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21
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6answers
579 views

Looking for more information about a story of positive atheism/heresy

In a 2006 article (original link no longer available), Rabbi Jonathan Sacks tells the following story: “DO YOU believe,” the disciple asked the rabbi, “that God created everything for a purpose?” ...
12
votes
1answer
320 views

Understanding “The Bruriah Incident”

Masecheth 'Avodah Zarah (18b) cryptically mentions "מעשה דברוריה" - "The Beruriah Incident" - as a reason R' Meir fled to Bavel. Rashi (ad loc) explains that R' Meir was teasing his wife (the noted ...
11
votes
1answer
154 views

The Alshich and Lavan

There are many sources online mentioning the story of how the Alshich once gave a Drasha and the Arizal was present. In the Drasha he elaborated on the 100 different ways Lavan deceived Yaakov. At one ...
11
votes
2answers
209 views

Were the people of Chelm really unintelligent?

There are many stories that are told over about the people who lived in Chelm. They all have the theme of: the people in Chelm were fairly unintelligent. Where did this come from? Is it true? It ...
10
votes
2answers
310 views

Where are the magic cucumbers discussed in the Talmud?

Where are the magic cucumbers discussed in the Gemara by a Rabbi proud of his knowledge? Are magic cucumbers discussed elsewhere? Thanks.
10
votes
2answers
221 views

Was Rabbi Akiva obligated to divulge that his daughter was destined to die on her wedding day?

Inspired by this question (perhaps even a duplicate). From the Talmud (Shabbat 156b) (Soncino Translation): From R. Akiba too [we learn that] Israel is free from planetary influence. For R. Akiba ...
9
votes
2answers
167 views

Are these two urban legends about perceptions of God's help for Jews true?

The following story is told as an urban legend: I don't know if the following story is true, but I'll let you decide. Kenya's star soccer player used to offer a prayer for victory before every ...
8
votes
3answers
442 views

What does the angel Gavriel represent?

In trying to come up with an answer to this question, I became aware that the angel Gavriel plays a common role in several aggados and midrashim. Not only in the midrash with Moshe and the burning ...
8
votes
4answers
568 views

Werewolf in the Torah

I have been told that there are Pirushim on the Torah who speak of werewolves. Can anyone locate them?
6
votes
4answers
577 views

Rashi's Daughters wearing Tefillin

There is a commonly held "tradition" that Rashi's daughters wore Tefillin. One highly educated rabbi/professor has publicly stated that he's spent 35 years searching for a source but to no avail. ...
6
votes
1answer
137 views

Source for Dubno Maggid's rebuke of the Vilna Gaon?

In a shiur I heard that the Vilna Gaon begged the Dubno Maggid to give him mussar (rebuke) after repeatedly declining the Maggid responded that It is not so difficult to be a Gaon, cloistered in ...
6
votes
1answer
176 views

Jews were on 49th level of Tumah. Says who?

There is a well known idea that when the Jews left Egypt during the Exodus, they were on the "forty-ninth level of tumah". Many explanations are given for this and it is expounded upon at length by a ...
6
votes
2answers
129 views

“Hit him with a hammer until he pays attention!” Literally?

Abaye makes a rather harsh judgment on someone who is unattentive in prayer (Ber. 34a): Hit him with a hammer until he pays attention! Is this meant to be taken as Halachah? Or is it just meant to ...
6
votes
0answers
80 views

Who said many agados were to wake students?

Someone told me this morning that he had, years before, seen a commentary published in the back of a volume of g'mara, likely Maharsha or Maharam, say that many of the agados throughout shas were said ...
5
votes
2answers
114 views

Abigail's Thigh

The Talmud in Megillah 14b says that Abigail revealed her thigh, and that David followed her for 3 parasangs in his desire for her. In Tosafos it is asked how this righteous woman could have revealed ...
5
votes
1answer
248 views

Source for story about The Rabbi and the prostitute

I learned a great Gemara about a rabbi who visited a famous prostitute. But before he consummated the deal, his tallitot slapped him on the face, reminding him of his faith. Where's the story? Any ...
5
votes
1answer
117 views

why was R. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus excommunicated?

