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

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5
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1answer
138 views

If the Canaanites occupied the land in Moses’ day, why would Moses write that they were in the land then?

What does the Torah imply when it notes 'the Cannannites were then in the land' (Gen. 12:6)? It seems to suggest they were in the land then (when the tale took place) but not now (when the book was ...
5
votes
1answer
199 views

Why do most of the shuls in Manhattan face the wrong direction?

As a first time visitor to Manhattan, I was very surprised to see that most shuls (with a few notable exceptions) are facing roughly south-south-west. This is nowhere near the direction to face ...
0
votes
2answers
83 views

Why aren't Zeraim or Toharos included in the Bavli as Mishnayos?

Whatever the reason, there is no Gemara on most of Zeraim and Toharos. Why, though, were the mishnayos themselves not included in their entireties in the redacted Talmud Bavli? It seems strange that ...
2
votes
4answers
382 views

What is the source of hatred perceived by Jews in different parts of the world?

I don't know if this is off topic but a similar question is here at Christianity SE and I thought it would be interesting to ask the corresponding one here. It intrigues me how people from other ...
6
votes
0answers
119 views

When was the bending of the knees in bowing introduced?

The Gemara in Berachos 12a says that we bow at Baruch and we straighten at Hashem. Nowadays the familiar practice is to bend the knee at Baruch, to bow at Atah, and to straighten at Hashem, as stated ...
3
votes
1answer
112 views

Dialogue Between Jews and Romans in Jewish Tradition

I always wonder what people refer to when they quote things spoken between the Jews and the Romans. Does ancient Jewish doctrine include instances of dialogue between the Jews and the Romans?
5
votes
1answer
173 views

Historical Kippot

I want to know what kind of kippah would be worn by an "average" Jew in Manhattan in 1860. This is for an historical impression. In "real life," I am Conservative, but I know the movement did not ...
4
votes
0answers
140 views

Lithuanian minhag for talis katan material

Not an halachic question, but we can read many things about talis katan: wool over cotton, tzitzis out or in, etc. It seems that the Lithuanian minhag was to tuck them in, but what about the material? ...
11
votes
4answers
237 views

Why do we still use the non-Jewish way of delineating chapters in tanach?

The "perakim" (chapters) of tanach were established by non-Jews. Why do we continue to use them? Many of the chapter breaks do not correspond to our petucha/setumah paragraph system, and they often ...
8
votes
2answers
209 views

What happened to the utensils from the Second Bais Hamikdash?

After the second temple was destroyed what happened to the keilim? When was the last time they were recordedly seen and where do historians or other academics believe they are today?
7
votes
3answers
274 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, ...
6
votes
1answer
166 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.
4
votes
1answer
184 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
80 views

When did people stop getting Tazra'as?

At what point in history did Tzra'as stop happening? Was it sudden or gradual? Do we have any sources that suggest that it could still occur today?
19
votes
2answers
380 views

What kind of kippah is this?

This photo of my great great grandfather was taken around 1900. He's a Lubavitch Jew from Belarus. His name is Zalman Malkin. He is from Liozna. The story of his life is here: ...
5
votes
3answers
225 views

multiple versions for Baruch She'amar

Being that Baruch She'amar fell from the sky (as said in the Baeir Heiteiv Orach Chaim 51:1), how is it that the Rambam (seder tefilos kal hashna) has a different version than what we have in our ...
6
votes
2answers
425 views

The value of the daily study of Chitas (Chumash, Tehilim, Tanya)?

What's the value of learning "Chitas" compared to any other daily Torah study? Side question: If it's so important, why was it introduced only recently?
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Who is the last prophet in Judaism?

Who is the last person regarded as a true prophet in Judaism? What was his time frame?
7
votes
2answers
276 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
203 views

When did “Zal” give way to “Zatzal”?

Inspired by this answer and it's comments. Early on, it was standard to refer to great Rabbis who had passed away with the appellation "Zal" - "zichrono/ah livracha "May his/her/their memory be a ...
3
votes
0answers
60 views

The history behind the composition and inclusion of V'lo N'tato

I'm curious about the composition and inclusion in the shabbat shacharit of the paragraph beginning ולא נתתו (v'lo n'tato). I understand the talmudic basis for the underlying idea, and how it fits in ...
3
votes
1answer
359 views

How did a virgin decide upon her marriage in Israel 2000 years ago?

About 2000 years ago in Israel, was a virgin free to choose her future husband (or even to decide whether to marry or not marry at all) or she was absolutely submitted to the will of her father?
10
votes
2answers
490 views

Was Judaism ever a proselytizing religion?

It is often asserted that up until the time of Constantine or so, Judaism was an actively proselytizing religion. This can be contrasted with the common practice today of rejecting potential converts ...
5
votes
2answers
173 views

Were the Cities of Refuge ever built?

Are there any sources saying that the ערי מקלט were really built? I heard once that it was too hard to built the all the roads to them so they were never actually constructed. I know in Yehoshua ...
3
votes
1answer
173 views

Does the cherem that the Vilna Gaon put on certain sectors of Chassidus still apply?

