Questions about the origins of all things Jewish. Questions on the origins of Jewish customs, ideas, sayings, songs, foods, games, etc., are all fair game for this tag.

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1answer
23 views

Who added on the words לאלתר לחיים טובים ולשלום to the greeting לשנה טובה תכתב ותחתם?

Orach Chaim 582:9 - The Rama brings in the name of the Tur that on Rosh Hashana one should bless his friend & family לשנה טובה תכתב. Be'er Hataiv says that one should say לשנה טובה תכתב ותחתם. ...
3
votes
1answer
56 views

Source in Hazal for holding sisith during qiryath shema`?

Is there a source in Hazal specifically for grasping the (front) two ssissith during the recitation of the shema`? If not, where does it stem from and what is the purpose? Thanks. Kol tuv.
3
votes
1answer
53 views

What is the idea of “seudas predeh” (Goodbye Party) and where does it come from?

I live in Eretz Yisrael and tonight I was invited to what many chassidim refer to as a "seudas predeh" (or as I somewhat loosely -- or perhaps wrongly "translated" in the title as a "Goodbye Party".) ...
8
votes
1answer
111 views

Earliest Sources for Custom of Not Shaving from 17th of Tammuz

What are the earliest sources for the custom of not shaving from the 17th of Tammuz? The Shulchan Aruch (OC 551:3) only mentions this only in the week of the 9th of Av. שָׁבוּעַ שֶׁחָל בּוֹ ...
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0answers
40 views

Source For Keeping Holy Books Out of Bathroom

What is the earliest source for keeping holy books out of the bathroom? כי הוה בעי למיעל לבית הכסא כי הוה נקיט ספרא דאגדתא הוה יהיב לן כי הוה נקיט תפילין לא הוה יהיב לן אמר הואיל ושרונהו רבנן ...
1
vote
1answer
69 views

The origin of verses in the English translations of the Bible [closed]

I know that the assignment of chapters and verses to the translated text of the bible is a Medieval innovation. My understanding is that it was invented by non-Jewish scholars. However, in several ...
4
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1answer
84 views

Source for Striking Self during Viduy

What is the earliest source for striking one's chest while reciting Vidduy?
7
votes
1answer
92 views

Beer at a Shalom Zachor

There is a common custom I have observed to serve beer at a Shalom Zachor. This is also mentioned here with some speculation about the source. What is the source for this practice?
9
votes
1answer
263 views

What is the origin of the claim that they played games to hide Torah learning prior to Chanuka

This question makes a very commonly heard claim: "Before the miracle of Hanukkah, when those who controlled the land severely restricted Torah study, Jewish children would gather to study Torah in ...
3
votes
1answer
150 views

Why do most Ashkenazim read the Torah flatly on a table while many Sefardim read it standing vertically?

(In case you didn't know,) I am Ashkenazic. Most Ashkenazic congregations perform Torah reading by laying the Torah flatly on a table and reading the Torah as it is on the table. Many Sefardic ...
8
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1answer
112 views

Who broke the parshiyot into aliyot and how?

The Torah readings on Shabbat are broken into 7 aliyot. I know that there are rules for the minimum number of pesukim for each aliyah but I am wondering who set up the exact placement of the aliyah ...
1
vote
1answer
66 views

Textual difference between Psukei DeZimra and Psalms 96

What is the origin of the custom to recite in pesukai dezimra יעלוץ השדה וכל אשר בו instead of יעלוז שדי וכל אשר בו which we are familiar with from Kabbalas Shabbos (psalm 96)?
3
votes
2answers
103 views

Where does the funeral tradition of burial within 24 hours originate?

Where does the funeral tradition of burial within 24 hours originate? A Google search result pointed me towards this passage from the Torah as being the reason: Deuteronomy 21:22-23 And if a man ...
2
votes
1answer
46 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 ...
3
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0answers
62 views

How did the Ashkenazi Yom Tov “prayer mode” become so popular?

