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

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1answer
669 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
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1answer
212 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 ...
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3answers
314 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?
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1answer
125 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
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1answer
154 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 ...
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2answers
219 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
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1answer
170 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
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1answer
74 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 ...
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2answers
114 views

Did a synod in Poland in 1631 decree the censorship of some parts of the Talmud?

Related with this question about some parts censored in the Talmud, I read in a website the following story: ... In 1631, a Jewish synod in Poland ordered the offending passages to be expunged, ...
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1answer
162 views

How did Paro know that “…that they may serve Me” meant sacrifices and not some other form of service?

During the confrontation with Paro Moshe repeats God's demand several times: let my people go that they may serve Me -- שַׁלַּח עַמִּי וְיַעַבְדֻנִי . During the plague of frogs Paro makes this offer ...
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2answers
88 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 ...
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380 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 ...
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1answer
94 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 ...
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2answers
76 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 ...
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232 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?
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75 views

History of decorated Paroches - curtain on the Aron Kodesh

In Praying directly before an aron the question is asked whether it is proper to pray in front of a Paroches that is decorated. I am aware of a few Shuls that do not have any decorations or words on ...
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1answer
168 views

How would first century Jews in Judea have reacted to the Jesus Movement's messianic claims?

My understanding is that first century Jews in Judea, Jerusalem, etc, would have known that Jesus could not possibly be the messiah, because the messiah was expected to be triumphant in life, and no ...
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1answer
60 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 ...
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58 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 ...
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2answers
182 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 - ...
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1answer
166 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" ...
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1answer
134 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 ...
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1answer
117 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 ...
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2answers
853 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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1answer
128 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
104 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 ...
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1answer
149 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
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1answer
125 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
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1answer
104 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 ...
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2answers
52 views

Were the 8th and 9th of Teves once fasts?

In slichos this morning I noticed a mention of the 8th and 9th of Teves also being fasts. Were these three days ever fasts all at once or were these fasts independently observed and replaced each time ...
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112 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.
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1answer
51 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 ...
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2answers
111 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
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1answer
78 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 ...
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2answers
229 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 ...
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2answers
110 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 ...
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1answer
194 views

How could different pronunciations arise when we are obligated to pronounce the Shema precisely?

If one does not pronounce the Shema correctly, one has not fulfilled their obligation (שולחן ערוך או"ח סימן סב). If so, then how could different pronunciations of the Hebrew words arise? Shouldn't at ...
3
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1answer
300 views

Breakdown of Yirmiyahu's 70 year prophecy

Can someone supply a good breakdown of Yirmiyahu's 70 year prophecy, and the misinterpretations of the prophecy? This is what I've learned in the past: Yirmiyahu made a prophecy that 70 years after ...
3
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1answer
620 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
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2answers
237 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 ...
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1answer
137 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. ...
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2answers
248 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
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1answer
167 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", ...
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1answer
631 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?
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120 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
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1answer
389 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, ...
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1answer
233 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?
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1answer
63 views

Is the book of Enoch part of judaism?

The book (or books) of Enoch is a collection of works purportedly made by Enoch, the great grandfather of Noach, before the flood. I read that they are not part of the Tanach, even though it contains ...
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1answer
95 views

When did shuckling begin?

There was nothing that I could locate in Mishnah Berurah or similar halachic sources that indicates that one should shuckle (sway) during prayers. When did this custom begin, and why? I notice that ...
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2answers
66 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 ...