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

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5
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1answer
199 views

Why do most of the shuls in Manhattan face the wrong direction?

As a first time visitor to Manhattan, I was very surprised to see that most shuls (with a few notable exceptions) are facing roughly south-south-west. This is nowhere near the direction to face ...
5
votes
2answers
169 views

Why is there a dispute as to which tefillin are the correct ones?

Since the mitzvah of tefillin is observed every day except for Shabbos and festivals, there should have been continuous knowledge as to the correct order of the parshas. So how did it come about that ...
4
votes
2answers
371 views

Can halacha change based on scientific research?

Shabbat 39a says: "With regard to heating food in the sun itself, everyone agreed that one is permitted to place food in the sun to heat it, as it is certainly neither fire nor a typical form of ...
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4answers
456 views

“Veadar” as the name of the extra month in leap years?

In older books and other publications that describe the Jewish calendar, it's quite common to see the extra leap month referred to as "Veadar." (One example is here.) But I have yet to hear that ...
3
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3answers
286 views

Moshe Rabeinu's Yarzheit

It is common knowledge that Moshe Rabeinu was Niftar on 7 Adar. Was it a plain year with 1 Adar or a leap year with 2 Adars? If it was a leap year on what Adar was he Niftar?
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4answers
305 views

Niddah and Counting 7 Clean Days - What are it's Origins?

The following comment is made in the wikipedia entry on Niddah: In the days of the Amoraim, because of possible confusion in determining when menstruation began and ended and hence whether blood ...
5
votes
1answer
72 views

burying the dead in Jerusholaim - 1948

The Rambam (Beis Habechira 7 14) rules that one may not bury people in the old city of Yerushlaim. What did they do during the siege in 1948 when they couldn't leave the old city? Where did they bury ...
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5answers
1k views

Are there any Jewish people alive today who can identify themselves as coming from a particular tribe?

The Christian "New Testament" claims Paul (Saul) was of the tribe of Benjamin. Since Roman times have there been any people who can validly claim they were from a particular tribe? At least at that ...
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4answers
653 views

Was stoning practiced in 30-32 CE?

In the New Testament (Christian Bible) there is a story where a woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus and requested to judge according to the Law of Moses. John 8:1-11 (NKJV) Now ...
4
votes
1answer
80 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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0answers
53 views

Why are challot traditionally braided?

What is the reason that challot are traditionally braided? When did this tradition begin?
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1answer
103 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 ...
9
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5answers
2k views

Have Jews believed that Ezra was the son of God?

In reading the Qur'an, I noticed this passage: Qur'an 9:30 The Jews say, "Ezra is the son of Allah "; and the Christians say, "The Messiah is the son of Allah ." That is their statement from their ...
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3answers
134 views

Copies of Aleppo Codex

From what I understand, the loss of the Torah portion of Keter Aram Soba (the Aleppo Codex) in 1948 is heavily lamented because it was the oldest preserved and probably most accurate text of Torah. ...
9
votes
2answers
265 views

What's in the new bit of Jerusalem Talmud?

I just read a news story about a newly discovered sentence-long fragment of the Jerusalem Talmud that apparently resolves a previously unintelligible section of Tractate Bikkurim. Does anyone know ...
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5answers
2k views

Why did nobody succeed the Lubavitcher Rebbe?

The late Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l had no successor as the rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. Why is this? Was it simply because he had no children? If so, why was nobody else ...
4
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0answers
40 views

Parshas Zachor before Purim?

Prior to the story of Purim was there a special yearly reading of Parshas Zachor? At which point in history was it instituted to read Parshas Zachor before Purim?
5
votes
1answer
180 views

Rav Yonason Eibeschitz's puzzle

There is a story that the Jews were oppressed and there were harsh decrees and Rav Yonason Eibschitz was challenged by the governor to write "am yisroel chai l'olmei ad" for every Jew who lived in his ...
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2answers
215 views

Are there any female kabbalists?

Are there currently or have there been historically orthodox female kabbalists? If not is this a quirk of history or is there a specific reason?
6
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2answers
145 views

Examples of Rabbis who had strong disagreements and were amicable

I'm looking for examples of Rabbis who had a serious disagreement and were nevertheless very kind and thoughtful towards each other. The main reason I'm asking for examples is to illustrate what a ...
3
votes
2answers
283 views

When and why did women change to ritually bathing in the Evening?

Do you happen to have any ideas, or any sources, detailing why women first became required to bathe in the evening as in current practise, as opposed to the recorded biblical requirement to wash ...
11
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3answers
246 views

Who was the first Chasidishe Rabbi to settle in the USA?

Who was the first Chasidishe Rabbi to settle in the USA? Where did he settle?
10
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3answers
1k views

Author of Nishmat kol chai

Who is the author of the prayer "Nishmat kol chai" which is said on Shabbat, Yom Tov, and during the great Hallel at the Seder?
4
votes
1answer
95 views

Who was the “Tana Dvei Rabbi Yishmael”?

What are the teachings labeled "Tana Dvei Rabbi Ishmael"? Are they Braisos or Amoraic teachings? On one hand, on Shabbos 26b we find it arguing on Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar (a Tana). On the other ...
3
votes
2answers
90 views

How could Yochanan Kohen Gadol abolish the wakers?

The mishnah (Maaser Sheni end of 5:15 and Sotah 48a) lists 5 edicts of Yochanan Kohen Gadol including the abolishing of the "wakers" - the singing by the Levi'im in the Beit HaMikdash of Psalm 44:24 - ...
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0answers
61 views

In What year was “Al Pi Kabalah” first quoted for a Halachic ruling?

