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

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6
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2answers
97 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
264 views

Is there a chief Rabbi of the United States?

Is there currently or has there ever been historically a chief Rabbi of the United States? If not, why not?
23
votes
18answers
1k views

About what were rabbis ahead of the times?

I have heard claims that experts in the world of Torah were significantly ahead of their counterparts in the world of natural science (or mathematics, or psychology, or…) in that they knew X ...
9
votes
2answers
170 views

Looking for information on the Savoraim

I am looking for more information on the Savoraim such as a list of who they were, what they wrote outside of comments/amendments in the talmud, meaning do they have responsa, ethical or halachik ...
4
votes
1answer
235 views

Do Jews believe the content of Maccabees (I-IV) is true?

This related question touches on the book of Maccabees. I was wondering if Jews believe the content of Maccabees (I-IV) is true, even though it is outside the canon. If any of the Rishonim or ...
2
votes
0answers
134 views

How did the modern day Beis Hora'ah phenomenon develop?

Here in Eretz Yisrael, we find Batei Hora'ah in many cities - places where a moreh hora'ah sits either during special times or perhaps the whole day or different rabbonim throughout the day answering ...
6
votes
4answers
471 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 ...
6
votes
0answers
122 views

Was the Chasam Sofer known for having an interesting way of learning?

I have a lot of experience learning Gemara and find myself oft dealing with the views of the Achronim to understand the Pshat in Rishonim. Unfortunately, I have inside me a slight aversion to the ...
2
votes
3answers
353 views

What exactly happened on the 25th of Kislev?

What historical event (if any) actually took place on the 25th of Kislev to cause that date to be the commencement of Chanukah?
5
votes
0answers
161 views

Source for not referring to Chanuka lights as a “menora”

Following up on this question about the use of the words "menora" or "chanukiya" to refer to Chanuka lights: I find it interesting that the use of "chanukiya," popularized in 1897 through a secular ...
2
votes
1answer
199 views

Celebrating the Hashmonaim as part of Hanukkah

The Hashmonaim are an integral part of the Hanukkah story. BUT after the story of Hanukkah the Hashmonite family did some very terrible things (wars between Jews etc) during their reign. Why do we ...
0
votes
1answer
362 views

How could a man named Philip in USA have Hebrew name Yehoshua Falk?

My great-uncle from Eastern Europe had given name of Philip in America (came in 1880s), is shown in 1889 directory as Philip plus his surname. His gravestone gives his name as Yehoshua Falk [then ...
3
votes
1answer
144 views

When did David Hamelech write Tehillim?

When did David Hamelech write Tehillim? Or to be more technical, when did David write his first Tehillim and when did he write his last? Also was there a certain period of time within which he wrote a ...
11
votes
3answers
370 views

Were our symbols for trope and nekudos created by the Masoretes, or transmitted by them?

It is commonly said in secular sources that the shapes of the trope and nekudos we use today were invented by the Masoretes (7th to 11th Century CE), but I cannot find any source in our mesorah to ...
4
votes
2answers
123 views

Yerushalayim City of Gold

What is the origin of the concept of Yerushalayim being a "City of Gold"? It is the name and theme of a famous Israeli song from the 1960s, and I always assumed it was either from that song, or that ...
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
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
262 views

Ululating in Jewish culture

In ancient times, Jews living in Israel ululated if I am not mistaken. Is this practiced by Ashkenazi or Sephardic Jews today? Which other Jewish communities ululate? Ethiopians, Mizrahis, etc? Are ...
4
votes
0answers
62 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?
2
votes
1answer
140 views

Is it true that proselytes immersed in their birthday suits in ancient times?

I was told that Jewish proselytes immersed in their birthday suits in ancient times. Is this true? If so, could you please provide sources stating this fact?
3
votes
1answer
133 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", ...
2
votes
1answer
297 views

Where is the Covenant Box

I wanted to Know where is the Convenant Box? In Most Holy Place There was Convenant Box but is it still there?
2
votes
0answers
69 views

Are there mystical underpinnings to Maccabi?

One of the explanations I have heard for the title מכבי is that it is an acronym for the pasuk 'מִי-כָמֹכָה בָּאֵלִם ה (Shemos 15:11). Is there any reason, mystical or otherwise that that pasuk (or ...
2
votes
1answer
64 views

Mitzvah of Ner Channukah — not until after churban habayis?

Someone said over today (in then name of the Sfes Emes) that the mitzvah of Ner Channukah didn't officially "start" until the 2nd Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, since it was established as somewhat of ...
11
votes
2answers
159 views

“Avram” for when he was young?

