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

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Earliest use of the word “gematria” to mean the value of words

What's the earliest use of the word "gematria" followed by the use of it to mean the value of the word? I'm aware that in Pirkei Avot the word itself is used, but that is not used in conjunction with ...
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95 views

The Second Temple [closed]

I'm a BT of just over 5 yrs now, struggling but studying hard (50 yrs of 'catch-up'!). I think of myself as a Chassidic Jew. I'm still intrigued, yet in a quandary about the validity of the 2nd ...
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86 views

Why no 15-minutes-early clause in English rabbis' contracts?

Rabbi Yitzchak Reuven Rubin wrote in 2001: In fact, it wasn't long ago that every rabbi in England was required by contract to "present himself fifteen minutes before the time of Divine worship." ...
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124 views

Why doesn't Rav Saadia Gaon write about wearing tefillin even during prayer?

In the Siddur of Rav Saadia Gaon, he only mentions tephilin once, and even then is only talking about the bracha made when putting it on. No where does he say that when davening, you should be wearing ...
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97 views

When was the modern manuscript for the Torah agreed upon?

(This question is also asked here on history.SE for a different perspective.) Considering that variations have occurred in the Torah's text over time (I think the Gemara may mention events where a ...
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45 views

Why did הַר הַזֵּיתִים become a place of burial

I am wondering if there was any particular reason that הַר הַזֵּיתִים was chosen to become a place of burial. Is there?
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52 views

Why was Megillas Taanis written?

In general, oral Torah isn't allowed to be written down (Gittin 60b). For all generations until the Amorayim (at least according to Rashi), that Halacha was kept. Yet, according to Rashi, Megillas ...
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97 views

When did the Kaf HaHayyim first see the Aruch HaShulchan and the Mishnah Berurah?

The Kaf HaHayyim was written roughly contemporaneously with the Aruch HaShulchan and the Mishneh Berurah, but is the last of the three seforim to be finished, with its final chapters completed by the ...
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130 views

What is meant by the term “midina”/“provinces” as in the 127 ruled by Ahasuerus?

Esther 1:1 says: Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus -- he was the Ahasuerus who reigned from Hodu to Cush, one hundred twenty-seven provinces. For historical context, the period of the ...
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103 views

Have the empires of old perished?

I remember being taught when I was younger that the fact that Jews are around is a testimony to the eternity of our religion; that we survived them all and that they are no longer. I am unaware ...
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65 views

What were Bar Kochba's sins?

In his answer to the question Is there any evidence that Rabbi Akiva's students fought with Bar Kochba, Jake cites Y.T. Taanis 4:5 and M.R. Eicha 2:4 as sources for the position that Bar Kochba was ...
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139 views

How did the modern day Beis Hora'ah phenomenon develop?

Here in Eretz Yisrael, we find Batei Hora'ah in many cities - places where a moreh hora'ah sits either during special times or perhaps the whole day or different rabbonim throughout the day answering ...
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73 views

Are there mystical underpinnings to Maccabi?

One of the explanations I have heard for the title מכבי is that it is an acronym for the pasuk 'מִי-כָמֹכָה בָּאֵלִם ה (Shemos 15:11). Is there any reason, mystical or otherwise that that pasuk (or ...
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88 views

King Yoash murdered - Who's responsible?

II Melechim 12:21 and II Divri HaYamim 24:25 both indicate that servants conspired and killed King Joash. There seems to be a little bit of confusion on the murderers' names---Yozacar vs Zabad ben ...
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0answers
56 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.
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33 views

History of Chevra Kadisha's in New York City

I am interested in knowing about the Chevra Kadisha's in NYC, Brooklyn, etc. When they were started and by who? Under whose auspices? Any other information.
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125 views

What is the date ending the 700 years mentioned in these midrashim?

