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

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בָּא אֵלַי הַפָּלִיט מִירוּשָׁלַ‍ִם … How late was he?

In Yechezkel 33:21: וַיְהִי בִּשְׁתֵּי עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה בָּעֲשִׂרִי בַּחֲמִשָּׁה לַחֹדֶשׁ לְגָלוּתֵנוּ בָּא אֵלַי הַפָּלִיט מִירוּשָׁלַ‍ִם לֵאמֹר הֻכְּתָה הָעִיר That is, on the Fifth of Teves of ...
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1answer
110 views

Who composed Ka Keili?

Who composed Ka Keili? What is the earliest source for this song?
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3answers
286 views

What is the earliest source that mentions Gematria?

What is the earliest source that mentions Gematria?
4
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1answer
90 views

What references, if any, are there to synagogues or non-temple organized worship in the ancient Israel

Synagogue worship appears to be relatively common in the Christian New Testament (although perhaps little is known about what actually went on in the synagogues, I don't know a whole lot of details). ...
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1answer
67 views

Which books of the Ramchal did he publish himself?

I read that the Ramchal published the Mesilas Yesharim but not too many other books. That got me wondering, how many and which books that we have of his did he himself publish and which ones did ...
4
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1answer
37 views

Writing down Torah she'beal peh for personal use before the Tannaic period

Before the ruling was given that allowed the oral component of the Torah to be written down, what exactly was permitted and what was not permitted? More specifically, I would like to know if an ...
4
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1answer
123 views

Blue Stripes on Tallis

I've read that tallit stripes were originally blue and at some point morphed to black. What I'm wondering is if anyone knows any oldsters who can attest to actually seeing this in the frum velt in ...
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3answers
96 views

Is there an online resource that gives an “overview” of safrut?

Between Mincha and Ma'ariv on Shmini Atzeret, I'd like to give a short shiur on some interesting facts about how a Torah is written. I'm looking for some fairly easy to understand online resources on ...
4
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1answer
38 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 ...
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1answer
76 views

When did the custom start to fast Tannis Esther on 13th Addar?

This question is not a duplicate of Tannis Esther reason because it is not a question of the reason just about the time. In Megilat Taanit it is mentioned that people should not fast on the day ...
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3answers
253 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 ...
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512 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 ...
4
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1answer
166 views

How common was polygamy in Biblical times?

How prevalent was polygamy among Jews in Biblical times? I can only think of five Jews in Tanach who had multiple wives: Avraham, Yaakov, Elkanah, David, and Shlomo (although I probably missed a few)....
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1answer
110 views

What scribal variations (decorations etc) have changed from the earliest sifrei torah until now?

This article reports on the identification of what is possibly the oldest complete sefer torah we have, dated c.1155-1225, at the University of Bologna. (The scroll was previously thought to date to ...
4
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1answer
176 views

Who dropped Moses from the Hagaddah?

Moses is not mentioned in the Hagaddah (with one minor exception), presumably to show that the exodus happened entirely by G-d's power and to not deify Moses. Presumably, though, the maggid during ...
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1answer
96 views

How were long-running talmudic discussions actually conducted?

Eiruvin 13b records two years-long disputes between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, and surely these are not the only long-running debates. How did that work in practice? Did they really have a single ...
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176 views

Ashkanazim paskening like Rema

Was it always a straightforward presumption ("davar pashut") that in general the Ashkanazim should decide Halachic questions ("pasken") in accordance with the Rema over the Machaber/Beis Yosef (when ...
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1answer
388 views

Source for story of Rashi, the King, and the Four Horsemen

There is a story (you can read the details here) about Rashi telling a King that he will conquer Yerushalaim for 3 days and return with 3 horses and 3 riders. The King returned with 4, but as they ...
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1answer
83 views

The history behind the composition and inclusion of V'lo N'tato

I'm curious about the composition and inclusion in the shabbat shacharit of the paragraph beginning ולא נתתו (v'lo n'tato). I understand the talmudic basis for the underlying idea, and how it fits in ...
4
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1answer
225 views

Qumran - Proof or Genizah for Errors?

The comment and the ensuing thread quoted at the bottom of this question make me wonder what, exactly, was buried at Qumran. Were the items buried there actually used at some point and later placed ...
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1answer
118 views

Who composed the Piyut Echad Mi Yodeya?

Who composed the Piyut Echad Mi Yodeya that is commonly recited on Pesach?
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1answer
903 views

Hebrew Havarah?

Similar to this question Different parts of Eastern Europe had different dialects. For example, Ukrainian, Polish and Hungarian Jews pronounce a "Shuruk" as a EE, or a Komatz as an oo (so Boruch ...
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1answer
65 views

What medical condition was this “epilepsy that causes mental instability at all times”?

Rambam's laws of testimony (written about 800 years ago) describe disqualification for testimony (eidut) due to mental instability. He writes: The epileptic is disqualified when having a seizure, ...
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159 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?
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268 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 days,...
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1answer
123 views

What is the oldest work to incorporate an acrostic of shem Havaya in the opening?

