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
20 views

“Terach, father of Avraham and of Nachor”—what about Haran?

As quoted in the Hagadah, Yehoshua 24:2 reminds the Jewish people that, “Your ancestors lived across the river: Terach, father of Avraham and of Nachor; and they served strange gods.” God then reminds ...
2
votes
1answer
32 views

What is the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah?

I've heard many things about this "Great Assembly," mostly about how they established davening (prayers). However, there appears to be a lack of specific information about this institution. So: ...
0
votes
1answer
71 views

Why have there been no Hashgachas on DVDs, books, CDs, etc.?

Even many foods that do not require Hashgacha have a Hashgacha. At times, after a book, CD, or DVD hits the market, there is a proclamation banning it. Perhaps, instead, a book, CD, or DVD could have ...
13
votes
8answers
804 views

“If God had not delivered us from Egypt we would still be slaves”? Really?

One part of the Pesach seder that has always bothered me is saying that if God had not taken us out of Mitzrayim at that time we would still be slaves today. This seems lacking in faith in God; ...
9
votes
2answers
182 views

Rabbinic speculations on history

Sometimes in the Rabbinic literature traditions are related about what happened in history, with multiple different opinions. For example, there was a historical development in the script used by ...
1
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0answers
36 views

Chazals intention behind bedikat hametz

Nowdays, it seems to be standard for jewish family's to begin cleaning their houses days before Pesach. By the time bedikat hametz arrives, the houses are usually hametz free. From reading Talmud ...
5
votes
1answer
117 views

Talmudic Censorship

Unfortunately, the Talmud and other writings have been subject to censorship since their completion. These alterations seem still to be present in many modern editions of the Talmud. Why aren't these ...
7
votes
2answers
135 views

Was the Reish Galuta considered the presumptive candidate for the Melech haMoshiach?

The Reish Galuta, or Exilarch, was, from the time of Zerubavel until the abolition of the office ca. 1000 C.E. (with interregna), a Jewish political leader descended from malchut beit David. In some ...
12
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4answers
862 views

What is the original halachic source for a woman covering her collarbones out of modesty (tznius)?

Many contemporary instructions on women's modesty (tznius) say that necklines have to be high enough to cover the collarbones. I can certainly accept that if this is the communal standard, it should ...
5
votes
4answers
118 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
119 views

What happened to Avraham's other sons?

After the Torah's account of Avraham's other sons, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah, being sent to the East with gifts, do we have any tradition about what became of them? Did they ...
-1
votes
1answer
56 views

Where have the old Hashkafah.com forum regulars moved to? [closed]

Some topics are not a good fit for Mi Yodeya. It's sometimes better to post on a Jewish forum or mailing list instead. A few years ago, Hashkafah.com (also known as "H.com") was host to a thriving ...
3
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1answer
93 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?
2
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0answers
30 views

Chronological order of parshiyot in Sefer Vayikra

I am trying to figure out when several parshiyos in Vayikra were said by Moshe to bnei yisroel. For example, the parshiyos of Tazria and Metzora - when did Moshe teach them? In במדבר פרק ה Hashem ...
1
vote
1answer
160 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
98 views

Do the sages ever use the word “Jews” to describe the B'nai Israel before the Assyrian captivity?

This may be more a semantic question than anything else, but I'm wondering what the position is on using the word "Jew" to refer to Israelites before the Assyrian captivity. My impression is that the ...
2
votes
0answers
30 views

Earliest use of the word “gematria” to mean the value of words

What's the earliest use of the word "gematria" followed by the use of it to mean the value of the word? I'm aware that in Pirkei Avot the word itself is used, but that is not used in conjunction with ...
7
votes
3answers
785 views

Has the Torah been changed over the ages?

It is quite a famous argument from Muslims for authenticity of the Quran that the previous Holy Books (Bible and Torah) sent by God have been corrupted or changed by their followers and that Quran is ...
3
votes
0answers
26 views

Who was ר"מ in Sefer Kol Bo?

Nobody knows for certain who authored Sefer Kol Bo (ספר כל-בו), and various theories exist as to who, and when, it might have been. (For a brief example of such theories, see here). Likely it was in ...
2
votes
0answers
157 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
96 views

How do I know if a midrash is accepted?

I have found many different types of midrashic works. Some are, as far as I can tell, accepted as being authoritative. Meaning they were written (compiled?) by the sages in roughly the talmudic era. ...
-3
votes
0answers
64 views

Is there a rebuttal to the questions of Purims historicity?

I have seen several different version of the same argument, that the story of Purim is not historical - example. I would like to know if there is any rebuttal to this argument, preferably something ...
3
votes
3answers
597 views

Why use Babylonian calendar instead of our own?

Why did the Hebrews not create their own calendar system instead of copying the pagan Babylonians'? I find it interesting that they use a pagan calendar which often honours pagan gods. Why is this ...
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vote
0answers
35 views

Who developed the vowels for the Hebrew language Ezra or the Masoretes? [duplicate]

I've read that Ezra developed pointings to serve as vowels. 200 years later, when the Bible was translated from Hebrew to Greek, all Hebrew manuscripts had the new form of writing. Who developed the ...
37
votes
4answers
1k views

How do we know that the civil Saturday is the correct Shabbat?

Disclaimer: I am not a religious Jew, this question is only out of curiosity. I understand that observant Jews observe Shabbat from Friday night to Saturday. And from this question and this it seems ...
2
votes
1answer
36 views

When did daily birkas kohanim stop?