Based on this answer I was able to have some extra fun reading over Shabbat. First, I would like to say, that I was amazed as to how much of the material I was allready familiar with, mostly from ...
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103 views

Why does a hamentash have three sides and filling? [closed]

All Hamentashen that I've seen have three sides and all Hamentashen have filling. Why is that?
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0answers
72 views

Was Bar Kochva disemboweled?

The gemarah in Gittin, 57a, details a story of "bar d'roma" who performs miraculous feats in defending the Jews before meeting his demise by being disemboweled by a snake (similar to the end of Bar ...
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0answers
44 views

בימי מתתיהו בן יוחנן כהן גדול - who was the Kohain Gadol? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Bmei Matisyahu ben Yochnan Kohen Godol בימי מתתיהו בן יוחנן כהן גדול - In the days of Matisyahu ben Yochanan Kohain Gadol --"Al Hanisim" prayer said on Chanuka Who ...
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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 ...
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2answers
123 views

The disappearance of וסת קבוע and הרגשות

At some point in history, Jewish women used to have very regularly scheduled Monthly cycles, and used to have some sensation that accompanied the onset of menstruation. Both of these play important ...
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3answers
283 views

Authenticity and authority of Oral tradition

Is there a methodology used in Judaism to authenticate traditions (that it orginated from person to whom it is attributed) and deem it halacha or a correct position? For example, Muslims have what ...
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4answers
564 views

Why do we count years from the date of Creation?

Why do we count years from the date of Creation? I intend two sub-questions here, of which the second is far more interesting, so please answer it: Whence did this tradition originate? Why do we ...
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1answer
254 views

Were some Jews transformed to monkeys for violating the sabbath?

Some historical Islamic sources quote that early Jews who violated the Sabbath were transformed into apes : O Jews! Remember that Allah sent His torment on the village that disobeyed Him and broke ...
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4answers
337 views

Biblical significance of face veil

I read here about certain Jewish sects prescribing face veil. A related question about the rule was asked here, and i was asked to ask a separate question on Biblical history of the same. Was such a ...
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1answer
211 views

Did Joseph ever forgive his brothers? Did they request forgiveness?

After Yosef revealed himself to his brothers, did the brothers ever ask for Yosef's forgiveness for having sold him into slavery? And did Yosef ever formally forgive them? I'm looking for chapter ...
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3answers
787 views

What is the torah view on the dinosaurs?

What is the Torah view on the dinosaurs? There's no mention of them in the Torah, only that the world was created in 6 days. If they existed, Adam and his descendants should have seen them. Yet ...
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3answers
103 views

Significance of 3 Teveis in Judaism

Is the 3nd 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 ...
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1answer
162 views

Is land ownership traditionally considered a status symbol in Judaism?

I'm writing a paper for a Jewish Film class about the the movie The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, and there is a scene in the beginning where Duddy's Zayda tells him "A man without land is ...
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1answer
285 views

Toynbee's description of Jews as a “fossil” — what was the Orthodox response?

In the 1950s historian Arnold Toynbee made the argument that Jews and Judaism did not fit into any definition of nation, race, or religion. We were not a nation because we lived for centuries without ...
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1answer
106 views

Position of Reish Galusa

Does anyone know why the position of Reish Galusa no longer exists and when it was discontinued?
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1answer
103 views

Lot's Daughters

Why did Lot's daughters have relations with their father?
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1answer
203 views

What did medieval rabbis like Maimonides write, generically? What do modern rabbis write?

OK, so - the Torah is the same as the Pentateuch/first five books of the Christian Old Testament; the Tanakh is roughly the same as the OT, but there are some differences in ordering, inclusion, etc. ...
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1answer
97 views

Where do the names of the sedras come from and do they have meaning?

