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

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Sefardim starting to study the Talmud with Rashi and Tosfot

When did the sefardim start to study the Talmud with Rashi and Tosfot? And which books did they use before knowing about Rashi and Tosfot?
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How big is the baalei tshuva movement resulting from the “Art Scroll Revolution”?

Since 1975, Art Scroll Publishing, and its non-profit arm The Mesorah Foundation, have produced Hebrew-English annotated translations of Tanach, the Mishna, the Babylonian Talmud, the Kitzur Shulchan ...
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1answer
87 views

Why do some Rabbis wear a black frock coat?

How did the black frock coat come to be garb of some roshei yeshivos and other senior rabbis? Related Did "Litvish" frock coats button left-on-right? and Haredi clothing
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3answers
636 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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2answers
83 views

How was the Torah written by Moshe (were there spaces)?

Someone told me that before Ezra Hasofer the Torahs did not have spaces (he said that according to some opinions not even between words). It was just given over when learned where the parshas ...
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2answers
135 views

Q on Men of the Great Assembly [duplicate]

When did the Men of the Great Assembly start and cease to function and why? What was their relationship to the Sanhedrin and to beit Hillel and Shammai?
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40 views

Ger Tzedek: Avraham Ben Avraham

The famous story of the ger tzedek Avraham Ben Avraham has been claimed to be a legend. Are there any defenses of its authenticity such as references to it before the 19th century?
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1answer
95 views

Did shadchanim suggest the shidduch?

Today, the role of the Shadchan is, depending on your community, to suggest to the prospective match that they meet, to introduce them, to arrange their meetings, and/or to advocate / be the ...
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2answers
296 views

Source of Ramban's famous debate

Where can one find the 'disputation of Barcelona' between Pablo Cristiani and the Ramban?
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1answer
43 views

the nature of an argument between the Wurtzberger rov and Rav Shamshon Refoel Hirsch

Does anyone know the nature of a famous argument between the Wurtzberger rov and Rav Shamshon Refoel Hirsch? I think it was to do with the extent a kehilah must follow thier rov or vice versa.
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2answers
35 views

Did Rebbi arrange the Mishna at the end of his life?

There's a famous line in the Gemara "וכי רבי לא שנאה ר' חייא מנין לו". It means that if Rebbi didn't teach a concept in a Mishna, Rabbi Chiya can't know it. Let's assume here it means that if it's ...
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2answers
213 views

Animal sacrifice in Judaism — was it copied from other religions?

Why is there animal sacrifice in Judaism? Animal sacrifice was found in other religions before Judaism, so could it be that the Jews copied the practice of animal sacrifice from other religions?
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1answer
272 views

Why did Hadrian care about hair specifically?

In Midrash Eicha 5:5 It says that Hadrian (May his Bones be Crushed) commanded that if a Jew was found with hair, his head should be removed? Midrash Eicha What is pshat here, is it talking about ...
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0answers
51 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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1answer
174 views

How was kosher cheese made before artificial rennet?

I understood that cheese is made by throwing in Stomach hide into milk and letting it congeal. How was kosher cheese made (where one's not allowed to mix milk and meat)? Now we use chemicals or ...
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4answers
208 views

Did Jewish Men Always Have Beards Throughout History

When did Jews start keeping their beards? Did Moshe's generation have beards? What is the historical development behind this phenomenon?
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1answer
110 views

Precedent for Forbidding Conversion

The Syrian community has a Takkanah in place which bars conversion. In addition to forbidding conversion under their own auspices, they also "Never accept a convert or a child born of a convert", as ...
4
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1answer
99 views

What is the oldest work to incorporate an acrostic of shem Havaya in the opening?

I have seen many books where the first letters of the first 4 works in the first sentence of the work spell out the shem Havaya (the Tetragrammaton, yud-kay and vav kay). What was the first Jewish ...
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84 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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0answers
24 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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0answers
48 views

Timeline of the frequency of Bedikos

The Talmud states (Mishna, top of Niddah 13a): כל היד המרבה לבדוק בנשים משובחת The more bedikos (checks for menstruation) that a woman does, the better This is brought in the Shulchan Aruch ...
9
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2answers
356 views

Whatever happened to plumbas?

Not so many years ago, a plumba (apparently created by Rabbi Jacob Joseph) -- a metal tag attached to the wing of a kosher chicken indicating that it was, indeed, kosher -- on a kosher chicken was the ...
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0answers
19 views

Source of various versions of Haamek Davar

There are commonly used versions of Chumash Haamek Davar in which the respective Haamek Davar commentaries differ widely from one another. I mean that the differences are not a word here and a letter ...
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1answer
157 views

Why is the Miracle of Oil mentioned so much later than records of Chanukah celebrations?

The miracle of oil isn't really mentioned until the Talmud, and is absent from all earlier sources for Chanukah like the Books of Maccabees, Josephus, and others. I have seen historians claim that ...
5
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1answer
36 views

Paro enslaved Yisrael but they kept the good land — was that normal?

