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

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7
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4answers
208 views

Why did Mordechai not let Bigson & Seresh assasinate the king?

Why did Mordechai report the assassins before they could kill King Achashverosh? What did he have to gain? Had the king been killed, Esther might have been free to go home. She definitely wouldn't ...
5
votes
1answer
121 views

How old is Purim Torah?

How old is the tradition of Purim Torah? The Wikipedia article linked from our PT policy notes a disputed claim of Purim Torah in the talmud (Hulin 139b), with some saying that while the talmud ...
2
votes
0answers
111 views

What is a Drut’syla?

This link was sent to me by a friend, about a woman who is a Drut'syla (dertseyler in Yiddish), or storyteller. The article simply says it's a Jewish tradition, but doesn't place it within Judaism. ...
4
votes
1answer
87 views

Rishonim who wrote on Kodshim

Seder Kodshim is composed of largely currently non-applicable laws, relating to sacrifices and the running of the Temple. The Rambam wrote on Kodshim. So did Rashi and the Ba'alei Tosefos. To the ...
0
votes
1answer
92 views

When in time did the Jewish people get sold to Greacans, according to Joel?

Yoel 4 says: 3 And they have cast lots for My people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, and have drunk. and 6 the children also of Judah and the children of ...
2
votes
1answer
52 views

How did they ask both Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yehuda Ben Beseira?

The Gemara (Yevamos 108b) says: אמר רב יהודה אמר רב מאי דכתיב מימינו בכסף שתינו עצינו במחיר יבאו בשעת הסכנה נתבקשה הלכה זו הרי שיצאה מראשון בגט ומשני במיאון מהו שתחזור לראשון שכרו אדם אחד בארבע ...
1
vote
1answer
73 views

Paintings and Sculptures of Rabbis Throughout the Ages [closed]

There are many paintings or sculptures of Rabbis from throughout history, like the Vilna Gaon (paintings), Maharal (statue), and Rambam (statue). Are they accurate (or at least somewhat accurate) ...
7
votes
2answers
133 views

When did the Chain of Semicha Break?

When was the chain of Semicha from Mt. Sinai broken? Originally, Semicha was a direct line from Moshe, but when did it break?
2
votes
2answers
106 views

Who was for and against Jews fighting back against the Germans in WW2?

There was a famous controversy regarding the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that was the largest uprising the Jews performed against the Nazis. I have heard tell that a lot of Rabbonim banned fighting back ...
4
votes
1answer
224 views

When did the bar mitzvah ceremony originate, and when did it take on its current form?

In the extract of David Rosenberg's book An Educated Man that I've looked at out of curiosity, he makes mention of Jesus of Nazareth presumably undertaking bar mitzvah studies and chanting the ...
1
vote
1answer
56 views

Rambam Epistle to Yemen identification

In Rambam's Epistle, he mentions three groups that challenged the Jewish people by coming up with a new religion. He mentions Jesus first and Islam (who he refers to as the Madman) last. However, he ...
5
votes
2answers
85 views

Rainbows prior to the Mabul

Did the rainbow exist as we know today, prior to the Mabul? Was it the same, different, or it did not exist at all prior to the Mabul? (sources please)
1
vote
0answers
76 views

Sefardim starting to study the Talmud with Rashi and Tosfot

When did the sefardim start to study the Talmud with Rashi and Tosfot? And which books did they use before knowing about Rashi and Tosfot?
3
votes
0answers
101 views

How big is the baalei tshuva movement resulting from the “Art Scroll Revolution”?

Since 1975, Art Scroll Publishing, and its non-profit arm The Mesorah Foundation, have produced Hebrew-English annotated translations of Tanach, the Mishna, the Babylonian Talmud, the Kitzur Shulchan ...
2
votes
1answer
198 views

Why do some Rabbis wear a black frock coat?

How did the black frock coat come to be garb of some roshei yeshivos and other senior rabbis? Related Did "Litvish" frock coats button left-on-right? and Haredi clothing
9
votes
4answers
832 views

Where does “probeh” come from?

Every time recently that I've heard of an Orthodox congregation conducting a search for a rabbi, the stage at which the rabbi visits the community for a Shabbat and auditions for the position is ...
2
votes
2answers
152 views

How was the Torah written by Moshe (were there spaces)?

