Are questions about non-rabbinic forms of Judaism (Karaite, Sadducee, Essene, etc.) in scope here?

I've added a tag () to at least group these questions. It would be great if someone with privileges can add relevant synonyms of the sects.

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What synonyms would you like added? Tell me here in a comment. (Others can suggest things too.) – Double AA Mar 10 '13 at 18:35
    
@DoubleAA You should add 'karaite-judaism', 'sadducee-judaism', 'haymanot', 'hellenistic-judaism', and consider 'Samaritanism', but I'm not sure if that one is on topic. I did not include 'essene-judaism' because as far as I know that was a type of Rabbinic Judaism - but maybe it should be included anyway. Maybe also 'beta-israel'. – Ariel Mar 10 '13 at 20:10
    
I think Samaritan is certainly worthy to be included. There might (for example) be a question about Samaritans and Rosh Chodesh. I wonder whether Samaritans, though, should get tagged with samaritan-judaism or just samaritan. – Charles Koppelman Mar 10 '13 at 22:40
    
@DoubleAA I think 'essene-judaism' and also 'qumran' and 'dead-sea-scrolls' – Charles Koppelman Mar 11 '13 at 1:35
    
@DoubleAA There is an existing tag 'ethiopian-beta-israel' which may need to be merged. – Ariel Mar 11 '13 at 9:32
    
Since Karaites are considered Jews according to Sephardic halacha, because they are quoted by Saddiah Gaon in instances in which he agrees, but mostly when he disagrees, i think they are on topic. Although i think they are outside the realm of expertise of most of our users. – Aaron Dec 6 '15 at 8:16
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@Aaron "Since Karaites are considered Jews according to Sephardic halacha...i think they are on topic" That doesn't follow. Jews aren't on topic. Judaism is. The fact that a certain person is a Jew doesn't make questions about that person's religion on topic and certainly not questions about them. – Double AA Jan 14 at 17:50
    
@Ariel: The Yerushalmi calls the Boethians the "Beis Issiim". And that closes the gap between Josephus's list of the major movements of the day with the names of movements our sages drop. But if that's true, the Essenes were not a rabbinic Judaism. – Micha Berger Feb 24 at 16:38

See the answers to this question, which do not discuss non-rabbinic Judaism specifically, but whose points can be expanded to them. My own answer there says:

The question asks:

1. Are questions asked from the perspective of, or about, a particular movement on-topic? Always? Only halachic movements like Conservative? Never; this is an Orthodox site?

Monica Cellio's answer (hereinafter "MC" (just for ease and WADR)):

Asking questions about, or from the perspective of, any Jewish movement or community should be permitted.

I agree in general, but we need a question to be answerable and (as the FAQ list says) "for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more".

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

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.

Compare http://meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/a/472.


I'm guessing you asked this as a followup-to the recent question "Are there any Jewish sects which regard the Oral Law… as unlawful addition to the religion? If yes who are they and what are their beliefs?". The last part of that ("what are their beliefs?") is off-topic IMO per what I wrote above. The rest of it is, from the perspective of the asker, not off-topic, since it asks about something that the asker doesn't know lacks Judaism sources; a good answer might be "yes, but such is not generally considered Judaism; the most prominent example is the Karaites" with a link to more information.

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Thank you for stepping up to make a ruling - one that is nuanced, wise, and founded on precedent. – Isaac Moses Mar 10 '13 at 16:55
    
Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Double AA Jan 14 at 17:58

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