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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

6
votes
1answer
164 views

Are the seventy distinct languages and nations listed?

It's a well known concept that there were 70 nations and 70 original languages. Is there any agreement about which ones they were/are? I found this which lists the nations, but I'm interested in ...
10
votes
2answers
375 views

Is it possible for mesorah to be discovered?

Suppose there was a previously unknown collection of midrash or sayings or halachah or commentary that was discovered in an archaeological excavation and is hundreds or thousands of years old. ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Chazon Ish neurosurgery diagram

There is a well-known story about the Chazon Ish, where someone who was scheduled to undergo a neurosurgical procedure came to him for advice, and the Chazon Ish drew a diagram for the surgeon ...
9
votes
0answers
69 views

Was a sefer torah ever actually written in Greek?

This answer to a different question states that the only other language a sefer torah can be written in and be kosher is Greek. (Rambam, Hilchot Sefer Torah 1:19 says that this Greek no longer exists ...
2
votes
2answers
99 views

The disappearance of וסת קבוע and הרגשות

At some point in history, Jewish women used to have very regularly scheduled Monthly cycles, and used to have some sensation that accompanied the onset of menstruation. Both of these play important ...
6
votes
0answers
87 views

Napoléon's Sanhedrin

In 1806, Napoléon Bonaparte convened a synod of French rabbinim (mainly Alsatiens and Bordelais) to ascertain halachic opinions on a set of questions. What is the halachic standing of this synod's ...
4
votes
2answers
145 views

What is the origin of the song Echad Mi Yodeya?

Who is the author or what is the origin of the song commonly found in the haggadah called Echad Mi Yodeya?
1
vote
1answer
191 views

Were some Jews transformed to monkeys for violating the sabbath?

Some historical Islamic sources quote that early Jews who violated the Sabbath were transformed into apes : O Jews! Remember that Allah sent His torment on the village that disobeyed Him and broke ...
4
votes
2answers
297 views

Interpreting the Zohar's Prediction of the year 1840

On the verse in parsha Noach (Genesis 7:11): "In the six-hundredth year in the life of Noah... all wellsprings of the great deep burst open, and the windows of heaven were opened..." The Zohar (part ...
2
votes
0answers
41 views

Source for Jewish Chapter breaks in Tanach

I know that the chapter divisions are a Christian invention, and therefore don't exist in very old Jewish sources (Aleppo Codex, Leningrad Codex, dead sea scrolls, etc.). However our divisions don't ...
3
votes
1answer
126 views

Why Choose Talmud Bavli For The Daily Study

As we know it is a big custom to learn a daf of Talmud Bavli a day (Dafyomi). My question is why did they choose to pick Talmud Bavli. There are so many other Subjects that could actually affect ...
4
votes
5answers
436 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
65 views

Who are the ווינדין whom the Maharil says are the Mitzrim?

The Maharil, brought in likutei Maharil #95 quotes his rebbi Mahara'sh as saying the nation called ווינדין are the Mitzrim (Egyptians). אמר מהר׳ש שקבלה בידו מאותו אומה שקורין ווינדין הם המצרים, ...
10
votes
1answer
115 views

What is the rationale to continue saying Yekum Purkan in its present state

In Yekum Purkan, we pray for the well-being of the rabbis in Bavel, the Reishei Chalei, & the Reish Galvasa (commonly pronounced Galussa). This specific prayer for non-existent people and ...
6
votes
5answers
200 views

What is the Difference Between Prophets and Writings?

In the Tanakh, the Jewish Biblical Canon, there are three categories of works: the Torah of Moses, and what are know as the 'Prophets' and 'Writings'. This categorization is outlined and mentioned in ...
4
votes
1answer
174 views

Can a court declare a minor's lulav ownerless? Has one?

Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 658:6, says that one should not give his lulav to a minor as a gift, as the minor cannot give it back to him. (Minors cannot give anyone legal ownership in anything.) ...
4
votes
1answer
66 views

Recommend introductory resources on Jewish traditions in the Balkans

A couple of years ago I found out that I have some Jewish ancestry when investigating my family's history. I know that my great grandfather perished in the holocaust, but I was led to believe that it ...
4
votes
1answer
60 views

Source of the term בכתמים שומעין להקל

In the halachos of Niddah, there is a term which I have come across not infrequently. The term is בכתמים שומעין להקל, which roughly translated means "in [the halachos of blood] stains we listen to ...
18
votes
9answers
1k views

Archeological proof of Exodus?

Is there empirical proof that the exodus from Egypt and related happenings (like Har Sinai etc) did in fact occur (i.e: Archeological proof)? I believe in the Torah, but how would you prove to someone ...
1
vote
1answer
97 views

Lot's Daughters

Why did Lot's daughters have relations with their father?
3
votes
1answer
115 views

What is this line about Rachel referring to?

What is this line in the classic song Mama Rochel talking about? But when nightfall came, Destiny betrayed, The veil concealing another. Yet her sister's shame, not her shattered dreams, ...
3
votes
6answers
618 views

Niddah and Counting 7 Clean Days - What are its Origins?

The following comment is made in the wikipedia entry on Niddah: In the days of the Amoraim, because of possible confusion in determining when menstruation began and ended and hence whether blood ...
6
votes
3answers
553 views

The value of the daily study of Chitas (Chumash, Tehilim, Tanya)?

What's the value of learning "Chitas" compared to any other daily Torah study? Side question: If it's so important, why was it introduced only recently?
4
votes
1answer
50 views

Tefillin Gassot

According to this video, gassot have only been around for about a century. I know for a fact that when my father became bar mitzvah, his grandfather got him tefillin dakkot (his father got new ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

B'siyata D'shmaya or Baruch Hashem

Often, at the top of written work, Jews write either ב"ה, which stands for Baruch Hashem =blessed is the Name i.e., God, or בס"ד, which stands for b'siyata d'shmaya =with Heavenly help. What is the ...
2
votes
3answers
444 views

What exactly happened on the 25th of Kislev?

What historical event (if any) actually took place on the 25th of Kislev to cause that date to be the commencement of Chanukah?
-1
votes
1answer
57 views

Maskilim and Jüdischkeit

I often hear that the maskilim of the 18th and 19th centuries were, without exception, secularists and religious reformers. Is this true or were some/most of them actually religious individuals who ...
4
votes
1answer
63 views

What happened to Siman 168?

If you look in the Tur Yoreh Deah Siman 168 (so too the Shulchan Aruch), you'll notice that there's nothing there. Was it lost sometime in history? It looks like the Shulchan Aruch also didn't have ...
3
votes
4answers
175 views

Where was Berit Ben Habetarim done?

I've always imagined that Berit Ben Habetarim was done in Eretz Yisrael, but someone recently told me it happened in Haran. Anybody have any sources for either?
3
votes
0answers
78 views

Are Samaritans viewed as adherents of Judaism?

Shalom, In Judaism, particularly from an Orthodox perspective, are Samaritans seen as fellow Jews? Sometimes I see their religion refferred to as 'Samaritanism', sometimes as Judaism. Also, is ...
1
vote
2answers
120 views

Why isn't the bible 100% historically accurate? [closed]

In day school my teachers often said that the torah isn't a history book. Today academicians, historians, and the like diligently present historical inaccuracies in the bible. For example the story of ...
3
votes
1answer
60 views

Why did they cancel the kohein races over an isolated incident?

Mishna Yoma 2:1-2: ב,א בראשונה, כל מי שהוא רוצה לתרום את המזבח, תורם; בזמן שהן מרובין, רצין ועולים בכבש, וכל הקודם את חברו לתוך ארבע אמות זכה. ואם היו שניהם שווין, הממונה אומר להן הצביעו: מה הן ...
19
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is the Jewish Population so small?