Bava Metzia 59b says that at the end of the episode of the Oven of Akhnai, Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus was excommunicated. (Apparently there's a makhloket about whether this was nidui or cherem.) The ...
5
votes
1answer
217 views

Sherlock Holmes-ian deduction in the Talmud

I remember learning a story in the Talmud (I think) and am trying to find the source. I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but this is what I remember. There was a Talmudic Rabbi who was sold into ...
5
votes
1answer
50 views

Chafez Chayim checked copies of (which) books?

I've heard that the Chafetz Chayim inspected each page of each printed copy of the Mishna B'rura to be sure that it was printed correctly (with no large ink splotches or the like). Is there a ...
5
votes
0answers
62 views

On What Subjects Does One Say Birchas HaTorah?

Must one say Birchas Hatorah before learning Aggadata in the Gemara? Biographies like Shem Hagedolim (a biography of various Rabbonim written by the Chida)? Artscroll biographies?
4
votes
2answers
274 views

What exactly is the story behind the person who wrote the Akdomus (said on Shavous)

On Shavous morning we say the poem Akdomus, and supposedly there's a fascinating story with the Baal Akdomus and the Sambatyon river (something about it being quiet on Shabbos which is why he was only ...
4
votes
2answers
151 views

What is the story of Yehudit which takes place during the Chanukkah Story?

I have heard many varying and conflicting stories about Yehudit and her effect on the war with the Greeks at Chanukkah time and was wondering if anyone has sources for her story and what it truly is. ...
4
votes
2answers
112 views

Story about “simple Teshuva” via never telling a lie

I read a story over shabbas from Tales of Tzaddikim, Bamidbar pg 251-252, Published by Mesorah Publications, and it quoted it from Sefer Chassidim, Siman 6407. I opened up my Sefer Chassidim and the ...
4
votes
1answer
92 views

Midrash on children and the letter shapes?

I've heard about a midrash that discusses a day when little children took over the study hall and, by interpreting the shapes of the Hebrew letters, articulated many of Judaism's most powerful ...
4
votes
2answers
151 views

Is Aggadah the same thing as Midrash?

(Inspired by a comment on this question.) What characteristics define Aggadah and Midrash, and how are they related? If the distinction is merely that Aggadah is a more general category of "legend" ...
4
votes
1answer
103 views

What is the earliest source of the story of Serach bas Asher and the harp?

This post indicates that the earliest source for the story of Serach bas Asher and the harp, wherein she notified Yakov that Yosef was still alive in a very subtle musical fashion, is a very late ...
4
votes
1answer
184 views

Source for story of Rashi, the King, and the Four Horsemen

There is a story (you can read the details here) about Rashi telling a King that he will conquer Yerushalaim for 3 days and return with 3 horses and 3 riders. The King returned with 4, but as they ...
4
votes
0answers
174 views

Where did the “a cat will always be a cat” story about the Rambam come from?

I've seen and heard a story about the Rambam told multiple times along the lines of this particularly concise retelling: There is a beautiful story of a disagreement that Maimonides had with a ...
4
votes
0answers
72 views

Are coupons for Chometz - Chometz? II

Inspired by yydl's question. I read that in Russia where bread was unpurchasable without "bread ration cards", people would save them throughout Pesach and use them after Pesach. One such person ...
3
votes
1answer
251 views

Story of Rabbi Who Burned Out His Eyes

I once heard a story about a rabbi who was given a test by God, in which the Satan was sent in the form of a beautiful woman to entice him. He would not look at the Satan, and when pressed, he had one ...
3
votes
1answer
68 views

Source for Osnat's Locket

I've heard that the reason Joseph knew he could marry Osnat was because he saw her wearing a locket / pendant with a Hebrew inscription on it so he knew she was a Hebrew. Has anyone heard this story ...
3
votes
1answer
134 views

Why did the Baba Sali leave Yavneh?

I remember hearing that the Baba Sali very suddenly decided to move away from Yavneh. Does anyone know the story of what exactly occurred?
3
votes
1answer
61 views

Which Tana said the shem hafemorash and why?

