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

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8
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1answer
160 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
168 views

Why are challot traditionally braided?

What is the reason that challot are traditionally braided? When did this tradition begin?
8
votes
1answer
206 views

Riding the Boston train (T) on Shabbat - written evidence?

I've long heard 'urban legends' of halachically observent Jews in Boston many years ago riding the train ('the T') on Shabbat. Does anyone have any written evidence of such a practice? (I'm not ...
8
votes
2answers
662 views

The blessing for 600,000 Jews

The Gemara (Berakhot 58b) mentions that upon seeing 600,000 Jews one says the blessing "Baruch...Chacham HaRazim" (Who knows all secrets), and this is halacha (Sh.A. O.C. 224:5). Does any know of any ...
8
votes
1answer
764 views

Fighting Wars on Shabbat

As I mentioned in another question, I was reading the Book of Maccabees over Shabbat (I and II). In the book of Maccabees, it mentions that early on in the struggle, there were a group of Jews hiding ...
7
votes
1answer
165 views

When was the last Korban Pesach done?

In which year, or decade, was the last Korban Pesach performed by Jews on Har Habayit? So far, my research has found Rabbi Gamliel of Yavneh, and his slave Tevi, which would be around 80-120 CE. But ...
7
votes
4answers
514 views

Why is the Mesillas Yesharim so popular and accepted?

To overgeneralize, I bet there is a copy of the mesillas yesharim in almost every orthodox home, shul and beis medrash. I'm wondering why this work is so popular and accepted. My wondering is ...
7
votes
2answers
467 views

What historical figures have been identified as 'Amalek?

Adolf Hitler is often said to have been from 'Amalek. I've even heard it said not only figuratively but literally (how one could know that is a mystery to me). What other historical figures are ...
6
votes
1answer
108 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
202 views

Why is there a dispute as to which tefillin are the correct ones?

Since the mitzvah of tefillin is observed every day except for Shabbos and festivals, there should have been continuous knowledge as to the correct order of the parshas. So how did it come about that ...
6
votes
0answers
149 views

The Torah scrolls written by Jewish kings

The Torah commanded Jewish kings to write their own Torah scroll from a master in the possession of the Levites, and to read it every day of their life so that they should not become haughty and so ...
6
votes
2answers
334 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?
4
votes
3answers
211 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
284 views

Source for story of Rashi, the King, and the Four Horsemen

There is a story (you can read the details here) about Rashi telling a King that he will conquer Yerushalaim for 3 days and return with 3 horses and 3 riders. The King returned with 4, but as they ...
4
votes
2answers
179 views

Shabbat songs that rhyme only with Hashem's real name [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Pronouncing Hashem's name in a song Many songs we sing and the Shabbat table we use the word Hashem instead of Hashem's real name even when the song was written in ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Chazon Ish neurosurgery diagram

There is a well-known story about the Chazon Ish, where someone who was scheduled to undergo a neurosurgical procedure came to him for advice, and the Chazon Ish drew a diagram for the surgeon ...
4
votes
2answers
174 views

Did the Jews in the Midbar know the entire Torah?

The G'mara in Y'vamos (ד) and B'rachos (כא) records a dispute over whether laws can be deduced from the fact of two p'sukim appearing adjacent to one another in the Torah. The Mahara"tz Chayos ...
3
votes
1answer
110 views

Antiquarian Safrut

Is there any resource for looking at examples of the old forms of safrut from before the Second World War? I have seen un-sourced photos of strikingly different variations within the Ashkenazi and ...
3
votes
3answers
112 views

Mitzvah to study/know history?

I heard someone once mention that chazal tell us that it is a mitzvah to review, know, or study secular history. Is that true?
3
votes
2answers
287 views

Are there any female kabbalists?

Are there currently or have there been historically orthodox female kabbalists? If not is this a quirk of history or is there a specific reason?
3
votes
1answer
282 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
148 views

What does the talmud/rabbinic writing have to say about Yeishu hanotzri (Jesus)?

I Understand that the name Jesus was not uncommon 2000 years ago, and Jewish writings about person of historical interest to the christian church call him "Yeishu hanotzri" = "Jesus the Nazarene". I ...
1
vote
2answers
426 views

How was Tevilas Ezra effective in limiting conjugal relations?

Many go to mikve (perform ritual immersion) every morning. One reason for this is voluntary continuation of a cancelled decree, Tevilas Ezra, meant to limit conjugal relations by requiring immersion ...
1
vote
3answers
819 views

What is the torah view on the dinosaurs?

What is the Torah view on the dinosaurs? There's no mention of them in the Torah, only that the world was created in 6 days. If they existed, Adam and his descendants should have seen them. Yet ...
0
votes
1answer
146 views

why was technology withheld for so long from man

Why did God withhold the discovery of modern technology from man until recently? what is the reason for this and why does this reason not apply in our era? (according to the shaar bitachon ch.3 God ...
20
votes
4answers
3k views

Why is the Jewish Population so small?

