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

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Why are the laws of Tumah and Taharah not observed? When did this start? [duplicate]

I've often heard an explanation as to why we don't need to be aware of tumah and taharah is that it no longer applies. The reason for this (as I've heard) is that since we don't know who is and isn't ...
7
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2answers
84 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 ...
7
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1answer
254 views

What was the language spoken by Jews in Israel in 16th century

Did the Jewish inhabitants of Safed and Jerusalem (contemporaries of Rav Yosef Karo and the Ari) speak Hebrew when they learned Torah or did they speak Arabic, Ladino or some other language? I saw a ...
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2answers
204 views

Cairo Geniza Controversy

What are the arguments against using manuscripts from the Cairo Geniza? Are there any Seforim / articles that discuss this debate?
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0answers
77 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 ...
3
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1answer
127 views

To what extent would a 17th-century observant Jew purposefully violate Halacha to save lives?

I’m writing an alternate-history story set in the 1630s and this topic touches on one of the plot points. My character is attempting to avert the various massacres of the 17th–20th centuries by ...
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2answers
112 views

Historical evidence that blue snail dye was produced in ancient times

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrian_purple and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iles_Purpuraires show that blue dye was produced from the murex in ancient times in these locations. But on Ptil Tekhelet's ...
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1answer
95 views

What is Ezra's Immersion / טבילת עזרא

What is Ezra's Immersion / טבילת עזרא and: Why was it canceled? How was it canceled?
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1answer
73 views

Has the minhag regarding weddings during the Omer changed recently?

My father in law was a musician. He explained that other than Lag Ba'Omer and beginning 3 days before Shavuot, there were no weddings at all during the Omer. Even though, there are two versions of the ...
3
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1answer
221 views

Are there any historical Bibles entirely written on parchment?

In Hilchot Sifrei Torah, Ramba"m mentions that it is permissible to write an entire Tana"ch on one continuous parchment scroll. Between the end of Devarim and the beginning of Yehoshua, one needs 4 ...
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1answer
147 views

Sabbateanism and Rav Yonasan Eibshitz

Is there any real substantial evidence that Rav Yonasan Eibshitz was a Sabbatean? On what basis did Rav Yaakov Emden hound him?
3
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0answers
71 views

Why did they stop packing the gizard, neck and liver inside the chicken cavity?

Why did they stop packing the gizard, neck and liver inside the chicken cavity? I think this practice stopped about 25 years ago. When I was a novice cook, I didn't know that I had to first take out ...
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2answers
141 views

Pirates and Torah

In the 16th and 17th centuries European nations granted "letters of marque" licensing pirates to attack rival nation's ships. The major powers at the time were England, Portugal, Spain, and France ...
3
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1answer
76 views

Why Was the Idol of Micha Tolerated?

This answer brings sources that suggest that the Idol of Micha was present in the tribe of Dan even in the desert. This is also implied by Targum Pseudo Jonathan when Amalek attacks in Exodus, (second ...
6
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1answer
97 views

History of the two versions of the Ritva

I recall from my time in Yeshiva that the version of the Chiddushei HaRitva in use in the 19th century was clearly not the original (as proved from quotations in the Shita Mikubetzes), and that the ...
4
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1answer
104 views

How common was polygamy in Biblical times?

How prevalent was polygamy among Jews in Biblical times? I can only think of five Jews in Tanach who had multiple wives: Avraham, Yaakov, Elkanah, David, and Shlomo (although I probably missed a ...
3
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0answers
48 views

Where and when did the numerical time units (hours) originate? [duplicate]

The Torah states no numerical divisions for the day. The closest numeric we find is that there are 7 days in the week, and that the start of the "day" begins with "erev" (and there are debates on when ...
4
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0answers
68 views

Are there communities that follow the Rambam?

At one point, many Sefardic communities followed the Mishneh Torah. As time went on, it seems that the sefardim accepted the Beit Yosef. Besides for Yemenites, were there any communities that, until ...
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2answers
93 views

Are There Any Good Sources for How “Ancient” (Pre-Talmudic) Prayer Was Done?

While reading this answer to another question about the development of the Siddur (here, look specifically at the question about "Modern Laws Vs. Shulcan Aruch"), I came upon this question. Here is ...
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4answers
427 views

What's the Closest Thing to a Systematic Theology in Judaism? [closed]

Many religions have authors who pen "systematic theologies," books that present the religions in a systematic manner from point A to Z. There are ups and downs with this approach, especially since it ...
1
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1answer
89 views

Where do the names of the sedras come from and do they have meaning?

I would like to know where the names for the sedras come from (who named a certain sedra Balak, Emor etc.) and if there is any meaning associated with the naming (as the Lubavitcher Rebbi seems to ...
2
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1answer
168 views

How did the different groups within Judaism develop?

How have the various groups and movements (like chassidism, Modern Orthodox, Conservative, etc) within Judaism evolved? For example I'm looking for the following except starting with Judaism and with ...
2
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1answer
78 views

What do we know about Bar Kochba?

Among the failed potential Messiah's was Bar Kochba who was backed by Rabbi Akiva. What do we know about him? Was he a disciple of Beit Hillel or Beit Shamai or someone else for example?
7
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3answers
243 views

Did the Men of the Great Assembly Canonize Tanach?

