Questions seeking sources for a given practice or idea, or seeking the location of a specific source.

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1answer
98 views

Rashi's biography sources

I know that Rashi had daughters — either two or three — and no sons. I also know he was a vintner — meaning he made wine. I know he was a student of or student of a student of Rabenu Gershom. I guess ...
4
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3answers
130 views

Where and when is the earliest attestation of the word “mohel”?

Where is the earliest attestation of the word mohel for one who performs the act associated with a ritual circumcision? When was it written? What language is it? [Inspired by Why is there a ה in ...
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3answers
172 views

Study of Written Law Without Comprehension

What are the earliest sources that confirm or contradict the assertion that recitation of Torah Shebiksav fulfills the obligation to study Torah even without understanding of the words? Preferred: ...
4
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1answer
114 views

Kalam Cosmological Argument

Wikipedia writes: The Kalām cosmological argument is a variation of the cosmological argument that argues for the existence of a first cause for the universe, and the existence of a god. Its ...
4
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2answers
135 views

Did HaShem “regret” creating someone/something

I heard once that it says somewhere in Chazal that there were certain things or people that HaShem "regretted" (had "charatah") in creating. Although I don't remember which examples were given or if a ...
4
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1answer
307 views

Do Jews believe the content of Maccabees (I-IV) is true?

This related question touches on the book of Maccabees. I was wondering if Jews believe the content of Maccabees (I-IV) is true, even though it is outside the canon. If any of the Rishonim or ...
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1answer
86 views

Source and reason for throwing the Hoshanos on top of the Aron Kodesh

I have seen in many Shuls on Hoshana Raba after using the Hoshanos people throw the used Hoshanos on top of the Aron Kodesh. What is the reason and source for this Minhag?
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1answer
126 views

Midrash on children and the letter shapes?

I've heard about a midrash that discusses a day when little children took over the study hall and, by interpreting the shapes of the Hebrew letters, articulated many of Judaism's most powerful ...
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1answer
1k views

What is the source of the Birkat Habayit?

What is the source of the text of the Birkat Habayit: May this house be a place of happiness and health, of contentment, generosity and hope, a home of creativity and kindness. May those ...
4
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1answer
94 views

Jewish saying: “To be lenient when you should be firm is to be cruel when you could be kind.”?

I heard today there is an old Jewish saying that goes something like this: "To be lenient when you should be firm is to be cruel when you could be kind." This, as so many Jewish sayings do, ...
4
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1answer
476 views

Can one play computer games on Chol Hamoed

I know that there is a debate among the poskim as to whether one can type on Chol Hamoed. Does anyone discuss whether one can play computer games on Chol Hamoed?
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1answer
46 views

Which Tzemach Tzedek?

When the Pitchei Teshuva (on the daf of Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah) quotes teshuvot of the Tzemach Tzedek, who is he quoting? Is he quoting Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, the Tzemach Tzedek of ...
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1answer
69 views

Counting years according to the solar calendar

I once heard there is an opinion in Rishonim (maybe Gaonim?) that says we count ones years of life according to the solar calender. So for example a boy would become bar mitzvah when he would turn 13 ...
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1answer
231 views

Source of “Legitimate pleasures” quote

A quote that sometimes appears on the internet is the following: "Everyone will be called to account for all the legitimate pleasures which he or she has failed to enjoy." It is usually attributed ...
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4answers
461 views

How do we know that God does not take human form?

Christianity believes that God takes human shape in the form of Jesus, and comes down to earth as a man. Of course, Jews do not believe that God ever takes the shape of a human, but how do we know ...
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2answers
149 views

What is the source for lighting a candle for the whole year after the death of a close relative?

I am familiar with the idea of a yahrzeit candle. I have observed a custom of keeping a flame alight for the whole year (or maybe 11 months) after the death of a close relative. (When one goes out, ...
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1answer
301 views

What is the origin on metziztah b'peh?

