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

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10
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2answers
159 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
84 views

When did the Kaf HaHayyim first see the Aruch HaShulchan and the Mishnah Berurah?

The Kaf HaHayyim was written roughly contemporaneously with the Aruch HaShulchan and the Mishneh Berurah, but is the last of the three seforim to be finished, with its final chapters completed by the ...
14
votes
1answer
181 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
181 views

Did Achashverosh rule over the entire Old World?

Megilla 11a says "Three ruled over the world - Achav, Achashverosh and Nebuchadnetzar." It suggests a few other names that weren't on the list and rejects them because they didn't rule over one ...
5
votes
2answers
274 views

Is there any precedent to read the first 11 chapters of Genesis as metaphorical?

I believe this will be related to a similar question about a statement by Rabbi Sacks. Rabbi Jeremy Wieder said in a lecture titled Non Literal Interpretation of Scripture in Jewish Tradition (and ...
4
votes
1answer
196 views

A source for the claim that the Satmar Ruv (R' Yoel Teitelbaum) said to VP Hubert Humphrey “Sell weapons to Israel!”

There is a commonly quoted anecdote that when Vice President Hubert Humphrey came to the Satmar Rav for votes in 1968 and asked him what he could do for him the Satmar Rav replied "Sell weapons to ...
10
votes
0answers
117 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 vinyard, and invite the unmarried men to choose them for marriage. The Talmud (Taanis 30b) ...
8
votes
1answer
196 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
43 views

Large Square Garment Prohibited from Being Taken (Usury)

I have heard reference to a large, square garment used by poor for sleeping. I have also heard that it is/was so important that it was forbidden to ask it as collateral for a loan. My question(s): ...
2
votes
0answers
108 views

What is meant by the term “midina”/“provinces” as in the 127 ruled by Ahasuerus?

Esther 1:1 says: Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus -- he was the Ahasuerus who reigned from Hodu to Cush, one hundred twenty-seven provinces. For historical context, the period of the ...
0
votes
1answer
126 views

How can we explain the growth of Israelite population in Egypt?

Jacob and his family went to Egypt numbering (approximately) 70 people. After approximately 200 years, 600,000 men between the ages of 20-60 (if I'm not mistaken). So probably 2 million total got ...
0
votes
1answer
98 views

Listing acts of patriotism towards a host nation

In the UK, united synagogues recite a prayer for the royal family including a blessing for "all her advisors and councillers" that they may grant us peace, etc. Many synagogues also display British ...
4
votes
0answers
93 views

What sources did people use to support Shabbtai Tsvi's messianism after he died?

I can understand the appeal of a messiah in 1600s Eastern Europe. I can understand that we want a messiah and we're willing to accept one, whether it be Bar Kochva or Shabbtai Tsvi. But on what ...
10
votes
1answer
214 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
227 views

Where does the tune for birkat hamazon come from?

It's hard to describe who's tune this is and I can only refer to it as the 'commonly used' or 'popular' tune for birkat hamazon. I seems like it is compiled of many unrelated tunes. At times there are ...
0
votes
0answers
35 views

Do we know of any niggunim that date back to the Beit Hamikdash? [duplicate]

I have heard that some niggunim date back to the times of the Beit Hamikdash and I cant remember which ones! What I do remember is that they used (what we would call) a 4/4 time signature and ...
7
votes
1answer
151 views

Why is the Shulchan Aruch definitive?

Why do we (almost all Jews) consider the Shulchan Arukh, not written until the 16th century, to be the final word on halakha? Our halakha is derived from Torah Shebikhtav and She'be'al Peh. SA ...
3
votes
0answers
94 views

The heel of Moshiach?

I have seen quotes from various rabbis, the oldest dating back to the Ari Z"L that state that we are in the ikve d'Moshiach (the heels of the Messiah). Ostensibly that was meant to convey that ...
8
votes
1answer
172 views

Does a Rabbi have to sink with his ship?

There is a famous story (mentioned in his wikipedia article) that R' Elchonon Wasserman visited the United States before the war. He had the option to stay, but he refused since (as I heard) "A leader ...
3
votes
2answers
134 views

Why were there no Jewish philosophy tracts until the Rasag?

Jews had their first bump into philosophy when Alexander the Great conquered Israel (in the early Tanaic period). Since then, we lived under the Greeks and Romans for a few hundred years. Both of ...
4
votes
0answers
78 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
134 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. ...
16
votes
1answer
880 views

Killing somebody with the keys to the synagogue

In Yoreh Deah 339:1, the mechaber brings a variety of things that one is not permitted to do to a goses (a person on the brink of death), since each of these things causes the goses to die sooner. ...
5
votes
0answers
199 views

List of oppressors of the Jewish people

We say in the V'hi She'amda passage of the Pesach Hagaddah that in each and every generation there have been those who rose up against us to destroy us, but Hashem saves us from their designs. Is this ...
-3
votes
3answers
204 views

Demolishing Idolatry sneakily?

As an extension to this question which makes it obligatory to demolish idols, is it equally virtuous to demolish places of idolatry sneakily as we see examples from the story of Abraham? As people ...
1
vote
1answer
73 views

What date was Kibrot Hattaavah?

