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

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16
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6answers
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Are there any Jewish people alive today who can identify themselves as coming from a particular tribe?

The Christian "New Testament" claims Paul (Saul) was of the tribe of Benjamin. Since Roman times have there been any people who can validly claim they were from a particular tribe? At least at that ...
3
votes
1answer
65 views

Onkelos Commentary

Rashi on the talmud (kidushin 49a) says the aramaic translation/commentary on the torah was given at sinai, forgotten and brought back by Onkelos. Where did Onkelos obtain the correct text?
6
votes
2answers
132 views

What is the significance of 7-month births?

I have noticed that there are a number of significant figures in Jewish history who were born at 7 months. To name a few: Yitzchok Avinu (Rosh Hashana 11a) Reuvein, Shimon, and Levi (Rabbeinu ...
0
votes
0answers
23 views

Which rabbis (among hazal) read texts of Torah she Ba'al Peh?

Which rabbis (among hazal) do we hear about reading aggadata/targum/any other form of 'torah she ba'al peh'? What's the earliest example? When is reading (as opposed to hearing) aggadata first ...
0
votes
2answers
116 views

How to Reconcile if/when the Jewish Day Was to Begin at Sunset?

Question: Are there any historical documents that detail the differences in opinions on when the "Jewish Day" began? (Perhaps between Sadducee and Pharisee/Rabbinic definitions, etc). What the ...
3
votes
1answer
70 views

German and Ethiopian Jews in the time of the Mishna?

According to Negaim 3:1, the laws of negaim only apply to Jews (הכל מטּמאין בנגעים חוץ מגוים), but according to Negaim 2:1 they apply to people from Germany (גרמני) and Ethiopia (or Numibia, etc; ...
1
vote
0answers
41 views

When did the Jewish people knead the dough that they took out of Egypt?

The Jewish people took dough out of Egypt with them. See Shemos 12 (39) which says “They baked the dough that they had taken out of Egypt as unleavened cakes, for it had not leavened, for they ...
8
votes
2answers
398 views

Chad Gadya: The price of a kid goat

Was the fair market value of a kid goat really two zuzim? This piyyut is of course allegorical, but, if the value given is highly inaccurate, is the discrepancy in value symbolic beyond the symbolism ...
1
vote
0answers
25 views

What subjects did talmud censoring involve and how far back does it go?

I'm aware of censoring of the name Yeshu, in the soncino printing of the talmud where they replaced it with "sinners of israel" in Gittin 57a. I'm interested what other subjects or names were ...
5
votes
1answer
166 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
25 views

The life of Jochebed

What, if anything, does the rabbinical literature say happened to Jochebed, the mother of Moses, after she put Moses in the basket on the river?
4
votes
2answers
86 views

Under whose rule was the second Beis Hamikdash destroyed?

Rashi in Sota (41a) says אגריפס המלך. מלך ישראל היה מזרעו של הורדוס והוא שנחרב בהמ"ק בימיו The Beis Hamikdash was destroyed in the days of Aggripas. I thought that by the time of the ...
2
votes
1answer
67 views

erroneous decisions by beit din for which korbanot must be brought by beit din and the people

In masechet horayot we learn that korbanot must be brought if the beit din makes an erroneous decision that is followed by the people. Do we know of such a mistake that was made by a beit din? If so, ...
12
votes
0answers
66 views

What kind of seder did a non-oleh l'regel have during the time of the Bais Hamikdash (and for that matter, the entire 40 years in the desert)?

Our haggadah did not always exist - it appears to be primarily from the time of the Mishna. Before then, there was a Korban Pesach and specific procedures for organizing family and/or friends to eat ...
2
votes
1answer
70 views

Rav Moshe's Psak on Fertility Treatments

I recently read an interview with Rav Dovid Feinstein and he referenced a two year period of Rav Moshe's life that were troubling due to backlash he received following a controversial psak regarding ...
1
vote
0answers
25 views

What happened to the Mugmar?

In Brochos Perek 6, Mishna 6 the Mugmar is mentioned in the context of who makes the Brocha for it. Commentaries explain that it is some sort of incense that was smelled after a meal. It would ...
4
votes
0answers
48 views

Timeline of the 10 plagues in exodus?

