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

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13
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2answers
325 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 vineyard, and invite the unmarried men to choose them for marriage. The Talmud (Taanis 30b) ...
20
votes
1answer
661 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
273 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
339 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
151 views

How is it that the Talmud can make historical mistakes?

A Rav told me that when it comes to science and nature, the Talmud can say incorrect things (i.e. about animals, cosmology) because they were going by the Greeks and Romans. (Where he gets permission ...
7
votes
1answer
285 views

When will the period of Acharonim end?

What will mark the end of the period of Acharonim? What in general demarcates rabbinical eras? Are these halachic rules or conventions?
6
votes
1answer
78 views

Why no halachos in the Babylonian Talmud like in the Palestinian?

Most Jewish texts have a easy way to pin down a citation. Some are numbered. For example, Rambam and Y'rushalmi and Tosefta have chapter and halacha. Some of these have different numberings in ...
5
votes
1answer
87 views

Belief in the Exodus

Recently, someone who presents himself as a religious member of Jewish society told me that he feels it doesn't matter if the story of the Exodus actually happened, and can be viewed as a nice ...
5
votes
1answer
137 views

Shofar from ibex horn?

I have the 2015 calendar from the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, and today I noticed that the September page has a picture of a shofar made from an ibex horn. The calendar dates it to ...
5
votes
1answer
131 views

How was Chanukah celebrated at the Beis HaMikdash?

In the centuries between the Maccabean Revolt and the destruction of the Bayis Sheni, how was Chanukah commemorated at the Beis HaMikdash (other than the addition of prayers like Al Hanisim)? Since ...
5
votes
1answer
188 views

requirement for Chabad shluchim to be married?

I heard that Chabad instituted a requirement for shluchim to be married because Zalman Schachter-Shalomi went off the derech. Is this historically accurate, and are Chabad shluchim required to be ...
4
votes
1answer
58 views

Figuring out where Torah scrolls come from

Lets say a synagogue has inherited a lot of Torah scrolls, but doesn't know where many of them come from. How would they go about determining from which countries these scrolls hail from? Are there ...
3
votes
1answer
69 views

Does the book of Daniel accurately date the war with Babylon?

According to Wikipedia: The introductory verses tell how, in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim (606 BCE), Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were among the young Jewish ...
3
votes
1answer
153 views

How do I know if a midrash is accepted?

I have found many different types of midrashic works. Some are, as far as I can tell, accepted as being authoritative. Meaning they were written (compiled?) by the sages in roughly the talmudic era. ...
2
votes
1answer
144 views

Banei Abir clan of Habbani Yemenite Jewry

There's this video for "ancient tefillin wrapping" that shows a wrapping style utilizing the paleo-hebrew characters. The statement is that this method of wrapping is preserved by the "Banei Abir clan ...
2
votes
1answer
105 views

When is Avraham's birthday?

I saw in a popular book a suggestion that Avraham was born on Rosh Chodesh Tevet. Does anyone have any backing sources for this?
1
vote
1answer
80 views

What are the Jewish months exactly?

I am aware that the names of the months are derived almost directly from the Babylonian calendar and that the Chumash itself never mentions a month by name and instead refers to it by number. Later on ...
-1
votes
1answer
62 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 ...
-2
votes
1answer
94 views

Self Fulfilling Prophecy

Have there been any incidences of individuals or groups that have purposely triggered events, self fulfilling prophecy if you will, as a result of their belief that Moshiach has arrived? For example, ...
2
votes
0answers
34 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
votes
0answers
151 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
votes
0answers
76 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
votes
0answers
140 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
vote
0answers
35 views

what were taxes like during Solomon's time? (According to Judaism)

I know there was terumah (10%) which went to kohanim and maaser ani (9% every other year to poor) + maaser sheni, which isn't exactly a tax but you had to spend it in Jerusalem. Where did non-Temple ...
1
vote
0answers
15 views

When did it become common to engrave tombstones?

I'm going to "link" this question to something in this week's parsha (Torah reading): Genesis 35:20: וַיַּצֵּ֧ב יַעֲקֹ֛ב מַצֵּבָ֖ה עַל־קְבֻרָתָ֑הּ הִ֛וא מַצֶּ֥בֶת קְבֻֽרַת־רָחֵ֖ל עַד־הַיּֽוֹם׃ ...
1
vote
0answers
57 views

Who put the parentheses in the Gemara, when, and for what reason(s)?

From time to time there are parentheses in the gemara (e.g., Taanis 17b). Who put the parentheses there, when, and for what reason(s)?
1
vote
0answers
75 views

Why Judaism ceased to use the Saptuagint translation?

I heard somewhere (forgot where...sorry) that the Septuagint ceased to be read in the Jewsih community. Why ? P.S: If any of the information is wrong, just tell me where to edit the question, or you ...
1
vote
0answers
35 views

Are there any Jewish records of Ananus ben Ananus aside from Josephus?

In Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, he records an incident that led to the removal from office of the high priest of the Temple. According to this account, the Roman proconsul of Judaea, Porcius ...
1
vote
0answers
35 views

Using oil lamps on Shabbas in old times

In the olden times, before electricity, did religious Jews have lamps that could hold large amounts of oil so that they could use light on Shabbas, similar to how we use Shabbas lamps and have lights ...
1
vote
0answers
61 views

Death Penalty for Desecrating God's Name?

In light of some of the recent embarrassing criminal incidents involving visibly religious Jews in the United States, it made me think of something I had read once ( or vaguely remember reading ) that ...
1
vote
0answers
25 views

What kind of publicity was required for Smicha?

There's a story in Sanhedrin 14a: שפעם אחת גזרה מלכות הרשעה גזירה על ישראל שכל הסומך יהרג וכל הנסמך יהרג ועיר שסומכין בה תיחרב ותחומין שסומכין בהן יעקרו מה עשה יהודה בן בבא הלך וישב לו בין שני ...
1
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0answers
55 views

Historicity of Chazal

What do traditional sources (particularly Rishonim and their predecessors) say about the historical accuracy of Chazal's statements?
1
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0answers
54 views

When did the custom of silver candlesticks for Shabbat start?

I heard that it is a custom to give a bride candlesticks. Is this true? when did this start? Who has the obligation to do this? and more info on the subject with sources please. Is this true that it ...
1
vote
0answers
38 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
71 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?
1
vote
0answers
63 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?
1
vote
0answers
324 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
72 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
31 views

Explain why certain titles are given when naming sages

In the Mishnah, Talmud and beyond, there appears to be a trend related to how great sages are called. Examples: Just their first name such as Hillel and Shamai Name and father's name such as Shimon ...
0
votes
0answers
45 views

How would the Shekinah Glory be described in contemporary english?

Was the Shekinah really a cloud? I know it shaded the people, but did it produce rain? Is it thought of as a cloud because that was the only word to describe what the people saw? The two passages ...
0
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0answers
37 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?
0
votes
0answers
48 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
44 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 ...
0
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0answers
104 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 ...
0
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0answers
59 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
votes
0answers
60 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
votes
0answers
50 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 ...