Questions tagged [history]

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

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25
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2answers
435 views

What kind of seder did a non-oleh l'regel have during the time of the Bais Hamikdash (and for that matter, the entire 40 years in the desert)?

Our haggadah did not always exist - it appears to be primarily from the time of the Mishna. Before then, there was a Korban Pesach and specific procedures for organizing family and/or friends to eat ...
17
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2answers
1k views

Was a sefer torah ever actually written in Greek?

This answer to a different question states that the only other language a sefer torah can be written in and be kosher is Greek. (Rambam, Hilchot Sefer Torah 1:19 says that this Greek no longer exists ...
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0answers
168 views

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch and Chassidism

Does anyone know if there is any historical record of Rabbi Hirsh's perspectives on Chassidism? The movement was obviously not very present where he was in Germany, but given that he was in contact ...
10
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1answer
203 views

How were coins that were destined for the Dead Sea managed?

A mishna on Meila 11a talks about money that a nazarite set aside for his offerings; if he died before completing the term and had set money aside specifically for the sin-offering, those coins are ...
9
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1answer
564 views

Are the seventy distinct languages and nations listed?

It's a well known concept that there were 70 nations and 70 original languages. Is there any agreement about which ones they were/are? I found this which lists the nations, but I'm interested in ...
8
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0answers
78 views

(How) did the South African rabbinate deal with non-white conversion candidates during apartheid?

As I understand it, during apartheid, the South African government treated the Jews as "white." Did it ever happen that someone in a different racial group expressed interest in converting to Judaism ...
8
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1answer
343 views

How do we determine the nature of the reign of the kings when the numbers don't seem to add up?

In the book of 2 Kings, the kingdoms of Judah and Israel were separate. In Amaziah's (Judah) 15th year, Jeroboam (Israel) began to reign. In Jeroboam's (Israel) 27th year, Azariah (Judah) began to ...
8
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1answer
135 views

Composed with the desire of our Father in heaven

Both the sefer Ohr Sameach and Meshech Chochmah, written by Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, have on their title page the words חובר ברצון אבינו שבשמים (See http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=...
8
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2answers
169 views

How observant were Jews throughout most of history?

This question relates to what we know about Jewish observance since the exile. I was curious if we knew for certain how observant most Jews were throughout most of history and if that observance ...
7
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0answers
74 views

poetical works authored by women?

Are there any examples of songs, poems, piyyutim or kinnot from the time of the first temple until the 1700's (c.e.) which were authored by women and were adopted by traditional/orthodox communities. ...
7
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150 views

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 ...
7
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0answers
137 views

What is the origin of using tombstone symbols?

I was at a cemetary today and noticed a few interesting "icons" placed on certain tombstones. Someone explained to me the following: spread-out fingers used for a Cohen, representing the position of ...
7
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0answers
126 views

Were new arrivals stuck at Ellis Island for Shabbos?

If I understand correctly, if your airplane or boat arrived on Shabbos, you're stuck within a ~half-mile radius of the boat or plane until after Shabbos because of techum. (I'd heard some discussion ...
7
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151 views

Why are “Chiddushei” seforim rarely cited in the Nosi Keilim?

I noticed that when quoting Rishonim, Beis Yosef/Nosei Keilim tend to focus on Poskim (Rif (and main commentary)/Rosh/Rambam, Mordechai, Teruma, Rabbeinu Yerucham, etc.) and responsa. Very rarely do ...
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202 views

Halachic opinions on tefillin peshutim

I was discussing the subject of tefillin with my father motzei-Shabbat and particular, the battim (leather boxes that contain the parshiyot, or parchment scrolls). We ended up wondering what the mid-...
7
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1answer
134 views

Why no halachos in the Babylonian Talmud like in the Jerusalem Talmud?

Most Jewish texts have a easy way to pin down a citation. Some are numbered. For example, Rambam and Y'rushalmi and Tosefta have chapter and halacha. Some of these have different numberings in ...
7
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1answer
178 views

Belief in the Exodus

Recently, someone who presents himself as a religious member of Jewish society told me that he feels it doesn't matter if the story of the Exodus actually happened, and can be viewed as a nice ...
6
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0answers
57 views

What would the status of the “Book of the Wars of God” be today?

