Questions tagged [history]

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

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5
votes
1answer
312 views

Ashkanazim paskening like Rema

Was it always a straightforward presumption ("davar pashut") that in general the Ashkanazim should decide Halachic questions ("pasken") in accordance with the Rema over the Machaber/Beis Yosef (when ...
5
votes
3answers
474 views

What is the earliest source that mentions Gematria?

What is the earliest source that mentions Gematria?
5
votes
1answer
168 views

Who initially populated Chanoch City?

The Torah tells us (Genesis 4:17) that Kayin built a city and named it after his son, Chanoch. If Chanoch was only of the third generation of humans, how was the total human population at the time ...
5
votes
2answers
264 views

Did the Jews in the Midbar know the entire Torah?

The G'mara in Y'vamos (ד) and B'rachos (כא) records a dispute over whether laws can be deduced from the fact of two p'sukim appearing adjacent to one another in the Torah. The Mahara"tz Chayos (...
4
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2answers
745 views

Moses Mendelssohn, permitted to quote him?

Is it permitted to quote Moses Mendelssohn, the father of the Jewish Enlightenment, as a source or reference? Is he considered in jewish lore a heretic? from wikipedia page linked above: In the ...
3
votes
1answer
337 views

Was the Hebrew Alphabet also given with the Tablets and Law?

My research for my answer to Which alphabet were the original Torah scrolls in? gave me an idea--Since the Early Alphabetic alphabet is also called Sinaitic, and the timing seems about right, maybe ...
3
votes
1answer
113 views

Explain the use of the chazzan to end paragraphs

My understanding of the "history" of the shaliach tzibbur (shat"z) is that few people could read or pronounce Hebrew, and, there were few siddurim printed. Thus, the use of an "expert" to represent ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Did Moshe have a son with Ethiopian Queen prior to Exodus

According to Josephus, Moshe was a great military leader who lead in battle for Egypt when Egypt and Ethiopia was at war and Moshe married the Ethiopian Queen and had a child with her who became the ...
2
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1answer
1k views

How can we explain the growth of Israelite population in Egypt?

Jacob and his family went to Egypt numbering (approximately) 70 people. After approximately 200 years, 600,000 men between the ages of 20-60 (if I'm not mistaken). So probably 2 million total got ...
2
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2answers
332 views

Animal sacrifice in Judaism — was it copied from other religions?

Why is there animal sacrifice in Judaism? Animal sacrifice was found in other religions before Judaism, so could it be that the Jews copied the practice of animal sacrifice from other religions?
2
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1answer
305 views

What was the 'evolution' of determining who is part of the Jewish people?

Starting with Abraham and continuing till modern halacha. how has the halacha regarding who is part of the Jewish people changed? What were the causes of the change, and the reasoning, and the change ...
55
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5answers
2k views

Were slave-related commandments observed in America?

Since there was slavery in the Americas between their discovery and 1865, do we know of any Jewish slave-owners there who observed slavery-related laws of Judaism?
20
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4answers
1k views

What is the source of the Magen Dovid (Star of David)?

What is the source of the Magen Dovid (Star of David) in Rabbinic Judaism? When was it first used, and for what?
16
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8answers
1k views

“If God had not delivered us from Egypt we would still be slaves”? Really?

One part of the Pesach seder that has always bothered me is saying that if God had not taken us out of Mitzrayim at that time we would still be slaves today. This seems lacking in faith in God; ...
13
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2answers
487 views

Why isn't there a single, centralized Sanhedrin today?

It seems that many mitzvot in the Torah are opened to interpretation in some way, potentially subject to ruling by the Sanhedrin. And some mitzvot (examples below) seem to require the presence of the ...
11
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1answer
146 views

What is the source of Yartzeit tablet?

Who invented the Yahrtzeit tablet (panel)? At first glance, this could not have been common before 150 years ago, as there is no room to place candles where the electric lights go. Who invented it, ...
10
votes
3answers
546 views

Did all animals come into the Teiva?

Were there any type of animals that were destroyed completely by the Mabul? (For example - Is there any source that there were dinosaurs or any other type of wildlife and they were destroyed by the ...
10
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2answers
595 views

How historically accurate is Josephus?

