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21
votes
6answers
942 views

Anyone who says these people sinned is mistaken. For real?

The Gemara (Talmud Bavli Shabbos 55b-56b) relates that several Biblical figures who, from the text itself, seemed to have sinned, in reality did not. These statements take the form of "כל האומר פלוני ...
17
votes
7answers
2k views

Why don't Jews think Jesus is the messiah?

Christians say that Jesus is the Messiah spoken of in the Old Testament; Jews disagree. Why couldn't Jesus be the Messiah spoken of? Or could he possibly have been?
16
votes
2answers
853 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

Was Darius Jewish?

Darius the Second (the son of Queen Ester and Achashveirosh) was at first glance Jewish, as he was the son of a Jew. On the other hand,the Gemara Rosh Hashana implies that he wasn't Jewish. What was ...
13
votes
4answers
495 views

Does anyone in Tanach ever get divorced?

Does anyone in Tanach ever get divorced? Not merely separated but fully divorced.
13
votes
5answers
444 views

Naming after bad people

Why have there been famous(ly righteous) Jewish people named after Yishma'el, who, Chaza"l tell us, was evil and an enemy of Jews? Has anything similar happened with Esav? Korach? Others?
13
votes
5answers
646 views

Why doesn't Tefilat Geshem have a verse referring to Miriam?

The "Tefilat Geshem" ("Prayer for Rain") recited on Shemini 'Atzeret contains six verses. Each verse refers to a different person (except the last, which refers to a nation) and makes various ...
13
votes
2answers
282 views

How long did Chava (Eve) live?

The Torah tells us that Adam HaRishon lived for 930 years. Is there a source that tells us for how long Chava (Eve) lived? I have been unable to find any source that discusses how old Chava was when ...
12
votes
2answers
289 views

Could someone who has committed a heinous crime convert to Judaism?

Is there any reason that someone who has committed horrible sins in the past (for example, mass murder) could not become a Jew? Assume, of course, that the sinner/criminal is willing to do teshuvah ...
12
votes
1answer
458 views

Eldad HaDani's Lasting Influence - Is there any?

Eldad HaDani is (apparently) considered today to have been a fraud. According to this Wikipedia article, he was a traveler who told stories of his place of origin, which he claimed was a sovereign ...
12
votes
1answer
504 views

Did any of the early Rabbis encounter Mohammed?

Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, lived in Saudia Arabia, mainly in Mecca and (later) Medina. He lived from 570-632CE. According to this wikipedia article there were Jews in Saudia Arabia at that time: ...
11
votes
3answers
480 views

Jarchi = Rashi?

Is Rabbi Solomon Jarchi the same as Rashi? I saw Jarchi on the Internet on a Google search awhile ago, that it was Salomo son of Isaac, a French Biblical commentator and was wondering if it was the ...
11
votes
2answers
374 views

Is there a chief Rabbi of the United States?

Is there currently or has there ever been historically a chief Rabbi of the United States? If not, why not?
9
votes
1answer
221 views

Why was Rabbi Yitzchok Alfasi known as the Rif - rather than the Ria? (הרי"ף - רבי יצחק אלפסי)

Rabbi Yitzchok Alfasi was known as the Rif. The Roshei Teivos of his name is רי"א, and as far as I know there is no other historic figure known as the רי"א. Then why was he known as the Rif?
9
votes
1answer
28k views

How many children did King Solomon have?

King Solomon [1 Kings 11 (4)] “had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines;” How many children did he have? Three. The question is referred to at ...
9
votes
2answers
132 views

Who was the קדוש מרדוש?

Today, in a shiur, I heard someone quote an opinion of the "קדוש מרדוש" (pronounced "Kadosh Meradoosh", I think). The Bet Yosef in E"HE 35 seems to quote the מרדכי who quotes him, so apparently he's a ...
9
votes
2answers
256 views

Looking for information on the Savoraim

I am looking for more information on the Savoraim such as a list of who they were, what they wrote outside of comments/amendments in the talmud, meaning do they have responsa, ethical or halachik ...
8
votes
2answers
112 views

Do we know more about נבח?

