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

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3
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1answer
55 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 ...
4
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3answers
215 views

Why Choose Talmud Bavli For The Daily Study

As we know it is a big custom to learn a daf of Talmud Bavli a day (Dafyomi). My question is why did they choose to pick Talmud Bavli. There are so many other Subjects that could actually affect ...
6
votes
1answer
249 views

When will the period of Acharonim end?

What will mark the end of the period of Acharonim? What in general demarcates rabbinical eras? Are these halachic rules or conventions?
2
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1answer
37 views

Tracing your Jewish roots [closed]

How do you find out about family Jewish history if you only have a Jewish grandfathers name and place of birth but no date of birth?
26
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7answers
1k views

Is there any evidence that Rabbi Akiva's students fought alongside Bar Kochba?

Various sources say that "12,000 pairs" of Rabbi Akiva's students died between Pesach and Shavuos because they did not treat each other with respect. See Genesis Rabba 61:3, Ecclesiastes Rabba 11, ...
3
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0answers
15 views

Noted instances of Kares and Ariri

Are there any written recordings in any branch of Torah where we find a comment proving someone actually died from Kares/Ariri? Now, of course being a heavenly decree it would be hard to know for ...
2
votes
2answers
167 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 ...
11
votes
8answers
3k views

How are Spartans the son of Abraham?

I was reading the Book of Maccabbees (I and II) over shabbat and in it there is a letter written to Sparta to ask for peace, goodwill and friendship. In the reply letter back from Sparta, they affirm ...
26
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6answers
757 views

Where does the concept of Gilgulim (reincarnations) in Judaism come from?

What is the source of Gilgulim (reincarnations) in Judaism? Are there people who disagree with its existence? Who was the first to mention it? What I am asking essentially is what is the historical ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Was Judaism ever a proselytizing religion?

It is often asserted that up until the time of Constantine or so, Judaism was an actively proselytizing religion. This can be contrasted with the common practice today of rejecting potential converts ...
2
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0answers
51 views

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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0answers
48 views

Historicity of Chazal

What do traditional sources (particularly Rishonim and their predecessors) say about the historical accuracy of Chazal's statements?
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2answers
237 views

Why does almost every community say Lecha Dodi?

The prayer Lecha Dodi was composed in the 16th century which is relatively recent as the general Nusach of prayer was founded between 516 BCE – 70 CE by the Anshei K'neset Hagdolah, and its rare that ...
17
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3answers
2k views

Why don't we see magic today?

Throughout Tanach and Talmud, there are numerous recorded uses and practitioners of magic1. From Pharaoh's magicians to Shaul's necromancer, and magic cucumbers to were-donkeys, the references are ...
0
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1answer
71 views

Successfull Forgeries

Which forgeries have successfully fooled significant sectors of Jews before being revealed as forgeries. I.e. works falsely attributed to someone besides the real author. I can think of the Besamim ...
13
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3answers
477 views

Were our symbols for trope and nekudos created by the Masoretes, or transmitted by them?

It is commonly said in secular sources that the shapes of the trope and nekudos we use today were invented by the Masoretes (7th to 11th Century CE), but I cannot find any source in our mesorah to ...
2
votes
1answer
63 views

Authenticity of Maggid Mesharim

The title says it all: what do various sources say regarding the authenticity of the Meggid Mesharim; a book supposedly containing angelic revelations to R. Joseph Karo. Did R. Karo really write it? ...
3
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0answers
35 views

Timeline of Egypt to Sinai

Does anyone know of a source with an account of what happened each day of the journey from Yetzias Mitzrayim to Har Sinai?
7
votes
2answers
943 views

What should our response be to ancient scripts that mirror the Torah?

There are quite a number of ancient documents that have been found that (supposedly) predate the Torah, and yet they share many lines practically verbatim. If the Torah is truly divine, how could this ...
1
vote
1answer
58 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?
1
vote
2answers
100 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
35 views

How would the Shekinah Glory be described in contemporary english?

Was the Shekinah really a cloud? I know it shaded the people, but did it produce rain? Is it thought of as a cloud because that was the only word to describe what the people saw? The two passages ...
6
votes
4answers
161 views

When was matzah eaten besides for Pesach? (Chametz u'matza)

The first of four questions specifically says, "On all other nights we eat chametz or matza, why on this night only matza?" While I understand that it's halakhically acceptable to eat matzah when it ...
3
votes
2answers
439 views

Kashrut with very costy salt?

Currently the cost of the salt (for human consumption) is practically negligible, mostly around $1/kg. But it wasn't always so. There were centuries as salt mining and selling was a governmental ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

What's the earliest source/discussion on green beans being “kitniyot” (prohibited legumes) on Passover?

My understanding is that most Ashkenazic communities today don't eat green beans on Passover, treating them as kitniyot (a bunch of legumes for which the custom arose to avoid on Passover). What's the ...
2
votes
1answer
94 views

Historical documentation that the Rambam was supported by his brother

I have heard quoted many times that the Rambam wrote his Mishneh Torah while he was being supported entirely by his brother. It was only after his brother died at sea that the Rambam, needing to ...
15
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3answers
347 views

Is it heresy to follow secular dating on the destruction of the first Temple?

There is a discrepancy between rabbinic and secular sources regarding when the first Temple was destroyed -- a difference of some 165 years or so, which are called the "Missing Years." My question is ...
6
votes
2answers
312 views

Does the cherem that the Vilna Gaon put on certain sectors of Chassidus still apply?

