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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

3
votes
1answer
494 views

Diaspora of Egypt: has it already happened?

I have read in Ezechiel 29:12-15 that "And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be ...
3
votes
1answer
208 views

Source for reciting all of T'hilim (Psalms)

There is a contemporary practice of splitting up Sefer T'hilim for on-the-spot recitation of the entire book by a room (real or virtual) full of people. What is the earliest documented source for this ...
3
votes
3answers
306 views

Modern nations and Umos Haolam

Where can I find a discussion about the roots of modern nations, in the Umos Haolam mentioned in the Torah and Chazal?
3
votes
1answer
121 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
1answer
58 views

Product Recommendation: History of Semicha

I'm looking to learn about the history of semicha. I've read a few articles online, but I'm really looking for something more in depth - a book preferably, or at least a long journal article. Must be ...
3
votes
1answer
148 views

To what extent would a 17th-century observant Jew purposefully violate Halacha to save lives?

I’m writing an alternate-history story set in the 1630s and this topic touches on one of the plot points. My character is attempting to avert the various massacres of the 17th–20th centuries by ...
3
votes
1answer
163 views

How did the Oral Torah survive the years after Joshua died?

In the Book of Judges 2:10 it says that after the death of Joshua and his generation, "there arose another generation after them, who knew not Hashem nor the deed which He had done for Israel." ...
3
votes
1answer
64 views

Rambam's statement about a blessing from the Ri Migash

The Artscroll Rishonim history book, in the section about the Rambam, records a "tradition" that the Rambam, as a young child, received a blessing from the Ri Migash, and that he (the Rambam) later ...
3
votes
2answers
171 views

Hammurabi in Jewish sources

The Hammurabi code is one of the oldest preserved codes of law dating back to 1772 BCE. This is roughly the time after the flood (-2105BCE), the tower of Bavel (1765BCE) and the Patriarchs. Although ...
3
votes
2answers
83 views

Is there any attestation to the name “יעל” spelled with an Aleph?

Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe includes the story of Yael killing Sisera. The author renders the name with the common "Y" to "J" substitution as "Jael" and, in an aside, mentions that ...
3
votes
1answer
375 views

How do rabbis explain the reason for the Spanish Expulsion. Why did the Jewish people deserve it

I notice you already have this question for the Holocaust but haven't found it for the Spanish expulsion. I understand that many great people gave reasons for it, like the seder hadoros, tsror hamor ...
3
votes
1answer
93 views

What were the original kitniyos?

I know many people (chiefly S'faradim) don't have the custom altogether of refraining from eating kitniyos on Pesach. Among those who do have such a custom, moreover, there are varying customs as to ...
3
votes
2answers
713 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
75 views

What happened to the rest of the Jews who lived in Yehuda?

When Sancheiriv conquered the kingdom of Israel and exiled them, did he also conquer the rest of the kingdom of Yehuda or did he try going to Yerushalaim first (and never made it to the rest of Yehuda ...
3
votes
1answer
227 views

Me'or Einayim-The Maharal

What was the reason that the Me'or Einayim by Azariah deRossi's was considered problematic and what is its Historical development and signifigance of this book Basicly what was all the fuss about?
3
votes
1answer
57 views

How old was Joshua at the time of the spies?

Num 13 and 14 discuss the spies sent by Moses to asses the land, among them Joshua and Caleb. Josh 14:7 says that Caleb was 40 when he was sent as a spy. How old was Joshua at the time of the spies ...
3
votes
1answer
56 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
77 views

Did Aleppo Jews observe Purim on the 14th (regular) or 15th (Shushan Purim)?

Did the Jews of Aleppo, Syria observe Purim on the 14th or 15th of Adar? Was it believed to be old enough for the latter?
3
votes
2answers
152 views

How could Yochanan Kohen Gadol abolish the wakers?

The mishnah (Maaser Sheni end of 5:15 and Sotah 48a) lists 5 edicts of Yochanan Kohen Gadol including the abolishing of the "wakers" - the singing by the Levi'im in the Beit HaMikdash of Psalm 44:24 - ...
3
votes
1answer
156 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" ...
3
votes
1answer
125 views

Babylonian Niqqud in Yemen

I just read in Rav Kapach's introduction to his edition of Rav Saadiah Gaon's translation and commentary on Sefer Daniel that his grandfather had a manuscript of Rav Saadiah Gaon's translation which ...
3
votes
1answer
113 views

Altering the Spelling out the Hebrew Year

In 1983-1984, the Hebrew year was 5744. Normally, the year would have been spelled out in Hebrew letters תשמ״ד, but according to my rabbi then, Rabbi Phillip Rabinowitz, zt'l, as pronounced the word ...
3
votes
1answer
127 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?
3
votes
1answer
103 views

'fixed' wording of the g'mara justified by found mss.?

In the margins of the g'mara are many notations indicating changes that various rabbis (Bach, G'ra, Tzon Kadashim, Shita M'kubetzes, etc.) made in the wording of the g'mara, seemingly to resolve ...
3
votes
1answer
145 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
123 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
101 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
62 views

Is there an online database of early manuscripts of the Tanakh?