Someone told me that before Ezra Hasofer the Torahs did not have spaces (he said that according to some opinions not even between words). It was just given over when learned where the parshas (...
1
vote
2answers
167 views

Q on Men of the Great Assembly [duplicate]

When did the Men of the Great Assembly start and cease to function and why? What was their relationship to the Sanhedrin and to beit Hillel and Shammai?
1
vote
0answers
76 views

Ger Tzedek: Avraham Ben Avraham

The famous story of the ger tzedek Avraham Ben Avraham has been claimed to be a legend. Are there any defenses of its authenticity such as references to it before the 19th century?
11
votes
1answer
159 views

Did shadchanim suggest the shidduch?

Today, the role of the Shadchan is, depending on your community, to suggest to the prospective match that they meet, to introduce them, to arrange their meetings, and/or to advocate / be the ...
6
votes
2answers
389 views

Source of Ramban's famous debate

Where can one find the 'disputation of Barcelona' between Pablo Cristiani and the Ramban?
0
votes
1answer
61 views

the nature of an argument between the Wurtzberger rov and Rav Shamshon Refoel Hirsch

Does anyone know the nature of a famous argument between the Wurtzberger rov and Rav Shamshon Refoel Hirsch? I think it was to do with the extent a kehilah must follow thier rov or vice versa.
1
vote
2answers
42 views

Did Rebbi arrange the Mishna at the end of his life?

There's a famous line in the Gemara "וכי רבי לא שנאה ר' חייא מנין לו". It means that if Rebbi didn't teach a concept in a Mishna, Rabbi Chiya can't know it. Let's assume here it means that if it's ...
2
votes
2answers
256 views

Animal sacrifice in Judaism — was it copied from other religions?

Why is there animal sacrifice in Judaism? Animal sacrifice was found in other religions before Judaism, so could it be that the Jews copied the practice of animal sacrifice from other religions?
5
votes
1answer
308 views

Why did Hadrian care about hair specifically?

In Midrash Eicha 5:5 It says that Hadrian (May his Bones be Crushed) commanded that if a Jew was found with hair, his head should be removed? Midrash Eicha What is pshat here, is it talking about ...
2
votes
0answers
77 views

What did the Arizal's contemporaries write about him?

Over here, ray posits that the validity of certain schools of Jewish philosophy rests on the Arizal's word. The Arizal was most famous for his teachings in Safed (though he only lived there for two ...
10
votes
1answer
272 views

How was kosher cheese made before artificial rennet?

I understood that cheese is made by throwing in Stomach hide into milk and letting it congeal. How was kosher cheese made (where one's not allowed to mix milk and meat)? Now we use chemicals or ...
5
votes
4answers
305 views

Did Jewish Men Always Have Beards Throughout History

When did Jews start keeping their beards? Did Moshe's generation have beards? What is the historical development behind this phenomenon?
10
votes
1answer
188 views

Precedent for Forbidding Conversion

The Syrian community has a Takkanah in place which bars conversion. In addition to forbidding conversion under their own auspices, they also "Never accept a convert or a child born of a convert", as ...
4
votes
1answer
123 views

What is the oldest work to incorporate an acrostic of shem Havaya in the opening?

I have seen many books where the first letters of the first 4 works in the first sentence of the work spell out the shem Havaya (the Tetragrammaton, yud-kay and vav kay). What was the first Jewish ...
12
votes
2answers
318 views

How and when did fedoras arise as acceptable headwear?

Today I learned that the fedora was originally a woman's hat, invented/popularized for women in the late 19th century and only migrating into menswear after 1924 when Prince Edward of England started ...
2
votes
0answers
51 views

Does Jacob's Well in present-day Nablus/Shechem have a Jewish tradition associated with it?

There's a well in present-day Shechem (Nablus) called "Jacob's Well." It has an Orthodox Christian church on top of it right now. I was wondering if there is any Jewish tradition that Jacob dug this ...
3
votes
0answers
89 views

Timeline of the frequency of Bedikos

The Talmud states (Mishna, top of Niddah 13a): כל היד המרבה לבדוק בנשים משובחת The more bedikos (checks for menstruation) that a woman does, the better This is brought in the Shulchan Aruch ...
9
votes
2answers
415 views

Whatever happened to plumbas?