Since i'm not sure what to call it, a "prayer mode" here is the style of the tunes used. I'm not exactly sure how to describe the tunes. Either you know it or you don't. The traditional mode for Yom ...
2
votes
1answer
91 views

How did the “custom” of not duchaning on Yom Tov that falls on Shabbos arise

Some synagogues do not have birkas kohanim (duchaning) on Yom Tov that falls on Shabbos. How did this idea arise?
3
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0answers
40 views

Tu Bishvat Seder Permissibility

Given that this answer notes that the particular ritual of the Tu Bishvat Seder is likely Sabbatean in origin (although the practice of eating fruit in general on Tu Bishvat dates from the 16th ...
4
votes
0answers
73 views

Custom of singing Aishes Chayil before kiddush

It seems that not everyone [always] sang/sings Aishes Chayil with Sholom Aleichem at the Friday night Shabbos table. When and how did the custom of singing Aishes Chayil at the table begin? Who ...
5
votes
1answer
54 views

3 kugels for 3 sifrei Torah?

When I was younger (yes, that did happen to me - ONCE :-) the Rav from the shul I attended would include a suggestion whenever there was a Shabbat where we use 3 Sifrei Torah, such as will occur this ...
2
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0answers
68 views

What is the source for the custom of kissing one's hand after shaking another's?

There is a common custom in Israel (mostly in Sfardic communities) that after you shake someone's hand, you kiss your hand. Generally people kiss their thumb or first two fingers, in my experience. ...
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0answers
52 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 ...
3
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0answers
36 views

Origin of custom to switch Shli'ach Tzibur in Shacharit

In a number of shuls, it has become a minhag to switch Shat"z during the weekday Shacharit at these locations. I am assuming Nusach Ashkenaz in my examples: One person says only Birkot Hashachar -> ...
0
votes
1answer
25 views

Standing during pesukei d'zimrah

What is/are the earliest origins of the customs to stand during various passages of the daily service before the Amidah (e.g. Baruch She'amar, Shirat Yam, Yishtabach)?
5
votes
3answers
317 views

Standing for whole of Lecha Dodi

Certain families in my shul have the minhag to stand for the entire Lecha Dodi. I asked them why, but they do not know the source of the minhag. Does anyone know what the source of this minhag is?
2
votes
1answer
93 views

Individual Life Mission

What are the earliest sources that support or contradict the view of Sfas Emes and Chiddushei HaRim that each person (or Jew) has a unique mission in the world? Specifically looking for sources ...
3
votes
1answer
65 views

What's the earliest reference to a Purim shpiel?

There's a fairly common custom to put on a play on Purim. Wikipedia has a short article about it here, which mentions that some are based on the story of the megillah, while others traditionally ...
2
votes
0answers
42 views

Shortened אמת ויציב

In Nusach Ashkenaz, particularly in western siddurim (Heidenheim, Bloch, et c.) There is a shortened version of the paragraphs of אמת ויציב and על הראשונים which is recited when a zulat (yotzer before ...
2
votes
1answer
45 views

Who first said “You're being machmir on pikuach nefesh”?

I've been hearing the phrase "This is not being meikil1 on Shabbos, this is being machmir2 on pikuach nefesh3" for a long time. I've heard it quoted from R' Chaim, from the Gra, and from various and ...
3
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0answers
32 views

Origin of Reciting Psalms

What is the origin of reciting Tehillim as a form of prayer? More specifically, of reciting even passages of Tehillim which do not contain requests for the issue one is facing but rather of praise of ...
3
votes
1answer
75 views

Were Sephardic/Ashkenazic positions on women influenced by Muslim/Christian surroundings?

The majority of Ashkenazic communities hail from (majority-Christian) Eastern Europe, while most Sephardic communities come from the (majority-Muslim) Middle East and North Africa. Islam seems to ...
2
votes
2answers
226 views

Animal sacrifice in Judaism — was it copied from other religions?

Why is there animal sacrifice in Judaism? Animal sacrifice was found in other religions before Judaism, so could it be that the Jews copied the practice of animal sacrifice from other religions?
7
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0answers
54 views

What are the origins of the תושלב"ע prayer at the end of holy books?

