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

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1answer
1k views

Where did the Plishtim (Philistines) come from?

Concerning the Plishtim (Philistines), Easton's Bible Dictionary (quoted here) says: They occupied the five cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, in the south-western corner of ...
4
votes
1answer
165 views

Is there any corobating evidence besides the Bible of the stories of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadrach,_Meshach,_and_Abednego (AKA Chananya, Mishael, and Azarya) The story is that these 3 people did not bow to a golden image. Then they got thrown into a fire. A ...
9
votes
3answers
313 views

Did all animals come into the Teiva?

Were there any type of animals that were destroyed completely by the Mabul? (For example - Is there any source that there were dinosaurs or any other type of wildlife and they were destroyed by the ...
16
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2answers
438 views

Halachot of Shul Mechitzas

What are some good books, articles, websites, or seforim for learning about the Halachot of constructing and maintaining a Shul Mechitza (the barrier between the men and women sections)? Issues ...
10
votes
1answer
191 views

What are these three types of Amos?

I'm not one to usually go to Google itself to learn about Judaism, but I feel that the circumstances around how I discovered this is really intriguing... Google Maps has a nice little feature that ...
4
votes
1answer
113 views

Who wrote the piyutim of Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur?

I don't know if they are technically called "piyutim", but there is a nusach we say on Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur between "Ata Kadosh" to "Hamelech Hakadosh". Was that decreed by the Anshei Knesses ...
10
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1answer
173 views

Does Torah inerrancy extend to the prophets and the writings?

Most Orthodox Jewish scholars hold that the Torah is 100% factually accurate (see previous question). I believe this is generally understood to refer specifically to the five books of Moses. What do ...
9
votes
1answer
131 views

layout of the Gemara

When was the current pagination of the Gemara finalized? It seems that it was before the Vilna print, though it seems from different Acharonim (the Rama, etc.) quoting the Mordechai that the Mordechai ...
16
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3answers
746 views

Why do we bow down in the direction of the ark?

This is a question I've had for many years, to which I've never received a satisfactory answer: In Hebrew school, we were taught that idolaters bowed to a idol of their god. They would claim that ...
8
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2answers
485 views

Was “correcting” left-handed children something traditionally done by Jews?

In many societies, efforts are made to "convert" children who are naturally left-handed to using their right hands. As I understand it, modern neurology strongly frowns upon this practice. I recall ...
4
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2answers
2k views

how old is Judaism?

How old is Judaism - not legendary, but indicated by science? What are the oldest scriptures found of the story of Moses, for example? Or are the scriptures imported from very different cultures so ...
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1answer
115 views

Did 1 million Ethiopians really attack Israel?

2 Chronicles 14:8 And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah. How could the Ethiopians have an army ...
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5answers
2k views

Have Jews believed that Ezra was the son of God?

In reading the Qur'an, I noticed this passage: Qur'an 9:30 The Jews say, "Ezra is the son of Allah "; and the Christians say, "The Messiah is the son of Allah ." That is their statement from their ...
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2answers
3k views

Why do the Philistines have many Giants?

Were the Philistine giants bigger than the Israelites? Were giants common among the Israelites' neighbors? Did they have better nutrition? (Just curious.) Were the Israelites typically smaller in ...
6
votes
4answers
724 views

Why use Babylonian calendar instead of our own?

Why did the Hebrews not create their own calendar system instead of copying the pagan Babylonians'? I find it interesting that they use a pagan calendar which often honours pagan gods. Why is this ...
6
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2answers
149 views

Looking for biographical information about R. Avraham Halevi Fattal

I'm writing something for which I need a capsule biography of him. So far, about all I know is: He is the father-in-law of (יבלח"ט) R. Ovadiah Yosef. He was an important figure in the Syrian Jewish ...
5
votes
1answer
112 views

How and when did the word “Kollel” come to mean “an institution for paying scholars to study Torah”?