How accurate is the writing of Josephus? Can we rely on any of his writings to establish authentic Jewish practices or in areas of halacha?
10
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3answers
726 views

Why the split between Sefardim and Ashkenzim?

Why is there a much bigger split between Sefardim and Ashkenzim and not, say, between Sefardim and people who lived in Bavel? The distance between Spain, and say, Israel should have been big enough to ...
9
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1answer
190 views

Up part of the night on Shavuos

As described by Stephanie Hegarty for the BBC, Roger Ekirch, an historian, has evidence — and is convinced — that people used to have a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed ...
9
votes
1answer
385 views

Chamisha Asar B'Av - when did the Minhag stop?

The Gemara Taanis 31. says אמר רבן שמעון בן גמליאל לא היו ימים טובים לישראל כחמשה עשר באב וכיוה"כ שבהן בנות ירושלים יוצאות ... וחולות בכרמים ומה היו אומרות בחור שא נא עיניך וראה מה אתה בורר לך אל תתן ...
9
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1answer
204 views

How old is the chanukiyah?

Another question asks about the differentiation between the words "chanukiyah" and "menorah" when referring to the special 8-branched (+1) candelabra for Chanukah. An answer there suggests: All of ...
8
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5answers
273 views

History of Shabbat: how (or) did they count to align with 7th day of creation?

The Torah (Exodus 20:8-11) commands: ח: זָכוֹר אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְּשׁוֹ: ט: שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲבֹד וְעָשִׂיתָ כָּל מְלַאכְתֶּךָ: י: וְיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שַׁבָּת לַה' אֱלֹקיךָ לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה ...
8
votes
1answer
360 views

Origins of “Shalom Rav”

Someone asked me recently if I knew where the origins of the Bracha of Shalom Rav (instead of Sim Shalom at Mincha and Ma'ariv) are from. As far as I knew the Nusach is not found in the Gemara nor the ...
8
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3answers
543 views

How far must one be able to trace one's Jewish lineage?

I have heard some talk to the effect that as long as an American Jew can trace his/her maternal lineage back to prewar Europe, he/she can be assumed to be Jewish. Is this true? I assume there must ...
8
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2answers
261 views

What financial arrangement did Rambam have with his jeweler brother?

I was taught in yeshiva that as a young man, Rambam just studied Torah and was supported by his brother, who was a jewel merchant. Then his brother died at sea, so Rambam became a physician. Some ...
7
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1answer
645 views

Was Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ever formally ordained? (Given semicha?)

Did Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ever formally receive semicha? From whom? I recall reading that he studied a great deal with his father, and that his first responsum was written "at his father's orders."
7
votes
1answer
341 views

Selichot origins

In what year (CE) did saying selichot in Elul begin? In what year were they made a standard addition to prayer books? Looking for an academic answer, not the yeshivahish one. And did Sephardim start ...
7
votes
1answer
170 views

What happened to Siman 168?

If you look in the Tur Yoreh Deah Siman 168 (so too the Shulchan Aruch), you'll notice that there's nothing there. Was it lost sometime in history? It looks like the Shulchan Aruch also didn't have ...
6
votes
2answers
708 views

Blue Stripes on Tallis

I've read that tallit stripes were originally blue and at some point morphed to black. What I'm wondering is if anyone knows any oldsters who can attest to actually seeing this in the frum velt in ...
6
votes
1answer
145 views

What references, if any, are there to synagogues or non-temple organized worship in the ancient Israel

Synagogue worship appears to be relatively common in the Christian New Testament (although perhaps little is known about what actually went on in the synagogues, I don't know a whole lot of details). ...
6
votes
1answer
817 views

When did “Zal” give way to “Zatzal”?

Inspired by this answer and it's comments. Early on, it was standard to refer to great Rabbis who had passed away with the appellation "Zal" - "zichrono/ah livracha "May his/her/their memory be a ...
6
votes
3answers
783 views

Authenticity of Maggid Mesharim

The title says it all: what do various sources say regarding the authenticity of the Meggid Mesharim; a book supposedly containing angelic revelations to R. Joseph Karo. Did R. Karo really write it? ...
6
votes
1answer
751 views

Date of the Akeida?

