Questions tagged [history]

Questions related to how something was in the past, and how it's developed since then.

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Why is Esav identified with the European people?

This question is for the history buffs. Do you know why we say Esav is Rome and Esav is modern day European descendants?
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1 answer
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Where was Maaeser Sheni brought before the beit hamikdash was built?

This was eaten in Yerushalayim, but prior to the beit hamikdash what was done? I haven't seen an answer to this. Any sources would be great.
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Is there modern scholarship on Sefer HaBris?

Have there been any studies, examinations, comparisons, discussions etc. of Sefer HaBris in light of modern (~21st Century) science. I'm looking for elaboration on this book particularly within a ...
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What are the prior gilgulim of modern historical figures?

Arizal is the most contemporary Rabbi to specify gilgulim in his teachings that I have studied, but I know others have come after Arizal who also dealt with the subject and could have specified who ...
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Rambam and R' Yehuda Halevi

Is there any evidence that Rambam was familiar with the writings of R' Yehuda Halevi? The more concrete the better.
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Did Judaism have a more ancient name before it became Judaism?

Judaism comes from Judah. Specifically, it comes from the Kingdom of Judah. The names we get from Torah are typically for the people and not for the faith. We were called Hebrews and then we were ...
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What's the first reference in Judaic sources to distilled alcohol products?

I know that ibn Ezra reads the Biblical phrase yayin veshechar as "wine or brandy", which is how R' Aryeh Kaplan translates it. But where/when is the first unambiguous reference to distilled ...
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When did animals stop talking?

The Torah doesn't seem to be shocked by the serpent speaking in the garden of Eden, nor does it seem surprised by other animals doing things that show some sort of consciousness with drives and ...
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On A Fully-Jewish Town in Spain

I'm preparing a shiur on Golden Age Spain and their minhagim. I remember reading in a historical chronicle (which I could have sworn was the Sefer HaKabbalah of the Raavad HaRishon) about a fully-...
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Who was Rav Yonah the grandson of Rabbeinu Yonah and Ramban?

There is a fascinating piece brought in the Shu"t HaRashbash (Rav Shlomo ben Shimon Duran) in siman 291 (although written clearly here) where it relates the following story: Rabbeinu Yonah’s ...
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Were scrolls ever written on both sides?

Every Hebrew scroll I've ever seen has been written on only one side. This makes sense both due to the physical properties of velum (the outer side is smooth and easy to write on; the inner side is ...
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Who reinvented idolatry after Noah? How did it re-emerge?

@Deuteronomy’s comment on this question made me wonder what caused the reemergence of idolatry after the flood. From Enosh to Noah, there were generations of idolaters. Noah believed in God, and ...
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Why וְעָֽרְבָה֙ לַֽיהֹוָ֔ה מִנְחַ֥ת יְהוּדָ֖ה וִירֽוּשָׁלָ֑͏ִם ? Why not only Yerushalayim?

In Malachi 3:4 וְעָֽרְבָה֙ לַֽיהֹוָ֔ה מִנְחַ֥ת יְהוּדָ֖ה וִירֽוּשָׁלָ֑͏ִם כִּימֵ֣י עוֹלָ֔ם וּכְשָׁנִ֖ים קַדְמֹנִיֹּֽת׃ Is this referring to the two kingdoms that were separated (and Benjamin had ...
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English Words in Tosfot?

Posting for someone else: Rashi occasionally provides Old French words in his commentary to help understand certain terms or concepts. Who is the earliest author to have done the same with (Old) ...
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There are at least 3 english translations of Sha'ar HaGilgulim with the same cover, but different page lengths and publishers. What's the difference?

Edit added at bottom of page. I have the one from Eichlers with 918 pages, but I noticed these others, and I am wondering if the one I own is missing chapters or pages of the translation that another ...
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Rav Sa'adyah Gaon Rolling in Snow?