The Gemara in Brachot 13a teaches us that we should only refer to Avraham as Avraham and not as Avram. תני בר קפרא כל הקורא לאברהם אברם עובר בעשה שנאמר (בראשית יז) והיה שמך אברהם רבי אליעזר אומר ...
1
vote
3answers
273 views

Authenticity and authority of Oral tradition

Is there a methodology used in Judaism to authenticate traditions (that it orginated from person to whom it is attributed) and deem it halacha or a correct position? For example, Muslims have what ...
1
vote
1answer
96 views

Position of Reish Galusa

Does anyone know why the position of Reish Galusa no longer exists and when it was discontinued?
3
votes
1answer
275 views

Was the Hebrew Alphabet also given with the Tablets and Law?

My research for my answer to Which alphabet were the original Torah scrolls in? gave me an idea--Since the Early Alphabetic alphabet is also called Sinaitic, and the timing seems about right, maybe ...
2
votes
0answers
82 views

King Yoash murdered - Who's responsible?

II Melechim 12:21 and II Divri HaYamim 24:25 both indicate that servants conspired and killed King Joash. There seems to be a little bit of confusion on the murderers' names---Yozacar vs Zabad ben ...
6
votes
0answers
126 views

Original source for Maharil endorsing tunes as “MiSinai”?

Cantor Goffin describes how over 500 years ago, Maharil endorsed several cantorial tunes as "MiSinai" -- "so authoritative it's as if they go back to Sinai" -- for use in the prayers. What's the ...
1
vote
3answers
622 views

What is the torah view on the dinosaurs?

What is the Torah view on the dinosaurs? There's no mention of them in the Torah, only that the world was created in 6 days. If they existed, Adam and his descendants should have seen them. Yet ...
7
votes
1answer
94 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
444 views

Is it true that Jews believed in sheol before the belief in hereafter entered into Judaism?

I have heard claimed that Jews first believed in Sheol which was considered as a place below the ground and it meant to be a place of eternal rest, free of any reward and punishment. However in later ...
5
votes
3answers
236 views

Are there forms of Jewish mysticism outside of kabbalah?

Is kabbalah the one and only form (source?) of Jewish mysticism?
3
votes
0answers
45 views

What did mikdash workers eat?

Groups of Jews not from shevet Levi would work in the bes hamikdash, a week at a time. Their primary responsibility was attendance: being present when korb'nos tzibur, public offerings, were brought. ...
1
vote
2answers
111 views

How cold is too cold?

Rema writes in his commentary to the Tur (OC 639): והמרדכי בפרק הישן (סי' תשמא) כתב אבל העולם סמכו על דבר זה שיראים מן הצינה והוה כחולה שאין בו סכנה או כמצטער דפטורים מן הסוכה עכ"ל (עיין ב"י סימן ...
11
votes
1answer
654 views

What is a “Sephardic Jew”?

My name is Paul Avila (yea, I know, doesn't sound Jewish at all) I was born in the Azores Portugal and moved to the United States when I was 2. People always ask me if I am Persian. Never ...
8
votes
1answer
126 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
276 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
1answer
200 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
2answers
561 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
160 views

Can you fulfill the obligation to pray if you can't hear the leader?

The gemorah in Sukkah daf 51b explains that, in the enormous shul in Alexandria, in order for everyone to know when to answer Amen when the shliach tzibbur (prayer leader, aka sha"tz) was davening, ...
0
votes
2answers
207 views

Do any Jewish sources mention Satan talking to a Jew?

Do any Jewish sources mention Satan talking to a Jew? If so, how did the things that were said affect ancient Jewish life?
8
votes
8answers
2k views

Why do Sephardic Jews dress in black and white?

Many observant sephardim in Israel, especially those in yeshivot, dress in black and white. Does anyone know how this happened? There is no tradition of Jews in North Africa or in the Middle East ...
14
votes
2answers
210 views

How were judges appointed in the times of the Bais Hamikdash?

In the times of the Bais Hamikdash, were judges appointed by the king, or were they elected by the people? And was the system different based on which size court (i.e., courts comprised of 3, 23, or ...
7
votes
2answers
180 views

What are the 3 things Rabeinu Gershom banned?

I've heard that Rabeinu Gershom (a 10th-11th century scholar) banned 3 things, and I know one of them is polygamy. Does anyone know what the other two are?
5
votes
1answer
150 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
224 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
90 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
432 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 ...