Questions tagged [geography]

Questions about places with Jewish connections.

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120
votes
4answers
6k views

Implications of Samoa skipping a Friday

This week, the island of Samoa is switching time zones, causing it to skip from Thursday directly to Saturday. Out of simple curiosity, what implications might this have on any Jews on the island? ...
18
votes
5answers
2k views

How to reconcile Biblical Flood story vs science and history?

Genesis spends a good deal of time -- Chapters 6 through 11 -- discussing the "mabul mayim", a flood that killed all humanity outside the ark. Here is what the Torah's text says about the universality ...
18
votes
3answers
391 views

Why don't islands read the m'gila two days?

Bavli, M'gila 5 amud 2, cites a doubt as to when the m'gila is read in T'verya: on the fourteenth of Adar, as in most places, or on the fifteenth, as in a city walled since the time of Y'hoshua. The ...
17
votes
2answers
352 views

How to determine “population statistics” for population-dependent Halachot?

There appear to be several halachot that are based on "a majority of Israel". For example: Mishnah Berachot 54a: הרואה מקום שנעשו בו נסים לישראל אומר ברוך שעשה נסים לאבותינו במקום הזה IF ONE ...
16
votes
2answers
224 views

Hagalah in Denver?

In high-altitude cities, water boils at a lower temperature than the standard 212 degrees Farenheit. For example, in Denver the boiling point is about 203 degrees. Can one kasher utensils with hagalah ...
15
votes
5answers
802 views

Why wasn't the Torah given in Israel?

One might naturally expect that the Jewish people would enter the land and then receive the Torah there. It seems logical to me that the Torah should come from a holy place characterized by the ...
15
votes
4answers
735 views

Commencing Shabbos: Shkiya behind a mountain

It is common practice nowadays for Shuls to publish the zmanim (times) to begin Shabbos (the Sabbath) and other activities. These times, it would seem, are based upon standard calculations of sunrise ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

May one walk under the Arch of Titus?

I have heard that it is prohibited (or at least that the custom is not) to walk under the Arch of Titus in Rome. Is this accurate? If so, what is the source? Would it make a difference if a large ...
14
votes
2answers
152 views

Does Shmita apply in Jordan?

Since the East bank of the Jordan River was given to shevet Reuven as an inheritance, was Shmita observed there as well? If so, does shmita still apply there?
13
votes
4answers
368 views

Were the people of Chelm really unintelligent? [closed]

There are many stories that are told over about the people who lived in Chelm. They all have the theme of: the people in Chelm were fairly unintelligent. Where did this come from? Is it true? It ...
12
votes
5answers
320 views

Where was Adam created?

The Torah tells us G-d brought Adam into Gan Eden after his creation from earth (Bereishis 2:15). If this is the case where was Adam created?
12
votes
2answers
8k views

Is the term Cushite used to refer to people of African descent?

While reading the book of Numbers (I am a Christian, I don't know if it is referred to something else in Judaism), I came across the passage (Numbers 12:1-15) where Miriam and Aaron were speaking ...
12
votes
1answer
294 views

Is all-night Shavu'ot learning as prevelant in the Southern Hemisphere?

In the Northern Hemisphere, Shavu'ot falls in the late Spring or early Summer. As a result, sunrise is relatively early, so learning "all night" and then praying the morning service at the earliest ...
12
votes
1answer
593 views

When does a day start/end in the far North/South?

As I understand it, a day in the Jewish calendar is from sunset to sunset. How is this handled if you are living so far north or south that you have long periods of daylight or darkness?
12
votes
2answers
215 views

Did Shuls in Europe display their countries' flags prior to the holocaust?

Prior to the holocaust, did Shuls in Europe display their countries' respective flags? Do Shuls currently display their countries' flags? When did it start and why?
12
votes
2answers
358 views

ribis and foreign currency conversion

I am afraid that I have only recently started to study this kind of thing and I completely unlearned compared to most of the contributors here, so I apologize if my question is somewhat ...
12
votes
1answer
155 views

Facing Yerushalaim during Kaddish

Must one face Yerushlaim (or the Hechal) when reciting Kaddish,the way one should for Amida? This seems to be generally practiced; does it have a source in the Shulchan Aruch or achronim or is it a ...
11
votes
3answers
425 views

Rivers in Genesis

I will be upfront about it - I am skeptical of our tradition about the Torah being given on Mount Sinai, and suspect that Judaism is a man-made religion. It's not that I don't want Judaism to be true, ...
11
votes
2answers
519 views

Is there a difference between “p” and “f” when transliterating from English to Hebrew?

