Questions related to how something was in the past, and how it's developed since then.

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Has completing the entire Talmud ever been a tenet of Rabbinical Ordination?

Has there ever been a requirement in any Rabbinical program to finish the entire Talmud, not just select mesechtas + related halachos?
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1answer
59 views

Mesorah (Tradition) of Yemenite Jews

Yemenite Jews have a famous, longstanding affinity for Rambam. Before the time of Rambam, which rabbis were the most influential in Yemen? E.g. Rav Saadya Gaon, local rabbis, etc. Please provide ...
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1answer
73 views

Shofar from ibex horn?

I have the 2015 calendar from the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, and today I noticed that the September page has a picture of a shofar made from an ibex horn. The calendar dates it to ...
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1answer
123 views

Was there a scriptural, halachic, rabbinical, or legal reason for Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement?

It is largely forgotten today, but when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders put out the call for believers and clergy of all denominations to get involved in the Civil Rights ...
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40 views

Is there a historical, cultural, traditional, or scriptural explanation for the prevalence of Jews in the comedy business? [duplicate]

If you took the general demographic data for the U.S. and compared it to the demographics of professional comics and comedians in the U.S., I think you'd find that Jews are disproportionately ...
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1answer
62 views

Is there an online database of early manuscripts of the Tanakh?

As a student of textual and historical criticism of the Christian scriptures, I am interested in seeing the earliest extant copies of the texts. There are a number of sites devoted to providing ...
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1answer
36 views

Are there books and / or online sources that discuss how the Talmud was compiled?

There are a few aspects of the Talmud that I'm curious about: Someone compiled it. My history knowledge is poor. I understand that Rabbi Yehuda compiled the Mishna. I'm not sure who compiled the ...
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1answer
48 views

What is the modern Jewish attitude towards the Zealots and Sicarii?

One of the leading factions in the Jewish Revolt of 66-70 was the Zealot movement, and its splinter group, the Sicarii. I would imagine that the attitude towards them is somewhat complicated, or at ...
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13 views

Are there any Jewish records of Ananus ben Ananus aside from Josephus?

In Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, he records an incident that led to the removal from office of the high priest of the Temple. According to this account, the Roman proconsul of Judaea, Porcius ...
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48 views

Is there an obligation for men and women to sit separately at a simcha?

Rav Binyamin Kamentzky, whom I recently saw, told me that until about 30 - 25 years ago, it was very common for men and women to sit together at weddings, Bar Mitzvah and other seudei mitzvah run by ...
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26 views

Using oil lamps on Shabbas in old times

In the olden times, before electricity, did religious Jews have lamps that could hold large amounts of oil so that they could use light on Shabbas, similar to how we use Shabbas lamps and have lights ...
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1answer
130 views

What was the status of the Pharisees, and their relationship with the Temple authorities in the early first century?

One of the many mistakes made by the authors of the Christian gospels is attributing the state of affairs in their own time to the time they are trying to describe. An example of this error is the ...
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3answers
282 views

How did the Jewish people understand and make sense of the destruction of the Second Temple?

Since I began studying the history of the Christian faith, and the relation between Judaism and Christianity, I have been struck by the idea of the Second Temple's destruction. I simply can't imagine ...
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1answer
33 views

How was choral liturgical music used in the renaissance?

Salamone Rossi was a 17th-century Italian composer who wrote choral arrangements of several liturgical texts -- piyutim, Tanakh passages, prayers (like hashkiveinu and kedusha), etc. (See the link ...
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6 views

Is there any support within the scholarly community for Cyrus Gordon's “Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilizations”? [migrated]

In "The Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilizations" (1965), scholar Cyrus Gordon argued for a common cultural origin for the Greek and Hebrew peoples. Specifically, he argued that both ...
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1answer
62 views

Was referring to a Jewish firstborn son as “____ bar [mother's name]” insulting in the first century?

There is a passage in the Christian "gospels" in which Jesus is referred to by his community in an unusual way. The text [Mark 6:3] was originally written in Greek, but the English translation is: ...
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1answer
120 views

How would first century Jews in Judea have reacted to the Jesus Movement's messianic claims?

