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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Every blessing begins baruch attah adonai elohany melech ha'olam. Why?

For the past half-century, every blessing I have recited has begun with " baruch attah adonai elohany melech ha'olam". Why is this so? When was the phrase created? Was there some rationale behind ...
-2
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1answer
71 views

Does this passage prove a Greek source to the prohibition of speaking the Tetragramaton?

Follow-up to previous quesitons: Where are Jews forbidden to speak the name of God How can we learn the correct way to pronounce God's name? I found a quote from The Babylonian Talmud that ...
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2answers
178 views

greek philosophy and Judaism

Why is it that the Rishonim and many Achronim used to be fluent in philosophy (mainly Greek) and these days it's unheard of, is it due to our weakness but is really allowed?
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0answers
13 views

Kaddish Said by Mourners [duplicate]

When was it instituted that all those who are aveilim in a minyan recite Kaddish? I am under the impression that most codifiers are of the opinion that only one person in the minyan is designated to ...
5
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1answer
143 views

Where are Jews forbidden to speak the name of God

It is commonly asserted that the Jews do not speak the name of God (Tetragramaton) in reverence to the Name. It is even treated as taboo to speak or pronounce, or utter the name. Yet, in the Bible ...
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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 ...
2
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0answers
43 views

chupah (tallit gadol) above bimah on Shavuot

I was wondering as I hear it for the first time that one of my friend told me that they made a chupah(hung tallit gadol) above bimah on Shavuot.he told me its a custom that we do every year, but we ...
2
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0answers
31 views

What is the source of Perek Shira

What is the source of Perek Shira. That is; when was it composed, and by whom? According to Wikipedia it is mentioned as early as the tenth century. is there any evidence that it is older than this. ...
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0answers
40 views

What is the sefardic custom concerning wearing tallis katan?

I have heard that sefardim wear a tallis katan only for shacharis and then take it off. Is that so? If so, when did this custom arise and why?
8
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1answer
118 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 ...
14
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4answers
997 views

Why do Jewish people sway while praying?

Is there a reason that people sway back and forth while praying? I saw a lot of people pray like this, but I'm too shy to ask them why do they do this.
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2answers
100 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 ...
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2answers
4k views

Is this really in the Talmud?

I've seen this before on anti-semetic sites - is it really in the Talmud? Extracts from the Jewish text the Talmud "Just the Jews are humans, the non-Jews are no humans, but cattle" ...
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2answers
75 views

When did the custom of Be'in HaZemanim begin in the yeshivah world?

In the yeshivah world, it is common custom (across all 'edot) to observe a vacation period surrounding certain holidays (e.g. Pessah) called Be'in HaZemanim. When was this custom adopted and under ...
11
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4answers
411 views

What's “chelek Eloak mimaal”?

I have frequently heard the human (or only the Jewish?) soul referred to as "חלק אלוק ממעל", literally "portion/section/piece/allotment of God (from) above". What does this mean? Who's the first to ...
6
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1answer
77 views

Who composed THIS melody for Shoshanat Ya'akov?

For my latest lesson video on Jewish Music Toronto, I did the song Shoshanat Ya'akov. I'm really happy with how the video came out, especially because I got to reference the Mi Yodeya community a ...
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4answers
628 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 ...
2
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0answers
43 views

Earliest reference to women making the bracha of Shechayanu by candle lighting on yom tov

There is a minhag that I think is prevalent in most of klal yisrael that when a woman lights candles in honor of yom tov she at that point recites the bracha of shechayanu (rather than being "yotzee" ...
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1answer
39 views

Shabbos Zemiros source for Al Ahavosicha?

My family sings a zemer called al ahavosich, which i have never seen in a standard bencher/zmiros book. Does anyone know where this zemer comes from?
5
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2answers
171 views

Source of a common tune to “Adon olam”

The liturgical poem beginning "Adon olam" is often sung (including as part of prayer services) to the same tune as "The Poet and the Prophet". Was that tune originally to (i.e. written for) Adon Olam? ...
11
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3answers
138 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 Company:...
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0answers
678 views

Where did the “a cat will always be a cat” story about the Rambam come from?

I've seen and heard a story about the Rambam told multiple times along the lines of this particularly concise retelling: There is a beautiful story of a disagreement that Maimonides had with a ...
10
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1answer
96 views

What is the origin of using a different trope mode for the High Holidays in Nusach Ashkenaz?

I noticed that during the High Holidays there isa special trope mode that is used in Nusach Ashkenaz shuls. I assume they do the same in many Nusach Sefard shuls as well. When and where (or who ...
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0answers
103 views

Hand gesture origin for “David Melech Yisrael” song

What is the origin of the gestures for the song whose text is "David melech yisrael, chai chai v'kayam"? (An example would be https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWItJ0TF2fw.)
11
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1answer
253 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 ...
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2answers
666 views

Where did the sing-song chant that Jews often use while contrasting points come from?

I am having a very hard time coming up with a good way to describe the phenomenon that I am thinking of, but many people will recognize it. I am talking about the kind of singing rhythm that people ...
10
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4answers
309 views

Sitting for “Ashre”?

I have seen people seemingly careful to sit down when beginning the paragraph of prayers that starts "Ashre yosh've vesecha" (Ps. 84:5). One such person told me that he was, in fact, careful to do so, ...
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2answers
462 views

Where does the tune for birkat hamazon come from?

It's hard to describe who's tune this is and I can only refer to it as the 'commonly used' or 'popular' tune for birkat hamazon. I seems like it is compiled of many unrelated tunes. At times there are ...
1
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1answer
121 views

Origin Of Hasidic Pronounciation [closed]

Does anyone know when and by whom the Hasidic Pronunciation started? I mean "burich" as opposed to "boruch". The same goes for Yiddish.. "vus" as opposed to "vos". I've heard that it was in opposition ...
1
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1answer
48 views

When was the term “Next World” (עולם הבא) first used in Jewish literature

In modern Jewish literature and folklore the "next world" (עולם הבא) is mentioned multiple times. In contrast, it is not mentioned (AFAIK) at all in the Torah. So where/when did this start?
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0answers
91 views

Origins of the Yerushalmi Kaftan

Among Yerushalmi Chareidim, a special dress code seems to have developed which has some features which are unique from standard Eastern Ashkenazi dress. While most Chareidim I have seen wear black ...
3
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1answer
209 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 ...
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1answer
65 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. ...
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1answer
76 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
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1answer
93 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
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1answer
153 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?
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1answer
94 views

Source for Striking Self during Viduy

What is the earliest source for striking one's chest while reciting Vidduy?
6
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0answers
148 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
1answer
121 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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2answers
2k views

Is this the Chofetz Chaim? [closed]

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 ...
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1answer
83 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
123 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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1answer
283 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 ...
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3answers
370 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?
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1answer
71 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
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2answers
142 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
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1answer
60 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 ...
2
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1answer
102 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 pre-...
2
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1answer
138 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?
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0answers
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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 ...