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

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8
votes
2answers
134 views

Why is 'Rabbenu Tam' called Rabbenu Tam?

Rabbenu Tam's name was יעקב בן מאיר. Why then is he known as Rabbenu Tam?
2
votes
2answers
162 views

Why is “Merkos L'inyonei Chinuch” spelled that way?

In the title Merkos L'inyonei Chinuch, why is the word מרכז transliterated with an 's' in place of a 'ז' rather than a 'z'?
4
votes
3answers
151 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
214 views

the dress of the followers of Harav Kook

Harav Kook was basically a litai, and dressed like one and even had a shtreimel. Today his followers and talmidim from his yeshiva don't even use any kind of suit (long or short) or hat and even make ...
3
votes
1answer
138 views

Shmuel Yosef Agnon's Nobel Prize Speech Audio?

Does anyone know where I can find a recording of Shmuel Yosef Agnon's speech for winning the Nobel Prize?
3
votes
1answer
107 views

“The Romans' Book” in Ramba"n

The commentary of Ramba"n on Vayikra 26:16 explains a large swath of parashas B'chukosai as an allegory to the two batei Mikdash and the corresponding exiles. Included therein, he elaborates on the ...
2
votes
5answers
1k views

A natural explanation for the significance of the numbers 7 and 40

In the Jewish religious texts the numbers 7 and 40 seem to appear quite often and carry special significance. Some examples among many: God's creation lasts 7 days The Great Flood was from rain ...
15
votes
6answers
1k views

Is there “Torah Inerrancy”?

Is there Torah inerrancy? In other words, does the Torah contain no factual errors: the Noah flood did occur, Garden of Eden did exist, Adam and Eve did live there and were subsequently expelled, etc ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

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 ...
13
votes
3answers
185 views

What is the explanation for the destruction of the First Temple?

What is the explanation (according to the Jewish Bible, Talmud, etc.) for the destruction of the First Temple?
4
votes
1answer
147 views

g'mara about David's conception

Where's the g'mara about Yishay's divorce (or was it separation?) and David's conception, please?
6
votes
1answer
294 views

Who asked Rav Moshe about capital punishment?

There is an interesting t'shuva in Igros Moshe Choshen Mishpat vol.2 #68 (pt. 1 pt. 2) in which he explains the extreme rarity of capital punishment in Jewish law, especially in modern times. It is ...
10
votes
3answers
477 views

Disparity between male and female pronunciation of Cholam

In many Yeshivish communities in the US, the male segment of the population vocalizes the cholam as "oi," while their female counterparts vocalize it as a long "o". How did this come about? Does the ...
4
votes
2answers
223 views

Why can an Eruv be made in cities nowadays?

Some Facts: An eruv cannot be made in a reshus harabim. Many eruvin are made in cities nowadays. Cities are much bigger now than they were thousands of years ago. Yet it seems that in those ...
4
votes
1answer
184 views

Aleinu L'Shabeach - Nusach HaTefila

The words "Sheheim Mishtachavim Li-Hevel Voryk Umispallelim El Eil Lo-Yoshiya" - Was this originally part of Aleinu and then removed, or was it added later to Aleinu? Why was this done?
2
votes
1answer
177 views

Ben Petura - The Nazarene?

The Gemara in Bava Metzia 62a talks about two people in the desert and who gets the water first. I heard that the character Ben Petura is the Nazarene; can anyone confirm or deny this with a source? ...
7
votes
3answers
177 views

failed sale of chametz

Are there any recorded (recorded, perhaps, in responsa) instances of a failed sale of chametz (e.g., the gentile refused to buy the stuff and another couldn't be found, or the rabbi forgot to do it), ...
3
votes
1answer
84 views

Who composed Ka Keili?

Who composed Ka Keili? What is the earliest source for this song?
5
votes
1answer
94 views

Using The Washington Haggadah

Yesterday, Harvard University Press released a haggadah which is a reproduction of a manuscript written in 1478 and held by the Library of Congress. It can be purchased on Amazon. If I bought this, ...
3
votes
3answers
128 views

why isn't moshe considered a “forefather”

if moshe led us out of egypt, into israel, and is a great man why isn't he considered a forefather.
10
votes
3answers
345 views

When/how was the controversy regarding stainless-steel blades for shechitah resolved?

My understanding is that the use of stainless-steel blades for shechita (kosher slaughter) knives was introduced by the early Hassidic movement and initially opposed by the non-Hassidic leaders. ...
3
votes
4answers
672 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
496 views

Which 20th-century Rosh Yeshiva studied under the mysterious Monsieur Chouchani?

Monsieur Chouchani was a mysterious figure who travelled around post-World War II and taught several great Jewish thinkers, including Emmanuel Levinas z"l and [yibadel l'chayim] Elie Wiesel. ...
4
votes
1answer
620 views

What's the earliest source/discussion on green beans being “kitniyot” (prohibited legumes) on Passover?

My understanding is that most Ashkenazic communities today don't eat green beans on Passover, treating them as kitniyot (a bunch of legumes for which the custom arose to avoid on Passover). What's the ...
14
votes
4answers
365 views

When did kosher bakeries, restaurants, etc. start requiring supervision?