I would like to know where the names for the sedras come from (who named a certain sedra Balak, Emor etc.) and if there is any meaning associated with the naming (as the Lubavitcher Rebbi seems to ...
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3answers
387 views

Yeshua Sar Ha-Panim

"Yeshua Sar Ha-Panim" is mentioned in some machzorim in the following prayer between the shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah: יהי רצון מלפניך שתקיעת תשר"ת שאנחנו תוקעין תהא מרוקמת ביריעה על ידי הממונה ...
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1answer
195 views

How can we explain the growth of Israelite population in Egypt?

Jacob and his family went to Egypt numbering (approximately) 70 people. After approximately 200 years, 600,000 men between the ages of 20-60 (if I'm not mistaken). So probably 2 million total got ...
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1answer
320 views

Ululating in Jewish culture

In ancient times, Jews living in Israel ululated if I am not mistaken. Is this practiced by Ashkenazi or Sephardic Jews today? Which other Jewish communities ululate? Ethiopians, Mizrahis, etc? Are ...
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2answers
70 views

When was the Shulchan Aruch HaArizal first published?

On HebrewBooks.org they have this edition. Is there any previous edition and when? מקום דפוס ווילנא שנת דפוס תרמא Pub. Place Vilna Pub. Date 1881 Pages דפים 95
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3answers
80 views

History of 9 Teveis

**Looking for answers as to what happened in Jewish history on this date. It can include both positive and negative occurrences. It can also include birthdays or Yarzheits of well known personalities ...
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2answers
109 views

Are there any late-Achronim who wrote like a Rishon (or early-Acharon)?

When the Rishonim wrote, they weighed every word they used, considered the meaning and inferences of all possibilities and decided on what best reflects their position as a whole. This is how we treat ...
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1answer
157 views

When did the practice of Exodus 35:2 stop?

Exodus 35:2 JPS ב שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים, תֵּעָשֶׂה מְלָאכָה, וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי יִהְיֶה לָכֶם קֹדֶשׁ שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן, לַיהוָה; כָּל-הָעֹשֶׂה בוֹ מְלָאכָה, יוּמָת.‏ Six days shall ...
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1answer
655 views

where was the ark of the covenant during the time of the judges?

After Joshua, during the time of the judges, where was the ark located? In Judges 18 it seems that the people did not have a central place of worship.
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1answer
164 views

What was the earliest use of the Rambam's language in Shmita V'Yovel in support of kollel study?

Here's the Rambam, waxing poetic at the end of Laws of Shmita and Yovel (and his entire volume of Zeraim): ולא שבט לוי בלבד, אלא כל איש ואיש מכל באי העולם אשר נדבה רוחו אותו והבינו מדעו להיבדל ...
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1answer
45 views

Paintings and Sculptures of Rabbis Throughout the Ages [closed]

There are many paintings or sculptures of Rabbis from throughout history, like the Vilna Gaon (paintings), Maharal (statue), and Rambam (statue). Are they accurate (or at least somewhat accurate) ...
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1answer
58 views

Who were the 'mixed multitude' that went up with the children of Israel in Ex 12:38?

Who were the 'mixed multitude also went up with' the children of Israel in Exodus 12:38? Were they part of Israel? What does Judaism, Jewish tradition say about this mixed multitude?
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1answer
75 views

What date was Kibrot Hattaavah?

Are there any sources that give the date for the incident in Kibroth Hattaavah recorded in B'Midbar Chapter 11? I am trying to figure out if it happened on a particular mo'ed or any significant date.
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2answers
131 views

Why isn't the bible 100% historically accurate? [closed]

In day school my teachers often said that the torah isn't a history book. Today academicians, historians, and the like diligently present historical inaccuracies in the bible. For example the story of ...
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1answer
96 views

What is Ezra's Immersion / טבילת עזרא

What is Ezra's Immersion / טבילת עזרא and: Why was it canceled? How was it canceled?
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1answer
70 views

Is there a record of the Frankist talmud disputation?

In 1757 followers of the apostate Jew, Jacob Frank engaged in a disputation with Rabbinic Jews regarding the talmud. I would like to know if there is any record of the contents of that disputation.