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

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3answers
1k 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?
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0answers
183 views

Source for not referring to Chanuka lights as a “menora”

Following up on this question about the use of the words "menora" or "chanukiya" to refer to Chanuka lights: I find it interesting that the use of "chanukiya," popularized in 1897 through a secular ...
2
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1answer
463 views

Celebrating the Hashmonaim as part of Hanukkah

The Hashmonaim are an integral part of the Hanukkah story. BUT after the story of Hanukkah the Hashmonite family did some very terrible things (wars between Jews etc) during their reign. Why do we ...
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1answer
773 views

How could a man named Philip in USA have Hebrew name Yehoshua Falk?

My great-uncle from Eastern Europe had given name of Philip in America (came in 1880s), is shown in 1889 directory as Philip plus his surname. His gravestone gives his name as Yehoshua Falk [then ...
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1answer
223 views

When did David Hamelech write Tehillim?

When did David Hamelech write Tehillim? Or to be more technical, when did David write his first Tehillim and when did he write his last? Also was there a certain period of time within which he wrote a ...
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3answers
583 views

Were our symbols for trope and nekudos created by the Masoretes, or transmitted by them?

It is commonly said in secular sources that the shapes of the trope and nekudos we use today were invented by the Masoretes (7th to 11th Century CE), but I cannot find any source in our mesorah to ...
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2answers
130 views

Yerushalayim City of Gold

What is the origin of the concept of Yerushalayim being a "City of Gold"? It is the name and theme of a famous Israeli song from the 1960s, and I always assumed it was either from that song, or that ...
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1answer
159 views

Who is “the blaspheming foe” of Maoz Tzur?

In the song Maoz Tzur it says לְעֵת תָּכִין מַטְבֵּחַ מִצָּר הַמְנַבֵּחַ - which the OU translates as - When You will have prepared the slaughter for the blaspheming foe. Who is this ...
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2answers
88 views

Dressing similarly at a Din Torah - When did this change and why?

Gemara Shevuos 31a says that if two people come to Bais Din one dressed in rags and the other dressed in expensive clothing, we make them dress similarly. Sefer Hachinuch Mitzva 235 indicates that ...
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2answers
507 views

Ululating in Jewish culture

In ancient times, Jews living in Israel ululated if I am not mistaken. Is this practiced by Ashkenazi or Sephardic Jews today? Which other Jewish communities ululate? Ethiopians, Mizrahis, etc? Are ...
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0answers
69 views

How were the “seven good men of the city” appointed?

How were the “seven good men of the city” שבעה טובי העיר appointed? Was there an election and if so who could be candidates?
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1answer
159 views

Is it true that proselytes immersed in their birthday suits in ancient times?

I was told that Jewish proselytes immersed in their birthday suits in ancient times. Is this true? If so, could you please provide sources stating this fact?
3
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1answer
174 views

Did “Litvish” frock coats button left-on-right?

My understanding is that today, most men's clothing buttons left-on-right, i.e. the buttons are on your right. A Hassidic kapote or bekkeshe reverses this, but if you order a "Litvish" ("Lithuanian", ...
2
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1answer
343 views

Where is the Covenant Box

I wanted to Know where is the Convenant Box? In Most Holy Place There was Convenant Box but is it still there?
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0answers
79 views

Are there mystical underpinnings to Maccabi?

One of the explanations I have heard for the title מכבי is that it is an acronym for the pasuk 'מִי-כָמֹכָה בָּאֵלִם ה (Shemos 15:11). Is there any reason, mystical or otherwise that that pasuk (or ...
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1answer
68 views

Mitzvah of Ner Channukah — not until after churban habayis?

Someone said over today (in then name of the Sfes Emes) that the mitzvah of Ner Channukah didn't officially "start" until the 2nd Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, since it was established as somewhat of ...
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2answers
183 views

“Avram” for when he was young?

