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

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39
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2answers
618 views

Were slave-related commandments observed in America?

Since there was slavery in the Americas between their discovery and 1856, do we know of any Jewish slave-owners there who observed slavery-related laws of Judaism?
8
votes
2answers
495 views

לשון הקדש: the oldest language?

Rashi to B'reshis 2:23 says that the language Adam spoke was one that Rashi calls לשון הקדש, lashon hakodesh (or l'shon hakodesh), and that contains the words אִשָּׁה and אִישׁ. Keeping to Rashi's ...
2
votes
0answers
135 views

Who gave the “yadav rav lo” ordination a few decades ago?

According to Rabbi Hoenig's article, "The Orthodox Rabbi as Military Chaplain" (Tradition Fall 1976, emphasis in the original): This situation brought up the question of proper ordination, the ...
3
votes
1answer
99 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
204 views

Amon and Moav today

The Halacha is that a Jewish woman may not marry a convert of Amon and Moav. Is there any way to know who is a descendant of Amon and Moav today?
12
votes
2answers
290 views

Why isn't there a single, centralized Sanhedrin today?

It seems that many mitzvot in the Torah are opened to interpretation in some way, potentially subject to ruling by the Sanhedrin. And some mitzvot (examples below) seem to require the presence of the ...
12
votes
1answer
402 views

Eldad HaDani's Lasting Influence - Is there any?

Eldad HaDani is (apparently) considered today to have been a fraud. According to this Wikipedia article, he was a traveler who told stories of his place of origin, which he claimed was a sovereign ...
16
votes
2answers
537 views

What is the oldest manuscript of Torah Shebaal Peh?

We don't have (and more's the pity!) R' Yehudah Hanassi's autograph copy of the Mishnah (well, okay, it's a controversial issue whether he actually wrote it or only arranged it orally), or Ravina and ...
14
votes
2answers
6k views

All people in world are Jews?

According to the Book of Genesis, Noah saved his family and representatives of every animal from a flood by constructing a boat. So since all of humanity should be descended from Noah, does that mean ...
11
votes
6answers
349 views

Is there a good visual companion to Tanach?

I'm looking for a visual companion to Tanach, i.e. maps, charts, and timelines. So when I'm learning Sefer Yehoshua, for example, I can see maps that chart the various battles and such. Are there any ...
5
votes
1answer
273 views

Do we know anything else about the calculus problem solved by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein?

The biographical sketch of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein that appears in Igrot Moshe volume 8 describes the following (my translation): The Communist takeover meant the schools taught against religion. ...
10
votes
2answers
143 views

What was the dietary source of calcium in Talmudic times?

The Mishna in Ketubot Chapter 5 describes the basic diet of a working-class woman at the time (around the year 200): ה,ז [ח] המשרה את אשתו על ידי שליש--לא יפחות לה מקביים חיטים, או מארבעת קבים ...
4
votes
1answer
54 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, ...
9
votes
3answers
542 views

Did Rabbi Dovid Feinstein of Uzda wear tefilin that were Ktav Ari or Ktav Beit Yosef? What about his son?

The biographical sketch of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein that appears in the beginning of Igrot Moshe volume 8 states that his father, Rabbi Dovid Feinstein of Uzda, was born and raised Hassidic, but took on ...
7
votes
4answers
400 views

Moshe's divorcing Tzipora

Moshe refrained from marital relations with Tzipora for almost forty years, so as to be able to receive prophecy at any moment (Shabas 87:1). 1. Did he divorce her? 2. If not, why not?
9
votes
4answers
5k views

Is a rabbi required to be married?

I have heard (I honestly cannot remember where...) that to be a rabbi a man must be married. Is there any truth to this? I am more interested in knowing if this "WAS" true in time of Jesus, than if ...
17
votes
2answers
494 views

Are there other extant Chabad groups besides Chabad-Lubavitch?

Wikipedia lists a number of different Chabad groups including: Chabad-Lubavitch Chabad-Bobroisk Chabad-Kapust Chabad-Liadi Chabad-Nezhin Chabad-Strashelye I was told that these different groups ...
1
vote
0answers
68 views

When did the Talmudic penalty of death stop being carried out? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: History of Capital Punishment When did the Talmudic penality of death stop being carried out? For example, the opening verses of Tractate Sotah describe death penalty ...
7
votes
1answer
227 views

The origins of davening

So according to the Rambam (I believe that it is only him, but would be more than interested in other people that also hold the same view), it is a mitzvah de'oraita daven every day (I believe its one ...
11
votes
5answers
379 views

The authenticity of rabbinic literature

I am studying the history of various branches of Judaism. I understand the position of rabbinic Judaism that parts of the laws were oral and not written. But this alone would not justify the ...
4
votes
3answers
557 views

Is there a difference between a Rabbi and a Temple Priest?

I was reading about Perushim and Tzedukim on Wikipedia and the articles seems to suggest that there is a difference between them. Is there a difference between a rabbi and a (Temple) priest?
11
votes
5answers
539 views

Existence of Heaven and Hell

I heard from a Jewish colleague that the concept of Heaven and Hell were not originally part of Judaism. I couldn't find references to these concepts in the Old Testament. So Were these part of ...
2
votes
1answer
75 views

Redistribution of refuge cities after expansion

When the Torah commands the establishment of cities of refuge in Eretz Yisra'el to protect accidental murderers from vengeful relatives it states that the three cities must be evenly placed ...
3
votes
1answer
434 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
443 views

Did courts ever execute?

