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

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Who came up with this story?

It says in Mekor Baruch (of Rabbi Baruch Epstein) The Rosh Yeshiva of Volozhin, the Netziv, was once sitting down surrounded by several high-caliber students – avrechim versed in Torah, wise, and ...
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How did our forefathers bake the dough they took out of Egypt? Would it qualify as matzo now?

Shmos 12 (39) says: “They baked the dough that they had taken out of Egypt as unleavened cakes, for it had not leavened, for they were driven out of Egypt, and they could not tarry, and also, ...
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Winged sun symbol on Hezekiah coins

The winged sun is an ancient symbol that originated in Egypt and Assyria. Why is it then that coins from Hezekiah have this symbol from gentile nations? Also Malachi 3:20 shows the adoption of this ...
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51 views

What is a Drut’syla?

This link was sent to me by a friend, about a woman who is a Drut'syla (dertseyler in Yiddish), or storyteller. The article simply says it's a Jewish tradition, but doesn't place it within Judaism. ...
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58 views

What did the Arizal's contemporaries write about him?

Over here, ray posits that the validity of certain schools of Jewish philosophy rests on the Arizal's word. The Arizal was most famous for his teachings in Safed (though he only lived there for two ...
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38 views

Does Jacob's Well in present-day Nablus/Shechem have a Jewish tradition associated with it?

There's a well in present-day Shechem (Nablus) called "Jacob's Well." It has an Orthodox Christian church on top of it right now. I was wondering if there is any Jewish tradition that Jacob dug this ...
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Who wrote the Ritva on Gittin?

I've heard many things about the author of "Ritva on Gittin." It might have been the Ritva, it might not have been. There's also the "חידושים מכתב יד," which some ascribe to the Ritva, while others ...
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79 views

How old is the Earth?

There are few versions of the age of the Earth Wikipedia Article but they seem to be mostly (all?) from christian interpretations. Are there estimations from the Tanakh, with Jewish interpretations? ...
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73 views

Josephus' Fall of Jerusalem

Is this book commonly accepted in the Jewish world as an accurate description of the events surrounding destruction of the Beit HaMikdash? I'm particularly interested in its portrayal of the behavior ...
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1answer
77 views

Did they daven after the destruction of the first temple?

I learned that tefilla was established in place of the korbanos after the destruction of the second temple. Did any sort of similar thing, meaning standardized prayer service, become instituted after ...
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What is known about the Sage מונבז?

מונבז is mentioned in Shabbos 68b. I know there were two Kings of this name. What is known about the Sage of this name?
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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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43 views

Chazals intention behind bedikat hametz

Nowdays, it seems to be standard for jewish family's to begin cleaning their houses days before Pesach. By the time bedikat hametz arrives, the houses are usually hametz free. From reading Talmud ...
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53 views

Chronological order of parshiyot in Sefer Vayikra

I am trying to figure out when several parshiyos in Vayikra were said by Moshe to bnei yisroel. For example, the parshiyos of Tazria and Metzora - when did Moshe teach them? In במדבר פרק ה Hashem ...
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52 views

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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104 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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144 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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105 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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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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187 views

origin of chassidish havarah(pronunciation)

When did people start using the chassidish havarah? If making that change was deliberate, who instituted it? I remember seeing some where that it was started to oppose the maskilim who where medakdek ...
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56 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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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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183 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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104 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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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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146 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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76 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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93 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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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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144 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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107 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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73 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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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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138 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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1answer
72 views

When is Avraham's birthday?

I saw in a popular book a suggestion that Avraham was born on Rosh Chodesh Tevet. Does anyone have any backing sources for this?
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3answers
289 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
614 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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2answers
148 views

Historic, variant wording for birkat hamazon for women?

The Mishna Berura (halachot birchat hamazon, siman 187) mentions a variant wording of the birkat hamazon that is said by women. Precisely what is this wording and when was it used and when was it ...
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2answers
105 views

When was the one time the Jewish people did not fast on Yom Kippur?

A student of mine asked me this question based on an application he was filling out. I am assuming there is a historical or halachik answer to this question. "When was the one time the Jewish people ...
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4answers
401 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
223 views

What was the 'evolution' of determining who is part of the Jewish people?

Starting with Abraham and continuing till modern halacha. how has the halacha regarding who is part of the Jewish people changed? What were the causes of the change, and the reasoning, and the change ...
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1answer
235 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
937 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
221 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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2answers
50 views

Was biblical Shmita observed during the time of the second temple?

Was biblical shmita observed during the second beit hamikdash? Is there a source for this?
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1answer
171 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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3answers
485 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
341 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
117 views

Position of Reish Galusa

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