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

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Was biblical Shmita observed during the time of the second temple?

Was biblical shmita observed during the second beit hamikdash? Is there a source for this?
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206 views
+50

How are the two tales of dancing in vinyards on the 15th of Av related?

The Mishna tells us (Taanis 26b) that on the 15th of Av, unmarried girls would borrow clothes, dance in the vineyard, and invite the unmarried men to choose them for marriage. The Talmud (Taanis 30b) ...
4
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0answers
55 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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2answers
78 views

Kamtza bar Kamtza [on hold]

This might be speculation, but during learning yesterday we discussed how would people have known if the cohenim brought the sacrifice with the blemish on its lips? Would Bar-Kamtza have found another ...
3
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2answers
151 views

How does Judaism answer the problem of evil? [duplicate]

I would think that after the great amount of suffering the Jews had to suffer in the 20th century a whole lot of them had to review how the deity they believed in could let what was happening to them ...
7
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1answer
157 views

Why are the kinos about Jeremiah's appeal to the avos out of order?

The kina (elegy, said on the ninth of Av) about Jeremiah's going to ask the avos to pray (kina 21 in at least some versions, 26 in the Artscroll edition) is said before the one about Tziyon's telling ...
7
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2answers
90 views

Tikunei Ha-Zohar: What happened to Tikun 20?

hebrewbooks has a scan of the 1558 Mantuba edition of Tikunei HaZohar. In that edition, Tikun 20 is several pages long. (Starts here, goes for several pages). The only other edition I found on ...
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2answers
468 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 ...
5
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1answer
79 views

What did the Second Beis Hamikdash look like before Herod renovated it?

As penance, Herod rebuilt and remodeled the second Beis Hamikdash (See Bava Basra 4a). Most of the models of the Beis Hamikdash are of this rebuilding. What did the original one look like?
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0answers
49 views

Death Penalty for Desecrating God's Name?

In light of some of the recent embarrassing criminal incidents involving visibly religious Jews in the United States, it made me think of something I had read once ( or vaguely remember reading ) that ...
12
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5answers
4k views

Why did nobody succeed the Lubavitcher Rebbe?

The late Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson zt"l had no successor as the rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch. Why is this? Was it simply because he had no children? If so, why was nobody else ...
7
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3answers
638 views

Is there sufficient evidence to support the theory that ancient Israel practiced monolatry?

I just came across this Wikipedia article on monolatrism that says some people believe ancient Israel practiced monolatry. The highest claim to be made for Moses is that he was, rather than a ...
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0answers
157 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." ...
3
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2answers
162 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 ...
1
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0answers
36 views

History of ḥalāqah/Upsherin (אפשערן/חאלאקה) [duplicate]

What are the earliest sources for these customs? i found mention of the custom amongst Sephardim of Eretz Yisrael in the Kether Shem Tob. But that only mentions it for Eretz Yisrael, and doesn't ...
4
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1answer
85 views

How did the water climb so high?

The Gemara in Sota 34 says וכיון שניטבלו רגלי כהנים במים חזרו המים לאחוריהם שנאמר וכבוא נושאי הארון עד הירדן וגו' ויעמדו המים היורדים מלמעלה קמו נד אחד וכמה גובהן של מים שנים עשר מיל על שנים עשר ...
4
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1answer
168 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 ...
9
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3answers
531 views

How did the Star of David become iconic?

We all recognize the iconic symbol of the Star of David, do we know where it came from and where it got its name? I always learned that the symbol appeared on King David's shield. True? How do we ...
5
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3answers
320 views

An eye for an eye Hammurabi's code [duplicate]

The Hammurabi is supposed to predate the Torah and contains a verse "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". I've done a little reading around the issue, but is there any reference to why there would ...
0
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3answers
19 views

Could Kohanim use pottery or only stone kelim?

Someone told me that when the Temple was standing, Kohamim could only use stone kelim because they could not become tomeh. OTOH (are these abbreviations well known here?), on the other hand, it seems ...
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5answers
3k views

Why is the Jewish Population so small?

Judaism is one of the oldest religions, but there aren't many Jews compared to Muslims and Christians. What are main reasons behind that?
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0answers
119 views

Source for Jewish Chapter breaks in Tanach

I know that the chapter divisions are a Christian invention, and therefore don't exist in very old Jewish sources (Aleppo Codex, Leningrad Codex, dead sea scrolls, etc.). However our divisions don't ...
16
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2answers
1k views

Is this the Chofetz Chaim? [on hold]

What is the story behind this picture being known as the image of the great Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan(Chafetz Chaim)? Is it him in fact? Where does it come from? The only true picture (that I am ...
17
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4answers
1k 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 ...
2
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0answers
44 views

Responses to Dr. Chaim S. Heifetz's timeline of Persian History

Dr. Chaim S. Heifetz has been quoted in a few places as revising the history timeline which if correct would greatly impact Jewish history from the Persian empire and on. See here ...
2
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0answers
85 views

Book about Rabbis and Zionism

What is a good book which goes into detail about Rabbis (particularly those living in Israel from 1880-1950) and their personal experience with Zionists and the Palestinians? I am particularly ...
6
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1answer
88 views

Was the fast of Tisha B'av in effect during the second temple era? [duplicate]

As the Beis Hamikdash was rebuilt at that time was the fast of Tisha B'Av in effect during the Second Temple Era?
2
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1answer
40 views

What is the meaning and history behind the velvet signs decorating Abraham's tomb?