The original practice, from what I understand, was that kohanim would bless the congregation every day during the amida of shacharis (and of musaf and n'ila when they were said, and of mincha on a ...
15
votes
9answers
1k views

How are pre-creation >4000 BCE human civilization and pre-flood >2300 BCE civilizations that continued reconciled with Judaism?

How does human history fit in with the Torah's timeline? Not even worrying about why the universe and Earth look so old, there is extensive evidence of a human population and human civilizations from ...
4
votes
2answers
286 views

Google says it is the Jewish Year 5774. The wiki says Judaism is 3000 years old. How is this discrepancy reconciled?

Google says it is the Jewish Year 5774. The wiki and other sources say Judaism is 3000 years old and suggest Abraham was born 4000 years ago. Where is the discrepancy? I am perhaps looking for an ...
3
votes
2answers
203 views

Why do almost all Chabad shuls always use the same tunes for certain parts of davening?

I have noticed that at pretty much every Chabad shul I have ever attended, the same tunes were always used for certain parts of davening on Shabbos. For example, they all use the same tune for ...
2
votes
0answers
73 views

The Second Temple [closed]

I'm a BT of just over 5 yrs now, struggling but studying hard (50 yrs of 'catch-up'!). I think of myself as a Chassidic Jew. I'm still intrigued, yet in a quandary about the validity of the 2nd ...
1
vote
1answer
133 views

Is land ownership traditionally considered a status symbol in Judaism?

I'm writing a paper for a Jewish Film class about the the movie The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, and there is a scene in the beginning where Duddy's Zayda tells him "A man without land is ...
16
votes
8answers
1k views

Archeological proof of Exodus?

Is there empirical proof that the exodus from Egypt and related happenings (like Har Sinai etc) did in fact occur (i.e: Archeological proof)? I believe in the Torah, but how would you prove to someone ...
2
votes
1answer
73 views

What is the history of Teimani peyos?

How is it that many Teimanim wear long peyos (simanim) similar to many Chasidim, considering that their culture has been mostly isolated from Ashkenazi Europe? Do any historical sources tell us when ...
6
votes
0answers
96 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

Questions about Polygamy in Jewish Law and Culture

I've recently been looking into polygamy (having more than 1 wife), and had a few cultural questions. Was polygamy accepted at the time of David and Solomon? Were there any laws about it? Was ...
4
votes
1answer
52 views

Shechita for chicken

What is the halachic source requiring us to ritually slaughter chicken specifically, and was there ever a time in history that Halachic Jews ate chicken without first performing ritual slaughter?
2
votes
1answer
52 views

Is there any attestation to the name “יעל” spelled with an Aleph?

Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe includes the story of Yael killing Sisera. The author renders the name with the common "Y" to "J" substitution as "Jael" and, in an aside, mentions that ...
6
votes
2answers
229 views

May one say kaddish for a non-Jew?

I have read that Jews recited kaddish on behalf of Abraham Lincoln after he was assassinated. What is the halachic basis for this and has kaddish ever been said en-masse on behalf of other non-Jews?
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0answers
44 views

Timing of the 2nd Beit Hamikdash's building

If you associate Koresh with Cyrus, Daryavesh with Darius (Cyrus's son) and Artachshasta with Xerxes, there seems to be a 166 year discrepancy between the historical time and the 420 years the Seder ...
2
votes
0answers
71 views

Why no 15-minutes-early clause in English rabbis' contracts?

Rabbi Yitzchak Reuven Rubin wrote in 2001: In fact, it wasn't long ago that every rabbi in England was required by contract to "present himself fifteen minutes before the time of Divine worship." ...
6
votes
2answers
234 views

Start of the Upsherin ceremony

When did it become popular to have a ceremony for a boys Upsherin, his first haircut when he reaches the age of three?
7
votes
1answer
144 views

When was the last Korban Pesach done?

In which year, or decade, was the last Korban Pesach performed by Jews on Har Habayit? So far, my research has found Rabbi Gamliel of Yavneh, and his slave Tevi, which would be around 80-120 CE. But ...
5
votes
1answer
111 views

How old is the tradition of the Genizah?

You'll have to excuse my ignorance and if I word something slightly awkwardly, but I did wonder how old is the tradition of burying the Genizot, or alternatively, if that is unknown, what is the ...
1
vote
1answer
106 views

Are there other historical written accounts of Har Sinai besides the Torah? [closed]

Are there any other written historical accounts of the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai besides what we have in the Torah?
7
votes
3answers
278 views

Why did God do nothing against the Romans that desecrated the Temple?

When good guy made a mistake, like Uzzah trying to fix the ark, God killed him (see II Samuel 6:6). However, Uzzah does not seem that evil. I mean, the ark stumbled and he just tried to help. Then, ...
14
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13answers
756 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
208 views

When in history did Purim happen?

When in history did Purim happen? I understand that there are several opinions that this is based on (who אחשורוש was, whether this was before or after the end of the exile), but I've been unable to ...
8
votes
2answers
119 views

How did the Sages know that Jerusalem had a wall in the times of Joshua?

The criterion for whether a city celebrates Purim on 14 Adar or Shushan Purim on 15 Adar is whether it was walled in the times of Joshua (about 3300 years ago). (Well, Shushan itself is an exception, ...
10
votes
4answers
244 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
77 views

Why doesn't Rav Saadia Gaon write about wearing tefillin even during prayer?

In the Siddur of Rav Saadia Gaon, he only mentions tephilin once, and even then is only talking about the bracha made when putting it on. No where does he say that when davening, you should be wearing ...