The Gemara in Brachot 13a teaches us that we should only refer to Avraham as Avraham and not as Avram. תני בר קפרא כל הקורא לאברהם אברם עובר בעשה שנאמר (בראשית יז) והיה שמך אברהם רבי אליעזר אומר ...
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3answers
302 views

Authenticity and authority of Oral tradition

Is there a methodology used in Judaism to authenticate traditions (that it orginated from person to whom it is attributed) and deem it halacha or a correct position? For example, Muslims have what ...
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1answer
131 views

Position of Reish Galusa

Does anyone know why the position of Reish Galusa no longer exists and when it was discontinued?
3
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1answer
297 views

Was the Hebrew Alphabet also given with the Tablets and Law?

My research for my answer to Which alphabet were the original Torah scrolls in? gave me an idea--Since the Early Alphabetic alphabet is also called Sinaitic, and the timing seems about right, maybe ...
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0answers
105 views

King Yoash murdered - Who's responsible?

II Melechim 12:21 and II Divri HaYamim 24:25 both indicate that servants conspired and killed King Joash. There seems to be a little bit of confusion on the murderers' names---Yozacar vs Zabad ben ...
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0answers
186 views

Original source for Maharil endorsing tunes as “MiSinai”?

Cantor Goffin describes how over 500 years ago, Maharil endorsed several cantorial tunes as "MiSinai" -- "so authoritative it's as if they go back to Sinai" -- for use in the prayers. What's the ...
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3answers
1k views

What is the torah view on the dinosaurs?

What is the Torah view on the dinosaurs? There's no mention of them in the Torah, only that the world was created in 6 days. If they existed, Adam and his descendants should have seen them. Yet ...
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1answer
115 views

Where/when/how/why did flags become part of Simchas Torah celebrations?

Kids today all know that they have flags when dancing on Simchas Torah. How, when, where, and/or why did the flags originate? (Someone decided it was fun, and then it caught on?) What pictures were ...
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2answers
913 views

Is it true that Jews believed in sheol before the belief in hereafter entered into Judaism?

I have heard claimed that Jews first believed in Sheol which was considered as a place below the ground and it meant to be a place of eternal rest, free of any reward and punishment. However in later ...
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3answers
271 views

Are there forms of Jewish mysticism outside of kabbalah?

Is kabbalah the one and only form (source?) of Jewish mysticism?
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0answers
53 views

What did mikdash workers eat?

Groups of Jews not from shevet Levi would work in the bes hamikdash, a week at a time. Their primary responsibility was attendance: being present when korb'nos tzibur, public offerings, were brought. ...
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1answer
174 views

How cold is too cold?

Rema writes in his commentary to the Tur (OC 639): והמרדכי בפרק הישן (סי' תשמא) כתב אבל העולם סמכו על דבר זה שיראים מן הצינה והוה כחולה שאין בו סכנה או כמצטער דפטורים מן הסוכה עכ"ל (עיין ב"י סימן ...
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1answer
1k views

What is a “Sephardic Jew”?

My name is Paul Avila (yea, I know, doesn't sound Jewish at all) I was born in the Azores Portugal and moved to the United States when I was 2. People always ask me if I am Persian. Never ...
8
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1answer
186 views

Has anyone declared a time of oppression regarding the four Temple fasts?

The Sha'ar haTziyun (OC 550 sk 9) speculates if in his day (~1900 CE) there was enough oppression of the Jews to warrant declaring the fasts of 10 Tevet, 17 Tammuz and 3 Tishrei into full fledged ...
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2answers
442 views

How long after the Torah was given did the Jewish people start wearing tefillin?

From one of the explanations of eating milky foods on Shavuos, we understand that it was not possible to do all the mitzvos connecting with preparing meat for food immediately after accepting the ...
7
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1answer
339 views

Rosh Hashana can't currently land on a Friday, but the first one did

The current fixed calendar works in such a way so that the first day of Rosh Hashana can never fall out on a Friday, but this is the very day on which the first Rosh Hashana fell! What gives?
8
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2answers
806 views

The blessing for 600,000 Jews

The Gemara (Berakhot 58b) mentions that upon seeing 600,000 Jews one says the blessing "Baruch...Chacham HaRazim" (Who knows all secrets), and this is halacha (Sh.A. O.C. 224:5). Does any know of any ...
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3answers
180 views

Can you fulfill the obligation to pray if you can't hear the leader?

