Questions tagged [historical-figures]

questions pertaining to Jewish historical figures

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What does it mean that Jacob had two concubines?

The Wikipedia article on the 12 tribes of Israel mention that Jacob had two wives, Leah and Rachel and two concubines Bilhah and Zilpah. What does the word concubine mean here? Is it like a mistress?
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Was Herod Jewish?

Slightly related. This topic has been on my mind lately. According to Josephus, Herod's father Antipater was the son of Antipas, one of the Edomites converted by Yochanan Hyrcanus. I asked one of the ...
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Rav Kook's full name

Recently, I discovered that when the Rav Kook was sick before he died, a third name was added to his name - Yechizkiyahu. This can be seen in this sign calling to people to pray for him: (image taken ...
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Who was Channah? [duplicate]

Throughout the Gemara we find grandchildren of Channah. There's Rabbah bar bar Channah, and R Yitzchak bar bar Channah, both quoted extensively, and maybe others that I don't know about because I don'...
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From where do we get the birthplace of R Nehunia Ben Hakana?

According to Aryeh Kaplan in his introduction to the Bahir, R Nehunia Ben Hakana is from Ammaus (Emmaus). This is also indicated on the Jewish Virtual Encyclopedia and Wikipedia. None of these sources ...
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Who were students of both the Vilna Gaon and the Maggid of Mezrich

I know Rav Avraham Kalisk was, and Mordechai Babroisk. I know there were others, but there seems to be quite a few more.
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3 votes
3 answers
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Jewish historical novels

Do you know any Jewish historical novels that center around the lives and times of the rabbis of the Talmud? I know As a Driven Leaf but very few others.
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Did Maimonides really refer to Muhammad (the Islamic prophet) as a false prophet and a madman?

Maimonides referred to Muhammad as a false prophet and an insane man. In his Epistle to Yemen he wrote "After Jesus arose the Madman who emulated his precursor Jesus, since he paved the way for ...
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5 votes
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Who wrote the Haggada?

Who wrote our haggada? Was is a tanna, amora or reishon? I've heard different rumors from different people. Some say Rashi compiled it. Some say it was a tanna while others say it was an amora.
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2 votes
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Why was Nevuchadnezer able to command horses not to whinny, and birds not to fly?

In the second chapter of Daniel in verse 38, At the beginning of his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream Daniel explains "Hashem, gave you rule over People, wild breasts and birds of heaven, ...
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Where can I find a compilation of all the Chida's (Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai) riddles?

Did the Chida write a separate book of riddles or the few I've heard are from various different books?
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Who is Onkelos?

We're all familiar with Onkelos as a convert and a translator. According to Wikipedia, he was a prominent Roman nobleman, the son of a man named Callinicus and the sister of Titus, the Roman emperor. ...
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Looking for source of story about the Noda Beyehuda and the Baal Shem Tov

I'm looking for a source of a supposed conversation between the Node Beyehuda and the Baal Shem Tov regarding the reliablitiy of a mystical 'halachic sixth sense' in halacha. It involved the Baal Shem ...
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Known Autodidact Talmidei Chachumim (Gedolim) [closed]

Most Gedolim are known for their saintly deeds and breadth of Torah knowledge. Most of the Gedolim are known to have to learnt by other Gedolim or other giants in torah. But there are a number of ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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Who is Artaxerxes of Ezra 4?

Ezra 4:4-24: 4. Thereupon the people of the land undermined the resolve of the people of Judah, and made them afraid to build. 5. They bribed ministers in order to thwart their plans all the years of ...
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Who was the last Samukh (סמוך)?

Who was the last 'Samukh' (סמוך)? Rambam stated in the introduction of his book, that the last Sanhedrin (סנהדרין) was a little before the Talmud was edited. But it says nothing about the last ...
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5 votes
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Day of Yosef’s Sale

I saw in a medrash - but can’t recall where - that the brothers sold Yosef on the tenth of Teveis. Does any which medrash I could find this in?
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What made Yochanan go off?