When I finished the Book of Bereishit this Shabbos, the Tanakh I was reading concluded with this prayer: תם ונשלם תהילה לאל בורא עולם (Finished and completed. Praise to G!d, Creator of the Universe.) ...
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 ...
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0answers
23 views

Giving children presents on chanukkah [duplicate]

My parents give me and my siblings presents on chanukkah. Where did this custom come from?
2
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0answers
37 views

Who wrote “the traditional Conservative melody” to Adon Olam?

Who wrote "the traditional Conservative melody" to Adon Olam? It's the third recording on this page: http://zemirotdatabase.org/view_song.php?id=23#rec (you have to click "Load recordings" to see the ...
1
vote
1answer
163 views

Origin of Chabad tefillin

I have wondered for some time about certain elements of Chabad minhagim re. tefillin, so here goes: What is the origin of their kesher shel yad? When was it decided that they should be huge (4x4cm ...
2
votes
1answer
176 views

Where does Kugelach come from?

Is there a Jewish origin to the game called kugelach which I played as a child in shul? Does it have any connection to the 5 stones Dovid used to kill Goliat?
7
votes
2answers
99 views

First use of the term “Taharat HaMischpacha ”

When and by whom (and why) was the phrase "טהרת המשפחה" ("family purity") first used to describe the halachot relating to niddah?
4
votes
0answers
47 views

Origin of the common M'chalkel niggun

There is a niggun, which I personally find rather inane, for the main paragraph of the second brachah of the Amidah. I have never been in a schul where it is not sung (. I have heard other niggunim ...
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0answers
125 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
75 views

Origin of Unveiling

Often, the family of the deceased will have an unveiling service for the presentation of the matzevah.* What is the origin of this custom? *Source: Goldin, Hyman. Hamadrikh. Hebrew Publishing ...
3
votes
0answers
37 views

Seeking sources for the history of the parshiot

The Gemarah does not seem to make much mention of the 54 Torah parshiot in the annual Torah reading. I don't know, offhand, what Ramba"m mentions about them either. I am organizing a small lecture ...
6
votes
1answer
71 views

Selichot origins

In what year (CE) did saying selichot in Elul begin? In what year were they made a standard addition to prayer books? Looking for an academic answer, not the yeshivahish one. And did Sephardim start ...
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0answers
46 views

Selichos during Beis HaMikdash? [duplicate]

a) When were the tefillos of Selichos instituted or composed? b) Who composed them? When were they first said? Did they say selichos in the times of the Beis HaMikdash ?
4
votes
2answers
86 views

Kiddush, Learning and Mitzvos for dead/niftar neshamos

I seek an early source that giving Kiddush (so others will make a bracha for the zchus of the neshama) or other such actions that can positively affect the neshamos of those who have departed.
3
votes
1answer
196 views

Halachik source for wearing stockings

What is the Halachik source for women covering their lower legs (past the knee)? And why would sheer stockings be acceptable if the point is to cover the lower leg?
3
votes
1answer
48 views

Ashkenazi STa"M name

Why is Ashkenazi sta"m sofer referred to as Beit Yosef? Typically, the term refers to the seminal masterpiece written by the Mechaber, a Sephardi authority: so what gives?
5
votes
1answer
82 views

When did Yom Kippur Kattan originate?

The day before Rosh Hodesh is considered like a "mini" Yom Kippur. (I understand that there are some months, I think before Tishrei and Nissan that do not have YKK? Correct me if I'm mistaken.) Some ...
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0answers
43 views

Questions related to shul structure

I am seeking sources related to the origin of the physical structure of a shul. Specifically: Placement of the ark in the front of the shul. Torah reader's bimah - I've seen 3 arrangements: Most ...
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0answers
42 views

Akeidah and Ketoret

The earliest siddur I own (London, 5569 [18808-09]) does not include Ketoret or Akeidah, despite purporting to follow the customs of the "German and Polish" communities [emphasis mine]. Since most of ...