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

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The life of Jochebed

What, if anything, does the rabbinical literature say happened to Jochebed, the mother of Moses, after she put Moses in the basket on the river?
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2answers
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Under whose rule was the second Beis Hamikdash destroyed?

Rashi in Sota (41a) says אגריפס המלך. מלך ישראל היה מזרעו של הורדוס והוא שנחרב בהמ"ק בימיו The Beis Hamikdash was destroyed in the days of Aggripas. I thought that by the time of the ...
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What kind of seder did a non-oleh l'regel have during the time of the Bais Hamikdash (and for that matter, the entire 40 years in the desert)?

Our haggadah did not always exist - it appears to be primarily from the time of the Mishna. Before then, there was a Korban Pesach and specific procedures for organizing family and/or friends to eat ...
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1answer
91 views

Rav Moshe's Psak on Fertility Treatments

I recently read an interview with Rav Dovid Feinstein and he referenced a two year period of Rav Moshe's life that were troubling due to backlash he received following a controversial psak regarding ...
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30 views

What happened to the Mugmar?

In Brochos Perek 6, Mishna 6 the Mugmar is mentioned in the context of who makes the Brocha for it. Commentaries explain that it is some sort of incense that was smelled after a meal. It would ...
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52 views

Timeline of the 10 plagues in exodus?

Do we have a chronological timeline (with years) of the 10 plagues? I'm trying to recreate a full timeline of the הגדה של פסח for the upcoming holiday, going from the arrival of Jacob and his family ...
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5answers
711 views

Why are there so few Jews if God promised Abraham his children would number like the stars?

God promises Abraham a number of times that he would father a great nation whose numbers would be like the stars in the sky or the sand on the beach. However today there are less than 14 million Jews,...
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2answers
700 views

Did circumcision exist before Abraham?

I heard it claimed recently that Circumcision was an act that was already practiced before God came to Abraham. The claim mentions that God took it and made it a token of His covenant with his people, ...
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2answers
118 views

Who were the original users of Ktav Ashuri?

According to one opinion found in the Talmud Sanhedrin 22a ktav ashuri was brought up from the first exile, assumedly adopted from Babylonian sources. Who exactly was using this alphabet? Do we have ...
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2answers
309 views

How and when did fedoras arise as acceptable headwear?

Today I learned that the fedora was originally a woman's hat, invented/popularized for women in the late 19th century and only migrating into menswear after 1924 when Prince Edward of England started ...
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3answers
773 views

Providing wine for Christian ceremonial purposes: in the 8th century, what did the rabbis write?

Under Charlemagne in the 8th century and the Carolingian emperors, Jews were official importers of exotic foods from the Holy Land;[1] they also provided wine for Christian mass. At the time, what ...
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213 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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5answers
115 views

Can Chazal be wrong?

I understand that a later ruling can't contradict an earlier one, but does that mean that Chazal are infallible, the way Catholics believe the Pope is infallible? And if so, where's the line? Who was ...
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32 views

Why do we refer to Chazal as a monolithic group?

In discussions of Torah, halacha, etc., people often say, "According to Chazal..." as though all the thousands of rabbis of an 800-year period spoke with one voice. But you almost never hear people ...
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3answers
95 views

Is there an online resource that gives an “overview” of safrut?

Between Mincha and Ma'ariv on Shmini Atzeret, I'd like to give a short shiur on some interesting facts about how a Torah is written. I'm looking for some fairly easy to understand online resources on ...
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1answer
55 views

Rambam Epistle to Yemen identification

In Rambam's Epistle, he mentions three groups that challenged the Jewish people by coming up with a new religion. He mentions Jesus first and Islam (who he refers to as the Madman) last. However, he ...
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1answer
156 views

What sources did people use to support Shabbtai Tsvi's messianism after he died?

I can understand the appeal of a messiah in 1600s Eastern Europe. I can understand that we want a messiah and we're willing to accept one, whether it be Bar Kochva or Shabbtai Tsvi. But on what ...
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92 views

When did Jews adopt the custom of saying “Baruch Hashem”?

When did Jews adopt the custom of saying "Baruch Hashem"? The only people who said B"H in the Chumash were non-Jews: Noah, Malkitzedek, Avimelech, Eliezer, Lavan, and Yitro!
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1answer
122 views

Why did Judaism stop using the Septuagint?

I heard somewhere (I don't remember the details) that the Septuagint ceased to be read in the Jewish community. Why?
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1answer
66 views

Why was the ramchal banned, and how did he become so widely accepted later?

When ramchal was in Italy he was put in cherem for his writing and eventually left to live in Israel. Why did this happen and what changed about the perception of him?
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3answers
203 views

Why were there no Jewish philosophy tracts until the Rasag?

Jews had their first bump into philosophy when Alexander the Great conquered Israel (in the early Tanaic period). Since then, we lived under the Greeks and Romans for a few hundred years. Both of ...
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2answers
90 views

Is the number 6 considered evil in Judaism?

I have heard from some sources that the number six is/can be construed as an evil number in Judaism, and as such, it should be avoided. Is there truth to this? If so, what is the reasoning behind ...
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4answers
828 views

Where does “probeh” come from?