When transliterating an English name to Hebrew (e.g. for a Ketubah or Get), is there a way to distinguish between a "p" and "f" sound? E.g. Fine, NY vs Pine, CO. Would both just be spelled (assuming ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Walled cities for Purim other than Jerusalem

The holiday of Purim is unique in that some locations celebrate it on different days. The rule is: if the city was walled at the time of Joshua's conquest of the Land of Israel then they celebrate on ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

Four Holy Cities

I have often seen reference to the Four Holy Cities: Jerusalem, Hebron, Safed and Tiberias. What is the earliest source to reference this? Why these four cities? Has there ever been a different count? ...
11
votes
0answers
118 views

Ritual locations during the times of the Mishkan

There are certain, rituals such as the sending away of the scapegoat on Yom Kippur or the drawing of water on Sukkot which are described in Mishna as relating geographically to the location of the ...
10
votes
4answers
5k views

How precisely oriented towards Jerusalem should we face for praying?

I know we're supposed to face towards Jerusalem when praying/davening. For most of us in the Europe or the Western Hemisphere, we're used to facing "Mizrach", east. How precise should we be? If I'...
10
votes
1answer
174 views

Noach Burial Place

Where was Noach buried? (or, do we know?)
10
votes
3answers
580 views

Pre-1948, what flags were found in American synagogues?

Certainly throughout the 1970s and 1980s, it was not at all uncommon to see an American synagogue where the Aron Kodesh was flanked by American and Israeli flags. Pre-1948, was there just an American ...
10
votes
3answers
240 views

Walled from the times of Joshua: Why Joshua?

The Halacha is that those who live in a city that was walled in the times of Yehoshuah reads on a different day (Rambam Hilchos Megillah 1:4-5). The question is why from Yehoshuah (Joshua) when the ...
10
votes
2answers
587 views

Is Gan Eden a physical place?

Is Gan Eden mentioned in Genesis a physical place? Does it exist physically somewhere on the planet or is it some kind of spiritual place or even some kind of analogy?
10
votes
1answer
510 views

Are there any Synagogues or Rabbis available in Pakistan?

There was once a very thriving Jewish community available in Pakistan. There was a Synagogue in the port city of Karachi as well till 1985. What is the current situation now? What if someone would ...
9
votes
3answers
14k views

Why blessings on Mt. Gerizim and curses on Mt. Ebal?

Devarim 11:29 says: וְהָיָה, כִּי יְבִיאֲךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר-אַתָּה בָא-שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ--וְנָתַתָּה אֶת-הַבְּרָכָה עַל-הַר גְּרִזִים, וְאֶת-הַקְּלָלָה עַל-הַר עֵיבָל. ...
9
votes
2answers
270 views

Why does the cave of machpelah have special significance?

Avraham spends considerable money and effort to acquire the cave of machpelah. I think the medrash mentions that Adam and Chava were buried there. My question is, is the cave of machpelah special ...
9
votes
1answer
442 views

How animals populated different continents after the flood?

What are some understandings as to how animals populated different continents after the flood? Did some species of animals survive the flood? Or are we to understand that the flood only affected the ...
9
votes
2answers
224 views

42 camps and 42 non-refuge Levite cities (Masei)

What is the significance of the numerical correspondence between the 42 camps or waypoints mentioned in the recounting of the forty years of wandering (Bamidbar 33) and the fact that 42 of the 48 ...
9
votes
3answers
176 views

Does learning Torah or doing Mitzvos protect others from enemies?

