This is the call for proposals for the weekly topic challenge.

What is it?

There's a single topic that people think about during the week and come up with good questions on.

How does it work?

  • Please post your proposals as questions on this meta site.
    • Each such question should
      • be tagged and ;
      • explain the topic;
      • optionally, link to existing questions or tags on the topic; and
      • optionally, argue for its adoption.
    • Answers to such a question can argue for or against its topic's adoption.
    • Note that topics proposed (using the old method) in answers below have been re-proposed using the new method outlined above. Answers below will be ignored.
  • Upvote topics you'd like to see; downvote those you wouldn't.
  • Each week, probably Sunday or Monday, I will choose from among the proposed topics, and the challenge will begin: thinking of and posting good questions in the main site on that topic. (In choosing from among the proposed topics, I will take the votes and seasonality into consideration.)

What do I win?

An Internet with more good questions and answers on an interesting topic.

Who came up with this idea, anyway?

Isaac Moses did.

How can I be notified of new challenges?

  • Check back on Meta from time to time, particularly on Sunday or Monday, to see if there's a newly edited post.
  • Check Meta's tag to see only the posts in the challenge (with the current challenge at the top of the list), or check Meta's tag to see all meta posts announcing currently-relevant site features and events (including the current challenge).
  • To see just the current challenge, use this search.
  • If you use a blog-reader or otherwise follow RSS feeds, you can add the feeds for weekly-topic-challenge or featured to your reader and automatically get updates soon after they're posted.
You might want to specify in the title that this is the call for proposals. Also, I'd recommend that each time you put out a challenge, you include a link back to here, prompting people to add more. –  Isaac Moses Oct 28 '11 at 15:02
I was planning to do the latter (but thanks). You could have done the former, but I shall. –  msh210 Oct 28 '11 at 16:21
For the record, coincident with our stopping (as of this week) advertising each week's challenge using a system message, this feature was hailed on the SE blog as an example of a successful community initiative. I'm not sure whether this feature will be nearly as successful without the exposure system messages gave it. I'll be watching the next few challenges to see how many questions they generate and possibly using that data to support my call for a new site announcements channel. –  Isaac Moses Dec 15 '11 at 20:53
@IsaacMoses, question generation depends largely on the choice of topic. A decrease (or increase, for that matter) after ceasing use of system messages is scarcely any indication at all of the benefit of using system messages IMO. –  msh210 Dec 15 '11 at 21:00
@msh210 That's why I'm going to look at the overall trend across many different topics, pre- and post-system-messages. It may not be statistically significant, but it could be highly suggestive. We'll see. –  Isaac Moses Dec 15 '11 at 21:02
More from the "immitation is the sincerest form of flattery" department: –  Monica Cellio Feb 6 '12 at 21:40

22 Answers 22

Selected as the weekly topic challenge for Vayera 5772:

I propose Shabbat songs as a challenge topic.

I suspect that people often come up with curious things about the content, form, etc. of songs they sing on Shabbat and then forget about them by the time Shabbat is over. If this is the challenge topic, people may think about the songs a bit more over Shabbat, deliberately note any curiosities, and post interesting questions when Shabbat is over.

We currently have only six questions tagged both and , indicating that this is a topic that we don't have too much coverage of yet.

Issac I think that's a great Idea –  simchastorah Oct 26 '11 at 22:01
I chose this one for this week because it had the high vote count. –  msh210 Nov 9 '11 at 19:13

Selected as the weekly topic challenge for Chaye Sara 5772.

I propose Navi as a topic it is a highly ignored aspect of torah in alot of circles

(sidebar maybe the Challenges should go for 2 weeks not one as to give people more time.

