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

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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?
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134 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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83 views

Was referring to a Jewish firstborn son as “____ bar [mother's name]” insulting in the first century?

There is a passage in the Christian "gospels" in which Jesus is referred to by his community in an unusual way. The text [Mark 6:3] was originally written in Greek, but the English translation is: ...
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140 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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61 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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118 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 ...
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82 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
237 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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200 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 ...
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364 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 ...
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1answer
706 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 ...
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2answers
247 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
159 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
266 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 Joshua....
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1answer
176 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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681 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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142 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.
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432 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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241 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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120 views

Spain and curse

Was there a Curse placed on Jews returning to Spain after the Spanish Inquisition if so who stated it and general background information would be appreciated?
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65 views

When in history were sermons generally given only twice a year (Shabbat HaGadol and Shabbat Shuva)?

I have often heard the statement that, historically, rabbis gave sermons only twice a year, on Shabbat HaGadol and Shabbat Shuva. My Jewish Learning and Judaism 101 are among the places where I have ...
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68 views

The torah is nothing now compared to that of moshiach? What does this midrash mean?

In koheles Rabba piska 11 ois 8 It says that "The Torah we have now is hevel-nothing compared to the Torah of moshiach". Why is this Torah considered nothing? What is the Torah of moshiach mean?
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74 views

Onkelos Commentary

Rashi on the talmud (kidushin 49a) says the aramaic translation/commentary on the torah was given at sinai, forgotten and brought back by Onkelos. Where did Onkelos obtain the correct text?
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115 views

Does the book of Daniel accurately date the war with Babylon?

According to Wikipedia: The introductory verses tell how, in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim (606 BCE), Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among the young Jewish ...
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113 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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81 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 ...
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79 views

When did the original names of the months change?

The Haftorah this past week mentions the second month using the name Ziv. The orignal names of the months are discussed here: First-Temple-Era names of the Hebrew months? When did the original names ...
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4answers
132 views

Book on Biblical Archeology

I'm looking to increase my knowledge of biblical archeology. As an orthodox jew, I'd prefer a book which takes a more traditional view with regards to the historicity of tanach. Any suggestions?
3
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1answer
132 views

What was the name of Sarah's mother?

Seder Hadoros mentions Avraham's mother, how old Nachor was when Sarah was born, and even a Peshat that Lot was her brother, though no mention of Sarah's mother's name. Any other sources that mention ...
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312 views

Who edited the “Nusach Sefarad” nusach?

There are two (Ok, three if you count Teimani) traditional families of nusach in use - Ashkenaz (the Nusach which people from northern/eastern Europe traditionally prayed in) and Eidot Hamizrach (the ...
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1answer
272 views

Haredi clothing

Every time I see videos or photographs of Haredim of sixty-eighty years ago, I notice an abundance of grey suits and hats, with the occasional brown or grey waistcoat. Examples of this include the ...
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81 views

Napoleon Beis Din [closed]

Can somone provide some background for this like who was on it and what the Beis Din addressed and what was Napoleons motivation for it and what was the Jewish response?
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75 views

Do we know of any opposition when the Hasmoneans decided to take the throne after the Chanukah story?

As has been discussed both here and elsewhere, after the victory of Chanukah, the Hasomeans (Maccabees) decided that they had to take the throne themselves, rather than give it over to someone from ...
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49 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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3answers
228 views

When and why did the custom that a Nidda hides from the public that she is a Nidda start

I understand that in the past it was not hidden from the public that a Nidda was a Nidda, as they wore special clothing. As we see the רע"ב's explanation in the Mishna in Kethubot 7:6 ...
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3answers
134 views

Source of the term בכתמים שומעין להקל

In the halachos of Niddah, there is a term which I have come across not infrequently. The term is בכתמים שומעין להקל, which roughly translated means "in [the halachos of blood] stains we listen to ...
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89 views

Chassidus Tschitschkov (Czyczkow/y)

I asked here about someone who changed his minhagim and the obligations of his descendants. My great-grandfather's grandfather, was the rebbe of the town of Czyczkow, near Chojnice (Choynitz, Cheunitz)...
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1answer
121 views

Antiquarian Safrut

Is there any resource for looking at examples of the old forms of safrut from before the Second World War? I have seen un-sourced photos of strikingly different variations within the Ashkenazi and ...
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1answer
104 views

concept of Breira unknown to the Tana'im?

Breira is the concept that a choice can be made in the future that will retroactively determine the state of something in the the present (assuming I understood and articulated it correctly). There is ...
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1answer
94 views

Students who received Smicha from Rabbi Akiva Eger

I'm seeking a list of Rabbis who received Smicha from R. Akiva Eger, both in Markisch Friedland and later in Posen.
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1answer
230 views

When did David Hamelech write Tehillim?

When did David Hamelech write Tehillim? Or to be more technical, when did David write his first Tehillim and when did he write his last? Also was there a certain period of time within which he wrote a ...
3
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1answer
300 views

Was the Hebrew Alphabet also given with the Tablets and Law?

My research for my answer to Which alphabet were the original Torah scrolls in? gave me an idea--Since the Early Alphabetic alphabet is also called Sinaitic, and the timing seems about right, maybe ...
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205 views

Intermarriage among Middle eastern Jews right before 1948

I was wondering does anyone know where I can find out the Intermarriage rate among Middle eastern Jews right before 1948 particularly amongst the Iraqis and the Syrians?
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82 views

Margaliyos family tree [closed]

Many famous rabbanim have had the last name מרגליות. A couple that come to mind are ר' ראובן מרגליות and ר' אפרים מרגליות. Are they related? Where could I find genealogical information on such people?
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294 views

Who wrote the 1950s-era super-patriotic Prayer for the United States of America?

In the "Tikun Meir" siddur from about 50 years ago, there's a very unique prayer for the United States of America. Something to the effect of: Humble were its beginnings, but by Your kindness, ...
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60 views

How did Chazal attain its continued acceptance?

My question is: How did Chazal attain its authority? More specifically, how did the Pharisees who evolved into Chazal beat out the Sadducees who would later become practically extinct (some say that ...
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1answer
110 views

German and Ethiopian Jews in the time of the Mishna?

According to Negaim 3:1, the laws of negaim only apply to Jews (הכל מטּמאין בנגעים חוץ מגוים), but according to Negaim 2:1 they apply to people from Germany (גרמני) and Ethiopia (or Numibia, etc; ״כוש״...
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50 views

Shavuah Tov or A Gutte Vuch on Motzai Shabbos

What is the earliest reference or source for wishing Shavuah Tov or A Gutte Vuch on Motzai Shabbos?