As a student of textual and historical criticism of the Christian scriptures, I am interested in seeing the earliest extant copies of the texts. There are a number of sites devoted to providing ...
3
votes
1answer
82 views

Accuracy of Torah Text

What evidence do we have regarding the accuracy of the torah text? (five books of Moses) How much if at all has it changed over time.
3
votes
1answer
47 views

What is the history of writing on the Kotel?

Some photos of the Kotel (the western wall of the Temple) show large, black lettering, such as: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/wallpics.html I have seen other drawings or photos ...
3
votes
2answers
94 views

Specific writings of the Vilna Gaon

1- What writings of the Vilna Gaon do we have that are not commentary or textual emendations? 2- Do we possess any writings of the Vilna Gaon that talk about or reference his contemporaries or ...
3
votes
1answer
72 views

The Maharal and his influence on Jewish philosophy

In the Wiki article on the Maharal there is a quote by Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein citing Rabbi Nachman Bulman that the Maharal "prevented the Balkanization of Jewish thought". I understand what he is ...
3
votes
1answer
111 views

Great People Not Mentioned in the Torah

It has been said that the Torah is not a history book and her words are succinct. In addition to the "obvious" people and stories/events discussed in scripture, there are many others mentioned if only ...
3
votes
2answers
204 views

Sadducee kohanim gedolim dying on yom kippur

There were a few hundred kohanim gedolim in the second bais hamikdosh many of whom died on 'the job' on yom kippur in the holy of holies. Knowing this, what induced them to become a kohen godol which ...
3
votes
2answers
101 views

Who were the Rambam's students?

Someone recently asked me whether the Rambam had any students. In addition to the Rambam's son and the student for whom he wrote the Moreh Nevuchim, I could think of only one other student. (רבינו ...
3
votes
1answer
556 views

Did most Hasidic men wear the shtreimel and kapote in Eastern Europe?

I have heard that the shtreimel and kapote (and variations) were mostly worn only by the Rebbes, while most followers were too poor for a beaver-skin hat; most hassidim wore the ordinary clothes of ...
3
votes
2answers
224 views

When did upsherins become part of standard American Orthodox practice?

According to Rav Wikipedia, the upsherin is a custom that was brought from Muslims to Palestinian Jews to Tzfat Sephardim to Chasidim. Recently, I've noticed mainstream (non-charedi) Orthodox Jews ...
3
votes
1answer
114 views

The “ben neichar” who is banned from eating the Korbon Pesach

Exodus 12:43 says that a "ben neichar" would not be able to eat the Korbon Pesach (the Passover offering) when the Temple is rebuilt, placing this category of persons in the same category as non-Jews. ...
3
votes
2answers
208 views

How was Devorah appointed a judge?

Although there is already a question on how judges were appointed during the period after the First Temple was built, that question did not cover the period of the Judges, following the time of ...
3
votes
1answer
160 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", ...
3
votes
1answer
553 views

How did a virgin decide upon her marriage in Israel 2000 years ago?

About 2000 years ago in Israel, was a virgin free to choose her future husband (or even to decide whether to marry or not marry at all) or she was absolutely submitted to the will of her father?
3
votes
2answers
115 views

When did the Ashkenazi custom to bake matza on erev Pesach afternoon start?

Historically, when did the Ashkenazi custom to bake matza on erev Pesach afternoon start? I am specifically interested in when this custom arose, rather than the reasons/opions pro/against.
3
votes
1answer
358 views

Why was the Mishna written in Hebrew while the Gemara wasn't?

By the time of the Mishna, people speaking in Aramaic on a day-to-day basis. Nonetheless, R' Yehuda Hanasi wrote the Mishna in Hebrew. So were the Toseftas and the Braisos. Why? On the other hand, ...
3
votes
1answer
225 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?
3
votes
1answer
33 views

How was choral liturgical music used in the renaissance?

Salamone Rossi was a 17th-century Italian composer who wrote choral arrangements of several liturgical texts -- piyutim, Tanakh passages, prayers (like hashkiveinu and kedusha), etc. (See the link ...
3
votes
2answers
61 views

Who authored the topic - division headings in the Shulchan Aruch?

In every Shulchan Aruch I have seen, there are headings identifying the topic of each upcoming series of sections. For example, between sections 88 and 89, there is a heading which labels the next ...
3
votes
1answer
75 views

When did the original names of the months change?

The Haftorah this past week mentions the second month using the name Ziv. The orignal names of the months are discussed here: First-Temple-Era names of the Hebrew months? When did the original names ...
3
votes
3answers
81 views

Book on Biblical Archeology

I'm looking to increase my knowledge of biblical archeology. As an orthodox jew, I'd prefer a book which takes a more traditional view with regards to the historicity of tanach. Any suggestions?
3
votes
1answer
178 views

Has the minhag regarding weddings during the Omer changed recently?

My father in law was a musician. He explained that other than Lag Ba'Omer and beginning 3 days before Shavuot, there were no weddings at all during the Omer. Even though, there are two versions of the ...
3
votes
1answer
255 views

Who edited the “Nusach Sefarad” nusach?

There are two (Ok, three if you count Teimani) traditional families of nusach in use - Ashkenaz (the Nusach which people from northern/eastern Europe traditionally prayed in) and Eidot Hamizrach (the ...