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

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441 views

Who wrote Shoshanat Yaakov?

Who was the Author of the Piyut "asher hanee" that ends with Shoshanat Yaakov? Why is it said by Ashkenazim after they read the Meggilah at night?
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210 views

Relations among King David, the Sanhedrin, and the high priest

Do we have any historical source that discusses the relations among King David, the Sanhedrin during his reign, and the high priest during his reign? Were they on friendly terms? Was there a power ...
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2answers
689 views

Sources for Hassidic views on marital celibacy/asceticism?

My understanding is the traditional view of Ger Hassidism was that marital celibacy was a good idea, once all procreative needs had been met. My impression is that Chabad-Lubavitch never advocated an ...
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2answers
2k views

how old is Judaism?

How old is Judaism - not legendary, but indicated by science? What are the oldest scriptures found of the story of Moses, for example? Or are the scriptures imported from very different cultures so ...
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1answer
864 views

Yerushalmi Versus Bavli

What are the differences between the two Talmuds? or are there differences? Why did the two Talmuds develop separately or did they? Why do we Poskin like the Bavli or do we? Is it true that the ...
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3answers
477 views

Which Yochanan Kohen Godol is in Al Hanissim?

In Al Hanissim we mention a Yochanan Kohen Gadol. Since there were several kohanim gedolim named Yochanan which one is this, historically?
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1answer
122 views

If the “ten martyrs” didn't happen together, did the punishment-for-Joseph story happen? When?

It's commonly believed that the "ten martyrs" didn't all live in the same time period, and the description of them as a group is conceptual, not historical. Now the story opens with a Roman ruler ...
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4answers
368 views

What's the origin of the name “Jew”?

Why are we called "the Jews"? Did Hashem pick out this name for us? What does the word "Jew" mean?
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62 views

Which books of the Ramchal did he publish himself?

I read that the Ramchal published the Mesilas Yesharim but not too many other books. That got me wondering, how many and which books that we have of his did he himself publish and which ones did ...
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99 views

When and how were trop melodies first written down?

We know that the trop (cantillation) marks were added to our written Tanakh text by the ba'alei hamesorim (Masorites) around the 8-10th century CE. They were recording an oral tradition that, I ...
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94 views

Use of speaking “Baruch HaShem” in 1492 Spain

I am writing a play that takes place during the Spanish Inquisition. A Rabbi is walking home from the King's court and his belongings are tossed to the ground by hooligans. A young Spanish girl picks ...
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329 views

When was the last time the “Leap Year” postponement rule was used to delay the date of Rosh Hashannah?

This site explains that there are 4 rules that would cause Rosh Hashannah to be postponed 1 or 2 days after the date of Molad Tishrei. You can view all 4 rules on the web site, but rule 4 states: ...
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140 views

Holidays south of the equator

When Jews first started establishing communities south of the equator, they must have noticed that the holidays fell completely at the wrong times of the year. (For example, Pesach, referred to as hag ...
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2answers
150 views

Historical evidence that blue snail dye was produced in ancient times

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrian_purple and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iles_Purpuraires show that blue dye was produced from the murex in ancient times in these locations. But on Ptil Tekhelet's ...
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86 views

Are there communities that follow the Rambam?

At one point, many Sefardic communities followed the Mishneh Torah. As time went on, it seems that the sefardim accepted the Beit Yosef. Besides for Yemenites, were there any communities that, until ...
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270 views

What is the origin of the song Echad Mi Yodeya?

Who is the author or what is the origin of the song commonly found in the haggadah called Echad Mi Yodeya?
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3answers
585 views

Interpreting the Zohar's Prediction of the year 1840

On the verse in parsha Noach (Genesis 7:11): "In the six-hundredth year in the life of Noah... all wellsprings of the great deep burst open, and the windows of heaven were opened..." The Zohar (part ...
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96 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 ...
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1answer
176 views

Who dropped Moses from the Hagaddah?

Moses is not mentioned in the Hagaddah (with one minor exception), presumably to show that the exodus happened entirely by G-d's power and to not deify Moses. Presumably, though, the maggid during ...
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70 views

How were the “seven good men of the city” appointed?

How were the “seven good men of the city” שבעה טובי העיר appointed? Was there an election and if so who could be candidates?
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2answers
389 views

Halachically skipping Purim

There have long been 'legends' of various liberal figures in Judaism, including Yeshayahu Leibovitz (brother of Nechama Leibovitz) that would 'skip' Purim. On the 14th of Adar they would be sure to be ...
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1answer
855 views

Hebrew Havarah?

Similar to this question Different parts of Eastern Europe had different dialects. For example, Ukrainian, Polish and Hungarian Jews pronounce a "Shuruk" as a EE, or a Komatz as an oo (so Boruch ...
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1answer
500 views

When and why did we start reading the Parshat Hashavua?

My question is twofold: When did we start reading a new parsha (torah portion) every week? Why did we start reading a new parsha (torah portion) every week?
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3answers
200 views

What are the major ancient literature on Judaic mysticism and spiritual development?

What are the major ancient literature on Judaic mysticism and spiritual development? By ancient I mean B.C.E. I also would appreciate if you can also provide links to online English translations if ...
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1answer
158 views

g'mara about David's conception

Where's the g'mara about Yishay's divorce (or was it separation?) and David's conception, please?
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3answers
169 views

Tannis Esther reason

Why do we fast on Tannis Esther? In memory of what historical occurrence?
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86 views

was paroh the same paroh during the 210 years

Was Paroh at the start the same as the one when it says "there arose a new king" (Exodus 1: 8)? How many parohs were there during the 210 years.
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3answers
158 views

When did the practice of lighting flames for Chanuka begin?