I know from the gemarah Bava Basra 7b-8a that learning (being a talmid chacham) or doing many mitzvos can protect oneself from enemies (such that when a city is taxed for a wall that was built to ...
9
votes
2answers
685 views

The size/shape of biblical Israel

Based on this Tosafot in Bava Metzia 28a (D"H Chamisha Asar Yom), Eretz Israel is a square (400 sq. Parsah), and the distance between Jerusalem and the Jordan river is 1/39th the distance between ...
9
votes
1answer
272 views

Why is it common for the people in the chumash to name every place they pass?

It seems pretty arbitrary, but in many cases in the Chumash, we find our patriarchs, Moses, etc, name places they pass based on some action that took place there. Is there any additional meaning to ...
9
votes
1answer
368 views

Is Juneau, Alaska — surrounded by natural barriers — a natural eruv

I recently visited Juneau, Alaska. It is a small city of 35,000. The city limits are quite large, however -- 3,225 square miles -- but much of this area is separated from downtown Juneau on Douglas ...
8
votes
2answers
216 views

How did the Sages know that Jerusalem had a wall in the times of Joshua?

The criterion for whether a city celebrates Purim on 14 Adar or Shushan Purim on 15 Adar is whether it was walled in the times of Joshua (about 3300 years ago). (Well, Shushan itself is an exception, ...
8
votes
1answer
341 views

When is “vesain tal umotor” said in Australia?

When is "vesain tal umotor" said in the Southern Hemisphere eg Australia?
8
votes
1answer
214 views

Does the Third Temple have to be built on the Temple Mount?

Suppose it is allowed for Jews in the present to build a Third Temple, does that temple have to stand on the Temple Mount? Modern Israel is in many ways (actually most) not similar to the Israelite's ...
8
votes
1answer
398 views

Sheidim after the Baal Shem Tov

According to the Minchas Elazar, the Baal Shem Tov evicted the Sheidim from where humans live. Does that mean that they are still located in the wilderness areas and one must be "choshesh" for them ...
7
votes
2answers
905 views

Sources for the world being round in the Gemara

Can anyone bring me proofs from the Gemara that proves the world was round-and that this was known 2000+ years ago? I have looked around and I can't seem to find any sources which prove this.
7
votes
3answers
145 views

Are there any eruvs that include both sides of a US Interstate Highway?

Are there any eruvs that include both sides of a US Interstate Highway? I assumed this was halachically and/or logistically impossible. Is that correct? Can anyone prove this wrong by (groan) ...
7
votes
1answer
565 views

Where does the Maharsha mention the Bermuda Triangle?

Someone once told me that the Maharsha talks about Bermuda Triangle in meseches berachos. Does anyone know where the Maharsha speaks about it?
7
votes
4answers
380 views

Comprehensive map/list of active Orthodox synagogues in the U.S

Does anyone know of a map or list of all the active Orthodox shuls in the U.S.? When I was looking for which residencies to apply to it was my limiting factor and sometimes it was hard to find out ...
7
votes
2answers
271 views

Were the Cities of Refuge ever built?

Are there any sources saying that the ערי מקלט were really built? I heard once that it was too hard to built the all the roads to them so they were never actually constructed. I know in Yehoshua ...
7
votes
1answer
914 views

Is it mutar to walk over the George Washington Bridge on shabbos?

Is it mutar to walk over the George Washington Bridge on shabbos? In terms of techumin
7
votes
3answers
440 views

Saying Mashiv HaRuach in the Southern Hemisphere

In the Southern Hemisphere (Brazil, Australia, South Africa, etc.) in October they are heading into the summer. Do they say Mashiv HaRuach at this time of the year or do they say it from Pesach to ...
7
votes
3answers
267 views

Why Italia of Yavan?

The gemara in Megila 6b refers to איטליא של יון זה כרך גדול של רומי, which translates literally as: Italy of Greece, this is the great city of Rome. This seems odd insofar as I know, Italy never ...
7
votes
2answers
530 views

What's the history of Hekhalot/Heichalot/Heikhalot literature?

There is a field of study, which focuses on the Hekhalot literature. However, the internet gives conflicting information about them. For example, some state that they were written by the early ...
7
votes
2answers
124 views

Why is it that there appear to be so many different nuschaos of Selichos?

Why is it that there appear to be more different nuschaos of Selichos than other tefillos? I have heard of Askenaz, Sfard, Lita, Polin and Ungvar.