Are there sources in our tradition which discuss the Hebrew date of Akeidas Yitzchak? The fact that we read the Akeida on Rosh Hashana or, properly, every day suggests to me that the "real" date is ...
5
votes
2answers
170 views

What took 8 days

What took the Jews 8 days to produce new oil when rededicating the Temple in the Chanuka story? It seems the process of oil-making takes a lot less time (I have done it in Israel on one of the tourist ...
5
votes
1answer
416 views

When was the last time the “Leap Year” postponement rule was used to delay the date of Rosh Hashannah?

This site explains that there are 4 rules that would cause Rosh Hashannah to be postponed 1 or 2 days after the date of Molad Tishrei. You can view all 4 rules on the web site, but rule 4 states: 4)...
5
votes
7answers
605 views

What's the origin of the name “Jew”?

Why are we called "the Jews"? Did Hashem pick out this name for us? What does the word "Jew" mean?
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Has the Ban of Rabbenu Gershom expired?

I have heard that the ban or cherem of Rabbenu Gershom has expired. Is this the case? If so, what are the ramifications vis–à–vis his enactments?
4
votes
2answers
317 views

Motivation for disallowing Conversions

What was The Syrians communities Rabbis motivation For disallowing conversions and when did it happen and did any other Sephardi communities join in this decision later on?
4
votes
2answers
120 views

Who authored the topic - division headings in the Shulchan Aruch?

In every Shulchan Aruch I have seen, there are headings identifying the topic of each upcoming series of sections. For example, between sections 88 and 89, there is a heading which labels the next ...
4
votes
1answer
656 views

Breakdown of Yirmiyahu's 70 year prophecy

Can someone supply a good breakdown of Yirmiyahu's 70 year prophecy, and the misinterpretations of the prophecy? This is what I've learned in the past: Yirmiyahu made a prophecy that 70 years after ...
3
votes
1answer
288 views

Are there any historical Bibles entirely written on parchment?

Mishneh Torah, Tefillin, Mezuzah and the Torah Scroll 7:15: מותר לדבק תורה נביאים וכתובים בכרך אחד . It is permissible to attach Torah, Prophets and Writings in one scroll. Between the end ...
3
votes
3answers
163 views

What was Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi's role in compiling the Mishnah?

I have always heard that Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi "compiled" the mishna. What were his roles in compiling it in the form that we currently have it? Specifically, did he perform any of these roles: ...
3
votes
1answer
464 views

How do rabbis explain the reason for the Spanish Expulsion. Why did the Jewish people deserve it

I notice you already have this question for the Holocaust but haven't found it for the Spanish expulsion. I understand that many great people gave reasons for it, like the seder hadoros, tsror hamor ...
3
votes
1answer
170 views

Source for Africans being Caananites?

In Alex's answer to Did any Achronim comment on the American Revolutionary or Civil Wars? he says that a certain Rav was opposed to the Emancipation Proclamation, because it goes against Noach's curse,...
3
votes
1answer
210 views

Sources for 3 hour time limit (not Rb. Yerucham)

The main textual source for the minhag of waiting three hours between eating meat and eating milk is Rabeinu Yerucham. However, it appears to many that the "ג" in there is actually a typo and it ...
3
votes
1answer
289 views

Which rabbis forbade cars 100 years ago?

"Venishmartem Meod Lenafshoseichem" I heard that there were Rabbonim about 100 years ago who forbade cars, saying that they were dangerous. Does anyone know who they were?
3
votes
1answer
99 views

When were the tefillos formulated?

I have been told that before Galus Bavel the only prayer a Jew was required to pray was the Shema. (And I suppose Birkas HaMazon, as well.) When the Jews were exiled to Bavel, the Anshei Knesses ...
2
votes
1answer
97 views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
145 views

What is the halacha on proselytizing?

What is the halacha on proselytizing? If a Jew tries to convince a non-Jew to become Jewish, is he breaking any commandments or rabbinic decrees? Sources, please. (I know there is evidence we used ...

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