+1 for the general idea, but rather than "one book a week" I'd suggest just choosing specific nevi'im (or groups) as weekly themes from time to time. For example, some week between Tisha b'Av and Rosh Hashana might be a great time to look at Iasaiah. –  Monica Cellio Nov 10 '11 at 18:10
I'm considering this a proposal for "Navi" as a topic (and +1 from me). If you want to propose specific books, make it another proposal. –  msh210 Nov 10 '11 at 19:24
...and I've edited the proposal accordingly. (Sorry, but you had two proposals stuck into one, and without editing there's just no way to know which of them people are upvoting/downvoting.) –  msh210 Nov 10 '11 at 20:46
Does "navi" mean questions about prophets, or questions about the books of the "Prophets". –  jake Nov 16 '11 at 16:38
Chosen for this week as highest-voted. @jake, considering the comment "it is a highly ignored aspect of torah in alot of circles", I was assuming the latter. As chooser of the weekly topic, that's what I'm setting it as, irrespective of the OP's (and voters') intent. –  msh210 Nov 16 '11 at 19:55
@jake and msh210, regardless of the proposer's, voters', or organizer's intent, whatever high-quality questions the challenge inspires are welcome and are a positive outcome of the challenge! –  Isaac Moses Nov 16 '11 at 20:01
Very good topic –  Hacham Gabriel Jan 5 '12 at 1:53

Selected as the weekly topic challenge for Lech-l'cha 5772.

For Lech Lcha I propose the topic of aliya-laaretz... there is currently only 1 question on that topic, and it's appropriate for this weeks parsha.

I chose this for this week because it's timely (as noted in the proposal) and almost had the high vote count. –  msh210 Nov 2 '11 at 20:11
avi and @msh210, Yeyasher kocahchem! B"H this week's challenge is doing a great job of generating interesting and worthwhile material! –  Isaac Moses Nov 3 '11 at 14:40

Chosen as the weekly topic challenge for Vayetze 5772.

I propose Shidduchim as a topic.

The process of finding and marrying a spouce is a major part of many people's lives and is laden with many kinds of issues of Halacha, Minhag, Hashkafa, and Mussar. It's also a process that has gone through interesting changes over time.

The tag currently has 8 questions.

This could be a seasonal choice in mid-Tishrei or mid-Av. –  Isaac Moses Nov 18 '11 at 16:35
I chose this one because it had the highest vote count. –  msh210 Dec 1 '11 at 21:22
@msh210, and, apparently, sedra-seasonality, no? –  Isaac Moses Dec 1 '11 at 22:00
Well, that might have come into the decision if I needed an additional reason (as tie-breaker, say), but I didn't. –  msh210 Dec 1 '11 at 22:10

Chosen as the weekly theme challenge for Vayishlach 5772.

I proposed asked by children as a topic.

Children frequently ask questions, and at least some of the time, adults don't immediately know [all] the answers and have to either look them up or just give up (e.g.). This challenge topic could spur people to notice when they hear children asking interesting questions or prompting interesting discussions, and could also spur people to recall questions they had when they were children.

I like the proposal (and upvoted it therefore), but it seems funny to me to call this a topic. The set of questions asked by children is, I think, defined not by topic but by source or something like register. –  msh210 Nov 10 '11 at 0:32
Well, maybe "topic"'s not quite the right word. Maybe "theme" would fit better. –  Isaac Moses Nov 10 '11 at 2:33
@msh210 ... given that we apparently agree that this would be an example of a potentially worthwhile challenge. –  Isaac Moses Nov 10 '11 at 15:03
Sure. If this winds up chosen by vote, that's fine, and I'll just call it "weekly theme" or something in the site banner. –  msh210 Nov 10 '11 at 19:23
I chose this because it was tied for highest vote count. –  msh210 Dec 7 '11 at 20:06

Chosen as the weekly topic challenge for Tol'dos 5772.

I propose "ribbis" as a topic. There are currently five questions tagged , and considering the complexity of the relevant halachos, there's surely room for a lot more.

I chose this one because it was tied for first (in terms of votes for it) and its co-tier (?) is relevant to parashas Vayetze. –  msh210 Nov 23 '11 at 19:27
Ah, yes. That, too. "Would RMF have approved of kissing a girl you meet at a well?" –  Isaac Moses Nov 23 '11 at 19:42

Chosen as the weekly topic challenge for Vaychi 5772.

Ikkarei Emunah - Fundamentals of Belief.

What beliefs are required, addressing challenges to them, different views on them...