How and when did the word "Kollel" come to mean "an institution for paying scholars to study Torah"? If I'm not mistaken, the Hebrew word "kollel" means "includes." But today we've all heard of the ...
6
votes
1answer
407 views

Where did the Levitical priesthood go?

Has the sacrificial system of the Torah been abandoned? Do those in the Tribe of Levi still act as priest? I have just never seen or heard of anyone making sacrifices of animals or going to a ...
12
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1answer
263 views

Kubutz and shuruk in Polish/Hungarian pronunciation

What is the origin or basis of the Polish and Hungarian prevalence for pronouncing "oo" vowels as "ee"? The variants of other vowels are easier to understand in the context of phonological shifting, ...
16
votes
2answers
447 views

Jews under Charlemagne

Jews under Charlemagne in the 8th century and the Carolingian emperors were accredited food providers in addition to providing wine for Christian mass. I am looking for halachic responses to these ...
10
votes
3answers
238 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? ...
14
votes
8answers
827 views

“If God had not delivered us from Egypt we would still be slaves”? Really?

One part of the Pesach seder that has always bothered me is saying that if God had not taken us out of Mitzrayim at that time we would still be slaves today. This seems lacking in faith in God; ...
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5answers
286 views

Learning History on Shabbos

Is there a Halachic problem to read and or learn the topic of History on Shabbos for enjoyment purposes? and why?
2
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1answer
225 views

Who were the Magharians?

Title says it all. Who were the Magharians? It seems like they were some group of Pre-Christianity Jews or something like that that lived in caves?
12
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2answers
150 views

Sukkah in the Soviet Union

The opinion of the Shulchan Aruch Harav is that one isn't allowed to build a Sukkah on public property (because it is considered stolen). In the Soviet Union all property was nationalized and they ...
9
votes
1answer
424 views

What was the topic debated in the series of Satmar/Lubavitch talks?

I'd heard there was a point in the late twentieth century when the Lubavitcher Rebbe (R' Menachem Mendel Schneurson) would give an address, which would be relayed to the Satmar Rebbe (R' Yoel ...
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4answers
504 views

What is the source of the Magen Dovid (Star of David)?

What is the source of the Magen Dovid (Star of David) in Rabbinic Judaism? When was it first used, and for what?
10
votes
1answer
82 views

Who instituted the Nusach of the Mi SheBerachs that we say?

Who instituted the Nusach of the Mi SheBerachs that we say for a newborn, for a sick person, after an Aliyah, etc.?
10
votes
3answers
188 views

Who instituted the Musaf prayer?

According to the Gemara in Brachot, there are two views about Shacharit, Mincha, and Maariv: one is that the Avot instituted them, and one is that they correspond to the daily tmidin and the burning ...
11
votes
3answers
509 views

What has the Holocaust taught us as a people?

The Holocaust was one of the most horrific and important events in our history. What have rabbis said are lessons we should take from it? I am looking for lessons that should apply to all Jews, ...
6
votes
1answer
766 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
117 views

Community/Synagogue Honorifics

I visited the Rare Books section of the JTS in New York in Dec. 2009, to view an old manuscript from Kezmarok, Slovakia. I selected certain pages that I was interested in translating, on behalf of ...
4
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2answers
304 views

Source of appellation “Shimshon HaGibor”

I've heard it claimed that the expression "Shimshon HaGibor" (Samson the Mighty) [as a descriptive of Shimshon in Tanach] was invented by the Zionists, to promote their "strong Jew" narrative. Is this ...
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2answers
375 views

When did people stop wearing Tefilin all day?

At what point in history did most religous people stop wearing Tefilin all day?
9
votes
1answer
214 views

Chamisha Asar B'Av - when did the Minhag stop?

