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There are two verses in 1 Samuel I have wrestled with for a while now. In 1 Samuel 15 (ESV): 10 The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night. and 35 And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel. The word regret bothered me. I wondered, if God is omnipotent and omniscient, how is it that He could regret something? It seemed contradictory to the notion of a perfect God. Regret to me is something that you feel when you have made an error, and I feel like God shouldn't be making errors. So I didn't know what do to with these verses. But after meditating on this on and off for over a year: I came to a conclusion, and I wanted to validate whether it is in line with scripture or not. My realization was: perhaps the reason why God can have regret is that something else is more important than Saul's obedience. In God's creation, He created us with free will (although I know there is debate about that). But if I assume that the free will of man is a part of God's (perfect) creation, then can we make sense of God's regret with respect to Saul as an indicator that the free will of man is so important and essential to his creation, and so perfect in His eyes, that He affirms and upholds it, and as a consequence, must suffer disappointment? So rather than force Saul (or any man) to behave a certain way, like a celestial puppet master, He leaves us be, and as a consequence can still be a perfect being, but suffer regret. So now, in my own head, I think of those versus of an affirmation of the importance and perfection of the free will of man. But I would love to know if that conclusion I came to is Biblically sound or not. Thank you!

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Shalom aleichem Rabbi Lauffer. Thank you for answering my last question. Rashi explains that Egyptian women were black and ugly. Why then, was it such a nisayon for Yosef to resist the seduction of Potiphar's wife to sleep with him, to the point where his only recourse was to release his zerah by stuffing his fingers into the ground? Why was it such a nisayon to resist such an ugly woman? Do any of the meforshim address this? Thanks.

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The text of the 10 commandments differs in parshas Yisro and Eschanan. What are the accepted explanations for the differences. Which text was actually written on the luchos? Is there an opinion that 1 was the text on the 1st luchos and the other on the 2nd luchos?   Another question. I know several people who passed away without children - distant relatives and friends. Is there any inyan for me to light a yarhzeit light for them on their yarhzeit or is it only for the children to do? Many thanks

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Hi Rabbi, I read somewhere about the “Oral Law” being part of the Torah. Where did it come from and why is it needed in addition to the written Torah that we have? Thanks in advance.

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What is the Hebrew translation for Ezekiel 48:15? In the KJV: Ezekiel 48:15 KJV - And the five thousand, that are left in the breadth over against the five and twenty thousand, shall be a profane [place] for the city, for dwelling, and for suburbs: and the city shall be in the midst thereof. Ezekiel 48:16 KJV - And these [shall be] the measures thereof; the north side four thousand and five hundred, and the south side four thousand and five hundred, and on the east side four thousand and five hundred, and the west side four thousand and five hundred. None of the other common translations define this portion of the city as profane, so could you provide me the Hebrew translation of this verse? Based on all of the other translations I checked, it seems this is not only not correct but a huge distortion of an accurate interpretation.  