There is a well-known claim that Rav Sa'adyah Gaon would roll in snow daily due to an earlier incident (see, e.g., here). According to this article, the story first appears in the late 1700s. Is ...
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Israelite/Jewish flags

Does the Talmud or any other Jewish sources for that matter discuss and/or describe any flags that were associated with ancient Israelite/Jewish kingdoms?
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Philistines destroyed the Temple?

Posting for someone else: The Rashbam on Bereshis 22:1 brings that Hashem, in retaliation for Avraham giving 7 sheep to Avimelech, says that Avimelech's descendants will destroy 7 sanctuaries of ...
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4 votes
3 answers
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What were the first rabbinic reactions to the rise of Islam?

Practically, all Jewish second-Temple diaspora in the 7th and 8th centuries fell under the rule of Islam. How did rabbis respond to the new sister religion? Did they attribute any special qualities, ...
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What earliest sources mention reincarnation explicitly? [duplicate]

Where is an explicit reference to reincarnation first mentioned in Jewish literature?
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3 votes
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The length of a line in Torah scroll

Looking at different fragments of ancient and contemporary scrolls, I wondered What are the considerations of determining the length of a line in Torah scroll/Chumash? Dead Sea Scrolls the Damascus ...
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1 vote
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What is this Ktav?

My son sent me this picture of an old voweled text, probably around 10-12 centuries CE. What stands out, is that the letter He is connected and Chet is flat on the left side. Is this a fragment of a ...
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First archaeological evidence of Crowns on Letters in a written scroll

What is the first archaeological evidence of Crowns on Letters in a written scroll of Torah? I took a look at the oldest Torah scrolls and didn't see the crowns until the 12th century.
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How do we reconcile between genesis and Science about livestock that created after bird [duplicate]

How do we reconcile between genesis and science , I mean those which said livestock created after bird and fish , just completely and blatantly against science , this alone could knock down ...
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Is acting stringently so that "he shall be blessed" an authentic mechanism?

Many times in Halachic literature I have come across the formula in which one can follow the law more stringently than is necessary, and for that he will be blessed (תבא עליו ברכה). Does this ...
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1 answer
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How did Abraham end up in Ur Kasdim when Shem and Ever lived in Israel?

IIRC, it starts with Noah landing on the Ararat mountains somewhere in nowadays Turkey. Some 300 years later we hear that Shem runs a Yeshiva in Eretz Israel together with his grand-grandson Ever and ...
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2 votes
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Story of the Shach and the Chmielnicki massacres

I heard a story in the name of Rav Shmuel Auerbach which is incredible, but I was hoping someone can confirm if it's true or not. He says that during the times of the Shach (Sifsei Kohen commentary on ...
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Origins of kriat shema [duplicate]

I'm looking for sources that discuss when it became a common practice to recite the shema. The gemara in berakhot says "m'eimotai korin et shema", when do we recite the shema, but doesn't ...
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Evidence for rabbis wearing Tefilin all day

Is there historical, archeological, or written evidence for rabbis ever wearing Tefilin all day, outside Jewish sources?
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3 votes
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Church fathers and the Rabbis

I’m wondering if there is any evidence in Jewish writings of correspondence/the mentioning of church fathers. I would assume that the interactions would have happened in the time of the late tanaaim/...
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Why is there no differentiation between drashos and asmachtos in shaas?

Similar to this quesion, I have been bothered for a while now with the following question: How is it that the Talmud was written with no indication at all between drashos gemuros and asmachtos?
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Do Medieval Rabbis speak about the Black Plague?

I was wondering if any Rabbis in the Medieval times wrote anything about the Black Plague.
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3 votes
1 answer
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Until when did the Yeshivos of Beis Hillel and Shamai exist?

We know that Hillel and Shamai themselves lived during the time of the Second Beis Hamikdash. Do we know how long their yeshivos lasted? More specifically, how late in history could the argument ...
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Who did Shalshelet Hakabblah think Onkelos was?

