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

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45
votes
5answers
936 views

Were slave-related commandments observed in America?

Since there was slavery in the Americas between their discovery and 1865, do we know of any Jewish slave-owners there who observed slavery-related laws of Judaism?
2
votes
1answer
48 views

Did the 12 sons of Jacob marry outside the jewish race to start off their families?

Did the 12 sons of Jacob marry outside the Jewish race to start off their families?
1
vote
1answer
42 views

What are Hebrew manuscripts important to us for, today?

What's the importance of Jewish manuscripts for us, today? Apparently many of these are dispersed in libraries, monasteries, and of course the Vatican, and one wonders whether there's value in ...
18
votes
12answers
2k views

What are the oldest Jewish songs (tune plus words) that are still popular today?

When I say "song", I mean the combination of tune and words; and yes I'm probably thinking Ashkenazically here. It seems like any European old-timer I've met knows the "good old fashioned" tune for ...
3
votes
1answer
49 views

What form was the Torah before Sinai

Chazal say the Torah was studied before Sinai. (ex. by Adam and Eve as explained here. Likewise chazal say the Patriarchs studied Torah from Shem ben Noach.) In what form was this pre-Torah? It ...
3
votes
1answer
93 views

German and Ethiopian Jews in the time of the Mishna?

According to Negaim 3:1, the laws of negaim only apply to Jews (הכל מטּמאין בנגעים חוץ מגוים), but according to Negaim 2:1 they apply to people from Germany (גרמני) and Ethiopia (or Numibia, etc; ״כוש״...
5
votes
2answers
112 views

Is there an online database of early manuscripts of the Tanakh?

As a student of textual and historical criticism of the Christian scriptures, I am interested in seeing the earliest extant copies of the texts. There are a number of sites devoted to providing ...
4
votes
1answer
110 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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
199 views

Did Jews kill any of their prophet?

Qur'an accuses Jews of killing their prophets: And [recall] when you said, "O Moses, we can never endure one [kind of] food. So call upon your Lord to bring forth for us from the earth its green ...
5
votes
1answer
188 views

Shofar from ibex horn?

I have the 2015 calendar from the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, and today I noticed that the September page has a picture of a shofar made from an ibex horn. The calendar dates it to 1850-...
2
votes
1answer
80 views

erroneous decisions by beit din for which korbanot must be brought by beit din and the people

In masechet horayot we learn that korbanot must be brought if the beit din makes an erroneous decision that is followed by the people. Do we know of such a mistake that was made by a beit din? If so, ...
28
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
135 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
38 views

When was the Beith Hamiqdash hasheni fully completed?

What year was the second Beith Hamiqdash fully completed? Can any one of you answer back with both Hebrew and Secular dates?
9
votes
2answers
321 views

How is it that the Talmud can make historical mistakes?

A Rav told me that when it comes to science and nature, the Talmud can say incorrect things (i.e. about animals, cosmology) because they were going by the Greeks and Romans. (Where he gets permission ...
17
votes
2answers
450 views

Are there any halachic authorities which relate to the non-mechitza, pre-1967 prayers which were held at the Kotel?

There are various pictures pre-dating the 1967 Six Day War, available on the Internet and in various scholarly sources, clearly showing free mixing among the genders at the Kotel (Western Wall) in the ...
4
votes
0answers
138 views

The Mekor Baruch's intructions of making gold from copper

Rav Epstein in his Mekor Baruch 3:19:6 brings a story about him and a maggid. The maggid was looking for a certain sefer which instructs one how to make gold from copper. The Mekor Baruch (who had the ...
2
votes
1answer
74 views

Was it a non-Jew who first discovered the principles governing the ta'ame ha-miqra?

I wrote to a very well respected and knowledgeable Rav regarding grammatical functions of the te'amim and the discrepancies that exist between the Sephardic and Ashkenazic systems. His response ...
6
votes
0answers
97 views

What is the origin of using tombstone symbols?

I was at a cemetary today and noticed a few interesting "icons" placed on certain tombstones. Someone explained to me the following: spread-out fingers used for a Cohen, representing the position of ...
9
votes
2answers
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 ...
8
votes
0answers
84 views

Post mortem Tahara

I'm looking for sources discussing the religious aspect of the Tahara done on deceased Jews. I recall someone mentioning that the religious aspect of it was a practice we picked up from the Muslims ...
1
vote
0answers
55 views

What means this name for Jews Friends?

I wanna learn what does mean of "Hiram" name (I don't know Hebrew spelling of name). I look up some sources for this name but I couldn't find enough info. 1) I wanna learn mean and importance of "...
9
votes
3answers
189 views

Counting the omer with doubt before the fixed calendar

Currently, according to a previous question on this site, we count the omer without doubt: "Today is the Xth day of the omer" because we have a fixed calendar, and because counting with doubt is ...
9
votes
2answers
418 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.
2
votes
1answer
34 views

What were the ספרי דבי רב?

BBava Batra 124b, for instance, has Rav Nahman quoting "the remaining books of Debei Rav." How many were there? What were they exactly? If they contained written halachot, why were they allowed? (...
1
vote
0answers
61 views

Questioning who is the real Achashverosh

So I am doing very much research and I am trying to find out the REAL Achashverosh, so far, there are several possible rulers of Persia that could be the real Achashverosh Can anyone of you guys ...
1
vote
2answers
104 views

Did the Rashbam Practice what he Preached Regarding Shabbat?

