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

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10
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3answers
347 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
7k views

Is a rabbi required to be married?

I have heard (I honestly cannot remember where...) that to be a rabbi a man must be married. Is there any truth to this? I am more interested in knowing if this was true in the first century C.E. ...
8
votes
1answer
161 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 ...
3
votes
6answers
1k views

Niddah and Counting 7 Clean Days - What are its 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
522 views

What was wrong with the word Talmud?

The Wikipedia article on The Talmud says: and Pope Pius IV commanded, in 1565, that the Talmud be deprived of its very name. The convention of referring to the work as "Shas" (shishah sidre ...
16
votes
1answer
734 views

When did Matza become dry?

It's pretty commonly accepted that Matza used to be soft (sort of like a tortilla) and was used by Hillel to make a wrap (not a sandwich). When did this change in various geographic locations which ...
14
votes
2answers
336 views

Do we have any proof (Biblical or other Judaic) that current-day Arabs have lineage from Yishma'el?

I am relating my question to Hashem and Arabs. Offhand, I thought that Islam claims ties to Yisma'el. If true, I don't know how or why it makes that claim. If it's all Arabs, even non-Muslims, how do ...
14
votes
2answers
220 views

How were judges appointed in the times of the Bais Hamikdash?

In the times of the Bais Hamikdash, were judges appointed by the king, or were they elected by the people? And was the system different based on which size court (i.e., courts comprised of 3, 23, or ...
14
votes
5answers
6k 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
5k 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 ...
12
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6answers
593 views

Can a convert be a prophet?

I don't think there were any gerim amongst the nevi'im, but would it have been possible?
12
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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 ...
10
votes
2answers
140 views

How is the story of the Torah being given told in the Torah itself?

I'm sure this question has been asked before since it very obvious and I've heard it before. Nonetheless I've never heard a good answer and an internet search brought up nothing. The question is, how ...
10
votes
3answers
431 views

When/how was the controversy regarding stainless-steel blades for shechitah resolved?

My understanding is that the use of stainless-steel blades for shechita (kosher slaughter) knives was introduced by the early Hassidic movement and initially opposed by the non-Hassidic leaders. ...
10
votes
3answers
2k 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?
9
votes
2answers
276 views

Why was the “Ark of the Covenant” lost?

Why is it that in spite of the fact that the ark carried Torah tablets and other sacred objects, it was lost? Was it not taken care of by the priests of that time? Or was it destined to be lost? Why? ...
9
votes
2answers
378 views

What were the Nephilim?

Inspired by this question on Biblical Hermeneutics. What were the Nephilim mentioned in Bereishis and in Bamidbar? Bereishis 6:1-4 The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after ...
7
votes
1answer
359 views

What are some understandings as to how animals populated different continents after the flood?

What are some understandings as to how animals populated different continents after the flood? Did some species of animals survive the flood? Or are we to understand that the flood only affected the ...
6
votes
2answers
682 views

What's the source for naming children after Alexander the Great?

I know many Jews whose actual bris-given name is Alexander, and this has been a popular name even among great tzaddikim of the past (such as R. Alexander Ziskind). I've heard a legend (mentioned on ...
6
votes
2answers
282 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
424 views

May one say kaddish for a non-Jew?

I have read that Jews recited kaddish on behalf of Abraham Lincoln after he was assassinated. What is the halachic basis for this and has kaddish ever been said en-masse on behalf of other non-Jews?
5
votes
0answers
150 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 referred to as 'Samaritanism', sometimes as Judaism. Also, is ...
4
votes
3answers
240 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
225 views

Aleinu L'Shabeach - Nusach HaTefila

The words "Sheheim Mishtachavim Li-Hevel Voryk Umispallelim El Eil Lo-Yoshiya" - Was this originally part of Aleinu and then removed, or was it added later to Aleinu? Why was this done?
3
votes
2answers
341 views

Moses Mendelssohn, permitted to quote him?

Is it permitted to quote Moses Mendelssohn, the father of the Jewish Enlightenment, as a source or reference? Is he considered in jewish lore a heretic? from wikipedia page linked above: In the ...
3
votes
1answer
297 views

Was the Hebrew Alphabet also given with the Tablets and Law?

My research for my answer to Which alphabet were the original Torah scrolls in? gave me an idea--Since the Early Alphabetic alphabet is also called Sinaitic, and the timing seems about right, maybe ...
3
votes
1answer
288 views

Who wrote the 1950s-era super-patriotic Prayer for the United States of America?

In the "Tikun Meir" siddur from about 50 years ago, there's a very unique prayer for the United States of America. Something to the effect of: Humble were its beginnings, but by Your kindness, ...
2
votes
2answers
251 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?
1
vote
0answers
346 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
586 views

Are there other extant Chabad groups besides Chabad-Lubavitch?