I remember learning a gemarah (midrash?) that one of the tanaim (possibly R' Chanina [ben Dosa]) said the shem hameforash explicitly. Can you source this story and explain why the shem hameforash was ...
3
votes
2answers
230 views

Is there any precedent to read the first 11 chapters of Genesis as metaphorical?

I believe this will be related to a similar question about a statement by Rabbi Sacks. Rabbi Jeremy Wieder said in a lecture titled Non Literal Interpretation of Scripture in Jewish Tradition (and ...
3
votes
0answers
61 views

What happened to the spoils from Egypt?

According to Pesachim 119a, Yosef collected all the wealth of the world during the famine and b'nei Yisrael took all of it out during the exodus. The g'mara then traces what happened to it from ...
3
votes
0answers
98 views

A Mashal of HaShem as a crazy king and Moshe as His weak-kneed friend?

The Gemara (Ber. 32a) quotes R' El'azar that when HaShem wanted to destroy Bnei Yisrael and Moshe intervened, it is comparable to a king who beat his son terribly, and the king's friend was at his ...
2
votes
1answer
67 views

Wanted: stories about shaatnez

My daughter has a school project about shaatnez. One of the requirements is to tell a few stories demonstrating how people were particularly careful about the laws of shaatnez, preferably with ...
2
votes
1answer
103 views

Aggadah Of Great Bird Destroying Towns

I once heard about Jewish aggada telling about big bird throwing huge eggs made of steel which were destroying towns. Does anyone knows if there such aggada exists and what the source for it is?
2
votes
2answers
79 views

Which 20th century rabbi said “G-d normally doesn't stop the ill-intentioned”?

I recall hearing the following story: There was a non-observant Israeli Jew who kept having visions of his deceased father telling him he should do more religiously. Finally he was about to turn on ...
2
votes
1answer
49 views

What is the significance of the Diet Information in Shas

It strikes me as I am learning Kesubos that the Gemara takes the time to speak of extensively the shortcomings and praises of dates (the fruit). I know the gemara does the same with cabbage and other ...
2
votes
1answer
88 views

Yosef Mokir Shabbos

There is a story in the Gemarah I wont get into the Detail but here is the relevant part of the story. The wife buys a fish and finds a diamond inside are they not responsible to return it to the Fish ...
2
votes
0answers
38 views

What was/is the leviathan as described in Tanach and Rabbinic literature?

Today the Hebrew word "leviathan" is translated as a whale. But the leviathan of the Tanach seems to be some kind of sea creature. See Job 41:1-34. Tehillim 74 there is an implication that G-d ...
2
votes
0answers
53 views

Was Bar Kochva disemboweled?

The gemarah in Gittin, 57a, details a story of "bar d'roma" who performs miraculous feats in defending the Jews before meeting his demise by being disemboweled by a snake (similar to the end of Bar ...
1
vote
1answer
90 views

Source for story about R' Yishmael ben Elisha's mother?

This article tells us the following story about R' Yishmael ben Elisha and his mother: Rabbi Ishmael's mother was a very pious woman, and she worshipped her son. But one day she astonished the ...
1
vote
1answer
46 views

Ma'ase avos siman l'banim - prescriptive or descriptive?

The concept of the actions of the forebears being an indication of their descendants' actions is referred to by many commentators and midrashim, including the famous Ramba"n on B'reshis 12. What is ...
1
vote
2answers
143 views

Shabbos sends a letter to Ibn Ezra

Shabbos sends a letter to Ibn Ezra I heard this in in a shiur can anyone find the text of the letter or if it exists and or summarize it and find out who the source for this Legend is?
0
votes
2answers
44 views

Explanation of Eruvin 41b

(Eruvin 41b) "Someone who has a bad wife will not see Gehinom" What does this mean exactly?
0
votes
1answer
95 views

Haman servant of Mordichai: text of document

The gemara in Megillah 15 writes that Mordichai acquired haman for a piece of bread.Rashi writes:וזה בא בפרוזבולי - מרדכי בא אליו בטענת עושר המן בא בטענת עוני שמכר המן את עצמו למרדכי קודם לכן ימים ...