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18
votes
2answers
453 views

What is the source for the tradition that the philtrum is formed by an angel before birth?

Physiological context: The philtrum is the dip or groove in the middle of the upper lip below the nose (link). It is a feature of most mammals, thought to draw water from the mouth to the nose to keep ...
16
votes
4answers
353 views

How to reconcile the possibility that Rashi had a slightly different text of the Torah

In the Parshah of Chayei Sara, in Bereishis 25:6, there is a Posuk that refers to הפילגשים - "the concubines". Rashi expounds that since the word is missing a Yud, it must be a reference to the fact ...
13
votes
2answers
264 views

Why aren't Yemenites an ed echad on locusts?

I've heard that the reason we (most of us) don't eat the locusts enumerated as kosher in the Torah is that we cannot identify them. That is, we don't know what type of locust is referred to by the ...
12
votes
2answers
254 views

What is “emunas chachomim”?

My daughter came home from school with a textbook response for what "emunas chachomim" is. I disagreed strongly with what was written in the book, so I'm not even going to say what they said. ...
11
votes
5answers
353 views

The authenticity of rabbinic literature

I am studying the history of various branches of Judaism. I understand the position of rabbinic Judaism that parts of the laws were oral and not written. But this alone would not justify the ...
11
votes
4answers
269 views

Kashrus status of turkeys

From what I have heard there were those that did not eat turkey (such as Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetzky Zatzal) due to a question whether we have a Mesorah as to the Kashrus of this bird. I know that many ...
10
votes
4answers
303 views

General understanding of Kri and Ktiv

A number of questions regarding the 'kri and ktiv' What is the source (talmudic or otherwise) for this concept? Why is it necessary; meaning why could we not adduce whatever concept is being taught ...
10
votes
1answer
295 views

Eldad HaDani's Lasting Influence - Is there any?

Eldad HaDani is (apparently) considered today to have been a fraud. According to this Wikipedia article, he was a traveler who told stories of his place of origin, which he claimed was a sovereign ...
10
votes
1answer
169 views

Accent mark in וישבע לו

In many Chumashim, the word וישבע in Parshas Chayei Sara (24:9) contains both a munach and a meseg (meteg). One example: I do not understand what the meseg is doing there under the beis. Typically ...
10
votes
3answers
254 views

Halachic authority of books

To what extent do books on Halachah have authority? I was taught that the Gemara was "closed" and may no longer be challenged in terms of its Halachic authority. To what extent is this authority ...
10
votes
2answers
178 views

Why is precedent set by individual rabbis, not courts?

The headline on this obituary for R' Eliyashiv ("A One Man Supreme Court") got me thinking - why do we invest so much power in precedents set by individual rabbis, as great as they may be, but not in ...
9
votes
4answers
310 views

What is the source for Pardes?

What is the source for expounding the torah according to remez, derush and sod (along with 'pshat' the group can be referred to by the acronym PaRDeS)? These forms of hermeneutics are not found in ...
9
votes
5answers
591 views

Is one a heretic if he does not believe in Kabbalah?

Is one a heretic if he does not believe in Kabbalah? Not necessarily that the Rashbi authored the Zohar, but in the general tenets of kabbalah including but not limited to: tzimtzum, sefirot, ...
9
votes
2answers
165 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
232 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
80 views

What is the genealogy of Judah ben Bava?

Is Judah ben Bava, noted for continuing the tradition of ordination, the son of Bava ben Buta, the Rabbi who was spared by Herod?
8
votes
1answer
138 views

Soft Matzah for Ashkenazim

The Rama in 460:4 writes that one should make thin matzos and the Mishna Brurah 16 writes it should be thin. Rav Nebontzol (in his notes on the Mishna Brurah) points out the Be'er Heitiv 8 which ...
8
votes
1answer
230 views

Chain of tradition for stories/parables told by Rashi

I've already asked one question about where Rashi got a particularly troubling interpretation of an obscure reference in the Gemara, telling a very detailed and gruesome story about R' Meir and his ...
7
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
82 views

Isaiah 8:11: “kaf” or “bet”?

It seems that two versions of Isaiah 8:11 exist. One has "כחזקת היד" -- this is the version in the Aleppo (shown above) and Leningrad codices: ...
7
votes
1answer
242 views

Can an Ashkenazi write a Sephardi Torah?

If an Ashkenazi Sofer writes a Sefer Torah in the Sephardi or Yemenite tradition: a) has he fulfilled his obligation of writing a Sefer Torah (thanks, Double AA!), and b) since a Sefer Torah must be ...
7
votes
1answer
131 views

Mesorah exchange between communities

Based on this thread What exactly prevents Ashkenazim from accepting Mesorah from other communities on things that we have not done in our own community? Taking an extreme reverse example, can ...
6
votes
4answers
946 views

What ancient sources discuss the meaning of Psalm 22?

Many Christians believe Psalm 22 refers to Jesus of Nazareth. How have Jews historically understood Psalm 22 and interpreted it?
6
votes
6answers
599 views

Why don't we just follow the shittah of Moshe Rabeinu?

My question can apply to virtually all mitzvos where there is a disagreement in the standard way to fulfill them. If one reads the hakdama (introduction) to the Rambam's peirush mishnayos (commentary ...
6
votes
2answers
65 views

I thought Gezeirah Shavah requires Mesorah

In Masecheth Rosh Hashanah (9b), the Gemara uses a Gezeirah Shavah from Tishrei, with the word שנה, to support the Mishnah's ruling that 'Orlah is counted from Tishrei. In response, however, the ...
6
votes
2answers
120 views

Adopting minhagim not from your mesorah

Is it appropriate to adopt minhagim that have historically not been observed by your community? Examples Ashkenazim pointing to the sefer Torah, usually with the pinky, during hagbah (after Krias ...
5
votes
1answer
90 views

Is this chart of the mesorah of Torah available in English?