Rabbi Gedalyah Ibn Yechiyah in Shalshelet Hakabbah wrote: "In the fourth year of the previously mentioned emperor [Trayatzo (/Trajan?)]...there was a noble priest called Eccasia [אכקזיה] and in ...
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2 votes
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Yaavetz regarding the story with Yehudis not happening on Chanuka

Rabbi Yaakov Emden writes in his מור וקציעה seen here, in last paragraph of the second column, that the story of Yehudis had nothing to do with Chanuka and actually happened during the first exile. ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Pompey and the Holy of Holies

During the Siege of Jerusalem in 63BCE, the Roman general Pompey after defeating Jewish resistance and took control of the temple, entered the Kadosh hakodashim (holy of holies). This can be found in: ...
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Mediterranean Talmud

When the Gemarra was composed, there were three areas inhabited by significant Jewish populations - Bavel, Eretz Yisrael, and the other Mediterranean countries ruled by the Roman Empire as far as ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Did Herod stop killing people after he began renovating the Second Temple?

I was reading some history about the Second Temple and how Herod renovated it, to much acclaim of many people (even though G'd told David not to build His temple because of all the blood he had shed ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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What is Tziporah's date of death?

What is the date of Tziporah (the wife of Moses)'s death and how did she die? I already looked in the Jewish timeline encyclopedia.
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Who made this claim about the author of Sefer Habahir?

Asking for someone else: "I remember a quote of some medieval or later rabbi disputing the claim that Rabbi Nechunya [ben Hakanah] wrote the Sefer HaBahir, saying something like god forbid that a ...
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5 votes
0 answers
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Did Ben Ish Chai and RSh"R Hirsch Communicate with Each Other? [closed]

It occurred to me that Ben Ish Chai (Hakham Yossef Hayyim) from Baghdad and Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch were contemporaries, and that they held similar positions in their respective communities. Did ...
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2 votes
3 answers
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In Biblical times, did the Israelites ever wear sleeveless tunics?

In Genesis 3:21, G-d clothed Adam and Eve with the kuttoneth (in this case, made with animal skin). Apparently, such was worn in multiple Biblical passages (e.g., Gen. 37:3; Ex. 28:39-40; 2 Sam. 13:18-...
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2 votes
2 answers
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Perizzite and Canaanite Difference

I want to know the difference between Canaanite and Perizzite. I know that they lived in the land of Canaan before the Israelites, however, I want to know what makes them different. Thank you.
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1 vote
1 answer
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Rabbi Yosef Maman and the Bukharian Jews

According to Wikipedia, Rabbi Yosef Maman, a Shad"ar who came to Bukhara in the late 18th century, discovered that the Bukharian Jews believed they were descendants of the Ten Tribes and used the ...
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When was the last case of Go'el Hadam (Blood Avenger) that we know about?

When was the last case of Go'el Hadam (Blood Avenger) that we know about? Other than reading about the avenger in the Torah I've never come across any actual cases of it.
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Do we know where Yirmiyahu HaNavi is buried?

When researching for another answer, I stumbled across an interesting source. The Midrash Aggada in Bamidbar 30:15 writes: והקב"ה הוכיחם על ידי ירמיה ע"ה אשר רגמו אותו בני ישראל במצרים ...
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6 votes
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What is the history behind ascribing a heading to each of the Psalms?

For exmple, in my English book of Psalms, the 59th Psalm (attributed to David) informs us that it is a miktam and then gives a heading: When Saul had sent men to watch David's house in order to kill ...
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Does 4 Ezra (2 Esdras) teach the divinity of Ezra? [closed]

In an article by the University of St. Andrews about the Book of 6 Ezra, it is stated: In the Syriac text of 4 Ezra 14:48 (and the versions that derive from it) there is a brief account of the ascent ...
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Did the patriarchs travel at night?

I have heard that Abraham and the other Patriarchs would have travelled during the night and encamp during the daytime. What evidence is there for such a claim?
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What role did the Jews play in the Medieval money system (pre-banking, merchants, etc.)? [closed]

I just read here: In the middle of the 13th century, groups of Italian Christians, particularly the Cahorsins and Lombards, invented legal fictions to get around the ban on Christian usury;[147] for ...
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