When Yisrael come to Mitzrayim Paro gives them the choice land of Goshen. Later another paro enslaves them but apparently lets them keep the good land, because they're still there during the plagues. ...
2
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1answer
55 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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37 views

Early descriptions of the Foundation Stone

I am looking for early descriptions of the "Foundation Stone" (אבן שתיה) -- the huge flat rock now enclosed by the mosque known as the "Dome of the Rock," and believed by many Jewish scholars to have ...
8
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1answer
135 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 ...
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1answer
140 views

Where are the lost tribes?

Are they spread all round the nations? If so, how will they still be Jewish, surely they will have assimilated so many generations later? Or are they spread within the Jewish nation? I learnt in the ...
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0answers
33 views

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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0answers
90 views

I would like to see an actual Vilna Shas

I would like to see the pages of an actual Vilna Shas. I know there are many many reprints out there in bookstores, my bookshelf, and websites like http://www.e-daf.com, but that's not what I want. I ...
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3answers
309 views

Just how overpriced was Efron's burial cave anyway?

In B'reishit 23 Avraham pays 400 shekels to Efron for the cave of Machpelah. This seems to be an enormous amount of money and Rashi suggests it's even worse than it appears (referring to larger ...
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1answer
206 views

What did medieval rabbis like Maimonides write, generically? What do modern rabbis write?

OK, so - the Torah is the same as the Pentateuch/first five books of the Christian Old Testament; the Tanakh is roughly the same as the OT, but there are some differences in ordering, inclusion, etc. ...
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0answers
86 views

What was the anti-CRC ruling?

I understand that, circa 1980, a religious authority for Lubavitch hasidim ruled that foods certified as kosher by the Satmar His'achadus Harabanim (CRC) not be eaten. What form did this ruling ...
2
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2answers
164 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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2answers
88 views

What did they do for shiurim before modern measurements?

In recent centuries, authorities such as the Chazon Ish, Rabbi Chaim Na'eh, and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ruled on the exact size of a tefach, ammah, kezayit, and other shiurim. What did people do before ...
4
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0answers
108 views

Halachic opinions on tefillin peshutim

I was discussing the subject of tefillin with my father motzei-Shabbat and particular, the battim (leather boxes that contain the parshiyot, or parchment scrolls). We ended up wondering what the ...
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1answer
163 views

Was a sefer torah ever actually written in Greek?

This answer to a different question states that the only other language a sefer torah can be written in and be kosher is Greek. (Rambam, Hilchot Sefer Torah 1:19 says that this Greek no longer exists ...
8
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1answer
160 views

Napoléon's Sanhedrin

In 1806, Napoléon Bonaparte convened a synod of French rabbinim (mainly Alsatiens and Bordelais) to ascertain halachic opinions on a set of questions. What is the halachic standing of this synod's ...
1
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1answer
290 views

Were some Jews transformed to monkeys for violating the sabbath?

Some historical Islamic sources quote that early Jews who violated the Sabbath were transformed into apes : O Jews! Remember that Allah sent His torment on the village that disobeyed Him and broke ...
2
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0answers
50 views

Source for Jewish Chapter breaks in Tanach

I know that the chapter divisions are a Christian invention, and therefore don't exist in very old Jewish sources (Aleppo Codex, Leningrad Codex, dead sea scrolls, etc.). However our divisions don't ...
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1answer
69 views

Who are the ווינדין whom the Maharil says are the Mitzrim?

The Maharil, brought in likutei Maharil #95 quotes his rebbi Mahara'sh as saying the nation called ווינדין are the Mitzrim (Egyptians). אמר מהר׳ש שקבלה בידו מאותו אומה שקורין ווינדין הם המצרים, ...
6
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1answer
190 views

Can a court declare a minor's lulav ownerless? Has one?

Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 658:6, says that one should not give his lulav to a minor as a gift, as the minor cannot give it back to him. (Minors cannot give anyone legal ownership in anything.) ...
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2answers
95 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 ...
4
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1answer
68 views

Recommend introductory resources on Jewish traditions in the Balkans

A couple of years ago I found out that I have some Jewish ancestry when investigating my family's history. I know that my great grandfather perished in the holocaust, but I was led to believe that it ...
10
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1answer
138 views

What is the rationale to continue saying Yekum Purkan in its present state

In Yekum Purkan, we pray for the well-being of the rabbis in Bavel, the Reishei Chalei, & the Reish Galvasa (commonly pronounced Galussa). This specific prayer for non-existent people and ...
3
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1answer
117 views

What is this line about Rachel referring to?

What is this line in the classic song Mama Rochel talking about? But when nightfall came, Destiny betrayed, The veil concealing another. Yet her sister's shame, not her shattered dreams, ...
5
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1answer
105 views

What happened to Siman 168?

If you look in the Tur Yoreh Deah Siman 168 (so too the Shulchan Aruch), you'll notice that there's nothing there. Was it lost sometime in history? It looks like the Shulchan Aruch also didn't have ...
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1answer
58 views

Maskilim and Jüdischkeit

I often hear that the maskilim of the 18th and 19th centuries were, without exception, secularists and religious reformers. Is this true or were some/most of them actually religious individuals who ...
3
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0answers
89 views

Are Samaritans viewed as adherents of Judaism?

Shalom, In Judaism, particularly from an Orthodox perspective, are Samaritans seen as fellow Jews? Sometimes I see their religion refferred to as 'Samaritanism', sometimes as Judaism. Also, is ...