Not so many years ago, a plumba (apparently created by Rabbi Jacob Joseph) -- a metal tag attached to the wing of a kosher chicken indicating that it was, indeed, kosher -- on a kosher chicken was the ...
2
votes
0answers
49 views

Source of various versions of Haamek Davar [closed]

There are commonly used versions of Chumash Haamek Davar in which the respective Haamek Davar commentaries differ widely from one another. I mean that the differences are not a word here and a letter ...
5
votes
1answer
207 views

Why is the Miracle of Oil mentioned so much later than records of Chanukah celebrations?

The miracle of oil isn't really mentioned until the Talmud, and is absent from all earlier sources for Chanukah like the Books of Maccabees, Josephus, and others. I have seen historians claim that ...
5
votes
1answer
47 views

Paro enslaved Yisrael but they kept the good land — was that normal?

When Yisrael come to Mitzrayim Paro gives them the choice land of Goshen. Later another paro enslaves them but apparently lets them keep the good land, because they're still there during the plagues. ...
3
votes
2answers
118 views

Specific writings of the Vilna Gaon

1- What writings of the Vilna Gaon do we have that are not commentary or textual emendations? 2- Do we possess any writings of the Vilna Gaon that talk about or reference his contemporaries or ...
3
votes
0answers
57 views

Early descriptions of the Foundation Stone

I am looking for early descriptions of the "Foundation Stone" (אבן שתיה) -- the huge flat rock now enclosed by the mosque known as the "Dome of the Rock," and believed by many Jewish scholars to have ...
8
votes
1answer
325 views

Rabi Yochanan Ben Zakai, or Josephus?

Josephus in Wars 3. 8. 9. records a story of how he meets Vespasian, tells him that he will become ruler, and Titus will take over his position. Vespasian, although sceptical at first eventually ...
13
votes
1answer
188 views

Where are the lost tribes?

Are they spread all round the nations? If so, how will they still be Jewish, surely they will have assimilated so many generations later? Or are they spread within the Jewish nation? I learnt in the ...
2
votes
1answer
64 views

Who wrote the Ritva on Gittin?

I've heard many things about the author of "Ritva on Gittin." It might have been the Ritva, it might not have been. There's also the "חידושים מכתב יד," which some ascribe to the Ritva, while others ...
5
votes
1answer
214 views

I would like to see an actual Vilna Shas

I would like to see the pages of an actual Vilna Shas. I know there are many many reprints out there in bookstores, my bookshelf, and websites like http://www.e-daf.com, but that's not what I want. I ...
11
votes
5answers
389 views

Just how overpriced was Efron's burial cave anyway?

In B'reishit 23 Avraham pays 400 shekels to Efron for the cave of Machpelah. This seems to be an enormous amount of money and Rashi suggests it's even worse than it appears (referring to larger ...
1
vote
1answer
230 views

What did medieval rabbis like Maimonides write, generically? What do modern rabbis write?

OK, so - the Torah is the same as the Pentateuch/first five books of the Christian Old Testament; the Tanakh is roughly the same as the OT, but there are some differences in ordering, inclusion, etc. ...
6
votes
0answers
172 views

What was the anti-CRC ruling?

I understand that, circa 1980, a religious authority for Lubavitch hasidim ruled that foods certified as kosher by the Satmar His'achadus Harabanim (CRC) not be eaten. What form did this ruling take?...
3
votes
3answers
228 views

When and why did the custom that a Nidda hides from the public that she is a Nidda start

I understand that in the past it was not hidden from the public that a Nidda was a Nidda, as they wore special clothing. As we see the רע"ב's explanation in the Mishna in Kethubot 7:6 ...
4
votes
2answers
99 views

What did they do for shiurim before modern measurements?

In recent centuries, authorities such as the Chazon Ish, Rabbi Chaim Na'eh, and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ruled on the exact size of a tefach, ammah, kezayit, and other shiurim. What did people do before ...
6
votes
0answers
149 views

Halachic opinions on tefillin peshutim

I was discussing the subject of tefillin with my father motzei-Shabbat and particular, the battim (leather boxes that contain the parshiyot, or parchment scrolls). We ended up wondering what the mid-...
12
votes
2answers
327 views

Was a sefer torah ever actually written in Greek?

This answer to a different question states that the only other language a sefer torah can be written in and be kosher is Greek. (Rambam, Hilchot Sefer Torah 1:19 says that this Greek no longer exists ...