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

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20
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1answer
545 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 ...
13
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1answer
183 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 vinyard, and invite the unmarried men to choose them for marriage. The Talmud (Taanis 30b) ...
10
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1answer
150 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
votes
1answer
125 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
208 views

Are the seventy distinct languages and nations listed?

It's a well known concept that there were 70 nations and 70 original languages. Is there any agreement about which ones they were/are? I found this which lists the nations, but I'm interested in ...
2
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0answers
27 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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0answers
49 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 ...
2
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0answers
22 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
32 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 ...
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 ...
2
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0answers
72 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? ...
2
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0answers
66 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 ...
2
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0answers
55 views

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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0answers
81 views

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 ...
2
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0answers
45 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 ...
2
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0answers
47 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 ...
2
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0answers
86 views

Why no 15-minutes-early clause in English rabbis' contracts?

Rabbi Yitzchak Reuven Rubin wrote in 2001: In fact, it wasn't long ago that every rabbi in England was required by contract to "present himself fifteen minutes before the time of Divine worship." ...
2
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0answers
124 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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0answers
97 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 ...
2
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0answers
45 views

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?
2
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0answers
53 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 ...
2
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0answers
97 views

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 ...
2
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0answers
134 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 ...
2
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0answers
103 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 ...
2
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0answers
65 views

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 ...
2
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0answers
139 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 ...
2
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0answers
73 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 ...
2
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0answers
88 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 ...
2
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0answers
58 views

When did the Ashkenazi custom to NOT bake matza on Pesach start?

Historically, when did the Ashkenazi custom to not bake matza on Pesach start? I am specifically interested in when this custom arose, rather than the reasons/opions pro/against.
2
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0answers
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.
2
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0answers
125 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 ...
2
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0answers
72 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 ...
2
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0answers
135 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 ...
1
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0answers
39 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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0answers
30 views

History: Prevalence of Torah study

Historically, when has Torah study throughout the world been most prevalent, and when has Torah suffered relatively limited study and knowledge thereof? Are there any sources that break this down? It ...
1
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0answers
43 views

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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0answers
39 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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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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0answers
38 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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0answers
168 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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0answers
44 views

What are the circumstances of the fulfillment of Ezekiel's vision of the temple?

Ezekiel (Yechezkel) 40 begins a section about a vision of a temple with priests and sacrifices and feasts. The detailed descriptions of this temple seem to indicate that a literal (as opposed to ...
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0answers
59 views

Ibn Ezra vs. Hachamim in Regards to Piyyutim

In Kohelet 5:1 (Al Tibahel), Ibn Ezra has a lengthy, harsh critique of R. Eliezer HaKalir and other Paytanim for their poetry's components (in short: flowery language, the use of ...
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0answers
128 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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29 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?
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0answers
37 views

Where in the Talmud is it said that the Berber tribes' conversions were not done according to the Halakha?

H. Zafrani, a French specialist on the Berber Jewish tribes, says that the Talmud explains that these tribes' conversions were not made according to the Halakha. I wonder where in the Talmud such a ...
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0answers
35 views

Akeidah and Ketoret

The earliest siddur I own (London, 5569 [18808-09]) does not include Ketoret or Akeidah, despite purporting to follow the customs of the "German and Polish" communities [emphasis mine]. Since most of ...
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0answers
53 views

Are Chazal more reliable than other Contemporary Sources (or Modern Historians)?

Are Chazal (and traditional sources) considered preferable or more reliable than external (contemporaneous) or academic sources for non Jewish Tradition issues? For example, this question requests ...
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0answers
52 views

Timing of the 2nd Beit Hamikdash's building

If you associate Koresh with Cyrus, Daryavesh with Darius (Cyrus's son) and Artachshasta with Xerxes, there seems to be a 166 year discrepancy between the historical time and the 420 years the Seder ...
0
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0answers
55 views

Greeks' gas lamps

I once heard that there is a source that says the Greeks invented gas lamps or some sort of street lights which enabled the Jews to roam the streets at night and not be with their families. The plan ...
0
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0answers
45 views

Who first described the grammatical distinction of vav ha-hipukh v. vav ha-chibur in Tanakh?

To be more specific, who first wrote that a vav ha-chibur connects words or clauses together, but the vav ha-hipukh causes a "perfect" verb to become "imperfect" (for lack of better terms), and ...