It is known that the Vilna Gaon put 2 sectors of Chassidus in Cherem. I am wondering who has permitted them now seeing as we non-Chassidim don't make borders between them and ourselves.
6
votes
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 ...
12
votes
3answers
828 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?
5
votes
1answer
266 views

First year counted from creation [duplicate]

What is the first year for which there exists a record of it being dated according to the currently used system that starts counting from creation?
12
votes
4answers
197 views

Who is the voice of Tosafoth?

Tosafoth were the sons-in-law, grandchildren, and students of Rashi (and their students), and "they" wrote a commentary on the Talmud that is often at odds with Rashi's earlier commentary. Sometimes ...
1
vote
1answer
382 views

where was the ark of the covenant during the time of the judges?

After Joshua, during the time of the judges, where was the ark located? In Judges 18 it seems that the people did not have a central place of worship.
2
votes
1answer
71 views

Reconciling the Torah and history regarding the Jews' response to reward and punishment

How do we reconcile the Torah's viewpoint that punishments make Jews better with what we see that punishments push Jews away (and rewards make Jews better)? The Gemara says that Mashiach will come ...
13
votes
2answers
279 views

Is it heresy to follow secular dating on the destruction of the first Temple?

There is a discrepancy between rabbinic and secular sources regarding when the first Temple was destroyed -- a difference of some 165 years or so, which are called the "Missing Years." My question is ...
12
votes
3answers
303 views

When/where did the practice of “recycling” names begin?

Perhaps this had never bothered anyone in the past, but for someone like myself who delves into genealogy, the fact that there are family naming patterns is a great boon. Of course, we can go only so ...
9
votes
3answers
324 views

Praying at Amukah = Finding a mate. Since when?

Many people, I'm sure, have heard of the famous segulah for finding one's soulmate: praying at the grave of Yonasan ben Uziel in Amukah, Israel. I'm not asking if this works, or why it would work, or ...
9
votes
1answer
181 views

Names of the books of Tanakh

When did the books of Tanakh get their canonical names? I understand that Five Books of the Torah were named after the first words in them, and that most of Navi was named after their authors, but ...
2
votes
1answer
76 views

Qumran - Proof or Genizah for Errors?

This comment, and the ensuing thread, quoted below, reminded me of a question that I thought of a long time ago. What, exactly, is buried in Qumran? Were the items there actually used and put there ...
9
votes
1answer
241 views

Temple mount: wall around court of the gentiles?

In looking of these two models of the temple mount, Alec Garrad model and Israel Museum model, they differ on one major point. In the Garrad model there is another wall on the temple mount that I ...
14
votes
3answers
359 views

Was it ever the norm for children to get married?

The Gemara describes many Halachos that apply when someone gets married at very young ages, many under 12, and even a few for the age of 3. There are stories of people who did get married at such ages ...
6
votes
1answer
88 views

Was divrei kabalah practiced before the nevi'im?

The Nevi'im sometimes got prophecies and wrote them down in Nevi'im or Kesuvim, and from those prophecies, we learn divrei kabalah. We learn things like oneg, mimtzo cheftzecha, and daber davar on ...
9
votes
2answers
358 views

Why was Chassidus controversial?

When Chassidus came about, it was very controversial. The Vilna Gaon even put Chassidim in cherem. What were the reasons for the controversy? And why is there peace and mutual respect today between ...
5
votes
1answer
143 views

Which of Moshe Chaim Luzzatto's works influenced Chassidut, Mussar, and Haskalah?

In Dovid Cohen (known as Rav Ha-Nazir)'s Wikipedia page, the following idea is attributed to him: He saw in Moses Hayyim Luzzatto the harbinger of this redemption, pointing out that the three ...
11
votes
1answer
285 views

Did people ever place actual physical stumbling blocks before the blind?

I know that the prohibition against placing stumbling blocks before the blind has been understood to be a prohibition against misleading or causing people to sin, but the simple meaning of the text is ...
7
votes
1answer
113 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
408 views

Why do we count years from the date of Creation?

Why do we count years from the date of Creation? I intend two sub-questions here, of which the second is far more interesting, so please answer it: Whence did this tradition originate? Why do we ...
13
votes
2answers
207 views

How old is the custom to eat dairy on Shavuos?

I don't think I've ever seen a rationalization for this custom in works earlier than those of the Acharonim. I've never seen any Rishonim even mention it; certainly not earlier authors. What's the ...
15
votes
2answers
439 views

What was wrong with the word Talmud?

The Wikipedia article on The Talmud says: and Pope Pius IV commanded, in 1565, that the Talmud be deprived of its very name. The convention of referring to the work as "Shas" (shishah sidre ...
2
votes
1answer
44 views

When was the Sifre redacted?

When was the redaction of the Sifre (midrash halakha on Bamidbar and Devarim)? I would like to know in context with Mishna, Tosefta, and other Tannaitic literature. Please source your answers.
7
votes
2answers
243 views

How historically accurate is Josephus?

How accurate is the writing of Josephus? Can we rely on any of his writings to establish authentic Jewish practices or in areas of halacha?
5
votes
3answers
224 views

Sadducees and Karaites - same beliefs?

Did the Karaites and the Sadducees believe in the same "Judaism"?
6
votes
0answers
204 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 ...