Chosen because of votes. –  msh210 Jan 4 '12 at 19:36

Used, Sh'mos 5772:

I propose Korbanot as a topic. This is a topic that is under-discussed and not well understood among today's Jews for something that constitutes so many of the 613 mitzvot.

We currently have 14 posts tagged . I'm 100% sure that there are plenty more question people have about the workings of the mikdash and korbanot.

Chosen as tied for high vote count. (And the topic tied with it is somewhat similar to one recently used, which this is not.) –  msh210 Jan 11 '12 at 21:30

Used, Vaera 5772:

I propose midrashim as a topic.

As discussed here, and reiterated many times all over the site, many midrashim and aggadot are not to be taken literally.

Now, many midrashim are quite famous, either because they are quoted by famous commentators or because they appear in the Talmud or perhaps for other reasons. I think it would be interesting to discuss the implications and interpretations of various well-known and perhaps lesser-known midrashim and aggadot, as well as their motivations from the text and impact on later commentators and other factors.

Chosen as highest voted. –  msh210 Jan 19 '12 at 5:45

Used, B'shalach 5772:

I propose light as a theme. This could include the light of creation, the Chanukah and Shabbat lights, and perhaps the light Yisrael brings to the nations, among others.

Chosen as tied for highest-voted. –  msh210 Feb 2 '12 at 17:18

Chosen as the weekly topic challenge for Vayeshev 5772.

In preparation for the upcoming holiday, I propose Chanukah as a topic.

The only objection I have to this fine proposal is that we'll naturally get plenty of Chanuka questions anyway. –  Isaac Moses Dec 12 '11 at 20:11
@IsaacMoses I think its good to start now, in the (belated) spirit of "shloshim yom kodem hachag". –  HodofHod Dec 13 '11 at 3:10
@HodofHod, Menachem is way ahead of you. –  Isaac Moses Dec 13 '11 at 3:28
@IsaacMoses true, but I refer to the weekly challenge. I think its good to raise the issue now. –  HodofHod Dec 13 '11 at 3:32
Chosen as tied for highest voted, v'im lo achshav emasay. –  msh210 Dec 14 '11 at 18:51

I propose book division as a topic. Questions about dividing books into sections, chapters, parashiyos, aliyos, verses, paragraphs, pages, etc. I suspect there can be many more good questions on this; here are some we have already:


Chosen as the weekly topic challenge for Miketz 5772.

I propose Commentaries as a topic.

This site is full of quotes and explanations from an abundance of commentaries on Tanach, Mishna, Gemara, Halacha, etc. Each of these commentaries displays a specific style, was written in a specific historical context, and with a specific set of goals in mind. The authors were often fascinating personalities, some more famous than others.

There are currently two questions tagged "commentaries" on the main site. (Rashi seems to have his own tag.) I think it would be interesting to discuss the various aspects of well-known and even obscure commentaries.

Chosen as it's tied for the highest vote count. –  msh210 Dec 21 '11 at 23:31

Chosen as the weekly topic for Vayigash 5772:

I propose violence as a topic.

It's not very pleasant, but it's certainly a theme that comes up in many different ways in Halacha and Agada, and one that comes up in people's minds frequently as well, unfortunately, thanks to various types of unfortunate current events. The only tags I can think of immediately that are related, and , currently have only eleven and five questions, respectively.

Chosen as it's tied for the highest vote count. Also, I didn't think of this when choosing the weekly topic, but it has to do with the first pasuk of Vayigash (see Rashi ad loc.). –  msh210 Dec 29 '11 at 0:28

Used, Bo 5772:

I propose "Kishuf", or "Magic" as a weekly topic. Naturally, this would include questions about "sheidim" ("demons") as well, since they are frequently associated with, and employed in the use of, magic.

Currently, there are 5 questions in the tag,
and 2 in the newly-created tag.