After Yochanan served as the Kohen Gadol for 80 years, he "left the fold" (Berachos 29a) ולא והא תנן אל תאמין בעצמך עד יום מותך שהרי יוחנן כ"ג שמש בכהונה גדולה שמנים שנה ולבסוף נעשה צדוקי The ...
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Why does Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer only connect certain berachos of Shemoneh Esrei to events in Tanach?

According to Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer: The first beracha of Shemoneh Esrei, "Blessed are You, Hashem, Protector of Avraham," refers to Hashem's protecting Avraham during the war with the four kings (ch....
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Where does Flavius Josephus get his description of historical events about the Patriarchs

Josephus lived in the 1st century and would accurately report the history in that time period. However he does report about the activities of the Patriarchs. These stories are found in the Jewish ...
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2 votes
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Does anyone know what siddur the Minchas Elazar, z"l, used?

I was wondering if anyone knows what specific siddur the Minchas Elazar, z"l, davened from? Also, where to find it today.
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6 votes
1 answer
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Are there any Rishonim buried in England and France

Do we know of any of the burial places of Rishonim around France and England? I know Rabbi Yisrael Meir Gabbai has found some but are there any tools to source ancient Jewish cemeteries e.g. a map?
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Who is Eliakim? Could he be both a son of the son of Hilkiah and Josiah?

In Kings II 18, Eliakim is the son of Hilkiah the kohen gadol, in Kings II 23 he is referred to as Jehoiakim son of Josiah. How could he be both?
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3 votes
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Sources that Reuven slept with Bilah

Okay, so this is how it seems like the correct translation of this pasuk is: that Reuven went and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine…” (Bereshit 35:21-22) That would be an unbelievable act if ...
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What is known about Asaph son of Berechiah?

Is Asaph ben Berechiah the person mentioned in 1 Chronicles 16? What else do we know about him?
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If there were people before/during Avraham's life that recognised Hashem, why was Avraham chosen specifically?

We know that Shem lived during the life of Avraham Avinu, described as Malki Tzedek. Why is Avraham considered the first to spread ethical monotheism (concluding in G-d choosing him) if it's known ...
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What are some major differences between the G'RA and the Ba'al Shem Tov?

What are some major differences between the G'RA and the Ba'al Shem Tov, in terms of hashkafa, learning style, and other differences? Any sources would be great.
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The acronym יש״ו ימח שמו וזכרו

Is there any connection between the acronym יש״ו ימח שמו וזכרו and ישו the person? Is this just a coincidence, or does the acronym actually originate with the historical ישו?
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Who was a סרקייא?

Throughout Talmud Yerushalmi, there are references to סרקייא. The translation I am using translates it "Saracen," but that seems anachronistic. One reference in Bava Metzia indicates it is a non-...
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What literally was the mark of Cain?

וַיֹּ֧אמֶר ל֣וֹ יְהוָ֗ה לָכֵן֙ כָּל־הֹרֵ֣ג קַ֔יִן שִׁבְעָתַ֖יִם יֻקָּ֑ם וַיָּ֨שֶׂם יְהוָ֤ה לְקַ֙יִן֙ א֔וֹת לְבִלְתִּ֥י הַכּוֹת־אֹת֖וֹ כָּל־מֹצְאֽוֹ׃ (Genesis 4:15) What literally was the mark of Cain?...
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Is King Saul positively regarded in Judaism?

King David is well-known to be positively regarded in Judaism, not only for his great accomplishments and devotion (psalms, if not authored by him, became prominent because of him), but also as the ...
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1 vote
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Is there is any way to learn the names of people who were working on the preparation of the Vilna Shas? [closed]

A lot of people worked on the Romm's Vilna Talmud published in 1880. Is there is any way to get their names?
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3 votes
3 answers
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Could Jesus have been a Rabbi?

Jesus was called a Rabbi during a time in history when being a Rabbi really meant something. He lived during the time of semicha, and his responses are often Rabbinic in nature. And so this begs the ...
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Which ספר מנורת המאור Sefer Menoras Hamaor came first?