Every time recently that I've heard of an Orthodox congregation conducting a search for a rabbi, the stage at which the rabbi visits the community for a Shabbat and auditions for the position is ...
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140 views

Holidays south of the equator

When Jews first started establishing communities south of the equator, they must have noticed that the holidays fell completely at the wrong times of the year. (For example, Pesach, referred to as hag ...
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163 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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36 views

Answering questions posed by Egyptians: a query on the Mishna

When the Seleucid king, Demetrius, appointed Alcimus the high priest in Jerusalem around 162 BCE, the rightful heir to the position (Onias IV) fled to Egypt. There, he was granted permission by the ...
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2answers
770 views

Why was Chassidus controversial?

When Chassidus came about, it was very controversial. The Vilna Gaon even put Chassidim in cherem. What were the reasons for the controversy? And why is there peace and mutual respect today between ...
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3answers
181 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 (...
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1answer
47 views

How was the world created through the even shesiya?

In Yoma 54, it says the world was created with the Even Shesiya (primordial rock). Is this to be taken literally and if yes, do we have details into this process?
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1answer
218 views

Sitting or Standing for Kaddish - historical divergence between Conservative and Orthodox minhag

At most (maybe even all?) Conservative synagogues, the congregation remains seated during every kaddish (except mourner's kaddish, and then only mourners rise). At Ashkenazic Orthodox synagogues, the ...
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3answers
2k views

When in history did Purim happen?

When in history did Purim happen? I understand that there are several opinions that this is based on (who אחשורוש was, whether this was before or after the end of the exile), but I've been unable to ...
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4answers
617 views

Origin of Reform/Conservative “scarf” talleisim

I've noticed that Reform and Conservative often use small "scarf" talleisim (here's an image). Where did this practice originate? (Is there any connection to the scarves that some Christian priests ...
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3answers
186 views

Prior to the Men of the Great Assembly (and after Moses, our teacher), could halacha be decided by prophecy?

I think that I remember hearing that during the times of the Men of the Great Assembly, it was decided that prophecy would no longer be used to determine halachic rulings, i.e that before then it was ...
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1answer
51 views

Dialogue Between Jews And Persians In Jewish Tradition

I always wonder what people refer to when they quote things spoken between the Jews and the Persians. Does ancient Jewish doctrine include instances of dialogue between the Jews and the Persians?
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418 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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How was Rosh Chodesh “observed” in Temple times?

Before there was a standardized calendar, and after the date of Rosh Chodesh could no longer be communicated by fires, when the sanctification of the new moon had to be transmitted over distances, was ...
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1answer
120 views

When and how was the Shulchan Aruch accepted

After the Shulchan Aruch was put together by the Beis Yosef and then following that with the glosses of the Rema, when did this sefer became "accepted" as the basis for deciding halachic matters in ...
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1answer
73 views

How to understand the texts that litterally speak of other gods and compares to G_d [duplicate]

Psalm 97:9 9 For You, O Lord, are Most High above all the earth; You are very much exalted above all gods. There are many similar indications, that the Jews (at least in the time of the king ...
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33 views

What powers and responsibilities do wives of Jewish kings have in relation to the public?

It is known that a Jewish king has to be male, as quoted by an answer to this question. What halachik powers did the queen (i.e. wife of the king) have within the kingdom? Also, what historical ...
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4answers
123 views

Are there books and / or online sources that discuss how the Talmud was compiled?

There are a few aspects of the Talmud that I'm curious about: Someone compiled it. My history knowledge is poor. I understand that Rabbi Yehuda compiled the Mishna. I'm not sure who compiled the ...
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2answers
134 views

Book/s about apostasy throughout Jewish history

I am looking for book/s on the subject of apostasy throughout Jewish history. I haven't been able to find anything that focuses on this subject. I would appreciate any pointers What I have in mind ...
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8answers
3k 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 ...
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2answers
113 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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1answer
148 views

Vilna Gaon on Sefer Devarim

Where does the Gra mention the idea that Sefer Devarim is split up into parshiot representing the centuries going into the 6000 millennium? There is another idea that Ki Tavo fits into the years of ...
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1answer
79 views

Figuring out where Torah scrolls come from

Lets say a synagogue has inherited a lot of Torah scrolls, but doesn't know where many of them come from. How would they go about determining from which countries these scrolls hail from? Are there ...
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1answer
36 views

How early is Torah Or in Gemara?

When was Torah Or compiled/available, and if different, when was it originally copied and/or printed with the Gemara text? To clarify, this is not the chabad sefer Torah Or, but the references to ...
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130 views

Why was there no ark in the second temple?

Since the exact dimensions of the ark - Aron - are mentioned in the Torah (Shmos 25:10 and on), why didn't they make one to replace the missing one in the 2nd Temple?
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359 views

How are the two tales of dancing in vinyards on the 15th of Av related?

The Mishna tells us (Taanis 26b) that on the 15th of Av, unmarried girls would borrow clothes, dance in the vineyard, and invite the unmarried men to choose them for marriage. The Talmud (Taanis 30b) ...
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2answers
1k views

If the lulav and etrog are biblically mandated, how were people in cold climates able to obtain them before modern times?

The use of the 4 species in the lulav and etrog is biblically mandated. Therefore, when Jews left Israel and moved to cold climates such as northern and eastern Europe, they would have needed to ...
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94 views

Who wrote the Aramaic translation for Psalms and when?

The Talmud in Migila specifies that no translation (Targum) for the Ktuvim was written since although Rabbi Yonatan Ben Uziel wanted to, he was told not to do so: עוד ביקש לגלות תרגום של כתובים ...