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I recently found this idea during Talmud studies with some friends. Rambam's statements seem to indicate that no human can alter or create new laws contrary to Hashem's eternal written Torah laws. Your insight would be greatly appreciated. Mishneh Torah, Foundations of the Torah 9 “It is a clear and manifest principle concerning the Torah that as a Law it is permanently established forever and ever more; and that it is not subject to mutability, nor to diminution, nor to amendment; for it is said: "All this word which I command you, that shall ye observe to do; thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it" (Ibid. 13.1); and it is further said: "But the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Ibid. 29.28). Here from we learn that according to all the words of the Torah we are commanded to do forever. It is, moreover, said: "a statute forever throughout your generations" (Num. 15:15); and again, it is said: 1See Bava Mezi’a 59b:5. C. "It is not in heaven" (Deut. 30:12); here from we learn that no prophet is thereafter permitted to make any innovation. Therefore, should a man rise up, whether he be from among the Gentiles or whether from among Israel, and deliver a token and perform a miracle saying, that God hath sent him to add a commandment, or to diminish a commandment, or to interpret a certain commandment of among the commandments with such interpretation as we have not heard by tradition (statute) from Moses; or he said, that these commandments with which Israel was charged are not forever and throughout all generations, but that they were commandments in keeping with those times only, behold him, he is a false prophet, seeing that he came to deny the prophecy of Moses; and his punishment is death by strangulation, because he willfully spoke in the name of God concerning that which He did not charge him; for He, blessed is He! commanded Moses, saying, that this enactment was "unto us and unto our children forever" (Deut. 29:28); and, "God is not a man that He should lie" (Num. 23:19). But, why then is it said in the law: I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren LIKE UNTO THEE, (Deut. 18:18)? The answer is, that he (the prophet) is not to come to establish any new law, but only to enjoin the observation of the existing law, and to warn the people that they should not trespass against it; just as the last of the prophets said: Remember ye the law of Moses, my servant, (Mal. 3:22). Moreover, if he (the prophet) were to charge us with anything respecting private matters; as, for instance: go into that place, or do not go; join battle today, or do not join battle; build this wall, or do not build it; we are likewise' commanded to hearken unto him. And he who trespasses against his words, will be visited with punishment of death by Heaven, for it is said; IM And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which he shall speak in My name, I WILL REQUIRE IT OF HIM, (Deut. 18:19) Moreover, a prophet who trespasses against his own words, or suppresses his prophecy, will likewise be visited with punishment of death by Heaven; and it is with regard to these three cases, that it is said: I will require it of him. Also, if a prophet, whom we know to be a prophet, were to tell us that we should trespass against any one of the commandments stated in the law, or even against several commandments, whether they be slight or important ones, for a certain time only; we are commanded to hearken unto him. For thus we are taught by the sages of old, who received traditionally: “In everything that the prophet bids thee trespass against the words of the law, as in the case of Elijah on mount Carmel, (as recorded in (I Kings 18), hearken unto him except in matters of idolatry.” This bidding of the prophet, however must be an exceptional one for present circumstances, as was with Elijah on mount Carmel, namely, when he offered a burnt offering without Jerusalem, though that city alone was chosen for this purpose, and though he who offers a sacrifice without Jerusalem deserves Careth (excision); but notwithstanding this, because he was a prophet, we were commanded to hearken unto him; for in such cases Scripture says: Unto him ye shall hearken, (Deut. 18: 15). Now had one asked Elijah and said unto him: “How can we break that which is written in the law: that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest, (Deut. 12: 13)?” he would have answered thus: Scripture only says that he who always offers sacrifices without Jerusalem is guilty of Careth (excision) to be cut off, as Moses has commanded us; but as for myself, I shall offer a sacrifice without Jerusalem this day only, [and this I do] by the command of the Lord, in order to refute the prophets of Baal. And in this manner any one of the prophets order us to transgress a commandment temporarily, we are commanded to hearken unto him; but if he says that the thing is to be broken forever, he renders himself amenable to death by strangulation; for the law says: Unto us and to our children FOR EVER, (Deut. 29:28). And in like manner if he (the prophet) propose to break any of the ordinances which we have learned by tradition (statute); or if he say, with respect to any point of the law, that the Lord had made known to him that such was the decision, or that [in any rabbinical controversy] the point ought to be decided by the opinion of such and such a person; (Bava Metzia 86a:7) that man is a false prophet, and amenable to death by strangulation, although he performs a sign; for he came to deny the law, which says: It is not in Heaven, (Deut. 30:12); but in temporary matters we must hearken unto him in everything. The above, however, applies only to all other commandments; but as regards matters of idolatry, we do not hearken unto him, even temporarily. And were he even to perform great signs and wonders, yet if he say that the Lord commanded him that some idol should be worshipped, though for that day only, or for that hour only—then this man has spoken to turn you away from the Lord, and with respect to such a one Scripture commands as follows: And the sign or the wonder come to pass...Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet...Because he hath spoken TO TURN YOU AWAY FROM THE LORD YOUR GOD, (Deut. 13: 2, 3, 5). For behold! this man came to deny the prophecy of Moses; and therefore we know for a certainty that he is a false prophet, and that which he performed was done by deception and illusion, and he has rendered himself amenable to death by strangulation. B”H  

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Dear Rabbi, I found a prophecy in Isaiah that I thought might be speaking about the recent return of the Jews from Britain and the English Empire. The verse says, “For the isles will hope for Me, and the ships… to bring your sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them, in the name of the Lord your God and for the Holy One of Israel, for He has glorified you.” (60:9) It seems to me that this refers to the return of the Jewish people to their homeland "Israel" by ships and would be about their return after 1948. And it seems to me that the "isle" in this verse is "Britain." Britain is an isle and I am not aware of the Jewish people ever returning to their homeland in ships from any other nation. Am I on to something, Rabbi? Thanks!

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Greetings,   I was working with a man years ago in NJ, and he was Jewish. We talked often about our faith, I myself a Catholic. Once we were talking about Isaiah and I mentioned how we used this book as a prophesy for Jesus. He told me once that they didn't delve into the book of Isaiah and I was wondering if I misunderstood.