The Torah makes reference to a Book of the Wars of God (Bamidbar 21:10-16). According to most opinions this was an actual written work which has been lost over time. It is not clear (at least to me) ...
6
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1answer
133 views

Gender and “Seeding” - Just Torah-Derived or Common Belief?

Niddah 31a writes (Davidson Edition translation): אמר רבי יצחק אמר רבי אמי אשה מזרעת תחילה יולדת זכר איש מזריע תחילה יולדת נקבה שנאמר (ויקרא יב, ב) אשה כי תזריע וילדה זכר Rabbi Yitzḥak says ...
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79 views

Who wrote Ikar Siftei Chachamim?

Siftei Chachamim (שפתי חכמים) is a super-commentary on Rashi's commentary on the Torah, written by the 17th-Century CE Polish scholar Shabbethai Bass. It tends to be included in Mikraot Gedolot ...
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95 views

When did a Jew last marry a woman captured in war?

What is the last recorded case of a Jew marrying a woman captured in war, as allowed by the Torah [Deut. 21:10-14]? Anybody more recent than King David, as mentioned in Sanhedrin 21a and Kiddushin ...
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106 views

Can we use archaeology to determine halacha or mesorah?

Can archaeology be used to determine the proper halacha or mesorah in certain cases? For instance, what if we found a Sefer Torah from the times of Moshe Rabbeinu and it differed from our mesorah. ...
6
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0answers
62 views

What kind of flute was used in the temple, according to the mishna?

In Mishna there are several mentions of the use of flute, there were used at the time of the Bet Mikdash, see below a few examples. I am interested to know if we have some knowledge about the type of ...
6
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0answers
87 views

Unknown La'az in Teshuvot Rashi

In the Elfenbein (1943) edition of Teshuvot Rashi, in the teshuvot from Rashi to the rabbis of Auxerre ('סימן ג), Rashi writes "לשון דמות צלם" is "אאמיינדליי" in la'az. Elfenbein writes in his ...
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168 views

Would suicide be considered acceptable if it was done to prevent yourself being sacrificed to an idol deity?

This is an oddly specific question but the thought came to me and I wanted to know what your opinions on it would be. Historically speaking, human sacrifice was a regular occurrence in various pagan ...
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93 views

Who added the sixth chapter of Avot?

The tractate Avot consists of five chapters. At some point, a sixth chapter was "added". This sixth chapter is an adaptation from the eighth (or sixth, depending on edition) chapter of the 'minor' ...
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108 views

Did Dovid hamelech write music?

Do we have any music notes or tunes attributed to him? On the same note, do we have any music or songs attributed to biblical times? If not, why is that? EDIT: do we know any tunes or songs even ...
6
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0answers
82 views

How did R' Yaakov Risher arrive at the exact number of responsa that he published?

Volume 1 and 3 of Shvus Yaakov have 182 responsa in each, corresponding to the numerical value of the author's name, Yaakov. Volume 2 has 188 responsa. After responsum 182 of volume 2, the author ...
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147 views

Early descriptions of the Foundation Stone

I am looking for early descriptions of the "Foundation Stone" (אבן שתיה) -- the huge flat rock now enclosed by the "Dome of the Rock," and believed by many Jewish scholars to have been the site of the ...
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0answers
229 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 ...
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0answers
529 views

The Torah scrolls written by Jewish kings

The Torah commanded Jewish kings to write their own Torah scroll from a master in the possession of the Levites, and to read it every day of their life so that they should not become haughty and so ...
6
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0answers
89 views

“Secular” studies in the Rhineland academies of the 11th-13th centuries

This is perhaps a fairly specific question, and I don't know if it belongs here or on the History stack exchange, but I would like to know more about the Rhineland academies that were headed by people ...
6
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0answers
183 views

Was the Chasam Sofer known for having an interesting way of learning?

