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Questions tagged [provenance]

Questions about the origins of all things Jewish. Questions on the origins of Jewish customs, ideas, sayings, songs, foods, games, etc., are all fair game for this tag.

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Whence 'kvatter'?

As part of every ashkenazi brit milah ceremony I have attended, the baby was passed from a woman (the kvatterin) to a man (the kvatter, always her husband?) who then brought the baby in to the ...
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Questions about Mi Sheberach L'olim

It is fairly common minhag to recite a blessing for the person receiving an aliyah for the Torah reading. The blessing requests that G-d protect the person from misfortune and troubles and make him ...
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1answer
65 views

Have Jewish scholars evaluated the “Odes of Solomon” as being Jewish or Christian in origin?

I have just learned of the existence of an ancient Syrian text called "The Odes of Solomon". This seems to "round out" the collection of Solomonic literature such as the Proverbs, Qeholeth, Song of ...
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2answers
101 views

What is the source for carrying candles down at a wedding?

I know that there are many explanations as to why many Jews have this custom (to commemorate the fire at har sinai, etc.), but where is the original source? Where originally did it come from? I have ...
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50 views

What was the first siddur to contain an aleph-bet chart?

Many siddurim (prayerbooks) published today contain a chart of the Hebrew alphabet towards the beginning (see e.g. page 11 of this pdf). What was the first siddur published to contain an alphabet ...
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89 views

Origin of a tune to Baruch Kel Elyon

When I was growing up in the 1980s, I heard a tune to "ברוך קל עליון" that I've now reproduced to the best of my recollection, except that I sang it a bit faster than I recall it having been sung. ...
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49 views

Examples of old tefillin parshiot

I recently opened a pair of parshiot (Beit Yosef, first half of the 20th century) and I'm trying to identify where they were written. I am certain that if they date to around the bar mitzvah of their ...
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79 views

Why Skip Kabbalas Shabbos on Yom Tov? [duplicate]

In my experience among all Ashkenaz shuls across America, it seems we skip Kabbalas Shabbos when shabbos falls out on Yom Tov. Where did this come from and why?
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55 views

How many sets of Urim VeTumim were there?

On one TaNaKH passage, it seems both David (1 Samuel 30) and Shaul (1 Samuel 28) had access to an Urim VeTumim, suggesting there was more than one set of Urim VeTumim. Hence my question: How many ...
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1answer
49 views

When did the use of the substitute word “hashem” start being used? [duplicate]

How ancient is this substitute word? I am not asking for the age of the practice of avoiding the use of the tetragrammaton with Adonai, for example, but specifically the use of this term, hashem.
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2answers
181 views

Who composed the text for Tena'im?

In many Ashkenazy weddings, a document called tena'im is drafted and read at the Chatan's Tisch (Chattan's "table" - a separate rom or area where the groom, family members and friends gather prior to ...
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2answers
366 views

Pronouncing “O” (Cholam) as “Oy”?

Typically in the Yeshivish world, the "O" sound is pronounced as "Oy" (i.e. "Moydim Anachnu Loch"). Where does this come from?
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146 views

What is the origin of the naming of Shabbat Shira?

Related to this question (about the reason for the name), what is the source or origin of calling the Shabbat on which we read Shirat Hayam Shabbat Shira? We don't call the week on which we read the ...
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3answers
368 views

Not Forgotten Until Name is Forgotten

There is this really thoughtful project, called Stolpersteine of Gunter Demnig, a German artist, to place a cobblestone with an inscribed brass plate in front of houses, where victims of the Holocaust ...
3
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1answer
141 views

Daagah - Minayin?

What is the original source for the words of the popular song: העבר אין, העתיד עדיין, ההווה כהרף עין, דאגה מנין? I have seen it in Peleh Yoetz (under Deagah), who says it in the name of a "Chacham" (...
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1answer
299 views

When was the Midrash Tanhuma written?

This article (Hebrew) claims that the Midrash Tanhuma was likely written after the Quran. A response in the talkbacks says that this is incorrect. Neither provide any source. Does anyone know what ...
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121 views

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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1answer
250 views

How true is Sefer HaYashar?

Inspired by comments on this question: How true is Sefer HaYashar? Note: This is not the Sefer written by Rabbeinu Tam, but rather the "midrash" that goes through in detail the chronology from the ...
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1answer
290 views

What's controversial about Chemdat HaYamim?

This answer from @Oliver mentions The controversial book Hemdat Ha-yamim... What is Chemdat HaYamim, and what is controversial about it? I know this is a very simple question but I wasn't ...
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1answer
585 views

First use of modern names for books of Torah

Today, it is common practice to use Bereshis, Shemos, Vayikra, Bamidbar, Devarim as the names of the five books of the Torah, but this was not always the case. As an example, the Talmud refers to ...
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2answers
128 views

Provenance of Testament of Rabbi Eliezer

There is a work known as Tsavaat Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol, which is purported to be have been authored by the Tanna R. Eliezer. According to R. Menahem Lunzano cited here, the work was actually authored ...
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Origins of Musical Slichos

I recently saw a sign in my community advertising in a (Orthodox) Shul for a musical accompanied Slichos (with instruments) on Leil Slichos. When did such a practice originate? Was such a practice ...
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2answers
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What is the earliest referrence to Hashem as a paternal figure?

