh210 Mod
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 21:21
  • Samaritans have a very ancient claim to being "Israelite." Jews claim to be Jewish, as in part of Judea, and so i don't know if we need to distinguish the two. It's possible that they til this very day are practicing an ancient Israelite religion that Judea may have one point been a part of. So while they don't claim to be Jewish, they claim to be Israelite, and while we claim to be Jewish, we also claim to be Israelite. So if we want to move form with the claim that we are Israelites, then Samaritans, and their pentateuch should be considered valid in my book
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 19:34
  • Otherwise we should claim to just be Jewish, and draw a clear separation between us and Israelites
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 19:35

As far as I know, this meta post is our canonical post about the on-topic-ness of non-rabbinic Judaism. There doesn't seem to be a clear-cut consensus on the topic, but msh210's answer to the question does provide a guideline that AFAIK we generally follow. The answer there quotes an answer to a different question which says:

Thus, it cannot be "Can someone explain this practice of Mysect Judaism?" where Mysect Judaism lacks Jewish-tradition-based sources that discuss the question.

msh210 continues to say:

As far as I can tell from what little I know about Karaite Judaism, that last paragraph applies to its practices directly where such practices differ from mainstream Judaism's, or at least to most such. Definitely this can be decided on a case-by-case basis, though.

The above post is talking about questions rather than answers but I think it can be generalized to answers as well. If questions about non-rabbinic Judaism are out-of-scope when they ask about such practices as differ from mainstream Judaism, so too answers from the perspective of non-rabbinic Judaism are out-of-scope when that perspective differs from non-mainstream Judaism. I think that will include pretty much all answers from the perspective of non-rabbinic Judaism since if that perspective agreed with the traditional perspective, there would be no reason to answer from the non-rabbinic perspective.

  • No need to extrapolate. msh210's original discussion discusses answers in detail.
    – Double AA Mod
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 15:01

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