I was recently reading up on Wikipedia regarding the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and was particularly interested in this picture: ...
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1answer
457 views

Does Judaism believe that Moshe (Moses) is the last Prophet?

Does Judaism believe that Moshe (Moses) is the last Prophet? Is this suggested in the Torah? If he was not the last prophet, but the Torah seems to suggest it, what does that mean?
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1answer
43 views

Is there a book or online source that discusses the history of “U.S. / Canadian use” Siddurim?

I am fascinated when I view old and even current Siddurim used in shuls in U.S. It seems that as demographics changed, new Siddurim were designed to cater to this. For example, the 1st English ...
3
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1answer
79 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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6answers
2k views

Is there “Torah Inerrancy”?

Is there Torah inerrancy? In other words, does the Torah contain no factual errors: the Noah flood did occur, Garden of Eden did exist, Adam and Eve did live there and were subsequently expelled, etc ...
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0answers
56 views

Were new arrivals stuck at Ellis Island for Shabbos?

If I understand correctly, if your airplane or boat arrived on Shabbos, you're stuck within a ~half-mile radius of the boat or plane until after Shabbos because of techum. (I'd heard some discussion ...
0
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1answer
87 views

Can anybody read from the torah or prophets in a synagogue?

I am trying to understand the context of a passage from the Christian gospels. Luke 4:16 says that Jesus went into the synagogue and started reading from the book of Isaiah. At that time could ...
2
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2answers
47 views

What was Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi's role in compiling the Mishnah?

I have always heard that Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi "compiled" the mishna. What were his roles in compiling it in the form that we currently have it? Specifically, did he perform any of these roles: ...
8
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1answer
281 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 ...
6
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5answers
288 views

What is the Difference Between Prophets and Writings?

In the Tanakh, the Jewish Biblical Canon, there are three categories of works: the Torah of Moses, and what are know as the 'Prophets' and 'Writings'. This categorization is outlined and mentioned in ...
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3answers
450 views

Origin of Reform/Conservative “scarf” talleisim

I've noticed that Reform and Conservative often use small "scarf" talleisim (here's an image). Where did this practice originate? (Is there any connection to the scarves that some Christian priests ...
4
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1answer
97 views

gedolim on “The Jazz Singer”

The film The Jazz Singer is about a Jewish boy who goes off the derech and portrays him positively. What was the contemporary (1927) rabbinic response to the film and did cantor Yosselle Rosenblatt ...
2
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2answers
72 views

Can the Baitusim and the Essenes be one and the same?

This is a total shot in the dark, but it seems coincidental to me that we have a group of heretics closely related to the Tzedukim, called Baitusim who are never mentioned in the historical works of ...
2
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2answers
114 views

What's the source that יונתן בן עוזיאל passed away 26 sivan?

The tomb of ben Uzziel is located in Amuka, Galilee near Safed, Israel. It is customary to visit ben Uzziel's tomb on Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the lunar month, and on 26 Sivan (the day on ...
6
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4answers
104 views

History of Shabbat: how (or) did they count to align with 7th day of creation?

The Torah (Exodus 20:8-11) commands: ח: זָכוֹר אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְּשׁוֹ: ט: שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל מְלַאכְתֶּךָ: י: וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַה' אֱלֹקיךָ לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה ...
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1answer
95 views

Instances where women wore tefillin [duplicate]

Up to (and including) the period of the Rishonim, are there multiple documented instances of Jewish women wearing tefillin? Edit: As discovered by another user on this website, there is another ...
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2answers
223 views

Motivation for disallowing Conversions

What was The Syrians communities Rabbis motivation For disallowing conversions and when did it happen and did any other Sephardi communities join in this decision later on?
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5answers
900 views

Rashi's Daughters wearing Tefillin

There is a commonly held "tradition" that Rashi's daughters wore Tefillin. One highly educated rabbi/professor has publicly stated that he's spent 35 years searching for a source but to no avail. ...
4
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1answer
113 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 ...
4
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2answers
140 views

Conservative Kiddush Levanah

The version of Kiddush Levanah printed in the Conservative movement's siddur omits the verse "כשם שאני רוקד כנגדך..." I've heard that this is because the Conservative movement believes that in an age ...
3
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1answer
56 views

How old was Joshua at the time of the spies?

Num 13 and 14 discuss the spies sent by Moses to asses the land, among them Joshua and Caleb. Josh 14:7 says that Caleb was 40 when he was sent as a spy. How old was Joshua at the time of the spies ...
21
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3answers
607 views

What kind of kippah is this?

This photo of my great great grandfather was taken around 1900. He's a Lubavitch Jew from Belarus. His name is Zalman Malkin. He is from Liozna. The story of his life is here. I was wondering if his ...
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6answers
2k views

A natural explanation for the significance of the numbers 7 and 40

In the Jewish religious texts the numbers 7 and 40 seem to appear quite often and carry special significance. Some examples among many: God's creation lasts 7 days The Great Flood was from rain ...