Rashbam, on Bereishit (Genesis) 1:5, states: ויהי ערב ויהי בקר - אין כתיב כאן ויהי לילה ויהי יום, אלא ויהי ערב, שהעריב יום ראשון ושיקע האור, ויהי בוקר, בוקרו של לילה, שעלה עמוד השחר, הרי הושלם יום ...
1
vote
0answers
52 views

Pairs of the Ramchal's works

Machon Ofek has published the Ramchal's Mesillas Yesharim (MY) as well as what they call The Mesillas Yesharim- Seder Vikuach which is essentially the same as the commonly known MY but in dialogue ...
2
votes
0answers
52 views

Final redemption attempt

Elie Wiesel relates in "Souls on Fire" that the Seer of Lublin together with two friends Mendel of Riminov and the Maggid of Kozhenitz "devised a detailed strategy combining their powers to bring ...
1
vote
1answer
129 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
91 views

When in time did the Jewish people get sold to Greacans, according to Joel?

Yoel 4 says: 3 And they have cast lots for My people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, and have drunk. and 6 the children also of Judah and the children of ...
7
votes
2answers
571 views

Rav Moshe Feinstein's opinion on the State of Israel

I was wondering if there is any document which states Rav Moshe's opinion regarding the existence of the state of Israel. Did he consider the state a good thing or bad thing. I ask this because we ...
-7
votes
1answer
83 views

Did Judaism get the verse in the Torah that says man and man and woman and women should not lay with one another from the Vendidad [duplicate]

It says in the Vendidad : The man that lies with mankind as man lies with womankind, or as woman lies with mankind, is a man that is a Daeva [demon]; this man is a worshipper of the Daevas, a male ...
10
votes
1answer
185 views

Precedent for Forbidding Conversion

The Syrian community has a Takkanah in place which bars conversion. In addition to forbidding conversion under their own auspices, they also "Never accept a convert or a child born of a convert", as ...
26
votes
9answers
2k 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, ...
4
votes
1answer
488 views

Has the minhag regarding weddings during the Omer changed recently?

My father in law was a musician. He explained that other than Lag Ba'Omer and beginning 3 days before Shavuot, there were no weddings at all during the Omer. Even though, there are two versions of the ...
18
votes
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 ...
2
votes
1answer
117 views

Mishna was a book in time of Gemara?

Rabbi Jacob Bar Abba asked Abaye: Is it permitted to a disciple in a district under his Master's jurisdiction to give a ruling that was as authoritative as those contained in the Scroll of Fast-Days, ...
17
votes
4answers
361 views

Was Malbim an innovator?

Malbim (Meir Leibush ben Yechiel Michel) wrote a commentary on most of Tanach. In his introduction (to Yeshayahu) he writes the assumptions with which he operates in his commentary: :עמודי התוך ...
1
vote
0answers
46 views

The story of the Minim and Boethusians; trying to fix the festival of Shavuot on Sunday

I've found different sources like the Mishnah, Babylonian Talmud (tractate Rosh HaShanah), Jerusalem Talmud, Tosefta etc., talking about the Minim and the Boethusians who wanted to fix the festival of ...
-2
votes
3answers
232 views

Rav Shach and Lubavitsher Rebbe [closed]

From a purely Torah perspective. What was the disagreement between Rav Shach and the Lubavitcher Rebbe? Like, from a halachic point of view what were their opinions and why? I know they disagreed ...
6
votes
2answers
217 views

requirement for Chabad shluchim to be married?

I heard that Chabad instituted a requirement for shluchim to be married because Zalman Schachter-Shalomi went off the derech. Is this historically accurate, and are Chabad shluchim required to be ...
8
votes
1answer
108 views

Did Rambam have Rashi's works?

While the Rambam lived a century after Rashi, I cannot recall ever seeing or hearing the Rambam cite or mention Rashi or any of his works. Is there any evidence that Rambam had access to Rashi's ...
2
votes
2answers
193 views

What is the meaning of this painting?

I am in possession of this mysterious painting with Hebrew characters, but I do not know what words mean. I suspect that they may provide a clue to what is being represented in each of the painted ...
0
votes
2answers
96 views

Pulling ear when sneeze

Where does it come from that people pull their ear when they sneeze does it have something to do with our forefather Jacob before him no-one became ill just before death? That is, he became ill before ...
4
votes
1answer
89 views

What references, if any, are there to synagogues or non-temple organized worship in the ancient Israel

Synagogue worship appears to be relatively common in the Christian New Testament (although perhaps little is known about what actually went on in the synagogues, I don't know a whole lot of details). ...
3
votes
1answer
62 views

The torah is nothing now compared to that of moshiach? What does this midrash mean?

In koheles Rabba piska 11 ois 8 It says that "The Torah we have now is hevel-nothing compared to the Torah of moshiach". Why is this Torah considered nothing? What is the Torah of moshiach mean?
16
votes
6answers
7k views

Are there any Jewish people alive today who can identify themselves as coming from a particular tribe?

The Christian "New Testament" claims Paul (Saul) was of the tribe of Benjamin. Since Roman times have there been any people who can validly claim they were from a particular tribe? At least at that ...
3
votes
1answer
70 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?
6
votes
2answers
133 views

What is the significance of 7-month births?

I have noticed that there are a number of significant figures in Jewish history who were born at 7 months. To name a few: Yitzchok Avinu (Rosh Hashana 11a) Reuvein, Shimon, and Levi (Rabbeinu ...