My understanding is that first century Jews in Judea, Jerusalem, etc, would have known that Jesus could not possibly be the messiah, because the messiah was expected to be triumphant in life, and no ...
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1answer
124 views

When and why did we stop wearing sackcloth?

When and why did we stop wearing sackcloth in times of mourning and other times of distress (e.g., when fasting for rain)? (I presume sackcloth was quite uncomfortable.) Sackcloth is mentioned in ...
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1answer
109 views

Not approaching the Western Wall

A decade ago, I visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem with Nosson Tzvi Finkel, a widely respected rabbi in Israel. As we approached one of the holiest sites in Judaism, the rabbi halted about 10 ...
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1answer
311 views

Is there any tradition of any Jews leaving Mitzrayim before the Exodus

Is there any tradition of Israelites leaving Mitzrayim before the Exodus? Moses fled Egypt on his own. Was this a unique occurrence, or is it safe to assume this was a regular thing? If it ever ...
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1answer
74 views

Massacre of Baalei Tosafos

There is a famous story about the Baalei Tosafos using their own blood to write their pirush on the chapter Merubah in Bava Kamma before they were massacred. Is there a source for this?
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3answers
82 views

River flowing from the southern end of the Dead Sea?

A footnote on page 966 of the Artscroll chumash (this week's reading) has a map that includes the dead sea. The map shows a river flowing from the southern tip of the sea. According to a Duke U site: ...
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1answer
95 views

Did manna fall on yontif?

For kiddush on yontif we use two challot. We did not collect manna on Shabbat because of carrying. But carrying is allowed on yontif. Does that mean that manna did not fall on yontif?
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70 views

Use of speaking “Baruch HaShem” in 1492 Spain

I am writing a play that takes place during the Spanish Inquisition. A Rabbi is walking home from the King's court and his belongings are tossed to the ground by hooligans. A young Spanish girl picks ...
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1answer
82 views

Kamtza bar Kamtza [closed]

This might be speculation, but during learning yesterday we discussed how would people have known if the cohenim brought the sacrifice with the blemish on its lips? Would Bar-Kamtza have found another ...
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2answers
169 views

How does Judaism answer the problem of evil? [duplicate]

I would think that after the great amount of suffering the Jews had to suffer in the 20th century a whole lot of them had to review how the deity they believed in could let what was happening to them ...
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52 views

Death Penalty for Desecrating God's Name?

In light of some of the recent embarrassing criminal incidents involving visibly religious Jews in the United States, it made me think of something I had read once ( or vaguely remember reading ) that ...
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2answers
104 views

Tikunei Ha-Zohar: What happened to Tikun 20?

hebrewbooks has a scan of the 1558 Mantuba edition of Tikunei HaZohar. In that edition, Tikun 20 is several pages long. (Starts here, goes for several pages). The only other edition I found on ...
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36 views

History of ḥalāqah/Upsherin (אפשערן/חאלאקה) [duplicate]

What are the earliest sources for these customs? i found mention of the custom amongst Sephardim of Eretz Yisrael in the Kether Shem Tob. But that only mentions it for Eretz Yisrael, and doesn't ...
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3answers
330 views

An eye for an eye Hammurabi's code [duplicate]

The Hammurabi is supposed to predate the Torah and contains a verse "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". I've done a little reading around the issue, but is there any reference to why there would ...
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3answers
25 views

Could Kohanim use pottery or only stone kelim?

Someone told me that when the Temple was standing, Kohamim could only use stone kelim because they could not become tomeh. OTOH (are these abbreviations well known here?), on the other hand, it seems ...
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46 views

Responses to Dr. Chaim S. Heifetz's timeline of Persian History

Dr. Chaim S. Heifetz has been quoted in a few places as revising the history timeline which if correct would greatly impact Jewish history from the Persian empire and on. See here ...
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1answer
89 views

Was the fast of Tisha B'av in effect during the second temple era? [duplicate]

As the Beis Hamikdash was rebuilt at that time was the fast of Tisha B'Av in effect during the Second Temple Era?
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87 views

Book about Rabbis and Zionism

What is a good book which goes into detail about Rabbis (particularly those living in Israel from 1880-1950) and their personal experience with Zionists and the Palestinians? I am particularly ...
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1answer
40 views

What is the meaning and history behind the velvet signs decorating Abraham's tomb?