The last verse of Parshas Mattos (Bamidbar 32:42) is about a fellow named Novach who conquered a city and named it after himself: וְנֹבַח הָלַךְ וַיִּלְכֹּד אֶת קְנָת וְאֶת בְּנֹתֶיהָ וַיִּקְרָא ...
8
votes
2answers
567 views

Why did the Lubavitcher Rebbe give out dollars?

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late Rebbe of Lubavitch used to give out dollars to people who came to meet him. Why did he do this?
8
votes
4answers
627 views

What attitudes toward Jesus are acceptable for a Jew?

What attitudes toward Jesus are acceptable for a Jew? I understand that idolatry, or embracing the mainstream Christian perception of Jesus as divine, is absolutely out of the question. Furthermore, ...
8
votes
1answer
564 views

Naming after the Patriarchs/Matriarchs and Biblical heroes

Nowadays it is very common for Jews to name their children after the Patriarchs, Matriarchs, and Biblical heroes. But it doesn't seem (to me) as though this was very common until well into the period ...
8
votes
1answer
83 views

What is the genealogy of Judah ben Bava?

Is Judah ben Bava, noted for continuing the tradition of ordination, the son of Bava ben Buta, the Rabbi who was spared by Herod?
8
votes
1answer
87 views

How come Metzudat Tzion never did a perush of difficult words in the chumash?

Why did the author of Metzudat Tzion never write an explanation of difficult words in the chumash, as he did for most of the Nach? There are hard words in the chumash that require explanation even for ...
8
votes
2answers
389 views

How historically accurate is Josephus?

How accurate is the writing of Josephus? Can we rely on any of his writings to establish authentic Jewish practices or in areas of halacha?
8
votes
2answers
119 views

Why does the Gemara often mention that certain Amoraim were asleep?

I've noticed that in the Gemara you often see a pattern where two people are discussing an issue in front of an Amorah (e.g R' Yirmiyah) while he was asleep. After their discussion he wakes up and ...
8
votes
1answer
63 views

Do Chazal discuss Mishael and Eltzaphan

Do chazal provide any information on מִישָׁאֵל and אֶלְצָפָן the levite cousins of Aron and Moshe who removed Nadav and Avihu from the mishkan (Vayikra 10:4)? I'm looking for any sources that discuss ...
8
votes
1answer
272 views

Rabi Yochanan Ben Zakai, or Josephus?

Josephus in Wars 3. 8. 9. records a story of how he meets Vespasian, tells him that he will become ruler, and Titus will take over his position. Vespasian, although sceptical at first eventually ...
7
votes
4answers
189 views

R' Yehoshua Ben Levi — A Tanna or an Amorah?

I had always assumed that R' Yehoshua Ben Levi was an Amorah. However, we know he is quoted in the mishnah in Avos (Perek 6 Mishnah 2. Which is really a braisa, not a mishnah, but still a Tannaic ...
7
votes
1answer
214 views

Who was Yehoshua Bin Nun's father?

Who was Yehoshua Bin Nun's father? Obviously his name was "Nun". Who was he exactly? What do we know about him (and from what sources)?
7
votes
1answer
274 views

Who was the mother of Avraham's daughter?

According to one opinion in the Gemarah (Bava Basra 16b, also 141a), when it says Avraham was blessed with everything (Bereishit 24:1) it means that he had a daughter. Who was her mother?
7
votes
3answers
469 views

Bimei Matisyahu ben Yochanan Kohen Godol

In "Al Hanisim" we say "Bimei Matisyahu ben Yochanan Kohen Godol", "in the days of Matisyahu the son of Yochanan the Kohen Gadol (=high priest)". Who was the Kohen Godol: Matisyahu or Yochnan?
7
votes
2answers
615 views

What historical figures have been identified as 'Amalek?

Adolf Hitler is often said to have been from 'Amalek. I've even heard it said not only figuratively but literally (how one could know that is a mystery to me). What other historical figures are ...
7
votes
2answers
158 views

What financial arrangement did Rambam have with his jeweler brother?

I was taught in yeshiva that as a young man, Rambam just studied Torah and was supported by his brother, who was a jewel merchant. Then his brother died at sea, so Rambam became a physician. Recently ...
7
votes
3answers
108 views

Why were there 8 kings of Edom?