If my neighbor Shmerel keeps kosher and otherwise appears to be observant to the best of my knowledge, then I'd be allowed to eat in his house (assuming I'm invited), eid echad ne'eman b'issurin, his ...
6
votes
5answers
190 views

Cryptography in Judaism

Are there any known uses of cryptography (or similar) in Jewish History?
6
votes
2answers
170 views

Shakespeare in Classic Jewish Sources

Does anyone know of any references to Shakespeare, translations of his works, or anything related to Shakespeare in classic Rabbinic sources?
10
votes
2answers
283 views

What rabbinic/Judaic scholar has the lowest Erdős number? [closed]

From Wikipedia: The Erdős number describes the "collaborative distance" between a person and mathematician Paul Erdős, as measured by authorship of mathematical papers. ... Due to the very high ...
3
votes
1answer
189 views

First Jerusalem Eruv

When did Jerusalem first get an eruv for carrying on Shabbos? I've heard that Rav Moshe Feinstein pointed out that it didn't have one in Talmudic times. So when did they get one?
4
votes
1answer
205 views

What is the earliest source that mentions Gematria?

What is the earliest source that mentions Gematria?
3
votes
1answer
92 views

How big was a traditional hamentash?

When shopping these days, it appears that a "normal hamentash" is about 2 inches or more per side, and "mini hamentashen" are about 1" per side. Is it just me, or did it used to be that the 1" ones ...
5
votes
2answers
137 views

Which Shtetlach in pre war Europe had an Eruv?

Were there any Shtetlach in pre war Europe that had an Eruv? Which ones?
5
votes
1answer
127 views

Timing of the Commandment of Gid Hanashe

The Torah mentions, after the story of Yaakov getting injured in Parshas Vayishlach, that we do not eat the Gid Hanashe for this reason. The Meforshim seem to concur that this mitzvah was included in ...
5
votes
6answers
2k views

Are Europeans Edomites?

I had always thought that Europeans descended from Yafet, not Shem, and certainly not Shem, Avraham and Yitzhak. I am aware that it was common in the past to equate Rome with Edom, but I always ...
10
votes
2answers
270 views

Does our literature discuss invalidating a conversion because the convert would not put his/her lot with the Jewish people?

When a person is interested in converting, there are really two questions they are asked: Are you prepared to accept the theology and observance of Judaism? Are you prepared to accept your identity ...
5
votes
1answer
526 views

Yerushalmi Versus Bavli

What are the differences between the two Talmuds? or are there differences? Why did the two Talmuds develop separately or did they? Why do we Poskin like the Bavli or do we? Is it true that the ...
8
votes
1answer
177 views

Teffilin and women

Rashi's daughters are popularly described as having worn Teffilin, but apparently there is no such source, just a popular urban legend in Jewish circles. Are there any women described in Rabbinic ...
11
votes
2answers
588 views

Origins of איל משולש and Vilna Ga'on's bathroom math

There is a well-known fact that the Vilna Ga'on studied math while in the bathroom since Torah was out of the question in an unclean place. It is also somewhat well-known that he produced the material ...
3
votes
2answers
163 views

Motivation for disallowing Conversions

What was The Syrians communities Rabbis motivation For disallowing conversions and when did it happen and did any other Sephardi communities join in this decision later on?
3
votes
1answer
193 views

Intermarriage among Middle eastern Jews right before 1948

I was wondering does anyone know where I can find out the Intermarriage rate among Middle eastern Jews right before 1948 particularly amongst the Iraqis and the Syrians?
6
votes
2answers
175 views

Jewish Community in China Around WW2

I was recently at a lecture given by Professor Xu Xin of Nanjing University in China. The topic of the lecture was "The Jewish Diaspora in Modern China". Professor Xin covered the brief but ...
2
votes
3answers
140 views

Tannis Esther reason

Why do we fast on Tannis Esther? In memory of what historical occurrence?
2
votes
1answer
87 views

When was the first Mikva built in the USA?

When was the first Mikva built in the USA?
9
votes
3answers
309 views

Non-Lubavitch views of the Maggid of Mezrich's relationship with R' Shneur Zalman of Liadi?

As far as I know, all chasiduses agree that the Maggid of Mezrich was the primary student of the Baal Shem Tov. But I was listening to an online shiur about Chabad (Lubavitch) history, which conveyed ...
10
votes
4answers
255 views

Why did Esther make two parties; why not just one?

What was the purpose of the two parties that Esther made for Haman and Achashverosh (Esther 5:4–8 and chapter 7), if one could have done the job? In other words, what happened that she needed a ...
6
votes
1answer
203 views

Sefer Besamim Rosh

Who wrote the Sefer Besamim Rosh?
8
votes
3answers
246 views

Meforshim Nick"names

It has become common practice to refer to most meforshim by acronyms of their name (eg Rashi, Rosh, etc.). When and why did this practice start, and is it proper?
5
votes
1answer
330 views

Did Rabbis Moshe Feinstein and Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ever meet in person? How many times?

Rav Moshe was in America, Rav Shlomo Zalman in Israel. Did they ever meet? Where and when? Do we have a photo of both of them together? (I know Rav Shlomo Zalman was asked to speak at Rav Moshe's ...
3
votes
1answer
77 views

Napoleon Beis Din [closed]

Can somone provide some background for this like who was on it and what the Beis Din addressed and what was Napoleons motivation for it and what was the Jewish response?
4
votes
1answer
126 views

What happened to the Aseres HaShevatim?

What happened to the Aseres HaShevatim? Where are they now? Are they in 10 different locations? Do they still know they are Jewish?