Do we have a chronological timeline (with years) of the 10 plagues? I'm trying to recreate a full timeline of the הגדה של פסח for the upcoming holiday, going from the arrival of Jacob and his family ...
7
votes
5answers
694 views

Why are there so few Jews if God promised Abraham his children would number like the stars?

God promises Abraham a number of times that he would father a great nation whose numbers would be like the stars in the sky or the sand on the beach. However today there are less than 14 million ...
4
votes
2answers
676 views

Did circumcision exist before Abraham?

I heard it claimed recently that Circumcision was an act that was already practiced before God came to Abraham. The claim mentions that God took it and made it a token of His covenant with his people, ...
5
votes
2answers
109 views

Who were the original users of Ktav Ashuri?

According to one opinion found in the Talmud Sanhedrin 22a ktav ashuri was brought up from the first exile, assumedly adopted from Babylonian sources. Who exactly was using this alphabet? Do we have ...
12
votes
2answers
296 views

How and when did fedoras arise as acceptable headwear?

Today I learned that the fedora was originally a woman's hat, invented/popularized for women in the late 19th century and only migrating into menswear after 1924 when Prince Edward of England started ...
8
votes
2answers
239 views

How is it that the Talmud can make historical mistakes?

A Rav told me that when it comes to science and nature, the Talmud can say incorrect things (i.e. about animals, cosmology) because they were going by the Greeks and Romans. (Where he gets permission ...
22
votes
3answers
770 views

Providing wine for Christian ceremonial purposes: in the 8th century, what did the rabbis write?

Under Charlemagne in the 8th century and the Carolingian emperors, Jews were official importers of exotic foods from the Holy Land;[1] they also provided wine for Christian mass. At the time, what ...
2
votes
3answers
212 views

When and why did the custom that a Nidda hides from the public that she is a Nidda start

I understand that in the past it was not hidden from the public that a Nidda was a Nidda, as they wore special clothing. As we see the רע"ב's explanation in the Mishna in Kethubot 7:6 ...
2
votes
5answers
104 views

Can Chazal be wrong?

I understand that a later ruling can't contradict an earlier one, but does that mean that Chazal are infallible, the way Catholics believe the Pope is infallible? And if so, where's the line? Who was ...
2
votes
0answers
31 views

Why do we refer to Chazal as a monolithic group?

In discussions of Torah, halacha, etc., people often say, "According to Chazal..." as though all the thousands of rabbis of an 800-year period spoke with one voice. But you almost never hear people ...
-1
votes
0answers
32 views

Literature about The Temple in Jerusalem

Is there any literature one can recommend about what was going on in the Temple in Jerusalem? Parts of the Talmud, writings from the sages, classical Jewish books. That talk about what was going on, ...
4
votes
3answers
90 views

Is there an online resource that gives an “overview” of safrut?

Between Mincha and Ma'ariv on Shmini Atzeret, I'd like to give a short shiur on some interesting facts about how a Torah is written. I'm looking for some fairly easy to understand online resources on ...
1
vote
1answer
54 views

Rambam Epistle to Yemen identification

In Rambam's Epistle, he mentions three groups that challenged the Jewish people by coming up with a new religion. He mentions Jesus first and Islam (who he refers to as the Madman) last. However, he ...
6
votes
1answer
152 views

What sources did people use to support Shabbtai Tsvi's messianism after he died?

I can understand the appeal of a messiah in 1600s Eastern Europe. I can understand that we want a messiah and we're willing to accept one, whether it be Bar Kochva or Shabbtai Tsvi. But on what ...
7
votes
2answers
88 views

When did Jews adopt the custom of saying “Baruch Hashem”?

When did Jews adopt the custom of saying "Baruch Hashem"? The only people who said B"H in the Chumash were non-Jews: Noah, Malkitzedek, Avimelech, Eliezer, Lavan, and Yitro!
2
votes
1answer
120 views

Why did Judaism stop using the Septuagint?

I heard somewhere (I don't remember the details) that the Septuagint ceased to be read in the Jewish community. Why?
1
vote
1answer
62 views

Why was the ramchal banned, and how did he become so widely accepted later?