It seems clear from the G'mara that the institution of Chanuka as a holiday began the year immediately following the seminal story - with praising of God and commemorating miracles, but there is no ...
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1answer
66 views

Onkelos Commentary

Rashi on the talmud (kidushin 49a) says the aramaic translation/commentary on the torah was given at sinai, forgotten and brought back by Onkelos. Where did Onkelos obtain the correct text?
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50 views

Shavuah Tov or A Gutte Vuch on Motzai Shabbos

What is the earliest reference or source for wishing Shavuah Tov or A Gutte Vuch on Motzai Shabbos?
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1answer
128 views

Accuracy of Torah Text

What evidence do we have regarding the accuracy of the torah text? (five books of Moses) How much if at all has it changed over time.
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2answers
71 views

Who authored the topic - division headings in the Shulchan Aruch?

In every Shulchan Aruch I have seen, there are headings identifying the topic of each upcoming series of sections. For example, between sections 88 and 89, there is a heading which labels the next ...
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1answer
79 views

Rambam's statement about a blessing from the Ri Migash

The Artscroll Rishonim history book, in the section about the Rambam, records a "tradition" that the Rambam, as a young child, received a blessing from the Ri Migash, and that he (the Rambam) later ...
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2answers
454 views

Kashrut with very costy salt?

Currently the cost of the salt (for human consumption) is practically negligible, mostly around $1/kg. But it wasn't always so. There were centuries as salt mining and selling was a governmental ...
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2answers
125 views

Did a synod in Poland in 1631 decree the censorship of some parts of the Talmud?

Related with this question about some parts censored in the Talmud, I read in a website the following story: ... In 1631, a Jewish synod in Poland ordered the offending passages to be expunged, ...
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1answer
88 views

Chassidus Tschitschkov (Czyczkow/y)

I asked here about someone who changed his minhagim and the obligations of his descendants. My great-grandfather's grandfather, was the rebbe of the town of Czyczkow, near Chojnice (Choynitz, ...
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1answer
126 views

What was the name of Sarah's mother?

Seder Hadoros mentions Avraham's mother, how old Nachor was when Sarah was born, and even a Peshat that Lot was her brother, though no mention of Sarah's mother's name. Any other sources that mention ...
3
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1answer
154 views

To what extent would a 17th-century observant Jew purposefully violate Halacha to save lives?

I’m writing an alternate-history story set in the 1630s and this topic touches on one of the plot points. My character is attempting to avert the various massacres of the 17th–20th centuries by ...
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1answer
238 views

Are there any historical Bibles entirely written on parchment?

Mishneh Torah, Tefillin, Mezuzah and the Torah Scroll 7:15: מותר לדבק תורה נביאים וכתובים בכרך אחד . It is permissible to attach Torah, Prophets and Writings in one scroll. Between the ...
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254 views

Did Rashi wear a yarmulke?

Tractate Sofrim (14:14) records two opinions that concern the wearing of a head covering during the Shema: there are those who say that it is not necessary, and there are those who say that it is ...
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4answers
398 views

Rishonim/Achronim time period differentiation

When was the end of the Rishonim time period and the start of the achronim time period? Who, what, why, and how did this come about? What caused this abrupt change in deemed mental and halachot ...
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217 views

origin of chassidish havarah(pronunciation) [duplicate]

When did people start using the chassidish havarah? If making that change was deliberate, who instituted it? I remember seeing some where that it was started to oppose the maskilim who where medakdek ...
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3answers
403 views

Did Chazal know about China and the Chinese? and from which of Noach's sons do they hail?

The silk road from the Far East to Asia probably operated from about 200 B.C.E although it was not a direct trading route but worked in stages; so there was no direct contact from say China to ...
3
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1answer
196 views

How could different pronunciations arise when we are obligated to pronounce the Shema precisely?

If one does not pronounce the Shema correctly, one has not fulfilled their obligation (שולחן ערוך או"ח סימן סב). If so, then how could different pronunciations of the Hebrew words arise? Shouldn't at ...
3
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1answer
269 views

Haredi clothing

Every time I see videos or photographs of Haredim of sixty-eighty years ago, I notice an abundance of grey suits and hats, with the occasional brown or grey waistcoat. Examples of this include the ...
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1answer
682 views

Did most Hasidic men wear the shtreimel and kapote in Eastern Europe?

I have heard that the shtreimel and kapote (and variations) were mostly worn only by the Rebbes, while most followers were too poor for a beaver-skin hat; most hassidim wore the ordinary clothes of ...
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1answer
175 views

Did “Litvish” frock coats button left-on-right?

My understanding is that today, most men's clothing buttons left-on-right, i.e. the buttons are on your right. A Hassidic kapote or bekkeshe reverses this, but if you order a "Litvish" ("Lithuanian", ...
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1answer
668 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?
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423 views

Why was the Mishna written in Hebrew while the Gemara wasn't?

By the time of the Mishna, people speaking in Aramaic on a day-to-day basis. Nonetheless, R' Yehuda Hanasi wrote the Mishna in Hebrew. So were the Toseftas and the Braisos. Why? On the other hand, ...
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1answer
129 views

“The Romans' Book” in Ramba"n

The commentary of Ramba"n on Vayikra 26:16 explains a large swath of parashas B'chukosai as an allegory to the two batei Mikdash and the corresponding exiles. Included therein, he elaborates on the ...