Does anyone know if this chart of the mesora of Torah is available in English? or if there is anything like it in English?
5
votes
1answer
137 views

Source for Rav Avraham Yosef's ruling on Ba'alei Teshuva

A friend mentioned, and I read the same here, that Rav Avraham Yosef and/or Rav Ovadiah Yosef ruled that Ba'alei Teshuva in Israel (with no direct masoret of their own) should adopt the Sepharadi ...
5
votes
1answer
96 views

the Laws of Noah--how are the nations to know them

If the laws of Noah are the laws for the nations and they are handed down by Jewish oral tradition, how are the nations to know them?
5
votes
2answers
454 views

What is the Real Alter Rebbe Ksav?

There is a tradition that the Alter Rebbe (R' Shneur Zalman of Liadi) innovated a new Ksav (not the one in the Shulchan Aruch Harav) and taught it to sofrim who passed it on from teacher to student. ...
5
votes
1answer
130 views

Customs of the parents when the parents don't have past customs

I am of mixed Sephardic and Ashkenazic parentage. I view this as allowing me to behave Sephardically when it suits me (for instance, eating kitniyot for Pessach) or Ashkenacikally when it suits me ...
5
votes
0answers
59 views

Who were the Nistarim?

It has been documented that there is a group of righteous people called "The Nistarim". I am not referring to the lammed vav tzaddikim of the Gemara (Sanhedrin 97b, Sukkah 45b). Rather, a mystical ...
5
votes
0answers
79 views

Siddur for Skolyer Chasidim

Is there a specific siddur for the minhag of the Skolyer Chasidim (Chasidim of Ukrainian town of Skole)?
4
votes
2answers
133 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: ...
4
votes
1answer
314 views

Gigantic Tiger Fish - Is it Kosher?

Is this fish Kosher? It apparently has both fins and scales. Is there any problem with its having teeth, or its not having been discovered until now (and therefore being outside of our Mesorah)?
4
votes
1answer
169 views

Why does the Mishna misquote the Tanakh?

In a number of instances, the Mishna provides quotes from Tanakh that differ from the versions of Tanakh that we have today. So, for example, Sotah 6:4 (31b). There, the mishna quotes Deuteronomy ...
4
votes
2answers
94 views

Laining Tehillim

I would just like to know - is there a mesorah for Tehillim trop for Ashkenazim? I know that there is a Sefaradi one (I have heard them) but I would like to know if there is any Askenazi one. Thank ...
4
votes
1answer
92 views

Authenticity of Nach

Is it the general belief that Nach is unchanged since it was written? That the transmission of Nach is as reliable as that of Torah? What types of methods are in place to ensure its accuracy and ...
4
votes
1answer
265 views

Is there a tradition to pronounce kamatz katan as “a”?

There are many ways of pronouncing Hebrew in prayers and when reading the Tora. Most of these are tradition-based: one pronounces it the same way his parent or teacher did, or a close approximation. ...
4
votes
1answer
177 views

Qumran - Proof or Genizah for Errors?

The comment and the ensuing thread quoted at the bottom of this question make me wonder what, exactly, was buried at Qumran. Were the items buried there actually used at some point and later placed ...
4
votes
1answer
135 views

Rational approaches to superstitious ideas

Can one assume that there is a perfectly rational approach to superstitious ideas? May one go out of one's way to come up with rational approaches if these ideas bother him? My thinking is, ...
4
votes
0answers
67 views

what is the source for the artscroll sidur?

what is the mesorah for the artscoll ashkenaz siddur? Is this the same nusach ashkenaz that was used in previous generations?
4
votes
0answers
45 views

List of Halachot LiMosheh MiSinai

Is there a comprehensive list of things in the Talmud that are "halachot limosheh misinai"- laws that were passed down from Moshe through the generations? An example of such is tefilin needing to be ...
4
votes
0answers
69 views

Dagesh for adornment

On Sh'mos 2:3 and 15:17, Minchas Shay notes that הַצְּפִינוֹ and מִקְּדָשׁ have a dagesh in their respective second letters "for adornment (tif'eres)". Is this aural or visual adornment? How/Why is ...
4
votes
0answers
110 views

Shin on Tefilin - changed in Belz?

I recently heard that in Belz they changed the Shin on the Tefilin Shel Rosh due to an old pair that was found that the Rebbi believed to be the true Mesorah. Is this true? How does the new Shin ...
3
votes
2answers
192 views

Yom Tov Sheni - Seeking All Relevant Sources

There is an article on Wikipedia about Passover that gives a very non-traditional (if not anti-traditional) explanation - rather, a series of explanations - for the origin of Y"T Sheni Shel Galuyoth. ...
3
votes
1answer
289 views

Where can I find a list of differences between the Aleppo Codex and Ashkenazi texts?

Does anyone know of a list of textual differences for all of tanach or at least the chumash between the Aleppo Codex (Keter Aram Soba/Tzova) and the more common text? I already have such a list for ...
3
votes
1answer
145 views

With which Torah can one fulfill the obligation of Parshas Zachor?

There is an argument between texts if the word "Petzua Daka" (Devarim 23:2) should be with an Alef or a Heih. Can someone fulfill his obligation to read Zachor (and normal Torah reading) with a Torah ...
3
votes
1answer
82 views

Acceptable marror species

The Mishnah in Pesachim 39a lists five types of vegetables that can be used for marror. Where did the Sages derive this list from? Is it some kind of Halachah L'Moshe MiSinai, or Chazal figured out ...
3
votes
1answer
274 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 ...