I have a lot of experience learning Gemara and find myself oft dealing with the views of the Achronim to understand the Pshat in Rishonim. Unfortunately, I have inside me a slight aversion to the ...
6
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0answers
242 views

Source for not referring to Chanuka lights as a “menora”

Following up on this question about the use of the words "menora" or "chanukiya" to refer to Chanuka lights: I find it interesting that the use of "chanukiya," popularized in 1897 through a secular ...
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0answers
38 views

How many fled to the Cities of Refuge?

Do we know how many people (accidental murderers) took advantage of the Cities of Refuge (Deuteronomy 4:41-43)? Perhaps the size of the cities would put an upper limit on that number, so do we know ...
5
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1answer
228 views

Idolatrous origin of the name TAMMUZ

The Gemmorah in [Jerusalem Rosh Hashana 6a][1] explains the process of adopting the Babylonian names on Months instead of Biblical ones. דא"ר חנינה שמות חדשים עלו בידם מבבל R'Hanina said: the ...
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0answers
180 views

Which foreign names did Jews associate with Hebrew names, and why?

A famous Medrash appears in slightly different versions in Lev Rabbah 32:05 and Songs Rabbah 4:12. The Medrah praises the Jews of the Egyptian slavery for certain attributes, such as their retention ...
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55 views

What prompted the absent-Sanhedrin-head decree in Rosh Hashana 4:4?

R' Yochanan ben Zakai, in leading the Jewish people during and immediately after the Destruction of the Second Temple, issued many decrees aimed at responding to the new post-Temple reality and ...
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Simanim in the Rosh

In the Rosh's work found at the back of most gemaras, his halachos are split up into simanim (sections). I am wondering whether we can make inferences from how the simanim are split up and hence want ...
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5answers
145 views

Any recommendation for educational Chanukah video?

I am looking for video clips about the Chanukah story that my kids - seven to ten years old - can watch. I thought there would be many, but it's not easy to find any good one. I prefer video in Hebrew,...
5
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0answers
84 views

When did the use of Ba'alei Kri'ah (Torah readers) begin?

I'm asking this question for my friend, "Rabbi Ed" who emailed me this morning... He wants to know when the use of Torah readers (i.e., a designated person who reads the parsha from the Torah) began. ...
5
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2answers
277 views

Why was Judah/Yehuda the tribe that endured?

My basic question is: Are there any reasons or hints in the Torah that explain or hint that Judah/Yehudah would be the tribe that was not lost? Yes, I know that parts of Benjamin survived as well, ...
5
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0answers
90 views

Has completing the entire Talmud ever been a tenet of Rabbinical Ordination?

Has there ever been a requirement in any Rabbinical program to finish the entire Talmud, not just select mesechtas + related halachos?
5
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1answer
307 views

Why did the Vilna Sha"s become so widespread?

If one enters a beit midrash and takes out a masechta of Talmud, one will invariably find that it is typeset following the exact form of the page found in the edition from Vilna. So here are two ...
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0answers
148 views

Who were the Therapeutae?

I recently found a Wikipedia page about a supposed sect of Jews in first century Alexandria called the Therapeutae. According to various pages, they lived as monks, isolating themselves and studying ...
5
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1answer
596 views

What happened to the Mixed Multitude?

When the people of Israel left Egypt they did not leave alone. They left with a mixed multitude of many people (Exodus 12:38). What happened to the mixed multitude in the desert and, specifically, ...
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0answers
203 views

Holidays south of the equator

When Jews first started establishing communities south of the equator, they must have noticed that the holidays fell completely at the wrong times of the year. (For example, Pesach, referred to as hag ...
5
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0answers
149 views

How did the mesorah for techeles get lost?

It seems odd that something like the tradition for techeles could have been lost. It seems unlikely that Jews just stopped using techeles at some point and then immediately forgot. Are there no ...
5
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0answers
123 views

Are there communities that follow the Rambam?

At one point, many Sefardic communities followed the Mishneh Torah. As time went on, it seems that the sefardim accepted the Beit Yosef. Besides for Yemenites, were there any communities that, until ...
5
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0answers
363 views

Did Rashi wear a yarmulke?

Tractate Sofrim (14:14) records two opinions that concern the wearing of a head covering during the Shema: there are those who say that it is not necessary, and there are those who say that it is ...