I have seen many books where the first letters of the first 4 works in the first sentence of the work spell out the shem Havaya (the Tetragrammaton, yud-kay and vav kay). What was the first Jewish ...
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2answers
151 views

Historical evidence that blue snail dye was produced in ancient times

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrian_purple and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iles_Purpuraires show that blue dye was produced from the murex in ancient times in these locations. But on Ptil Tekhelet's ...
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2answers
200 views

Shabbat songs that rhyme only with Hashem's real name [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Pronouncing Hashem's name in a song Many songs we sing and the Shabbat table we use the word Hashem instead of Hashem's real name even when the song was written in ...
4
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2answers
141 views

Gezeira of Rabbeinu Gershom History

Has the original text of the Gazeira of Rabbeinu Gershom been lost. If so when? Who are the earliest sources stating such?
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52 views

Timeline of the 10 plagues in exodus?

Do we have a chronological timeline (with years) of the 10 plagues? I'm trying to recreate a full timeline of the הגדה של פסח for the upcoming holiday, going from the arrival of Jacob and his family ...
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138 views

The Mekor Baruch's intructions of making gold from copper

Rav Epstein in his Mekor Baruch 3:19:6 brings a story about him and a maggid. The maggid was looking for a certain sefer which instructs one how to make gold from copper. The Mekor Baruch (who had the ...
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49 views

History of Talmudic Censorship

I'm looking for literature on the history of talmudic censorship. I would prefer the material be in English, but Hebrew is also OK. Related post: Talmudic Censorship
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52 views

What is the history of the terms Posek and Psak Halacha?

From my searches, the Tanach does not have the term Psak or Posek in it. Many questions here related to questions on psak quote the Rambam, but those sections refer to Horyaot, or Divrei Halacha, or ...
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Historical Division of the Neviim

It is my understanding that the Neviim has two major divisions: the Former Prophets (Nevi'im Rishonim נביאים ראשונים, the narrative books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings) and the Latter ...
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Use of speaking “Baruch HaShem” in 1492 Spain

I am writing a play that takes place during the Spanish Inquisition. A Rabbi is walking home from the King's court and his belongings are tossed to the ground by hooligans. A young Spanish girl picks ...
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2answers
119 views

How did the water climb so high?

The Gemara in Sota 34 says וכיון שניטבלו רגלי כהנים במים חזרו המים לאחוריהם שנאמר וכבוא נושאי הארון עד הירדן וגו' ויעמדו המים היורדים מלמעלה קמו נד אחד וכמה גובהן של מים שנים עשר מיל על שנים עשר ...
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Who were the Therapeutae?

I recently found a Wikipedia page about a supposed sect of Jews in first century Alexandria called the Therapeutae. According to various pages, they lived as monks, isolating themselves and studying ...
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What happened to the Mixed Multitude?

When the people of Israel left Egypt they did not leave alone. They left with a mixed multitude of many people (Exodus 12:38). What happened to the mixed multitude in the desert and, specifically, ...
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Why are “Chiddushei” seforim rarely cited in the Nosi Keilim?

I noticed that when quoting Rishonim, Beis Yosef/Nosei Keilim tend to focus on Poskim (Rif (and main commentary)/Rosh/Rambam, Mordechai, Teruma, Rabbeinu Yerucham, etc.) and responsa. Very rarely do ...
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Why were the baraitot excluded from the mishnayot?

The Gemara (or Talmud) is full of Tannaitic teachings known as baraitot (or baraita in the singular). Nevertheless, these teachings were not codified in the Shishah Sidre'i Mishnah (Six Orders of The ...
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141 views

Holidays south of the equator

When Jews first started establishing communities south of the equator, they must have noticed that the holidays fell completely at the wrong times of the year. (For example, Pesach, referred to as hag ...
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Morning seder as the “main” seder

In most Yeshivas with which I am familiar, morning seder, the regimen of learning before lunch, is the more in-depth and intense learning seder, while afternoon seder (session) is generally less in-...
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How did the mesorah for techeles get lost?

It seems odd that something like the tradition for techeles could have been lost. It seems unlikely that Jews just stopped using techeles at some point and then immediately forgot. Are there no ...
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89 views

Are there communities that follow the Rambam?

At one point, many Sefardic communities followed the Mishneh Torah. As time went on, it seems that the sefardim accepted the Beit Yosef. Besides for Yemenites, were there any communities that, until ...
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97 views

How was the tomb of the matriarchs determined?

Apparently there is a "tomb of the Matriarchs" in Tiberias which is purported to house several nashim tzidkaniot. I'd like to know how it was determined that those women were buried in that place.
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Why is there seemingly such a disconnect between the Geonim and the Rishonim?

It seems that there was a disconnect or upheaval of some kind between the times of the Geonim and the times of the Rishonim and the hakhamim that these two eras contained. Shittoth regarding tefila, ...
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71 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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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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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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When did the Ashkenazi custom to NOT bake matza on Pesach start?

Historically, when did the Ashkenazi custom to not bake matza on Pesach start? I am specifically interested in when this custom arose, rather than the reasons/opions pro/against.