Judaism is one of the oldest religions, but there aren't many Jews compared to Muslims and Christians. What are main reasons behind that?
8
votes
0answers
158 views

Did any of chazal 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: ...
6
votes
1answer
814 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
336 views

How was Tevilas Ezra effective in limiting conjugal relations?

Many go to mikve (perform ritual immersion) every morning. One reason for this is voluntary continuation of a cancelled decree, Tevilas Ezra, meant to limit conjugal relations by requiring immersion ...
7
votes
1answer
31 views

The name change of the Divrei Chamudos

The shaar blatt (page with the brief list of what's in the book) of my Shas (and this Shas) says that the Divrei Chamudos was originally called the Lechem Chamudos and the Maadanei Yom Tov was ...
8
votes
2answers
139 views

Pirates and Torah

In the 16th and 17th centuries European nations granted "letters of marque" licensing pirates to attack rival nation's ships. The major powers at the time were England, Portugal, Spain, and France ...
3
votes
1answer
84 views

In What year was “Al Pi Kabalah” first quoted for a Halachic ruling?

The phrase "al pi Kabalah" (based on Kabalah) is often used in teshuvot for various minhagim or halachot. When is the first recorded instance of somebody recording the Halacha either "al pi Kabalah" ...
4
votes
1answer
36 views

Why is there no clear Chabad custom regarding Tzom G'dalya s'lichos: early morning or during shacharis?

In the 2005/5765 Kehot edition of סליחות על־פי מנהג חב״ד/Slichos appears part of a letter by the last Lubavitcher rebbe with no date on it. It reads, in part: לא שמעתי הוראה בסדר סליחות ליום זה ...
-5
votes
1answer
94 views

Is there really evidence that the Rabbis changed the day's beginning from sunrise to sunset? [closed]

The writing of the two Rabbis quoted below state that the Rabbis changed the start of the day from sunrise to sunset. Rabbi Drazin wrote that "we know for certain that the day began in the Temple at ...
0
votes
1answer
50 views

Source for Africans being Caananites?

In Alex's answer to Did any Achronim comment on the American Revolutionary or Civil Wars? he says that a certain Rav was opposed to the Emancipation Proclamation, because it goes against Noach's ...
3
votes
5answers
249 views

Saying Rishonim or Achronim were “wrong”

People are very careful (and rightfully so) to say when they don't understand the words of the Achronim or Rishonim to not say they are/were "wrong". But rather to say "I don't understand what he ...
3
votes
1answer
101 views

Antiquarian Safrut

Is there any resource for looking at examples of the old forms of safrut from before the Second World War? I have seen un-sourced photos of strikingly different variations within the Ashkenazi and ...
3
votes
4answers
694 views

Matrilineal Descent

I have heard that matrilineal descent (i.e. having Judaism passed down through the mother) comes from the Roman period when women were raped by Roman soldiers and the babies were then said to be ...
7
votes
1answer
310 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
270 views

What's the origin of having more than one name?

I suppose this is more of a history question: as in when did Jewish people start naming their children with more than one name? But I would also be interested in knowing the circumstances behind it? ...
23
votes
18answers
1k views

About what were rabbis ahead of the times?

I have heard claims that experts in the world of Torah were significantly ahead of their counterparts in the world of natural science (or mathematics, or psychology, or…) in that they knew X ...
7
votes
3answers
428 views

Why did God do nothing against the Romans that desecrated the Temple?

When good guy made a mistake, like Uzzah trying to fix the ark, God killed him (see II Samuel 6:6). However, Uzzah does not seem that evil. I mean, the ark stumbled and he just tried to help. Then, ...
2
votes
1answer
96 views

What does the talmud/rabbinic writing have to say about Yeishu hanotzri (Jesus)?

I Understand that the name Jesus was not uncommon 2000 years ago, and Jewish writings about person of historical interest to the christian church call him "Yeishu hanotzri" = "Jesus the Nazarene". I ...