Judaism is one of the oldest religions, but there aren't many Jews compared to Muslims and Christians. What are main reasons behind that?
17
votes
2answers
218 views

What defines a country to be a legitimate country?

There are a few Halachas that apply to a Jew's relationship with his country. For example, Dina Dmalchusa, another is not to rebel (although its Halachic strength is disputed, all agree that under ...
17
votes
4answers
591 views

What is the source of the Magen Dovid (Star of David)?

What is the source of the Magen Dovid (Star of David) in Rabbinic Judaism? When was it first used, and for what?
17
votes
2answers
488 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
1answer
229 views

Why was the parah aduma found in 2002 disqualified?

In 2002, various news sources reported that a red heifer was found and the Temple Institute in Israel declared it kosher. Many of these sources later reported that the parah aduma was disqualified ...
16
votes
1answer
855 views

What was daily life like for Jewish women living in al-Andalus in the 10th/11th centuries?

The emir of Al-Andalus (approximately the Iberian peninsula) declared himself a new caliph, breaking off from the caliphate in the east, circa 950 CE. I have read that the next couple hundred years ...
14
votes
2answers
343 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
426 views

Was there a GOLEM?

was there really a golem made in Prague that was alive and interacted with other people? I heard that this story was nothing more than a made up tale in a children's book. Does anyone know the real ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the red string all about?

Where did the concept of wearing a red string come from? I have heard different opinions ranging from "you should definitely wear it" to "its forbidden like idol worship" - who is right?
12
votes
2answers
190 views

Division of Verses in Tanach

In light of comments here, what is the history of the current division of tanach into pesukim? Specifically, to what extent do we view our breaks as coming from Sinai? Are there Christian influences ...
11
votes
2answers
412 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. ...
11
votes
1answer
800 views

What is a “Sephardic Jew”?

My name is Paul Avila (yea, I know, doesn't sound Jewish at all) I was born in the Azores Portugal and moved to the United States when I was 2. People always ask me if I am Persian. Never ...
11
votes
1answer
876 views

How often did the average Israelite bring offerings to the temple?

In addition to the mandated communal offerings, individual Jews were liable for, or permitted to bring, a variety of offerings of their own. How often did the average Israelite bring each type of ...
11
votes
3answers
444 views

How Kabbalistically accurate is the golem-making procedure described in “Niflaos Maharal”?

There's been plenty of discussion about the historic authenticity of "Niflaos Maharal", a book that appeared in the early 1900s describing how the Maharal made a Golem to defend the Jews against blood ...
10
votes
2answers
168 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
263 views

Did the kohanim wear tefillin during their Temple services?

The Torah and the Gemara (especially in Yoma) gives us fascinating detail about the bigdei kahuna (clothes of the priests) that were worn in the Holy Temple. What is not clear is whether tefillin ...
10
votes
7answers
2k views

Why do Sephardic Jews dress in black and white?

Many observant sephardim in Israel, especially those in yeshivot, dress in black and white. Does anyone know how this happened? There is no tradition of Jews in North Africa or in the Middle East ...
10
votes
4answers
281 views

What's the origin of having more than one name?

I suppose this is more of a history question: as in when did Jewish people start naming their children with more than one name? But I would also be interested in knowing the circumstances behind it? ...
9
votes
1answer
137 views

How old is the chanukiyah?

Another question asks about the differentiation between the words "chanukiyah" and "menorah" when referring to the special 8-branched (+1) candelabra for Chanukah. An answer there suggests: All ...
9
votes
5answers
221 views

Is beauty that is described in the Torah objective beauty?

Perceptions of beauty have changed throughout time. For example, in the times of the Talmud, R' Yochanan, who was described as being fat (Berachos 13b), is also described in the Talmud as being ...
9
votes
1answer
206 views

Origin of Haggadah Section Titles (Kadesh Urchatz, etc.)

What is the historical origin of the section titles of the Haggadah? (Inspired by discussion in comments on this answer to the question: Translation of haggadah section titles)
9
votes
1answer
227 views

Chamisha Asar B'Av - when did the Minhag stop?

The Gemara Taanis 31. says אמר רבן שמעון בן גמליאל לא היו ימים טובים לישראל כחמשה עשר באב וכיוה"כ שבהן בנות ירושלים יוצאות ... וחולות בכרמים ומה היו אומרות בחור שא נא עיניך וראה מה אתה בורר לך אל תתן ...
9
votes
3answers
533 views

Did Rabbi Dovid Feinstein of Uzda wear tefilin that were Ktav Ari or Ktav Beit Yosef? What about his son?

The biographical sketch of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein that appears in the beginning of Igrot Moshe volume 8 states that his father, Rabbi Dovid Feinstein of Uzda, was born and raised Hassidic, but took on ...
8
votes
2answers
151 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 ...
8
votes
0answers
103 views

Explanations for forbidding writing Oral Torah [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why was Torah sheBal Peh not allowed to be Written? The Wikipedia article for Oral Torah mentions the possibility that it was forbidden to write and publish Oral Torah. ...