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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

7
votes
3answers
159 views

Under whom did these Rabbis study?

In an effort to trace back Rabbi-to-student transmission of tradition, I've run into some dead ends, and I'm hoping the community can offer some leads. Under whom did the following Rabbis study? ...
7
votes
1answer
98 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
334 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
321 views

Which masechtot don't really have Rashi?

I often hear that the printed "Rashi" commentary in certain masechtot of the Talmud Bavli (first that come to mind are Moed Katan and Nedarim) is not actually written by Rashi. Does anyone have a full ...
7
votes
2answers
123 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
219 views

Semicha (ordination) by Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky Zatzal

I have never met anyone or heard of anyone that has received Semicha (rabbinic ordination) from Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky Zatzal. Did Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky ever give anyone Semicha? If the answer is ...
7
votes
2answers
164 views

Speaking Yiddish vs. the host language at home

I understand that, before World War Ⅱ, the Jews of Hungary and Germany mostly spoke Hungarian and German, respectively, amongst themselves (at home), whereas the Jews of Poland mostly spoke Yiddish ...
7
votes
3answers
139 views

Copies of Aleppo Codex

From what I understand, the loss of the Torah portion of Keter Aram Soba (the Aleppo Codex) in 1948 is heavily lamented because it was the oldest preserved and probably most accurate text of Torah. ...
7
votes
1answer
182 views

Amon and Moav today

The Halacha is that a Jewish woman may not marry a convert of Amon and Moav. Is there any way to know who is a descendant of Amon and Moav today?
7
votes
3answers
210 views

Did the Men of the Great Assembly Canonize Tanach?

Many Jewish websites, (Aish, Jewish History, Ou), state that the the Men of the Great Assembly finalized the contents of Tanach in the early Second Temple Period. No source is brought to support this ...
7
votes
2answers
81 views

Dressing similarly at a Din Torah - When did this change and why?

Gemara Shevuos 31a says that if two people come to Bais Din one dressed in rags and the other dressed in expensive clothing, we make them dress similarly. Sefer Hachinuch Mitzva 235 indicates that ...
7
votes
1answer
121 views

What authority is there for the text of Kaddish Derabonon regarding the words וארעא,‎ טובים, and ברחמיו?

There are variations of the text in Kaddish Derabonon. My questions are how they have arisen and whether there is any authority for each form. 1) The use or non-use of the word וארעא in the phrase ...
7
votes
1answer
258 views

Chad Gadya: The price of a kid goat

Was the fair market value of a kid goat really two zuzim? This piyyut is of course allegorical, but, if the value given is highly inaccurate, is the discrepancy in value symbolic beyond the symbolism ...
7
votes
2answers
172 views

How was the Volozhin Yeshiva special?

The Volozhin Yeshiva is known as the "first yeshiva". What was the system of Torah learning in Europe before Volozhin and in what way did Volozhin change the system?
7
votes
2answers
426 views

לשון הקדש: the oldest language?

Rashi to B'reshis 2:23 says that the language Adam spoke was one that Rashi calls לשון הקדש, lashon hakodesh (or l'shon hakodesh), and that contains the words אִשָּׁה and אִישׁ. Keeping to Rashi's ...
7
votes
2answers
77 views

Why were there 8 kings of Edom?

Is there any symbolism or other explanation as to why there were specifically eight kings of Edom who ruled before any king in Yisrael did, like it says in Bereshis 36 (31-39)?
7
votes
1answer
91 views

Where/when/how/why did flags become part of Simchas Torah celebrations?

Kids today all know that they have flags when dancing on Simchas Torah. How, when, where, and/or why did the flags originate? (Someone decided it was fun, and then it caught on?) What pictures were ...
7
votes
1answer
183 views

Rosh Hashana can't currently land on a Friday, but the first one did

The current fixed calendar works in such a way so that the first day of Rosh Hashana can never fall out on a Friday, but this is the very day on which the first Rosh Hashana fell! What gives?
7
votes
3answers
326 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, ...
7
votes
1answer
102 views

How did they establish in the USA, post-WW II, that a Rav had smicha prior to the Holocaust?

This is probably something that happened many times after World War II, when documentation was lost. Here's the scenario: A rabbi, who had led a kehila (congregation) in a small town in ...
7
votes
1answer
77 views

When did the spice box get it's classical shape?

All Havdala Bsamamim boxes I have ever seen are in the shape of a tower. Why (and when) did it take on that classical shape (rather than just a silver box)?
7
votes
2answers
187 views

The Split Between Sefardim and Ashkenazim

How did this split happen historically and halachically before Shulchan Aruch, and why is not like having two Torahs? Where is the source for the split?
7
votes
2answers
116 views

What happened to the stones with the Torah inscribed in seventy languages?

Deuteronomy 27:8 as explained by Rashi says that the Torah was written in seventy languages on stones. What happened to the stones? These would have been big stones. Are there any hints as to where ...
7
votes
2answers
81 views

How is the story of the Torah being given told in the Torah itself?

I'm sure this question has been asked before since it very obvious and I've heard it before. Nonetheless I've never heard a good answer and an internet search brought up nothing. The question is, how ...
7
votes
1answer
150 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
558 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
124 views

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
votes
1answer
137 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
286 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."
7
votes
2answers
276 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. ...
7
votes
1answer
140 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
370 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, ...
7
votes
1answer
193 views

Sefer Milhamot Hashem - from Bamidbar 21:14

Does anyone know of any discussion of the the "sefer Milkhamot Hashem" mentioned in Bamidbar 21:14? Someone had asked me about the content of the book and I had no idea of what to answer him.
7
votes
1answer
109 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
104 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
177 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), ...
7
votes
1answer
227 views

What was the language spoken by Jews in Israel in 16th century

Did the Jewish inhabitants of Safed and Jerusalem (contemporaries of Rav Yosef Karo and the Ari) speak Hebrew when they learned Torah or did they speak Arabic, Ladino or some other language? I saw a ...
7
votes
1answer
124 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
211 views

What went down in 1666 before Shabtai Tz'vi's apostasy?

It seems agreed upon that one or more representatives from Lvov traveled to either investigate, visit or out Shabtai Tzvi in 1666 when he was still claiming to be the mashi'ach. Immediately following ...
7
votes
1answer
151 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
2answers
274 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 ...
7
votes
0answers
124 views

Why does almost every community say Lecha Dodi?

The prayer Lecha Dodi was composed in the 16th century which is relatively recent as the general Nusach of prayer was founded between 516 BCE – 70 CE by the Anshei K'neset Hagdolah, and its rare that ...
7
votes
0answers
118 views

How do we determine the nature of the reign of the kings when the numbers don't seem to add up?

In the book of 2 Kings, the kingdoms of Judah and Israel were separate. In Amaziah's (Judah) 15th year, Jeroboam (Israel) began to reign. In Jeroboam's (Israel) 27th year, Azariah (Judah) began to ...
7
votes
0answers
124 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 ...
7
votes
0answers
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?
6
votes
3answers
446 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
290 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
189 views

Cryptography in Judaism

Are there any known uses of cryptography (or similar) in Jewish History?
6
votes
2answers
170 views

Shakespeare in Classic Jewish Sources

Does anyone know of any references to Shakespeare, translations of his works, or anything related to Shakespeare in classic Rabbinic sources?
6
votes
4answers
461 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 ...