Are there any sources that give the date for the incident in Kibroth Hattaavah recorded in B'Midbar Chapter 11? I am trying to figure out if it happened on a particular mo'ed or any significant date.
7
votes
3answers
393 views

Was Rambam affected by Islam?

Was Rambam's philosophy affected in any way by Islamic culture or religion? If so, could that influence have influenced his interpretation of halacha? This question is inspired by an ongoing ...
0
votes
1answer
144 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
81 views

Who were the Rambam's students?

Someone recently asked me whether the Rambam had any students. In addition to the Rambam's son and the student for whom he wrote the Moreh Nevuchim, I could think of only one other student. (רבינו ...
6
votes
1answer
117 views

How much of the sefer torah did the king read each day?

According to D'varim 17:18-20, a king was required to write for himself a sefer torah and read from it each day ( וְקָרָא בוֹ כָּל-יְמֵי חַיָּיו). This doesn't say he had to read the whole sefer each ...
6
votes
0answers
132 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
139 views

What is the meaning of this painting?

I am in possession of this mysterious painting with Hebrew characters, but I do not know what words mean. I suspect that they may provide a clue to what is being represented in each of the painted ...
16
votes
9answers
2k views

How are pre-creation >4000 BCE human civilization and pre-flood >2300 BCE civilizations that continued reconciled with Judaism?

How does human history fit in with the Torah's timeline? Not even worrying about why the universe and Earth look so old, there is extensive evidence of a human population and human civilizations from ...
7
votes
5answers
796 views

Have there ever been inter-faith debates between Jews and Muslims?

There are records of many inter-faith debates (disputations) between Jews and Christians even up to modern times. However I have never heard of similar such debates between Jews and Muslims. Are there ...
3
votes
1answer
203 views

Who edited the “Nusach Sefarad” nusach?

There are two (Ok, three if you count Teimani) traditional families of nusach in use - Ashkenaz (the Nusach which people from northern/eastern Europe traditionally prayed in) and Eidot Hamizrach (the ...
7
votes
2answers
259 views

Were there restrictions on marrying members of other tribes?

In ancient Israel, when there were clear differences between members of different tribes, were there restrictions on members of one tribe marrying a members of another tribe? If yes, what would ...
11
votes
5answers
3k views

Why did nobody succeed the Lubavitcher Rebbe?

The late Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l had no successor as the rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. Why is this? Was it simply because he had no children? If so, why was nobody else ...
9
votes
0answers
120 views

Were there any sages who supported the Zealots during the seige of Jerusalem?

In Gittin 56a-b, we read how the sages warned the Zealots (a.k.a. the Biryonim) to not wage war with the Romans who were holding Jerusalem under seige, but that the Biryonim set fire to the store ...
2
votes
1answer
331 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
98 views

Have the empires of old perished?

I remember being taught when I was younger that the fact that Jews are around is a testimony to the eternity of our religion; that we survived them all and that they are no longer. I am unaware ...
6
votes
2answers
277 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?
9
votes
3answers
144 views

Counting the omer with doubt before the fixed calendar

Currently, according to a previous question on this site, we count the omer without doubt: "Today is the Xth day of the omer" because we have a fixed calendar, and because counting with doubt is ...
0
votes
1answer
95 views

Why is the Kitzur so much more popular than the Chayey Adam?

The Chayey Adam was considered to be the "popular kitzur Shulchan Aruch" for almost a century before the "Kitzur Shulchan Aruch" was printed. Why did people stop learning the Chayey Adam and switch to ...
0
votes
2answers
136 views

Who was the first person to be referred to by acronym? [duplicate]

Rashi, Rambam, the Maharal, the Rosh, the Rema, etc. are all usually referred to by their acronyms. This custom makes sense in a culture that is mostly transmitted through the written word where ink ...
4
votes
3answers
362 views

When and why did women change to ritually bathing in the Evening?

Do you happen to have any ideas, or any sources, detailing why women first became required to bathe in the evening as in current practise, as opposed to the recorded biblical requirement to wash ...
5
votes
4answers
120 views

Chametz u'matza?

The first of four questions specifically says, "On all other nights we eat chametz or matza, why on this night only matza?" While I understand that it's halakhically acceptable to eat matzah when it ...
3
votes
5answers
243 views

Saying Rishonim or Achronim were “wrong”

People are very careful (and rightfully so) to say when they don't understand the words of the Achronim or Rishonim to not say they are/were "wrong". But rather to say "I don't understand what he ...
6
votes
1answer
163 views

How old was Pharoah when he died?

According to some opinions, Pharoah was the same from when Yosef went to Mitzrayim until Krias Yam Suf, and he was the king in Ninveh when Yonah went to warm them of their immoral behavior (Yalkut ...
3
votes
1answer
81 views

What were the original kitniyos?

I know many people (chiefly S'faradim) don't have the custom altogether of refraining from eating kitniyos on Pesach. Among those who do have such a custom, moreover, there are varying customs as to ...
15
votes
1answer
418 views

When did Matza become dry?

It's pretty commonly accepted that Matza used to be soft (sort of like a tortilla) and was used by Hillel to make a wrap (not a sandwich). When did this change in various geographic locations which ...