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

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2
votes
2answers
209 views

What was the earliest use of the Rambam's language in Shmita V'Yovel in support of kollel study?

Here's the Rambam, waxing poetic at the end of Laws of Shmita and Yovel (and his entire volume of Zeraim): ולא שבט לוי בלבד, אלא כל איש ואיש מכל באי העולם אשר נדבה רוחו אותו והבינו מדעו להיבדל ...
16
votes
2answers
551 views

Halachot of Shul Mechitzot

What are some good books, articles, websites, or seforim for learning about the Halachot of constructing and maintaining a Shul Mechitza (the barrier between the men and women sections)? Issues ...
2
votes
2answers
138 views

The disappearance of וסת קבוע and הרגשות

At some point in history, Jewish women used to have very regularly scheduled Monthly cycles, and used to have some sensation that accompanied the onset of menstruation. Both of these play important ...
2
votes
1answer
39 views

Who & When composed the prayer said prior to calling the Kohain to the Torah?

In this question and answer Why are there different intro. prayers for calling the Kohen aliyah on Shabbat vs. weekday? there seems to be a question remaining as to when the prayers of ותגלה ותראה ...
1
vote
1answer
76 views

The luxury of murex trunculus indigo

The Tekhelet Institute acknowledges that murex trunculus indigo is molecularly equivalent to plant-based indigo that was available in the ancient world for far cheaper (kala ilan). They reason that ...
-5
votes
0answers
55 views

How could Noah curse is Canaan to be dark skined when God mad man in Ethiopia [closed]

How can the word cush mean dark skinned when the bible said that man was created in Ethopia
8
votes
1answer
168 views

Why are challot traditionally braided?

What is the reason that challot are traditionally braided? When did this tradition begin?
4
votes
1answer
119 views

Tallit pattern archive

I have noticed when looking at old photos that there seem to have been many more patterns for tallit striping in the past. As there seem to be only two major manufacturers (Talit[a]nia and Mishkan ...
0
votes
4answers
500 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
51 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
211 views

Why Choose Talmud Bavli For The Daily Study

As we know it is a big custom to learn a daf of Talmud Bavli a day (Dafyomi). My question is why did they choose to pick Talmud Bavli. There are so many other Subjects that could actually affect ...
6
votes
1answer
244 views

When will the period of Acharonim end?

What will mark the end of the period of Acharonim? What in general demarcates rabbinical eras? Are these halachic rules or conventions?
4
votes
1answer
99 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
35 views

Tracing your Jewish roots [closed]

How do you find out about family Jewish history if you only have a Jewish grandfathers name and place of birth but no date of birth?
25
votes
7answers
1k views

Is there any evidence that Rabbi Akiva's students fought alongside Bar Kochba?

Various sources say that "12,000 pairs" of Rabbi Akiva's students died between Pesach and Shavuos because they did not treat each other with respect. See Genesis Rabba 61:3, Ecclesiastes Rabba 11, ...
3
votes
0answers
15 views

Noted instances of Kares and Ariri

Are there any written recordings in any branch of Torah where we find a comment proving someone actually died from Kares/Ariri? Now, of course being a heavenly decree it would be hard to know for ...
2
votes
2answers
164 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 ...
11
votes
8answers
3k views

How are Spartans the son of Abraham?

I was reading the Book of Maccabbees (I and II) over shabbat and in it there is a letter written to Sparta to ask for peace, goodwill and friendship. In the reply letter back from Sparta, they affirm ...
26
votes
6answers
737 views

Where does the concept of Gilgulim (reincarnations) in Judaism come from?

What is the source of Gilgulim (reincarnations) in Judaism? Are there people who disagree with its existence? Who was the first to mention it? What I am asking essentially is what is the historical ...
12
votes
3answers
972 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
51 views

How did our forefathers bake the dough they took out of Egypt? Would it qualify as matzo now?

Shmos 12 (39) says: “They baked the dough that they had taken out of Egypt as unleavened cakes, for it had not leavened, for they were driven out of Egypt, and they could not tarry, and also, ...
1
vote
0answers
41 views

Historicity of Chazal

What do traditional sources (particularly Rishonim and their predecessors) say about the historical accuracy of Chazal's statements?
4
votes
2answers
95 views

Source of the term בכתמים שומעין להקל

In the halachos of Niddah, there is a term which I have come across not infrequently. The term is בכתמים שומעין להקל, which roughly translated means "in [the halachos of blood] stains we listen to ...
15
votes
2answers
236 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

Why don't we see magic today?