When ramchal was in Italy he was put in cherem for his writing and eventually left to live in Israel. Why did this happen and what changed about the perception of him?
5
votes
3answers
194 views

Why were there no Jewish philosophy tracts until the Rasag?

Jews had their first bump into philosophy when Alexander the Great conquered Israel (in the early Tanaic period). Since then, we lived under the Greeks and Romans for a few hundred years. Both of ...
0
votes
2answers
83 views

Is the number 6 considered evil in Judaism?

I have heard from some sources that the number six is/can be construed as an evil number in Judaism, and as such, it should be avoided. Is there truth to this? If so, what is the reasoning behind ...
9
votes
4answers
812 views

Where does “probeh” come from?

Every time recently that I've heard of an Orthodox congregation conducting a search for a rabbi, the stage at which the rabbi visits the community for a Shabbat and auditions for the position is ...
4
votes
0answers
140 views

Holidays south of the equator

When Jews first started establishing communities south of the equator, they must have noticed that the holidays fell completely at the wrong times of the year. (For example, Pesach, referred to as hag ...
2
votes
0answers
163 views

What is the date ending the 700 years mentioned in these midrashim?

Based on this answer I was able to have some extra fun reading over Shabbat. First, I would like to say, that I was amazed as to how much of the material I was allready familiar with, mostly from ...
1
vote
0answers
34 views

Answering questions posed by Egyptians: a query on the Mishna

When the Seleucid king, Demetrius, appointed Alcimus the high priest in Jerusalem around 162 BCE, the rightful heir to the position (Onias IV) fled to Egypt. There, he was granted permission by the ...
10
votes
2answers
749 views

Why was Chassidus controversial?

When Chassidus came about, it was very controversial. The Vilna Gaon even put Chassidim in cherem. What were the reasons for the controversy? And why is there peace and mutual respect today between ...
5
votes
3answers
181 views

History of Birkas haMinim

What is the history behind the bracha of v'lamalshim? Was there a specific ideology or group that the baracha was targeting? Why would someone davening to Hashem and saying the rest of the barachos ...
0
votes
1answer
40 views

How was the world created through the even shesiya?

In Yoma 54, it says the world was created with the Even Shesiya (primordial rock). Is this to be taken literally and if yes, do we have details into this process?
0
votes
0answers
21 views

Pairs of the Ramchal's works

Machon Ofek has published the Ramchal's Mesillas Yesharim (MY) as well as what they call The Mesillas Yesharim- Seder Vikuach which is essentially the same as the commonly known MY but in dialogue ...
4
votes
1answer
218 views

Sitting or Standing for Kaddish - historical divergence between Conservative and Orthodox minhag

At most (maybe even all?) Conservative synagogues, the congregation remains seated during every kaddish (except mourner's kaddish, and then only mourners rise). At Ashkenazic Orthodox synagogues, the ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

When in history did Purim happen?

When in history did Purim happen? I understand that there are several opinions that this is based on (who אחשורוש was, whether this was before or after the end of the exile), but I've been unable to ...
8
votes
4answers
557 views

Origin of Reform/Conservative “scarf” talleisim

I've noticed that Reform and Conservative often use small "scarf" talleisim (here's an image). Where did this practice originate? (Is there any connection to the scarves that some Christian priests ...
5
votes
3answers
184 views

Prior to the Men of the Great Assembly (and after Moses, our teacher), could halacha be decided by prophecy?

I think that I remember hearing that during the times of the Men of the Great Assembly, it was decided that prophecy would no longer be used to determine halachic rulings, i.e that before then it was ...
42
votes
3answers
811 views

Were slave-related commandments observed in America?

Since there was slavery in the Americas between their discovery and 1865, do we know of any Jewish slave-owners there who observed slavery-related laws of Judaism?
-2
votes
1answer
48 views

Dialogue Between Jews And Persians In Jewish Tradition

I always wonder what people refer to when they quote things spoken between the Jews and the Persians. Does ancient Jewish doctrine include instances of dialogue between the Jews and the Persians?
6
votes
2answers
387 views

What is meant by the term “midina”/“provinces” as in the 127 ruled by Ahasuerus?

Esther 1:1 says: Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus -- he was the Ahasuerus who reigned from Hodu to Cush, one hundred twenty-seven provinces. For historical context, the period of the ...