It is known that the Vilna Gaon put 2 sectors of Chassidus in Cherem. I am wondering who has permitted them now seeing as we non-Chassidim don't make borders between them and ourselves.
4
votes
1answer
59 views

When did the custom start to fast Tannis Esther on 13th Addar?

This question is not a duplicate of Tannis Esther reason because it is not a question of the reason just about the time. In Megilat Taanit it is mentioned that people should not fast on the day ...
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vote
0answers
49 views

When did the custom of silver candlesticks for Shabbat start?

I heard that it is a custom to give a bride candlesticks. Is this true? when did this start? Who has the obligation to do this? and more info on the subject with sources please. Is this true that it ...
10
votes
5answers
309 views

Why did Esther make two parties; why not just one?

What was the purpose of the two parties that Esther made for Haman and Achashverosh (Esther 5:4–8 and chapter 7), if one could have done the job? In other words, what happened that she needed a ...
-4
votes
2answers
95 views

Were/are there any gedolim that do not wear a hat of some kind?

It seems like almost major rebbeim/poskim do/did ear some sort of additional head covering (black hat, streimel, cap, etc) for davening. If the practice is that universal among gedolim, that might ...
2
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1answer
55 views

Seeking scholarly siddur with sources

Is there a well-sourced, scholarly siddur/work on the siddur/website that discusses the origins of the various prayers? Where can I find it?
5
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2answers
206 views

When was the Meiri discovered?

According to Wikipedia, the Meiri was rediscovered in modern times. I assume that means in the 20th century or so. However, Hebrewbooks has a copy of the Meiri from 1795. I don't know if that was the ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

Did Jews in Arab countries ever rely on Islamic calls to prayer?

It just occurred to me that Jews in Arab/Islamic countries would most likely have heard the adhan call the populace to prayer five times a day. Upon looking at an Islamic time-table and doing some ...
3
votes
0answers
37 views

What happened to the Mixed Multitude?

When the people of Israel left Egypt they did not leave alone. They left with a mixed multitude of many people (Exodus 12:38). What happened to the mixed multitude in the desert and, specifically, ...
3
votes
3answers
77 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?
5
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0answers
43 views

Why are “Chiddushei” seforim rarely cited in the Nosi Keilim?

I noticed that when quoting Rishonim, Beis Yosef/Nosei Keilim tend to focus on Poskim (Rif (and main commentary)/Rosh/Rambam, Mordechai, Teruma, Rabbeinu Yerucham, etc.) and responsa. Very rarely do ...
10
votes
7answers
2k views

Why do Sephardic Jews dress in black and white?

Many observant sephardim in Israel, especially those in yeshivot, dress in black and white. Does anyone know how this happened? There is no tradition of Jews in North Africa or in the Middle East ...
17
votes
13answers
1k views

What are the oldest Jewish songs (tune plus words) that are still popular today?

When I say "song", I mean the combination of tune and words; and yes I'm probably thinking Ashkenazically here. It seems like any European old-timer I've met knows the "good old fashioned" tune for ...
16
votes
5answers
777 views

Gezeira of Rabbeinu Gershom text

Does anyone know where I can find the actual text of the Gezeira of Rabbeinu Gershom? It keeps popping up in my learning, but only as being referenced, I would like to read that actual text.
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votes
4answers
84 views

What did “נ ג ה ש” stand for before the Hanukkah miracle?

A well known reason we play dreidel on Hanukkah is this: Before the miracle of Hanukkah, when those who controlled the land severely restricted Torah study, Jewish children would gather to study Torah ...
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0answers
36 views

Why are most machine matzas rectangular, not square?

Your average machine matza is almost square, but if you look carefully has one dimension longer than the other. How did this come about, and why?
0
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1answer
64 views

Resurrection of the dead - when did this concept started?

From an historical point of view, when did Israelites begin to believe in the resurrection of the dead? In Klausner's book (p. 47) he states the following: "(...) in the time of Hosea the people ...
8
votes
1answer
155 views

Rabi Yochanan Ben Zakai, or Josephus?

Josephus in Wars 3. 8. 9. records a story of how he meets Vespasian, tells him that he will become ruler, and Titus will take over his position. Vespasian, although sceptical at first eventually ...
7
votes
2answers
71 views

Why did it take 2 days in the city of Shushan?

The reason Purim is celebrated for two days in a "walled city" is that the Megilat Esther says the Jews of the city of Shushan (the capital) needed/took an extra day to fight for their survival. My ...
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votes
1answer
76 views

What's the earliest “acknowledgement” of Heliocentrism in Judaism? [closed]

The English Wikipedia says that Heliocentrism was "official" in Judaism only by the 20th century: In later periods there were no explicit attacks on heliocentrism, although some Rabbis were not ...
2
votes
0answers
95 views

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 ...
10
votes
1answer
226 views

What are these three types of Amos?

I'm not one to usually go to Google itself to learn about Judaism, but I feel that the circumstances around how I discovered this is really intriguing... Google Maps has a nice little feature that ...
4
votes
0answers
30 views

Why were the baraitot excluded from the mishnayot?

The Gemara (or Talmud) is full of Tannaitic teachings known as baraitot (or baraita in the singular). Nevertheless, these teachings were not codified in the Shishah Sidre'i Mishnah (Six Orders of The ...