The gemorah in Sukkah daf 51b explains that, in the enormous shul in Alexandria, in order for everyone to know when to answer Amen when the shliach tzibbur (prayer leader, aka sha"tz) was davening, ...
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2answers
244 views

Do any Jewish sources mention Satan talking to a Jew?

Do any Jewish sources mention Satan talking to a Jew? If so, how did the things that were said affect ancient Jewish life?
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8answers
3k views

Why do Sephardic Jews dress in black and white?

Many observant sephardim in Israel, especially those in yeshivot, dress in black and white. Does anyone know how this happened? There is no tradition of Jews in North Africa or in the Middle East ...
14
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2answers
220 views

How were judges appointed in the times of the Bais Hamikdash?

In the times of the Bais Hamikdash, were judges appointed by the king, or were they elected by the people? And was the system different based on which size court (i.e., courts comprised of 3, 23, or ...
8
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2answers
209 views

What are the 3 things Rabeinu Gershom banned?

I've heard that Rabeinu Gershom (a 10th-11th century scholar) banned 3 things, and I know one of them is polygamy. Does anyone know what the other two are?
5
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1answer
208 views

If the Canaanites occupied the land in Moses’ day, why would Moses write that they were in the land then?

What does the Torah imply when it notes 'the Cannannites were then in the land' (Gen. 12:6)? It seems to suggest they were in the land then (when the tale took place) but not now (when the book was ...
5
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1answer
275 views

Why do most of the shuls in Manhattan face the wrong direction?

As a first time visitor to Manhattan, I was very surprised to see that most shuls (with a few notable exceptions) are facing roughly south-south-west. This is nowhere near the direction to face ...
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2answers
109 views

Why aren't Zeraim or Toharos included in the Bavli as Mishnayos?

Whatever the reason, there is no Gemara on most of Zeraim and Toharos. Why, though, were the mishnayos themselves not included in their entireties in the redacted Talmud Bavli? It seems strange that ...
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4answers
555 views

What is the source of hatred perceived by Jews in different parts of the world?

I don't know if this is off topic but a similar question is here at Christianity SE and I thought it would be interesting to ask the corresponding one here. It intrigues me how people from other ...
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1answer
181 views

When was the bending of the knees in bowing introduced?

The Gemara in Berachos 12a says that we bow at Baruch and we straighten at Hashem. Nowadays the familiar practice is to bend the knee at Baruch, to bow at Atah, and to straighten at Hashem, as stated ...
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1answer
131 views

Dialogue Between Jews and Romans in Jewish Tradition

I always wonder what people refer to when they quote things spoken between the Jews and the Romans. Does ancient Jewish doctrine include instances of dialogue between the Jews and the Romans?
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1answer
198 views

Historical Kippot

I want to know what kind of kippah would be worn by an "average" Jew in Manhattan in 1860. This is for an historical impression. In "real life," I am Conservative, but I know the movement did not ...
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0answers
187 views

Lithuanian minhag for talis katan material

Not an halachic question, but we can read many things about talis katan: wool over cotton, tzitzis out or in, etc. It seems that the Lithuanian minhag was to tuck them in, but what about the material? ...
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5answers
348 views

Why do we still use the non-Jewish way of delineating chapters in tanach?

The "perakim" (chapters) of tanach were established by non-Jews. Why do we continue to use them? Many of the chapter breaks do not correspond to our petucha/setumah paragraph system, and they often ...
8
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1answer
342 views

What happened to the utensils from the Second Bais Hamikdash?

After the second temple was destroyed what happened to the keilim? When was the last time they were recordedly seen and where do historians or other academics believe they are today?
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2answers
460 views

Masada - heroic martyrdom or immoral murder/suicide?

Was the mass coordinated mutual killing at Masada (for lack of a better term) an act of heroic martyrdom or immoral murder and suicide? While it is unknown for certain what exactly transpired, ...
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1answer
269 views

Sefer Milhamot Hashem - from Bamidbar 21:14

Does anyone know of any discussion of the the "sefer Milkhamot Hashem" mentioned in Bamidbar 21:14? Someone had asked me about the content of the book and I had no idea of what to answer him.