The laws of capital crimes elucidated in Sanhedrin and elsewhere make conviction very unlikely. Makkot 1:10 famously tells us that a court that executes once in seven years is bloodthirsty, R. ...
10
votes
1answer
427 views

What happened to the Jewish practice of using burial caves?

A three-part question about funerary practices. In ancient times, Jews used to bury people for a year or two, then, after the body decomposed, collect their bones and put them in a family cave. In ...
8
votes
2answers
155 views

Why is 'Rabbenu Tam' called Rabbenu Tam?

Rabbenu Tam's name was יעקב בן מאיר. Why then is he known as Rabbenu Tam?
2
votes
2answers
170 views

Why is “Merkos L'inyonei Chinuch” spelled that way?

In the title Merkos L'inyonei Chinuch, why is the word מרכז transliterated with an 's' in place of a 'ז' rather than a 'z'?
4
votes
3answers
155 views

History of Birkas haMinim

What is the history behind the bracha of v'lamalshim? Was there a specific ideology or group that the baracha was targeting? Why would someone davening to Hashem and saying the rest of the barachos ...
2
votes
3answers
222 views

the dress of the followers of Harav Kook

Harav Kook was basically a litai, and dressed like one and even had a shtreimel. Today his followers and talmidim from his yeshiva don't even use any kind of suit (long or short) or hat and even make ...
3
votes
1answer
144 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
113 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 ...
2
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

Is there “Torah Inerrancy”?

Is there Torah inerrancy? In other words, does the Torah contain no factual errors: the Noah flood did occur, Garden of Eden did exist, Adam and Eve did live there and were subsequently expelled, etc ...
14
votes
5answers
4k views

Are there any Jewish people alive today who can identify themselves as coming from a particular tribe?

The Christian "New Testament" claims Paul (Saul) was of the tribe of Benjamin. Since Roman times have there been any people who can validly claim they were from a particular tribe? At least at that ...
13
votes
3answers
197 views

What is the explanation for the destruction of the First Temple?

What is the explanation (according to the Jewish Bible, Talmud, etc.) for the destruction of the First Temple?
14
votes
4answers
3k views

B'siyata D'shmaya or Baruch Hashem

Often, at the top of written work, Jews write either ב"ה, which stands for Baruch Hashem =blessed is the Name i.e., God, or בס"ד, which stands for b'siyata d'shmaya =with Heavenly help. What is the ...
4
votes
1answer
151 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?
6
votes
1answer
346 views

Who asked Rav Moshe about capital punishment?

There is an interesting t'shuva in Igros Moshe Choshen Mishpat vol.2 #68 (pt. 1 pt. 2) in which he explains the extreme rarity of capital punishment in Jewish law, especially in modern times. It is ...
10
votes
3answers
490 views

Disparity between male and female pronunciation of Cholam

In many Yeshivish communities in the US, the male segment of the population vocalizes the cholam as "oi," while their female counterparts vocalize it as a long "o". How did this come about? Does the ...
4
votes
2answers
242 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
193 views

Aleinu L'Shabeach - Nusach HaTefila

The words "Sheheim Mishtachavim Li-Hevel Voryk Umispallelim El Eil Lo-Yoshiya" - Was this originally part of Aleinu and then removed, or was it added later to Aleinu? Why was this done?
2
votes
1answer
200 views

Ben Petura - The Nazarene?

The Gemara in Bava Metzia 62a talks about two people in the desert and who gets the water first. I heard that the character Ben Petura is the Nazarene; can anyone confirm or deny this with a source? ...
7
votes
3answers
184 views

failed sale of chametz

Are there any recorded (recorded, perhaps, in responsa) instances of a failed sale of chametz (e.g., the gentile refused to buy the stuff and another couldn't be found, or the rabbi forgot to do it), ...
4
votes
1answer
97 views

Who composed Ka Keili?

Who composed Ka Keili? What is the earliest source for this song?
5
votes
1answer
99 views

Using The Washington Haggadah

Yesterday, Harvard University Press released a haggadah which is a reproduction of a manuscript written in 1478 and held by the Library of Congress. It can be purchased on Amazon. If I bought this, ...
3
votes
3answers
133 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.
10
votes
3answers
383 views

When/how was the controversy regarding stainless-steel blades for shechitah resolved?

My understanding is that the use of stainless-steel blades for shechita (kosher slaughter) knives was introduced by the early Hassidic movement and initially opposed by the non-Hassidic leaders. ...
3
votes
4answers
793 views

Matrilineal Descent

I have heard that matrilineal descent (i.e. having Judaism passed down through the mother) comes from the Roman period when women were raped by Roman soldiers and the babies were then said to be ...
8
votes
2answers
558 views

Which 20th-century Rosh Yeshiva studied under the mysterious Monsieur Chouchani?

Monsieur Chouchani was a mysterious figure who travelled around post-World War II and taught several great Jewish thinkers, including Emmanuel Levinas z"l and [yibadel l'chayim] Elie Wiesel. ...