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

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136 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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0answers
45 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?
8
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1answer
107 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 ...
6
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2answers
338 views

Source of Ramban's famous debate

Where can one find the 'disputation of Barcelona' between Pablo Cristiani and the Ramban?
0
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1answer
48 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
38 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 ...
2
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2answers
217 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?
5
votes
1answer
282 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 ...
2
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0answers
57 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 ...
10
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1answer
193 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 ...
5
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4answers
224 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?
7
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1answer
130 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
113 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 ...
6
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0answers
109 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 ...
2
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0answers
35 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 ...
3
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0answers
56 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
365 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
21 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 ...
5
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1answer
160 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
39 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. ...
3
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2answers
91 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 ...
3
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0answers
41 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
169 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 ...
13
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1answer
154 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 ...
2
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0answers
34 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 ...
5
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0answers
96 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 ...
9
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3answers
316 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
217 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. ...
6
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0answers
89 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
votes
2answers
173 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 ...
4
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2answers
90 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
123 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 ...
11
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1answer
184 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
167 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 ...
0
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1answer
465 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 ...
3
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0answers
76 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 ...
7
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1answer
70 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
192 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.) ...
3
votes
3answers
130 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
71 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
150 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
121 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
votes
1answer
108 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
97 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 ...
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2answers
155 views

Why isn't the bible 100% historically accurate? [closed]

In day school my teachers often said that the torah isn't a history book. Today academicians, historians, and the like diligently present historical inaccuracies in the bible. For example the story of ...
11
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2answers
416 views

Is it possible for mesorah to be discovered?

Suppose there was a previously unknown collection of midrash or sayings or halachah or commentary that was discovered in an archaeological excavation and is hundreds or thousands of years old. ...
5
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2answers
111 views

Why did they cancel the kohein races over an isolated incident?

Mishna Yoma 2:1-2: ב,א בראשונה, כל מי שהוא רוצה לתרום את המזבח, תורם; בזמן שהן מרובין, רצין ועולים בכבש, וכל הקודם את חברו לתוך ארבע אמות זכה. ואם היו שניהם שווין, הממונה אומר להן הצביעו: מה הן ...
12
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1answer
426 views

Did any of the early Rabbis encounter Mohammed?

Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, lived in Saudia Arabia, mainly in Mecca and (later) Medina. He lived from 570-632CE. According to this wikipedia article there were Jews in Saudia Arabia at that time: ...
7
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1answer
41 views

The name change of the Divrei Chamudos

The shaar blatt (page with the brief list of what's in the book) of my Shas (and this Shas) says that the Divrei Chamudos was originally called the Lechem Chamudos and the Maadanei Yom Tov was ...