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

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Up part of the night on Shavuos

As described by Stephanie Hegarty for the BBC, Roger Ekirch, an historian, has evidence — and is convinced — that people used to have a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed ...
7
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1answer
131 views

Unique signature of the Chida

The Chida has a very unique signature. What is the significance of this signature (if any)? Is it in any way related to the seven kabbalistic seals? Are there other similarly unusual signatures by ...
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257 views

Was Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ever formally ordained? (Given semicha?)

Did Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ever formally receive semicha? From whom? I recall reading that he studied a great deal with his father, and that his first responsum was written "at his father's orders."
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244 views

Why is Hebrew Called “Jewish” in the Bible?

We see that in most of the Bible, the Jews are called "בני ישראל/Israelites"; only in later books are they called "יהודים/Jews" (e.g. Esther 2:5, Zechariah 8:23), after the loss of the 10 tribes. ...
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324 views

Whose semicha (ordination) was the last one signed/granted by Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveichik? By Rabbi Moshe Feinstein?

Whose semicha (ordination) was the last one signed/granted by Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveichik? What about by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein? (The answer may be "the yeshiva ABC class of 1981" or whatever.)
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127 views

Sources for Jewish Education system today

The western educational system (to the definition of western that includes Japan) today, especially in the United States, but also in other western industrialized countries is an adaptation of the ...
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279 views

Why did God do nothing against the Romans that desecrated the Temple?

When good guy made a mistake, like Uzzah trying to fix the ark, God killed him (see II Samuel 6:6). However, Uzzah does not seem that evil. I mean, the ark stumbled and he just tried to help. Then, ...
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277 views

Masada - heroic martyrdom or immoral murder/suicide?

Was the mass coordinated mutual killing at Masada (for lack of a better term) an act of heroic martyrdom or immoral murder and suicide? While it is unknown for certain what exactly transpired, ...
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103 views

From where do the maps of Kriyas Yam Suf come?

I have seen many maps showing where the Jews crossed "Yam Suf" (Usually translated as the Red Sea). Then they show where the Jews traveled, where is Mt. Sinai, where did the Jews encamp, etc. Where ...
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96 views

Sefer Torah enclosures

The Torah scrolls of Ashkenazim have a very different look than those of Sepharadim. Ashkenazim just roll the parchment onto two poles, and read it in a horizontal position; the Sepharadim install the ...
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175 views

failed sale of chametz

Are there any recorded (recorded, perhaps, in responsa) instances of a failed sale of chametz (e.g., the gentile refused to buy the stuff and another couldn't be found, or the rabbi forgot to do it), ...
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122 views

Who is “the blaspheming foe” of Maoz Tzur?

In the song Maoz Tzur it says לְעֵת תָּכִין מַטְבֵּחַ מִצָּר הַמְנַבֵּחַ - which the OU translates as - When You will have prepared the slaughter for the blaspheming foe. Who is this ...
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144 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 ...
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2answers
214 views

How long after the Torah was given did the Jewish people start wearing tefillin?

From one of the explanations of eating milky foods on Shavuos, we understand that it was not possible to do all the mitzvos connecting with preparing meat for food immediately after accepting the ...
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469 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 ...
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227 views

Origin of Reform/Conservative “scarf” talleisim

I've noticed that Reform and Conservative often use small "scarf" talleisim (here's an image). Where did this practice originate? (Is there any connection to the scarves that some Christian priests ...
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63 views

Has anyone declared a time of oppression regarding the four Temple fasts?

The Sha'ar haTziyun (OC 550 sk 9) speculates if in his day (~1900 CE) there was enough oppression of the Jews to warrant declaring the fasts of 10 Tevet, 17 Tammuz and 3 Tishrei into full fledged ...
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115 views

How were coins that were destined for the Dead Sea managed?

A mishna on Meila 11a talks about money that a nazarite set aside for his offerings; if he died before completing the term and had set money aside specifically for the sin-offering, those coins are ...
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99 views

Identifying Ba'alei Tosafos [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Who is the voice of Tosafoth? How much do we know about which specific people wrote which comments of Tosafos?
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3answers
391 views

Is there sufficient evidence to support the theory that ancient Israel practiced monolatry?

I just came across this Wikipedia article on monolatrism that says some people believe ancient Israel practiced monolatry. The highest claim to be made for Moses is that he was, rather than a ...
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269 views

Who asked Rav Moshe about capital punishment?

There is an interesting t'shuva in Igros Moshe Choshen Mishpat vol.2 #68 (pt. 1 pt. 2) in which he explains the extreme rarity of capital punishment in Jewish law, especially in modern times. It is ...
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5answers
178 views

Cryptography in Judaism

Are there any known uses of cryptography (or similar) in Jewish History?
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4answers
413 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 ...
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145 views

Examples of Rabbis who had strong disagreements and were amicable

I'm looking for examples of Rabbis who had a serious disagreement and were nevertheless very kind and thoughtful towards each other. The main reason I'm asking for examples is to illustrate what a ...
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3answers
345 views

Illegitimacy in 18th-19th century Europe

I have been capturing genealogical information (Birth, Marriage, Death, Tombstones) in the Spis Region of Slovakia, which includes Jews who migrated from Galicia, parts of Hungary, or were living in ...
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5answers
414 views

Why Daniel is not Among the Prophets?

