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

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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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2answers
621 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 ...
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0answers
160 views

Order of Masechtos in Seder Moed

According to the standard Shas print (Vilna Bavli), the order of Masechtas is Pesachim-Shekalim-Rosh Hashana-Yoma-Sukka-Beitza. This makes (some) sense as this is the order of holidays. However, the ...
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2answers
110 views

What was the formulation of the Bracha about Yerushalayim in the times of the Temple?

In Shemona Esrei we pray that Hashem should return to Yerushalayim. Obviously while the Jews were in Yerushalayim during the time of the Bais Hamikdash this Bracha had to be different as it would not ...
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3answers
164 views

Can you fulfill the obligation to pray if you can't hear the leader?

The gemorah in Sukkah daf 51b explains that, in the enormous shul in Alexandria, in order for everyone to know when to answer Amen when the shliach tzibbur (prayer leader, aka sha"tz) was davening, ...
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173 views

Relations among King David, the Sanhedrin, and the high priest

Do we have any historical source that discusses the relations among King David, the Sanhedrin during his reign, and the high priest during his reign? Were they on friendly terms? Was there a power ...
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4answers
381 views

Why was the Gemara written in Aramaic?

The Gemara (the Bavli and Yerushalmi) are the fundamental texts that we possess of the Oral law. Why were they written in Aramaic? At first glance, Ravina and R' Ashi probably knew that this will be ...
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2answers
540 views

Sources for Hassidic views on marital celibacy/asceticism?

My understanding is the traditional view of Ger Hassidism was that marital celibacy was a good idea, once all procreative needs had been met. My impression is that Chabad-Lubavitch never advocated an ...
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2answers
2k views

how old is Judaism?

How old is Judaism - not legendary, but indicated by science? What are the oldest scriptures found of the story of Moses, for example? Or are the scriptures imported from very different cultures so ...
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1answer
556 views

Yerushalmi Versus Bavli

What are the differences between the two Talmuds? or are there differences? Why did the two Talmuds develop separately or did they? Why do we Poskin like the Bavli or do we? Is it true that the ...
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2answers
320 views

Which Yochanan Kohen Godol is in Al Hanissim?

In Al Hanissim we mention a Yochanan Kohen Gadol. Since there were several kohanim gedolim named Yochanan which one is this, historically?
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105 views

If the “ten martyrs” didn't happen together, did the punishment-for-Joseph story happen? When?

It's commonly believed that the "ten martyrs" didn't all live in the same time period, and the description of them as a group is conceptual, not historical. Now the story opens with a Roman ruler ...
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1answer
228 views

Can a 9 year old do Yibbum?

Back then was a 9 year old and 1 day boy allowed to do yebam to his dead brothers wife?
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4answers
324 views

What's the origin of the name “Jew”?

Why are we called "the Jews"? Did Hashem pick out this name for us? What does the word "Jew" mean?
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2answers
113 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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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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80 views

What scribal variations (decorations etc) have changed from the earliest sifrei torah until now?

This article reports on the identification of what is possibly the oldest complete sefer torah we have, dated c.1155-1225, at the University of Bologna. (The scroll was previously thought to date to ...
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1answer
146 views

Who dropped Moses from the Hagaddah?

Moses is not mentioned in the Hagaddah (with one minor exception), presumably to show that the exodus happened entirely by G-d's power and to not deify Moses. Presumably, though, the maggid during ...
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1answer
133 views

Ashkanazim paskening like Rema

Was it always a straightforward presumption ("davar pashut") that in general the Ashkanazim should decide Halachic questions ("pasken") in accordance with the Rema over the Machaber/Beis Yosef (when ...
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1answer
260 views

Do Jews believe the content of Maccabees (I-IV) is true?

This related question touches on the book of Maccabees. I was wondering if Jews believe the content of Maccabees (I-IV) is true, even though it is outside the canon. If any of the Rishonim or ...
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0answers
63 views

How were the “seven good men of the city” appointed?

How were the “seven good men of the city” שבעה טובי העיר appointed? Was there an election and if so who could be candidates?
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1answer
186 views

Qumran - Proof or Genizah for Errors?

The comment and the ensuing thread quoted at the bottom of this question make me wonder what, exactly, was buried at Qumran. Were the items buried there actually used at some point and later placed ...
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1answer
523 views

Hebrew Havarah?

Similar to this question Different parts of Eastern Europe had different dialects. For example, Ukrainian, Polish and Hungarian Jews pronounce a "Shuruk" as a EE, or a Komatz as an oo (so Boruch ...
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2answers
147 views

Tu B'shvat Seder

Where did the idea of doing a Seder on Tu b'Shvat come from? Why a Seder, not just the eating of fruit? Why do we call it a Seder if there is no formalized way of doing it?
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1answer
369 views

When and why did we start reading the Parshat Hashavua?