The phrase "al pi Kabalah" (based on Kabalah) is often used in teshuvot for various minhagim or halachot. When is the first recorded instance of somebody recording the Halacha either "al pi Kabalah" ...
3
votes
2answers
179 views

Interpreting the Zohar's Prediction of the year 1840

On the verse in parsha Noach (Genesis 7:11): "In the six-hundredth year in the life of Noah... all wellsprings of the great deep burst open, and the windows of heaven were opened..." The Zohar (part ...
2
votes
3answers
145 views

Rishonim/Achronim time period differentiation

When was the end of the Rishonim time period and the start of the achronim time period? Who, what, why, and how did this come about? What caused this abrupt change in deemed mental and halachot ...
2
votes
0answers
71 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
92 views

How was Chanukah celebrated at the Beis HaMikdash?

In the centuries between the Maccabean Revolt and the destruction of the Bayis Sheni, how was Chanukah commemorated at the Beis HaMikdash (other than the addition of prayers like Al Hanisim)? Since ...
3
votes
1answer
173 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.
2
votes
1answer
90 views

Why do Jewish books use shiny text on the spine?

I have noticed that sefarim (Jewish books) tend to use golden-colored shiny text on the spine and cover. Of course, there are some notable exceptions (e.g. books by Mossad HaRav Kook), but this seems ...
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0answers
83 views

Any famous Jews named Muhammad, Mahmud, Mehmet, etc.?

There is a halacha that one may not name a child after an evildoer, a principle known as shem reshaim yirkav taken from Yoma 38b ("ועל בן קמצר וחביריו נאמר ושם רשעים ירקב", cf. Mishlei 10:7). Later ...
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votes
2answers
187 views

No yetzer hora of idolatry, so no nevuah?

I remember learning in a shiur (sorry, can't think of the reference) that Chazal was able to essentially destroy the yetzer hora of avodah zora but with the side effect that there wouldn't be nevuah ...
8
votes
3answers
186 views

what are the “Mishnah” and “Gemara” referenced in Pirkei Avot 5?

At the end of Pirkei Avot 5, we have a statement (of either Ben Hei Hei or R. Yehuda ben Tema --- I have two siddurim with slightly different texts): He used to say: at five years of age, the ...
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2answers
206 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
174 views

Didn't Rambam say Aleinu leshabeach?

Siddur Mesorat Moshe is a siddur whose text follows the rulings of the Rambam. I received a copy a couple of weeks ago and am now using it daily. A completely never-seen-before thing is that there's ...
4
votes
0answers
55 views

How was the tomb of the matriarchs determined?

Apparently there is a "tomb of the Matriarchs" in Tiberias which is purported to house several nashim tzidkaniot. I'd like to know how it was determined that those women were buried in that place.
4
votes
1answer
77 views

was paroh the same paroh during the 210 years

Was Paroh at the start the same as the one when it says "there arose a new king" (Exodus 1: 8)? How many parohs were there during the 210 years.
6
votes
2answers
154 views

What was the name of Tzipora's mother?

What was the name of Tzipora's mother (Moses's mother-in-law)? There are a lot of wives mentioned in the Torah, but the names of some aren't mentioned even though they are important. So I was curious ...
3
votes
1answer
155 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 ...
4
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4answers
584 views

Matrilineal Descent

I have heard that matrilineal descent (i.e. having Judaism passed down through the mother) comes from the Roman period when women were raped by Roman soldiers and the babies were then said to be ...
4
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0answers
63 views

Why is there seemingly such a disconnect between the Geonim and the Rishonim?

It seems that there was a disconnect or upheaval of some kind between the times of the Geonim and the times of the Rishonim and the hakhamim that these two eras contained. Shittoth regarding tefila, ...
4
votes
1answer
72 views

Variant text of דרור יקרא

The text of the Shabbat zemer דרור יקרא has a line based on Isaiah 63:1-3 (מי זה בא מאדום חמוץ בגדים מבצרה וכו') which usually reads: דרוך פורה בתוך בצרה, וגם בבל אשר גברה However, I also have ...
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2answers
122 views

Machlokes between Beis Hillel and Beis Shamai

Why did unresolved disputes begin specifically at this time? Why were there no unresolved disputes before?
3
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1answer
86 views

Babylonian Niqqud in Yemen

I just read in Rav Kapach's introduction to his edition of Rav Saadiah Gaon's translation and commentary on Sefer Daniel that his grandfather had a manuscript of Rav Saadiah Gaon's translation which ...
6
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0answers
113 views

The Torah scrolls written by Jewish kings

The Torah commanded Jewish kings to write their own Torah scroll from a master in the possession of the Levites, and to read it every day of their life so that they should not become haughty and so ...
3
votes
2answers
109 views

What took 8 days

What took the Jews 8 days to produce new oil when rededicating the Temple in the Chanuka story? It seems the process of oil-making takes a lot less time (I have done it in Israel on one of the tourist ...
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0answers
224 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 ...
6
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0answers
106 views

How do we determine the nature of the reign of the kings when the numbers don't seem to add up?

In the book of 2 Kings, the kingdoms of Judah and Israel were separate. In Amaziah's (Judah) 15th year, Jeroboam (Israel) began to reign. In Jeroboam's (Israel) 27th year, Azariah (Judah) began to ...