If Daniel was one of the Prophets, I do not understand why he is not counted among the Prophets. Why is his book among the Ketuvim and not Neviim?
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2answers
154 views

What was the name of Tzipora's mother?

What was the name of Tzipora's mother (Moses's mother-in-law)? There are a lot of wives mentioned in the Torah, but the names of some aren't mentioned even though they are important. So I was curious ...
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2answers
586 views

When and why did the black velvet yarmulke become the standard for some communities?

Ashkenazi yarmulkes from around 200 years ago closely resemble the Yerushalmi style - white knitted with a tassel on top. Today, the vast majority of Chasidim and Yeshivish Jews seem to wear black ...
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1answer
368 views

Where did the Levitical priesthood go?

Has the sacrificial system of the Torah been abandoned? Do those in the Tribe of Levi still act as priest? I have just never seen or heard of anyone making sacrifices of animals or going to a ...
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3answers
200 views

Why is Shmoneh Esreh referred to as 18 blessings when there are actually 19?

Originally Shmoneh Esreh only had 18 blessings, thus the name "Shemoneh Esreh." However, subsequently a 19th blessing was added of Velamalshinim regarding the heretics. If there are 19 blessings now, ...
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1answer
89 views

Did Depression-era U.S. high-school boys attend Jewish schools?

I'm reading Chaim Potok's The Chosen and have come across (in chapter 1) the claim that, during the Great Depression, in Brooklyn, [e]very Orthodox Jew sent his male [high-school-age] children to ...
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2answers
170 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 ...
6
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3answers
113 views

What happened to Avraham's students?

We read how Avraham was going around convincing people to believe in one G-d and of his many students. Yet we don't hear of those students (or their descendants) ever again. What happened to them ...
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2answers
154 views

Biography on Rav Hirsch

Anyone know of any good (i.e. non-hagiographical) biographies on Rav Samson Rafael Hirsch zt"l?
6
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1answer
137 views

Source for Dubno Maggid's rebuke of the Vilna Gaon?

In a shiur I heard that the Vilna Gaon begged the Dubno Maggid to give him mussar (rebuke) after repeatedly declining the Maggid responded that It is not so difficult to be a Gaon, cloistered in ...
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2answers
92 views

Why are Chazal asking if words are spelled with א or ע?

In Shabbos 77a-77b, Chazal ask about the spelling of a series of words, questioning whether the words are spelled with an alef - as in גראינין - or with an ayin - as in גרעינין. Wasn't ayin vocalized ...
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1answer
150 views

Depiction of the Menorah, the *Shulchan* and *Kadosh HaKadoshim* on ancient coins?

On some rare ancient coins of Matityah Antigonus, there are depictions of what seem to be the Menorah and the Shulchan (one obverse die even seems to show the Lechem HaPanim). This coin has an ...
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1answer
664 views

How did the Ten Martyrs actually die?

On Yom Kippur and Tisha B'av we read about the Ten Martyrs who were gathered and killed by Emperor Hadrian to atone for the Sale of Yosef HaTzadik. In addition to the idea that the Ten Martyrs didn't ...
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1answer
104 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 ...
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1answer
149 views

Why is the Aruch Hashulchan on Even Haezer incomplete?

The Aruch Hashulchan is written on the whole Shulchan Aruch, and even has sections on Halacha that is not currently applicable (Aruch Hashulchan Ha'asid). Yet he never finished Even Haezer. Why?
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1answer
188 views

Did the Sefer Torah written by the Maharam of Rottenberg survive the Holocaust?

There is a famous story of the Maharam copying a Sefer Torah written by Moshe Rabbeinu. Before passing, he threw it in the river by the castle in which he was arrested. This Sefer Torah reached ...
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1answer
194 views

Sefer Besamim Rosh

Who wrote the Sefer Besamim Rosh?
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2answers
440 views

What was the main subject of controversy between the Rabbis and Yeshu (Jesus)? [closed]

Jesus and his followers were seen as a separate sect among the Jews during the time he lived on earth. When did the Jews or Rabbis decided to declare him as an impostor, and why? What was the main ...
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2answers
112 views

What financial arrangement did Rambam have with his jeweler brother?

I was taught in yeshiva that as a young man, Rambam just studied Torah and was supported by his brother, who was a jewel merchant. Then his brother died at sea, so Rambam became a physician. Recently ...
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1answer
104 views

Stops in the Sidrah Leyning - Rishon, Sheni etc

Who instituted Rishon, Sheni, Shelishi etc in the leyning of the Sidrah? When was this done? What are the principles which were applied to determine where the stop should be? One would have thought ...
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2answers
187 views

No yetzer hora of idolatry, so no nevuah?

I remember learning in a shiur (sorry, can't think of the reference) that Chazal was able to essentially destroy the yetzer hora of avodah zora but with the side effect that there wouldn't be nevuah ...
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2answers
145 views

Looking for biographical information about R. Avraham Halevi Fattal

I'm writing something for which I need a capsule biography of him. So far, about all I know is: He is the father-in-law of (יבלח"ט) R. Ovadiah Yosef. He was an important figure in the Syrian Jewish ...
6
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1answer
258 views

Who divided the Tehillim into days?

Who divided the Sefer Tehillim into daily sections (both day of week and day of month)?
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163 views

Jewish Community in China Around WW2

I was recently at a lecture given by Professor Xu Xin of Nanjing University in China. The topic of the lecture was "The Jewish Diaspora in Modern China". Professor Xin covered the brief but ...
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229 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?