I was recently reading up on Wikipedia regarding the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and was particularly interested in this picture: ...
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1answer
48 views

Is there a book or online source that discusses the history of “U.S. / Canadian use” Siddurim?

I am fascinated when I view old and even current Siddurim used in shuls in U.S. It seems that as demographics changed, new Siddurim were designed to cater to this. For example, the 1st English ...
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56 views

Were new arrivals stuck at Ellis Island for Shabbos?

If I understand correctly, if your airplane or boat arrived on Shabbos, you're stuck within a ~half-mile radius of the boat or plane until after Shabbos because of techum. (I'd heard some discussion ...
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1answer
82 views

Accuracy of Torah Text

What evidence do we have regarding the accuracy of the torah text? (five books of Moses) How much if at all has it changed over time.
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1answer
87 views

Can anybody read from the torah or prophets in a synagogue?

I am trying to understand the context of a passage from the Christian gospels. Luke 4:16 says that Jesus went into the synagogue and started reading from the book of Isaiah. At that time could ...
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2answers
48 views

What was Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi's role in compiling the Mishnah?

I have always heard that Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi "compiled" the mishna. What were his roles in compiling it in the form that we currently have it? Specifically, did he perform any of these roles: ...
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2answers
72 views

Can the Baitusim and the Essenes be one and the same?

This is a total shot in the dark, but it seems coincidental to me that we have a group of heretics closely related to the Tzedukim, called Baitusim who are never mentioned in the historical works of ...
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2answers
115 views

What's the source that יונתן בן עוזיאל passed away 26 sivan?

The tomb of ben Uzziel is located in Amuka, Galilee near Safed, Israel. It is customary to visit ben Uzziel's tomb on Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the lunar month, and on 26 Sivan (the day on ...
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4answers
106 views

History of Shabbat: how (or) did they count to align with 7th day of creation?

The Torah (Exodus 20:8-11) commands: ח: זָכוֹר אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְּשׁוֹ: ט: שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל מְלַאכְתֶּךָ: י: וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַה' אֱלֹקיךָ לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה ...
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1answer
97 views

Instances where women wore tefillin [duplicate]

Up to (and including) the period of the Rishonim, are there multiple documented instances of Jewish women wearing tefillin? Edit: As discovered by another user on this website, there is another ...
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1answer
57 views

How old was Joshua at the time of the spies?

Num 13 and 14 discuss the spies sent by Moses to asses the land, among them Joshua and Caleb. Josh 14:7 says that Caleb was 40 when he was sent as a spy. How old was Joshua at the time of the spies ...
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1answer
26 views

Hatov V'hameitiv origin

In relation to the following question:Kulo Tov, I wondered who wrote the hatov v'hameitiv and what its origin is. (Looking for sources that state that HaShem is [all/completely] good)
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263 views

What is the origin of the claim that they played games to hide Torah learning prior to Chanuka

This question makes a very commonly heard claim: "Before the miracle of Hanukkah, when those who controlled the land severely restricted Torah study, Jewish children would gather to study Torah in ...
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1answer
105 views

Mary Jesus' mother or Mary Magdalene?

The Gemara in Chaggigah (4b) mentions a woman by the name of Miriam Megadla Se'ar: זיל אייתי לי מרים מגדלא שיער נשייא Which means she was a "grower of woman's hair" which is to mean she was a ...
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87 views

Banei Abir clan of Habbani Yemenite Jewry

There's this video for "ancient tefillin wrapping" that shows a wrapping style utilizing the paleo-hebrew characters. The statement is that this method of wrapping is preserved by the "Banei Abir clan ...
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1answer
31 views

Authorship of Midrash Tehillim

What do traditional sources say regarding the date of authorship of Midrash Tehillim?