My question is twofold: When did we start reading a new parsha (torah portion) every week? Why did we start reading a new parsha (torah portion) every week?
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149 views

g'mara about David's conception

Where's the g'mara about Yishay's divorce (or was it separation?) and David's conception, please?
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1answer
189 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?
4
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1answer
621 views

What's the earliest source/discussion on green beans being “kitniyot” (prohibited legumes) on Passover?

My understanding is that most Ashkenazic communities today don't eat green beans on Passover, treating them as kitniyot (a bunch of legumes for which the custom arose to avoid on Passover). What's the ...
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1answer
209 views

What is the earliest source that mentions Gematria?

What is the earliest source that mentions Gematria?
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1answer
79 views

was paroh the same paroh during the 210 years

Was Paroh at the start the same as the one when it says "there arose a new king" (Exodus 1: 8)? How many parohs were there during the 210 years.
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3answers
141 views

When did the practice of lighting flames for Chanuka begin?

It seems clear from the G'mara that the institution of Chanuka as a holiday began the year immediately following the seminal story - with praising of God and commemorating miracles, but there is no ...
3
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1answer
66 views

Chassidus Tschitschkov (Czyczkow/y)

I asked here about someone who changed his minhagim and the obligations of his descendants. My great-grandfather's grandfather, was the rebbe of the town of Czyczkow, near Chojnice (Choynitz, ...
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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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3answers
232 views

Rishonim/Achronim time period differentiation

When was the end of the Rishonim time period and the start of the achronim time period? Who, what, why, and how did this come about? What caused this abrupt change in deemed mental and halachot ...
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3answers
303 views

Did Chazal know about China and the Chinese? and from which of Noach's sons do they hail?

The silk road from the Far East to Asia probably operated from about 200 B.C.E although it was not a direct trading route but worked in stages; so there was no direct contact from say China to ...
3
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1answer
168 views

How could different pronunciations arise when we are obligated to pronounce the Shema precisely?

If one does not pronounce the Shema correctly, one has not fulfilled their obligation (שולחן ערוך או"ח סימן סב). If so, then how could different pronunciations of the Hebrew words arise? Shouldn't at ...
3
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1answer
454 views

Did most Hasidic men wear the shtreimel and kapote in Eastern Europe?

I have heard that the shtreimel and kapote (and variations) were mostly worn only by the Rebbes, while most followers were too poor for a beaver-skin hat; most hassidim wore the ordinary clothes of ...
3
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1answer
287 views

Why was the Mishna written in Hebrew while the Gemara wasn't?

By the time of the Mishna, people speaking in Aramaic on a day-to-day basis. Nonetheless, R' Yehuda Hanasi wrote the Mishna in Hebrew. So were the Toseftas and the Braisos. Why? On the other hand, ...
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3answers
168 views

What are the major ancient literature on Judaic mysticism and spiritual development?

What are the major ancient literature on Judaic mysticism and spiritual development? By ancient I mean B.C.E. I also would appreciate if you can also provide links to online English translations if ...
3
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1answer
108 views

“The Romans' Book” in Ramba"n

The commentary of Ramba"n on Vayikra 26:16 explains a large swath of parashas B'chukosai as an allegory to the two batei Mikdash and the corresponding exiles. Included therein, he elaborates on the ...
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3answers
295 views

Moshe Rabeinu's Yarzheit

It is common knowledge that Moshe Rabeinu was Niftar on 7 Adar. Was it a plain year with 1 Adar or a leap year with 2 Adars? If it was a leap year on what Adar was he Niftar?
3
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1answer
177 views

What do we know about the Yemenites adding (deleting?) Maimonides from their prayers in the 1100s?

I've always heard that the Yemenite Jews of the late 1100s were so grateful for the theological support they were given by Maimonides' writings (Rambam's Igeret Teiman), that where their kaddish ...
3
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1answer
247 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, ...
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5answers
406 views

Shabbos Zmiros author

Who wrote most of the songs we sing on shabbos?
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0answers
65 views

Josephus' Fall of Jerusalem

Is this book commonly accepted in the Jewish world as an accurate description of the events surrounding destruction of the Beit HaMikdash? I'm particularly interested in its portrayal of the behavior ...
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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 ...
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1answer
339 views

How do rabbis explain the reason for the Spanish Expulsion. Why did the Jewish people deserve it

I notice you already have this question for the Holocaust but haven't found it for the Spanish expulsion. I understand that many great people gave reasons for it, like the seder hadoros, tsror hamor ...
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0answers
98 views

Why does a hamentash have three sides and filling? [closed]

All Hamentashen that I've seen have three sides and all Hamentashen have filling. Why is that?
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3answers
328 views

What is the orthodox view towards the existence of a progressive denomination? [closed]

How did the progressive and orthodox denominations come about? What is the orthodox view towards the existence of a progressive denomination? MODERATOR NOTE: The chatting in the comments on this ...
2
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3answers
592 views

Agudath Israel Convention

Where can I find information on the annual Agudath Israel (of America?) convention that happens around Thanksgiving time? I have been hearing references to this convention since I was young, but ...