Is metzitzah b'peh of biblical origin or was it instituted by the rabbis? What is the source for this practice?
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1answer
105 views

Source in Tosafos for playing ball on Yom Tov

I know there is a Tosafos in Beitza 12a that discusses playing ball on Yom Tov, but I remember learning another Tosafos which said something like "for children under nine it would be permitted on ...
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3answers
280 views

Source in Jewish writings for Moshiach?

What is the source in Jewish writings (Pre-Rambam) that there is a concept of a Moshiach, and his nature?
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3answers
2k views

Eating at a shiva house

What is the basis for some people's practice not to eat the food at a shiva house; is there a halachik basis for this, is it a minhag or perhaps just superstition?
4
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1answer
77 views

Washing After Leaving Cemetary

What are the earliest sources (i.e. Chazal or Rishonim) for washing one's hands after visiting a cemetery? Is this mentioned by the Rambam?
4
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1answer
61 views

Source for statement that we don't know how to rebuke today

I recall hearing that someone, perhaps R' Yisroel Salanter, said that today we do not know how to respectfully give rebuke, and therefore we are all in the category of onus regarding the mitzvah of ...
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1answer
97 views

Why did R. Zera want to forget the Talmud Bavli?

I read that R. Zera fasted one hundred days to forget the Babylonian Talmud before he left Babylon to live in the Land of Israel. Why would he do this when I've understood that the Babylonian Talmud ...
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2answers
232 views

דע לפני מי אתה עומד on the ark

In some shuls it says on the ark, "Da Lifnei Mi Atah Omeid." Is there any source from which that comes?
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3answers
109 views

Interpreting divine messages

It is an article of faith that Hashem directs our lives individually (hashgacha pratit), and part of that guidance includes instructions about what each person should or shouldn't be doing. If we had ...
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4answers
165 views

Bitahon and Hishtadlut for livelihood

The Sefarim discuss (see Hobot Halevavot, Michtav MeEliyahu etc.) the idea of being Mishtadel (making an effort) for one's livelihood but believing that the Hishtadlut (effort) has absolutely nothing ...
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1answer
281 views

Where does it say that one must wear two layers on their head(one of the reasons for the black hat)?

I know that a reason for wearing a black hat is because one must wear two layers covering their head (Mishna Brurah 91:5) but am wondering if that Din is based in Kabbalah?
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1answer
99 views

What is a “migu”

A popular topic discussed sometimes at length in Yeshivas I would like to pose the question here with a few additional points: What is a "migu"? How is it used in Shas? What is a "classic" (or the ...
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1answer
61 views

Gemara on volunteering?

I heard that there was a Gemara to the effect of "volunteers cost more than employees because their motivation is not as good" -- or somesuch. Any ideas? Thanks.
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1answer
57 views

Source for the description of Mashiach in MBD's “Some Day”

Mordechai Ben David's classic song "Some Day" gives a description of what will happen in Yemot HaMashiach (the days of Mashiach). It seems to be a very popular song, and has doubtlessly influenced ...
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1answer
88 views

Vilna Gaon on Yom HaAtzmaut?

I've heard repeatedly the claim that there is a specific prediction by the Vilna Gaon regarding the dates of Yom HaAtzma'ut (5 Iyar) and Yom Yerushalayim (28 Iyar). What is the source for this claim? ...
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2answers
81 views

What were the Rambam's sources?

In the introduction to the Mishneh Torah, the Rambam indicates that his compilation of the entire Oral Torah is derived from a few key Jewish texts: ואין צריך לומר הגמרא עצמה הבבלית והירושלמית ...
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1answer
75 views

Can an autopsy be performed on a Jewish body?

Halachically can one perform an autopsy on a Jewish body? One one hand, the Talmud Sanhedrin 47a explains that the verses in Deuteronomy 21:22-23 we can learn that one must not delay a burial and ...
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1answer
145 views

Should single men not sit at corner of the table?