Is there any symbolism or other explanation as to why there were specifically eight kings of Edom who ruled before any king in Yisrael did, like it says in Bereshis 36 (31-39)?
7
votes
1answer
85 views

Why didn't Terach go to the Land of Canaan?

In Genesis 11:31, Terach takes Avraham (then Avram), Sarah (then Sarai), and Lot to the Land of Canaan, i.e. Israel. However, they stopped in Charan, and Terach spent the rest of his life there. Why ...
7
votes
2answers
104 views

Did Cain and Hevel have דעת?

Kayin and Hevel were born before Adam and Chava sinned and ate from the Tree of Knowledge. (See Rashi to 4:1.) Did Kayin and Hevel ever receive the understanding that their parents got from the ...
7
votes
0answers
146 views

How do we determine the nature of the reign of the kings when the numbers don't seem to add up?

In the book of 2 Kings, the kingdoms of Judah and Israel were separate. In Amaziah's (Judah) 15th year, Jeroboam (Israel) began to reign. In Jeroboam's (Israel) 27th year, Azariah (Judah) began to ...
6
votes
5answers
518 views

Mordechai - Religious Leader or Political figure?

I'm looking to gather some more background, context, sources and opinions, regarding Mordechai's religiousness, or lack thereof. This was the topic of a recent comment thread on Was Darius ...
6
votes
3answers
334 views

List of people in Tanach

Can I find anywhere a comprehensive list of every single person that is mentioned in Tanach. Including somewhat "biographical" information, who they were, family, what they did, how they fit into ...
6
votes
1answer
947 views

When did people living for 900 years start to look old?

In the early days of the world, the standard age of living was well into the hundreds, with many people living until they were 800 or 900. Being that people lived so long, when did they start to "look ...
6
votes
3answers
329 views

Who was the strongest person in Tanach?

I found, lying in a local synagogue's bes midrash room, a card that looks as though it came from a children's Judaism-trivia game. It had four questions on it, and, on the reverse side, their answers. ...
6
votes
1answer
532 views

What was Avraham Avinu's mother's name?

What was Avraham Avinu's mother's name? Our shul received a paper with questions on Simhat Torah, with this question being one of the harder ones. Is there a midrash on her name?
6
votes
1answer
210 views

Chazon Ish and Medicine

I have recently studied the Chazon Ish's work Emunah U'Vitachon and in the opening pages, the Chazon Ish displays a vast knowledge of human anatomy. Also, the Chazon Ish successfully mapped out a plan ...
6
votes
2answers
345 views

which kings must Moshiach descend from?

Moshiach must definitionally descend from David, and according to this answer he must also descend from Shlomo. However, Moshiach cannot descend from Yehoaichin because of Yirmiyahu's curse. Are ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

How did the Ten Martyrs actually die?

On Yom Kippur and Tisha B'av we read about the Ten Martyrs who were gathered and killed by Emperor Hadrian to atone for the Sale of Yosef HaTzadik. In addition to the idea that the Ten Martyrs didn't ...
6
votes
2answers
260 views

Did Shlomo Molcho actually declare himself a messiah?

I know this is widely claimed, but is there a historical source that can confirm that Shlomo Molcho considered himself a messiah (as opposed to merely predicting a keitz and generating a messianic ...
6
votes
1answer
70 views

When the רא״ש refers to “הגאון”, who is he referring to?

A friend posted on Facebook the following question, and I couldn't solve it based on any context, so I thought I'd bring it here. When the רא״ש refers to "הגאון", who is he referring to? Is there ...
6
votes
1answer
110 views

Who Exactly Threatened to Excommunicate Ramchal?

Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, known as Ramchal, was a controversial and prolific Italian philosopher and Mekubal. According to the linked Wikipedia article, after disseminating Kabbalah in Italy, ...
6
votes
2answers
181 views

Changing someone else's name

In parshas Shlach Moshe changes Yehoshua's name. Does this mean his name really changed? IE was he called up to the torah as Yehoshua? Were his kids "ben Yehoshua"? Are there any other examples in ...
6
votes
3answers
136 views

Was Caleb a foreigner (Non-Isralite)?

Was Caleb a foreigner, even though he represented the tribe of Judah (Numbers 13:6) and was one of the first judges of Israel (Judges 1)? In Numbers 32:12 and Joshua 14:14 we read that Caleb is the ...