Related: What should we do with "does Judaism permit this random special case that I won't elaborate on" questions?

A website promoting a religion other than Judaism has a statement claiming that a Jewish source exists claiming something that appears to conveniently support their own religion (and for which I can find no actual support in Judaism). I contacted that site and asked them for a citation to a Jewish source for the assertion (e.g. a specific Rabbi, Talmud passage, etc.), and they replied (!), stating that they did not know the specific Jewish source and that their source was a claim by one of their own leaders that such a Jewish source existed. That leader is long dead and unavailable for comment.

Would it be appropriate to ask on this site about whether such a source exists, even if it represents a minority view? How can I phrase such a question? E.g. "The XYZ Temple of the Holy Idol of Saturday Shellfish claims that many Jews at the time of King David believed that it was ok to do X and Y if Z condition was met. All of the Jewish sources I can find indicate that X and Y have always been forbidden even if Z - is there a Jewish source claiming otherwise?"

I know that one of the close reasons here is "Questions about comparative religion, and questions about what others have written about Judaism, are off-topic on Mi Yodeya. This includes any question that requires of its answerers any knowledge of a religion besides Judaism.", but I'm not sure if it really applies in this case as the question is not about the claim on the non-Jewish site (e.g. the nature of the claim, how it should be interpreted, when it was first published in the literature of that religion, etc.), but is only using the claim to ask a question about Judaism and provide support as to why the question is interesting, relevant, or worth answering.

Yes, I have thought about simply asking the question - "Does a Jewish source exist claiming X?" but I am afraid that such a question would be poorly-received and gather comments asking me why I would ask such a weirdly specific question and what would make me believe X could possibly be the case to begin with.

1 Answer 1


I don't think there is anything wrong with such a question, provided that it meets the general standards of Mi Yodeya questions.

That means, among other things, that it is on topic (it is a question about Judaism), it is reasonably answerable, it can be answered factually (e.g. by citing sources) rather than by opinions, it is not too broad or too limited, it doesn't require knowledge of other religions, the nature of the question is appropriate (some topics are considered inappropriate to be discussed in a public forum), etc.

The fact that the motivation for your question may be something you read or heard in a strange place does not invalidate the question. The question could exist without specifying where you are coming from. In that sense, disclosing your source is actually helpful because if you just posted the question in a vacuum it would likely receive comments asking you to explain why you are asking this. Being upfront about it saves everyone time/effort. And telling us where you are coming from can help with the answer as well – for example, if you were to ask a question and begin by saying "I saw Alex state that Judaism believes XYZ" someone might answer you by saying "I have caught Alex dozens of times inventing things about Judaism; there is little reason to take his claims seriously."

You should keep in mind though, that this type of question is often harder to answer. If you ask if there is any source in Judaism for XYZ, even if no one can find such a source it does not mean that there is not a source. It is almost impossible to prove a negative. Often the best answer you will receive will just say "I searched through XYZ, ABC, and LMN and could find no such thing" or "Rabbi So-and-So wrote/said that there is no such thing." These answers are perhaps partial or inconclusive but sometimes that's all the information available. (See here for more about this.)

In sum, we welcome all questions that are on-topic, polite, and well-written, and hope that you stick around and ask us the questions that you have, and we hope that the community here will be able to help you. Even if a specific question ends up being inappropriate for the site it is a relatively simple matter to close and/or delete it if necessary, so that shouldn't discourage you from asking.

The above, of course, is my own feeling on this matter. If it is not representative of the community, I'm sure it will get downvoted and someone else will offer a different answer.

  • 1
    אל תהי רשע בעיניך
    – DonielF
    Commented Jul 4, 2018 at 16:05

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