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

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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 ...
4
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1answer
95 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 ...
4
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1answer
173 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 ...
4
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1answer
374 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 ...
4
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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
221 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
115 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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827 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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1answer
158 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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2answers
263 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 ...
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1answer
229 views

What is the earliest source that mentions Gematria?

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

Where is the exact location of the Temples in Jerusalem?

I have heard different theories where the 2 Temples were located. Some say it was on or near the Dome of the Rock. Others say it was farther south, even possibly on Mt. Ophel between the al-Aqsa ...
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1answer
121 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
150 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
195 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 ...
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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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48 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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45 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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50 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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56 views

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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32 views

What form was the Torah before Sinai

Chazal say the Torah was studied before Sinai. (ex. by Adam and Eve as explained here. Likewise chazal say the Patriarchs studied Torah from Shem ben Noach.) In what form was this pre-Torah? It ...
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93 views

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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42 views

Were there particular reasons to vow the value of a person?

Vayikra 27 covers when a man vows the "valuation" (עֶרְכְּךָ) of a person. The values are based on age and are different for men and women (50 shekels for a man between 20 and 60, for example). A ...
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80 views

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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64 views

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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67 views

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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41 views

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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139 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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57 views

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 ...
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85 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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94 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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104 views

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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96 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 ...
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68 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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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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0answers
77 views

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.
4
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1answer
218 views

Sitting or Standing for Kaddish - historical divergence between Conservative and Orthodox minhag

At most (maybe even all?) Conservative synagogues, the congregation remains seated during every kaddish (except mourner's kaddish, and then only mourners rise). At Ashkenazic Orthodox synagogues, the ...
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5answers
458 views

Shabbos Zmiros author

Who wrote most of the songs we sing on shabbos?
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2answers
2k views

How many Maccabees were there and what were their names?

How many Maccabees were there and what were their names?
3
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2answers
452 views

Kashrut with very costy salt?

Currently the cost of the salt (for human consumption) is practically negligible, mostly around $1/kg. But it wasn't always so. There were centuries as salt mining and selling was a governmental ...
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3answers
390 views

Are there any female kabbalists?

Are there currently or have there been historically orthodox female kabbalists? If not is this a quirk of history or is there a specific reason?
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6answers
405 views

Yeshivas that have closed

Recently there was a blog regarding the Shlomo Kluger Yeshiva on the Lower East Side. My father was a student at Yeshiva Eitz Chaim in Boro Park in the the early 40s. Over the years many Yeshivas or ...
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2answers
341 views

Moses Mendelssohn, permitted to quote him?

Is it permitted to quote Moses Mendelssohn, the father of the Jewish Enlightenment, as a source or reference? Is he considered in jewish lore a heretic? from wikipedia page linked above: In the ...
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4answers
242 views

Where was Berit Ben Habetarim done?

I've always imagined that Berit Ben Habetarim was done in Eretz Yisrael, but someone recently told me it happened in Haran. Anybody have any sources for either?
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4answers
512 views

What's the Closest Thing to a Systematic Theology in Judaism? [closed]

Many religions have authors who pen "systematic theologies," books that present the religions in a systematic manner from point A to Z. There are ups and downs with this approach, especially since it ...
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6answers
1k views

Niddah and Counting 7 Clean Days - What are its Origins?

The following comment is made in the wikipedia entry on Niddah: In the days of the Amoraim, because of possible confusion in determining when menstruation began and ended and hence whether blood ...
3
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1answer
255 views

Why don't we say Rav Sadiaa Gaon's prayer for before and after baths?

In Rav Sadiaa Gaon's prayer book, he lists a short prayer for before and and after baths. Why isn't that said anymore (I'd assume it was said in his time)? The text I'm referring to can be found here: ...