The Gemara Taanis 31. says אמר רבן שמעון בן גמליאל לא היו ימים טובים לישראל כחמשה עשר באב וכיוה"כ שבהן בנות ירושלים יוצאות ... וחולות בכרמים ומה היו אומרות בחור שא נא עיניך וראה מה אתה בורר לך אל תתן ...
5
votes
1answer
51 views

Choosing Rabbonim in shtetlach

How were Rabbonim chosen in Shetlach? Was there an Election (like in Crown Heights), and if so, who were eligible to vote? Was it all men were allowed, or just learned members of the community?
4
votes
1answer
87 views

seeking text of a notice published by the Malbim

Someone told the following story today (or something like the following story. I may be remembering it incorrectly to some extent). He said he had gotten it from a book called Em Habanim S'mecha, ...
5
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0answers
94 views

Why are the kinos about Jeremiah's appeal to the avos out of order?

The kina (elegy, said on the ninth of Av) about Jeremiah's going to ask the avos to pray (kina 21 in at least some versions) is said before the one about Tziyon's telling him to do so (22). Why this ...
11
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2answers
141 views

Did Shuls in Europe display their countries' flags prior to the holocaust?

Prior to the holocaust, did Shuls in Europe display their countries' respective flags? Do Shuls currently display their countries' flags? When did it start and why?
10
votes
3answers
352 views

Pre-1948, what flags were found in American synagogues?

Certainly throughout the 1970s and 1980s, it was not at all uncommon to see an American synagogue where the Aron Kodesh was flanked by American and Israeli flags. Pre-1948, was there just an American ...
3
votes
1answer
193 views

Which rabbis forbade cars 100 years ago?

"Venishmartem Meod Lenafshoseichem" I heard that there were Rabbonim about 100 years ago who forbade cars, saying that they were dangerous. Does anyone know who they were?
6
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1answer
288 views

Who divided the Tehillim into days?

Who divided the Sefer Tehillim into daily sections (both day of week and day of month)?
6
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1answer
215 views

Did the Sefer Torah written by the Maharam of Rottenberg survive the Holocaust?

There is a famous story of the Maharam copying a Sefer Torah written by Moshe Rabbeinu. Before passing, he threw it in the river by the castle in which he was arrested. This Sefer Torah reached ...
11
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3answers
259 views

Who was the first Chasidishe Rabbi to settle in the USA?

Who was the first Chasidishe Rabbi to settle in the USA? Where did he settle?
8
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3answers
278 views

Why the split between Sefardim and Ashkenzim?

Why is there a much bigger split between Sefardim and Ashkenzim and not, say, between Sefardim and people who lived in Bavel? The distance between Spain, and say, Israel should have been big enough to ...
10
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2answers
195 views

Did the Rosh (Rabbeinu Asher) describe the culture clash moving from medieval Germany to Spain?

Rabbi Asher (the "Rosh") moved from medieval Germany to Spain. I know he describes some different halachic practices that were done in Spain (e.g. linen tzitzis); but does he describe the difference ...
0
votes
1answer
194 views

What was the 'evolution' of determining who is part of the Jewish people?

Starting with Abraham and continuing till modern halacha. how has the halacha regarding who is part of the Jewish people changed? What were the causes of the change, and the reasoning, and the change ...
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2answers
469 views

Were slave-related commandments observed in America?

Since there was slavery in the Americas between their discovery and 1856, do we know of any Jewish slave-owners there who observed slavery-related laws of Judaism?
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2answers
420 views

לשון הקדש: the oldest language?

Rashi to B'reshis 2:23 says that the language Adam spoke was one that Rashi calls לשון הקדש, lashon hakodesh (or l'shon hakodesh), and that contains the words אִשָּׁה and אִישׁ. Keeping to Rashi's ...
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votes
0answers
132 views

Who gave the “yadav rav lo” ordination a few decades ago?

According to Rabbi Hoenig's article, "The Orthodox Rabbi as Military Chaplain" (Tradition Fall 1976, emphasis in the original): This situation brought up the question of proper ordination, the ...