Chosen as highest voted. –  msh210 Jan 26 '12 at 19:55

I propose colors as a topic. We have but fifteen questions currently tagged , and I suspect that it's something about which people can think of many more good Jewish-life-and-learning questions.

that would be a bit of a Kabblistic leaning what type of questions would you suggest –  simchastorah Oct 27 '11 at 11:00
simchashatorah, I don't know. But if you pay attention to it, color is everywhere: I mean, everything has some color. How it interacts with Judaism can lead to some good questions. See also the current color questions. –  msh210 Oct 27 '11 at 14:42
@msh210, I like how it's a specific theme, but general enough to potentially spark people's imagination. People could take it in all kinds of interesting directions. –  Isaac Moses Oct 27 '11 at 16:44
"color is everywhere" - Interestingly, color may be everywhere but is nearly absent in Biblical Hebrew if the argument made in this book is correct. Great read, by the way. –  WAF Oct 28 '11 at 19:44
The haftarah for the first day of Shavuot (Ezekiel chpt. 1) says that the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Hashem is like the rainbow that can be found between the one cloud and another on a rainy day. There is an expression "all the colors of the rainbow," and according to [Wikipedia](, "Isaac Newton demonstrated that white light was composed of the light of all the colours of the rainbow, which a glass prism could separate into the full spectrum..." Perhaps this prismatic impression of Hashem and Ohr is exemplified by the notion of 70 Panim laTorah? –  Adam Mosheh May 31 '12 at 23:48

I propose trees as a topic, preferably to be used during the week leading up to or following TU Bishvat (which happens to be a Wednesday this year).

There are currently 12 questions in the tag.

Please note that this system of posting answers here as proposals is now defunct, so you'll need to re-post this using the new system: see the question, above, for how to do so. Sorry for the hassle. –  msh210 Feb 2 '12 at 17:50

I propose Unusual Blessings as a topic. Many people are unaware of many of the blessings that Chazal gave us to give praise to Hashem. As the gemara in Bava Kamma 30a says, "He who wants to become pious should study the laws of Blessings."

The questions I'm thinking of are not "What is the blessing on seeing a destroyed House of Avodah Zarah?" but rather "Do the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans count as separate for the purposes of the 30 day break between sightings necessarily to warrant a new blessing?"

I'm confident that if people look through the list of blessings they will find some detail they hadn't thought of before to ask about. This will help raise awareness of the different blessings available and should provide for interesting discussion.

Reader Beware: I'll be asking that 'oceans' question whenever this topic is selected, so prep your answers! –  Double AA Jan 25 '12 at 3:59
Please note that this system of posting answers here as proposals is now defunct, so you'll need to re-post this using the new system: see the question, above, for how to do so. Sorry for the hassle. –  msh210 Feb 2 '12 at 17:50

I propose Practical Kabbalah or "Kabbalah Maasis" as a topic.

This refers to the use of the knowledge of Kabbalah and the inner workings of creation, as well as the names of G-d and their permutations to perform things that defy the laws of nature. Famous examples include R' Yochanan and Resh Lakish creating cows and Rava, R' Eliyahu Baal Shem, and the Maharal creating golems. Other common applications are "Kameas" (or amulets) and healing the sick.

Currently no tag and therefore no questions exist for this topic.
As pointed out to me by @msh210. there does already exist (at least ;-)) one such question.

Score: = 1

Oh, and another, I guess: –  msh210 Nov 28 '11 at 16:05
Please note that this system of posting answers here as proposals is now defunct, so you'll need to re-post this using the new system: see the question, above, for how to do so. Sorry for the hassle. –  msh210 Feb 2 '12 at 17:50

I propose "brerah" as a topic.

It would encourage more abstract gemara/halacha related questions on the site.

This proposal might get more traction if it included a definition or links to existing questions on this theme (if any). –  Monica Cellio Nov 23 '11 at 19:32
Please note that this system of posting answers here as proposals is now defunct, so you'll need to re-post this using the new system: see the question, above, for how to do so. Sorry for the hassle. –  msh210 Feb 2 '12 at 17:50

I propose questions relating to Rashi as a topic.

Thanks, but please note that the revised method described in the question calls for proposals to be posted as separate meta-site questions rather than as answers here. –  msh210 Jun 18 '12 at 16:44

I propose questions relating to Pirkei Avot as a topic.

I don't think this challenge is operating right now, but in any case, please note that the current rules stated above ask for proposals to be posted as new meta-questions. –  Isaac Moses Jun 18 '12 at 15:32

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