I heard that there some say that single men should not sit at the corner of the table, because it could lead to someone staying single forever. Is there a source for this idea?
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3answers
201 views

text for Rav Kook's positive viduy?

It was quoted in a class that I was in once that Rav Kook has a text for a positive viduy where he takes the normal expression of sin and inverts it to talk about what we have done right. What is the ...
4
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2answers
362 views

Is praising non-Jews actually prohibited?

The gemara Avodah Zara (20) explains that praising a non-Jew is a violation of "lo sechaneim", and this is quoted in the Rambam (Hil. Avodah Zara 10:6) and the Shulchan Aruch (Y"D 151, and Shach s.k. ...
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1answer
88 views

Is there a stated freedom to contract?

In the United States (and other countries), there is the notion of the freedom to contract. This is the idea that two people of sound mind have the right to enter into any contract with one another ...
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1answer
56 views

Origin of “May God Avenge His Blood” (הי"ד)

What is the origin (i.e earliest usages) of appending הי"ד ("May God Avenge His Blood") after the name of a murder victim.
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2answers
136 views

sources that neatness brings brocho/mazal

I heard in a daf yomi shiur on the end of Moed Katan (27a ‘Couch of Fortune’) that Jews kept an extra neat bed for brocho/mazal. One of the reasons that he gave was that in general neatness brings ...
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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.
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1answer
49 views

Source for exemption of hekdesh by nizkei adam

What is the source of the פטור (exemption) of הקדש by נזקי אדם (damage to property done by a person)? Tosfos on Bava Kama 7a (continued from 6b sv שור רעהו; on 7a, beginning of narrow lines) teaches ...
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1answer
185 views

Where does the Talmud discuss the reason for Onan's death?

Genesis 38 says that instead of impregnating Tamar, Onan let his seed go to waste, and that this angered God, and therefore God killed Onan. I have a vague memory of reading somewhere in the Talmud ...
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2answers
167 views

Source for Quote about the cost of bread in the times before Moshiach?

Does anyone know where it says that in the times before moshiach, it will cost a barrel of money to buy a loaf of bread? I remember hearing that, but can't find the source. The reason I ask that is ...
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1answer
301 views

Ana B'Koach authorship and the 42 letter name of Hashem

In my Artscroll siddur it tells me that the hymn Ana B'Koach was written by the tanna, Rebbi Nechunia ben HaKana and that the first letter of each word can be used to form the 42 letter name of ...
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1answer
279 views

Have poskim written about partnership minyanim?

Are there any contemporary responsa regarding partnership minyanim, such as Shira Hadasha and Darkei Noam? Various rabbis have written against it (e.g., R. Student, R. Rothstein, R. Firmer) and it ...
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1answer
115 views

Wearing wool Tzitzis on Shabbos

Is it better to wear wool tzitzis? indicates that it is better Halachically to wear a woolen Beged with woolen Tzitzis. Recently I met a fellow who the entire week wears cotton Tzitzis, yet on Shabbos ...
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1answer
330 views

Source for story of Rashi, the King, and the Four Horsemen

There is a story (you can read the details here) about Rashi telling a King that he will conquer Yerushalaim for 3 days and return with 3 horses and 3 riders. The King returned with 4, but as they ...
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1answer
76 views

The history behind the composition and inclusion of V'lo N'tato

I'm curious about the composition and inclusion in the shabbat shacharit of the paragraph beginning ולא נתתו (v'lo n'tato). I understand the talmudic basis for the underlying idea, and how it fits in ...
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1answer
119 views

Is the idea that there is always at least one illness with an unknown cure - a Jewish idea?

I have heard many times that there will always be at least one illness that is uncurable. Is this a Jewish idea? What is its source?
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1answer
100 views

Matzah the entire week

Is it the Vilna Gaon who maintains that it is a mitzvah to eat matzah (to eat matzah, in addition to abstaining from chametz) every day and night during the week of Passover, or somebody else? The ...