Many Jewish websites, (Aish, Jewish History, Ou), state that the the Men of the Great Assembly finalized the contents of Tanach in the early Second Temple Period. No source is brought to support this ...
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5answers
209 views

What is the Difference Between Prophets and Writings?

In the Tanakh, the Jewish Biblical Canon, there are three categories of works: the Torah of Moses, and what are know as the 'Prophets' and 'Writings'. This categorization is outlined and mentioned in ...
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2answers
102 views

What is the religious significance of the existence of many denominations and sects?

For much of the past 2000 years, when most of contemporary Halacha was being formulated, there was only a single denomination\sect of Judaism. (Leaving aside Ashkenzi vs Sephardi, which is mostly a ...
3
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1answer
100 views

Rabbinical suppport for reducing noise at weddings

There is a verse in Devarim (Deut) - Don't recall exact location that says "Watch your lives very carefully". From here we learn that we must do what we can to preserve our health. So, I'm wondering ...
2
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2answers
98 views

Hammurabi in Jewish sources

The Hammurabi code is one of the oldest preserved codes of law dating back to 1772 BCE. This is roughly the time after the flood (-2105BCE), the tower of Bavel (1765BCE) and the Patriarchs. Although ...
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1answer
70 views

What are the ancestors of Israelites? [closed]

In the wiki I was not able to find who were the predecessors of Israelites. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israelites Israelites do not have any ancestors. Is it possible? My ...
9
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2answers
78 views

“Terach, father of Avraham and of Nachor”—what about Haran?

As quoted in the Hagadah, Yehoshua 24:2 reminds the Jewish people that, “Your ancestors lived across the river: Terach, father of Avraham and of Nachor; and they served strange gods.” God then reminds ...
4
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2answers
182 views

What is the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah?

I've heard many things about this "Great Assembly," mostly about how they established davening (prayers). However, there appears to be a lack of specific information about this institution. So: ...
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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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1answer
98 views

Where have the old Hashkafah.com forum regulars moved to? [closed]

Some topics are not a good fit for Mi Yodeya. It's sometimes better to post on a Jewish forum or mailing list instead. A few years ago, Hashkafah.com (also known as "H.com") was host to a thriving ...
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0answers
44 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 ...
4
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2answers
148 views

What is the origin of the song Echad Mi Yodeya?

Who is the author or what is the origin of the song commonly found in the haggadah called Echad Mi Yodeya?
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0answers
43 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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1answer
125 views

Do the sages ever use the word “Jews” to describe the B'nai Israel before the Assyrian captivity?

This may be more a semantic question than anything else, but I'm wondering what the position is on using the word "Jew" to refer to Israelites before the Assyrian captivity. My impression is that the ...
7
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3answers
1k 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 ...
4
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1answer
57 views

Who was ר"מ in Sefer Kol Bo?

Nobody knows for certain who authored Sefer Kol Bo (ספר כל-בו), and various theories exist as to who, and when, it might have been. (For a brief example of such theories, see here). Likely it was in ...
3
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0answers
198 views

Did Rashi wear a yarmulke?

Tractate Sofrim (14:14) records two opinions that concern the wearing of a head covering during the Shema: there are those who say that it is not necessary, and there are those who say that it is ...
2
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1answer
55 views

When did daily birkas kohanim stop?

The original practice, from what I understand, was that kohanim would bless the congregation every day during the amida of shacharis (and of musaf and n'ila when they were said, and of mincha on a ...
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1answer
90 views

Why have there been no Hashgachas on DVDs, books, CDs, etc.?

Even many foods that do not require Hashgacha have a Hashgacha. At times, after a book, CD, or DVD hits the market, there is a proclamation banning it. Perhaps, instead, a book, CD, or DVD could have ...
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1answer
154 views

Is land ownership traditionally considered a status symbol in Judaism?

I'm writing a paper for a Jewish Film class about the the movie The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, and there is a scene in the beginning where Duddy's Zayda tells him "A man without land is ...
2
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0answers
90 views

The Second Temple [closed]

I'm a BT of just over 5 yrs now, struggling but studying hard (50 yrs of 'catch-up'!). I think of myself as a Chassidic Jew. I'm still intrigued, yet in a quandary about the validity of the 2nd ...
4
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2answers
489 views

What is the history of Teimani peyos?

How is it that many Teimanim wear long peyos (simanim) similar to many Chasidim, considering that their culture has been mostly isolated from Ashkenazi Europe? Do any historical sources tell us when ...
7
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0answers
134 views

Why does almost every community say Lecha Dodi?

The prayer Lecha Dodi was composed in the 16th century which is relatively recent as the general Nusach of prayer was founded between 516 BCE – 70 CE by the Anshei K'neset Hagdolah, and its rare that ...
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0answers
37 views

Who developed the vowels for the Hebrew language Ezra or the Masoretes? [duplicate]

I've read that Ezra developed pointings to serve as vowels. 200 years later, when the Bible was translated from Hebrew to Greek, all Hebrew manuscripts had the new form of writing. Who developed the ...
5
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1answer
89 views

Shechita for chicken

What is the halachic source requiring us to ritually slaughter chicken specifically, and was there ever a time in history that Halachic Jews ate chicken without first performing ritual slaughter?
3
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2answers
74 views

Is there any attestation to the name “יעל” spelled with an Aleph?

Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe includes the story of Yael killing Sisera. The author renders the name with the common "Y" to "J" substitution as "Jael" and, in an aside, mentions that ...
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0answers
48 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 ...