Throughout Tanach and Talmud, there are numerous recorded uses and practitioners of magic1. From Pharaoh's magicians to Shaul's necromancer, and magic cucumbers to were-donkeys, the references are ...
0
votes
1answer
70 views

Successfull Forgeries

Which forgeries have successfully fooled significant sectors of Jews before being revealed as forgeries. I.e. works falsely attributed to someone besides the real author. I can think of the Besamim ...
13
votes
3answers
462 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 ...
-1
votes
0answers
24 views

When niqqud (diacritics) was added to the Tanakh? [duplicate]

The Tanakh was dividied into verses by Langton in the 13th century. When was the niqqud added (not the cantillation)?
2
votes
1answer
58 views

Authenticity of Maggid Mesharim

The title says it all: what do various sources say regarding the authenticity of the Meggid Mesharim; a book supposedly containing angelic revelations to R. Joseph Karo. Did R. Karo really write it? ...
3
votes
0answers
34 views

Timeline of Egypt to Sinai

Does anyone know of a source with an account of what happened each day of the journey from Yetzias Mitzrayim to Har Sinai?
3
votes
4answers
300 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
426 views

How was Tevilas Ezra effective in limiting conjugal relations?

Many go to mikve (perform ritual immersion) every morning. One reason for this is voluntary continuation of a cancelled decree, Tevilas Ezra, meant to limit conjugal relations by requiring immersion ...
7
votes
2answers
937 views

What should our response be to ancient scripts that mirror the Torah?

There are quite a number of ancient documents that have been found that (supposedly) predate the Torah, and yet they share many lines practically verbatim. If the Torah is truly divine, how could this ...
1
vote
1answer
56 views

When is Avraham's birthday?

I saw in a popular book a suggestion that Avraham was born on Rosh Chodesh Tevet. Does anyone have any backing sources for this?
1
vote
2answers
97 views

When was the one time the Jewish people did not fast on Yom Kippur?

A student of mine asked me this question based on an application he was filling out. I am assuming there is a historical or halachik answer to this question. "When was the one time the Jewish people ...
8
votes
1answer
236 views

Are the seventy distinct languages and nations listed?

It's a well known concept that there were 70 nations and 70 original languages. Is there any agreement about which ones they were/are? I found this which lists the nations, but I'm interested in ...
2
votes
1answer
56 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 ...
0
votes
0answers
32 views

How would the Shekinah Glory be described in contemporary english?

Was the Shekinah really a cloud? I know it shaded the people, but did it produce rain? Is it thought of as a cloud because that was the only word to describe what the people saw? The two passages ...
4
votes
0answers
108 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
157 views

When was matzah eaten besides for Pesach? (Chametz u'matza)

The first of four questions specifically says, "On all other nights we eat chametz or matza, why on this night only matza?" While I understand that it's halakhically acceptable to eat matzah when it ...
3
votes
2answers
434 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

What's the earliest source/discussion on green beans being “kitniyot” (prohibited legumes) on Passover?

My understanding is that most Ashkenazic communities today don't eat green beans on Passover, treating them as kitniyot (a bunch of legumes for which the custom arose to avoid on Passover). What's the ...
2
votes
1answer
94 views

Historical documentation that the Rambam was supported by his brother

I have heard quoted many times that the Rambam wrote his Mishneh Torah while he was being supported entirely by his brother. It was only after his brother died at sea that the Rambam, needing to ...
15
votes
3answers
346 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
283 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.
4
votes
1answer
57 views

When did the custom start to fast Tannis Esther on 13th Addar?

This question is not a duplicate of Tannis Esther reason because it is not a question of the reason just about the time. In Megilat Taanit it is mentioned that people should not fast on the day ...
1
vote
0answers
47 views

When did the custom of silver candlesticks for Shabbat start?

I heard that it is a custom to give a bride candlesticks. Is this true? when did this start? Who has the obligation to do this? and more info on the subject with sources please. Is this true that it ...
10
votes
5answers
306 views

Why did Esther make two parties; why not just one?

What was the purpose of the two parties that Esther made for Haman and Achashverosh (Esther 5:4–8 and chapter 7), if one could have done the job? In other words, what happened that she needed a ...
-4
votes
2answers
86 views

Were/are there any gedolim that do not wear a hat of some kind?

It seems like almost major rebbeim/poskim do/did ear some sort of additional head covering (black hat, streimel, cap, etc) for davening. If the practice is that universal among gedolim, that might ...
2
votes
1answer
53 views

Seeking scholarly siddur with sources

Is there a well-sourced, scholarly siddur/work on the siddur/website that discusses the origins of the various prayers? Where can I find it?