Wikipedia lists a number of different Chabad groups including: Chabad-Lubavitch Chabad-Bobroisk Chabad-Kapust Chabad-Liadi Chabad-Nezhin Chabad-Strashelye I was told that these different groups ...
16
votes
2answers
653 views

What are the sources for the stories of Chanukah?

I'd like to find the sources for the stories associated with Chanukah. When I was younger, I was taught stories like: Eliezer Maccabee being crushed by an elephant. The rebellion staring in Mode'in ...
15
votes
8answers
995 views

“If God had not delivered us from Egypt we would still be slaves”? Really?

One part of the Pesach seder that has always bothered me is saying that if God had not taken us out of Mitzrayim at that time we would still be slaves today. This seems lacking in faith in God; ...
14
votes
2answers
172 views

Sukkah in the Soviet Union

The opinion of the Shulchan Aruch Harav is that one isn't allowed to build a Sukkah on public property (because it is considered stolen). In the Soviet Union all property was nationalized and they ...
14
votes
2answers
383 views

What does “the Talmud” mean in the Talmud?

The G'mara Bavli says in Shabas 63: אמר רב כהנא, "כד הוינא בר תמני סרי שנין, והוה גמירנא ליה לכוליה תלמודא, ולא הוה ידענא דאין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו..." Rav Kahana said, "When I was 18 years ...
11
votes
1answer
212 views

What happened to the Eirev Rav?

What happened to the Eirev Rav after the Jews entered Israel? They were open trouble makers in the desert, yet nothing was mentioned of them later? Did they clean up their act? Did they die out?
10
votes
2answers
181 views

“שליט״א” only for certain people

Living people sometimes have "שליט״א" added after their respective names. This means, roughly, "may he live a good, long life". That seems like a nice blessing for anyone; yet, in my experience, only ...
10
votes
1answer
125 views

What is the source of Yartzeit tablet?

Who invented the Yahrtzeit tablet (panel)? At first glance, this could not have been common before 150 years ago, as there is no room to place candles where the electric lights go. Who invented ...
10
votes
2answers
540 views

Polyandry and Polygamy In Judaism

What is rule and constraint on Polygamy and Polyandry in Jewish Rule? Is that allowed or prohibited? In both case either allowed or not, give me explanation on it. I found one or two question on ...
10
votes
2answers
195 views

“m'nora” on Chanuka

My kid came home from school one day insisting that the thing we light on Chanuka is not a m'nora but a chanukiya. I replied that that's the word most Israelis use now but that m'nora is a perfectly ...
9
votes
3answers
373 views

Did all animals come into the Teiva?

Were there any type of animals that were destroyed completely by the Mabul? (For example - Is there any source that there were dinosaurs or any other type of wildlife and they were destroyed by the ...
8
votes
7answers
3k views

Has the Torah been changed over the ages?

It is quite a famous argument from Muslims for authenticity of the Quran that the previous Holy Books (Bible and Torah) sent by God have been corrupted or changed by their followers and that Quran is ...
8
votes
2answers
286 views

Laying Tefillin on Chol HaMoed Prior to the Shulchan Aruch

As a continuation to my question regarding why the Beit Yosef apparently deviated from his normal method of ruling in the case of laying teffilin on Chol HaMoed, I'm curious what the practice was ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Which major gedolim have said Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim?

Which major gedolim, especially at the times at which the events occurred, but in general too, have said Hallel for Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalyim? The definition of a major gadol is, of course, ...
7
votes
2answers
402 views

What's the history of Hekhalot/Heichalot/Heikhalot literature?

There is a field of study, which focuses on the Hekhalot literature. However, the internet gives conflicting information about them. For example, some state that they were written by the early ...
7
votes
2answers
163 views

What financial arrangement did Rambam have with his jeweler brother?

I was taught in yeshiva that as a young man, Rambam just studied Torah and was supported by his brother, who was a jewel merchant. Then his brother died at sea, so Rambam became a physician. Recently ...
6
votes
1answer
103 views

Selichot origins

In what year (CE) did saying selichot in Elul begin? In what year were they made a standard addition to prayer books? Looking for an academic answer, not the yeshivahish one. And did Sephardim start ...
6
votes
2answers
364 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.
6
votes
2answers
182 views

Why did none of the later kings of Israel destroy Amalek?

There is a commandment to obliterate Amalek. Shaul Hamelech was commanded to obliterate Amalek and failed. Dovid continued in the process, but obviously didn't destroy them completely. None of the ...
6
votes
2answers
269 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
898 views

Reb Moshe Feinstein in the New York Times

Reb Moshe Feinstein was once interviewed by the New York Times where he answered questions like how does Klal Yisroel know who is a Gadol? Does anyone know when it was, and does anyone know where I ...