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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

3
votes
6answers
3k views

A natural explanation for the significance of the numbers 7 and 40

In the Jewish religious texts the numbers 7 and 40 seem to appear quite often and carry special significance. Some examples among many: God's creation lasts 7 days The Great Flood was from rain ...
3
votes
3answers
382 views

Moshe Rabeinu's Yarzheit

It is common knowledge that Moshe Rabeinu was Niftar on 7 Adar. Was it a plain year with 1 Adar or a leap year with 2 Adars? If it was a leap year on what Adar was he Niftar?
3
votes
1answer
232 views

What do we know about the Yemenites adding (deleting?) Maimonides from their prayers in the 1100s?

I've always heard that the Yemenite Jews of the late 1100s were so grateful for the theological support they were given by Maimonides' writings (Rambam's Igeret Teiman), that where their kaddish ...
3
votes
3answers
148 views

why isn't moshe considered a “forefather”

if moshe led us out of egypt, into israel, and is a great man why isn't he considered a forefather.
3
votes
3answers
100 views

Where was the Kodesh haKodoshim?

I have always been under the impression that the mosque on the Har HaBayis is on the location of the Kosdesh HaKodoshim. Is that accurate?
3
votes
5answers
271 views

Saying Rishonim or Achronim were “wrong”

People are very careful (and rightfully so) to say when they don't understand the words of the Achronim or Rishonim to not say they are/were "wrong". But rather to say "I don't understand what he ...
3
votes
3answers
351 views

Why do we venerate previous generations?

In understanding torah sh'baal peh, as well as halacha we generally work under the presumption that earlier generations were correct and/or knew more than later generations. For example many a talmud ...
3
votes
4answers
144 views

Significance of 2 Teveis in Judaism

Is the 2nd day of the Month of Teveis significant in Judaism? Looking for answers as to what characteristics (historical, numerological or otherwise) that is commemorated by or significant to Judaism ...
3
votes
3answers
125 views

Mitzvah to study/know history?

I heard someone once mention that chazal tell us that it is a mitzvah to review, know, or study secular history. Is that true?
3
votes
2answers
287 views

Didn't Rambam say Aleinu leshabeach?

Siddur Mesorat Moshe is a siddur whose text follows the rulings of the Rambam. I received a copy a couple of weeks ago and am now using it daily. A completely never-seen-before thing is that there's ...
3
votes
2answers
222 views

How similar is orthodoxy practiced today to ancient times?

As an orthodox Ashkanazi Jew, I hear all the time that the way we practice is the same as we've been doing it for thousands of years (albeit with influences by the Ba'al Shem Tov, the mussar movement, ...
3
votes
3answers
241 views

What are the oldest known Jewish graves/tombs?

I was thinking about old Jewish graves. Certainly there's Ma'aras HaMachpeila in Chevron (was that continuously identified by Jews, or did our identification rely on Arabs' identification) and the ...
3
votes
2answers
81 views

Can the Baitusim and the Essenes be one and the same?

This is a total shot in the dark, but it seems coincidental to me that we have a group of heretics closely related to the Tzedukim, called Baitusim who are never mentioned in the historical works of ...
3
votes
1answer
237 views

Are there any historical Bibles entirely written on parchment?

Mishneh Torah, Tefillin, Mezuzah and the Torah Scroll 7:15: מותר לדבק תורה נביאים וכתובים בכרך אחד . It is permissible to attach Torah, Prophets and Writings in one scroll. Between the ...
3
votes
3answers
398 views

Did Chazal know about China and the Chinese? and from which of Noach's sons do they hail?

The silk road from the Far East to Asia probably operated from about 200 B.C.E although it was not a direct trading route but worked in stages; so there was no direct contact from say China to ...
3
votes
1answer
744 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
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 ...
3
votes
3answers
323 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
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
votes
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
241 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
1answer
175 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
77 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
1answer
356 views

When did walking from Ner Israel yeshiva to Baltimore no longer require Eruv Techumin?

From what I'm told, several decades ago one who wanted to walk from Ner Israel yeshiva on Mt. Wilson Lane in Pikesville, MD to the greater Baltimore community (e.g. Rabbi Heinemann's shul, the Agudah, ...
3
votes
2answers
123 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, ...
3
votes
1answer
163 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
89 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
145 views

Vilna Gaon on Sefer Devarim

Where does the Gra mention the idea that Sefer Devarim is split up into parshiot representing the centuries going into the 6000 millennium? There is another idea that Ki Tavo fits into the years of ...
3
votes
1answer
381 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
2answers
78 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
234 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
79 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
182 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 ...
3
votes
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
187 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
171 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
141 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
118 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
2answers
916 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
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?
3
votes
1answer
105 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
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
votes
1answer
128 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
110 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
2answers
55 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
125 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
55 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
114 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
80 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
2answers
232 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 ...