Which ספר מנורת המאור Sefer Menoras Hamaor came first? Between the two sefarim called ספר מנורת המאור Sefer Menoras Hamaor - One written by Rav Yisrael ben Yoseph Alnakaweh, and one written by Rav ...
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1 vote
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The source of the story of GR"A and lashes

It is worrisome to argue with the Gra about the different meanings of words, particularly after the famous (apocryphal?) story of him ordering lashes for the maskil who asserted to him that gila, rina,...
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10 votes
3 answers
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Who is Queen Cleopatra in Sanhedrin 90b?

The Gemara in Sanhedrin 90b relates: (Source from Sefaria.org) (Partial Quote) .....שאלה קליאופטרא מלכתא את ר"מ Queen Cleopatra asked Rabbi Meir..... My Question: What Queen Cleopatra was this? ...
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5 votes
5 answers
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Living teachers of the Slabodka approach

The Alter of Slabodka died in 1927. Suppose someone today wanted to learn the unique "Slabodka approach" as embodied and taught by the Alter. Are there any remaining students of the Alter alive today (...
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the Rambam was hard of understanding [closed]

Someone told me that the Rambam when he was young was hard of understanding Is there a reputable source confirming this? How can I find it? What I found so far. לא הצטיין בשום תכונה מיוחדת. לא ...
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Hammurabi in the Book of Genesis

In the additional notes to the Book of Exodus in the Hertz Chumash, Rabbi Hertz writes: For nearly a century there has been continuous archæological rediscovery of ancient civilizations that had ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Source that indicates which Sefira corresponds to which persona

The Ten Sefiros can be correlated to people in Tanach. For example, Avraham is Chesed, Yitzchok is Gevurah, Moshe is Netzach, etc. I'm looking for an early source which lays out these correlations. ...
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4 votes
2 answers
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Known birthdays

In the season of my birthday, I was wondering: Which figures, from Tanach and Sha"s, do we know the exact birthday of? I am aware of Moshe's birthday being identified as the 7th of Adar. Which other ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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the Alter Rebbe's daughter had a male soul

What is the source that the Alter Rebbe's daughter (Fraida) had a male soul? I heard in a shiur that the alter rebbe said that his daughter has a male soul (I guess similar to this) Is this true (...
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4 votes
1 answer
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What do we know about Yefuneh?

(Inspired by Who was Yehoshua Bin Nun's father?, as well as the riddle "What was Kalev ben Yefuneh's father's name?" "Chetzron!") Looking for sources that an actual person named Yefuneh actually ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Aristotle learning Torah

I have seen from a few places which claim that they have found a letter written from Aristotle to Alexander the great . In the letter Aristotle laments about the fact that he wasted so much time on ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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Did Rabeinu Tam wear Rashi Tefilin?

To the best of my knowledge the majority of people that wear Rabeinu Tam Tefilin put it on without a Bracha at some later point in Tefila or after Tefila. Based on this I was wondering is there any ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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When Rishonim's title includes "ibn", is it never his father's name? [closed]

While learning in Yeshiva, we focused also on clarifying our Mesorah. We are medakdek to know the Chachamim that are discussed in each sefer. One Sefer that helps us in clarifying who the Chachamim we ...
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What is the approximate date of the demarcation between Ashkenazim and Sephardim?

Based on this article it would seem that the transition from a unified people into two groups, Ashkenazim and Sephardim, began in the 9th century and proceeded over time. I would like to know if there ...
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9 votes
3 answers
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Who is the Infamous Little Horn of Daniel 7?

"and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Who was Yalta's father?

In Gittin 67b Yalta is identified by Rashi as the daughter of the Nasi/Exilarch. Since she was married to the 3rd generation Babylonian Amora Rav Nachman (as per brachot 51b) I assume she was born ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Problem with Likkutei Maharil

I was listening to a class by Rav Asher Weiss on asmachta and he brought three explanations for its purpose: Ritvah - A derabannan that has a source in the torah Tosafos and Rambam - Memorization ...
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