It's in the Talmud, many pizmonin and prayers like Avinu Malkenu, and lehavdil, Hashem is called "father" in the new testament very often. But I can't recall Hashem being called father in the Tanach. ...
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1answer
282 views

What is the source for בית נאמן בישראל for newly married couples?

A common wish for couples about to be or just married couples is "May they build a בית נאמן בישראל". My translation (may be off, somewhat) is "An established house among (the people) of Israel." What ...
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1answer
297 views

When did usage of “Hashem” to refer to G-d gain traction?

It seems as though virtually all seforim (especially those written by Acharonim and earlier) refer to G-d as either Hakodosh Boruch Hu or Ribono Shel Olom, and never as "Hashem." Similarly, I don't ...
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3answers
2k views

Don't teach if they won’t follow…?

Is there not a principle that one should not tell another Jew or group of Jews the Halacha if he or she knows for certain that the Jew or the group of Jews will violate it? If there is such a ...
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1answer
347 views

Was the Hasidic gartel influenced by Zoroastrianism?

In this lecture Dr. Secunda postulates a connection between the Zoroastrian Kushti belt and the external belt some (mainly Hasidic) Jews wear during prayer called a gartel. The possible reason for ...
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2answers
112 views

listening to a cappela during sefira?

A friend of mine told me that there is a problem with listening to a cappela during sefira. A few people mentioned a few places where it talks about it but I don't remember the places. What is the ...
2
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1answer
271 views

Chasam Sofer quote about Zohar

What is the source for the Chasam Sofer having said (regarding the Zohar), "If we could sift the book and keep only what R’ Shimon Bar Yochai wrote, it would be a very very thin book. You would only ...
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2answers
99 views

Who put together the Hagadah?

Who put together the Pesach Hagadah and the seder we have today? The Mishneh provides some order, but who put together the Hagadah?
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3answers
318 views

Where does this Havdala-oriented prayer come from?

My father found the following apparently-Havdala-oriented prayer on an otherwise-blank page among my mother A"H's papers, handwritten by her. We don't know if it's something she composed or (more ...
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1answer
231 views

Rambam's Commentary on the Torah?

In the Seder HaDoros, published by R' Yechiel Heilprin in 1747, the author describes the life and legacy of many Jewish historical personalities including Rambam. I'm not sure how historically ...
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Naming Children After Living People

It is a widespread Ashkenazi minhog not to name a child after someone who is living. From where can this custom be sourced? Why is this so? I would assume it is because it has some negative ...
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The Arizal and Shovavim

This week begins the six week period of Shovavim, a time period that the Arizal wrote is an auspicious time to work on oneself, especially in the areas of sexual transgressions. I have two questions: ...
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When did the Ma Nishtana start being called the Four Questions?

In the Mishnah Pesachim 10:4, we are first taught of the obligation to ask the Ma Nishtana question/s at the Pesach Seder. This consists of an opening question: ?מה נשתנה הלילה הזה מכל הלילות/How is ...
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1answer
130 views

Maggidim (angelic mentors) in Jewish history. How new is it?

Did the phenomenon of "maggidim" (celestial/angelic mentors) who come to teach a person kabbalistic mysteries and other revelations, but begin with those who studied Lurianic kaballah in the 1500's - ...
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2answers
104 views

Origin of Histakel Be'Oraisa Uvara Alma

The term "Histakel Be'Oraisa Uvara Alma" is often invoked when discussing chassidus or metaphysics. Literally translated, it means "[Hashem] gazed in[to] the Torah and created the world." While the ...
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1answer
282 views

Covering the mirrors in the house of a mourner

When learning the laws of mourning in the Gemara and rishonim I don't recall the requirement to cover up the mirrors in the house of a mourner. But it does seem like a quite prevelalant practice. ...
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2answers
748 views

When did masturbation become such a severe prohibition?

Before the kaballah of the Arizal began to filter into Jewish thought, was ho'tza'at zerah le'vatala considered as terrible of a sin as we tend to think today? Was it considered a sin at all?
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1answer
134 views

Earliest source for “Zos Chanuka”

What is the earliest source/authority to ascribe special significance to the eighth day of Chanuka?
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55 views

What's the story behind “The Malachim's Niggun ” of the Karliner chassidim?

What's the story behind the Karliner niggun for Chapter 130 in Tehilim that they refer to as "The Malachim's Niggun"? Is it true that Rav Aharon Karliner claims to have heard the malachim singing this ...
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0answers
212 views

Why are there so many different types of payos that Jews grow? [closed]

I would like to know how the different minhagim regarding growing payos (sidelocks) developed. I see so many different styles including curled, straight, tucked behind the ear, twisted above the ear, ...
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1answer
92 views

What is the origin of washing hands in the morning?

According to the Tur (OC 4:1), the reason that we wash our hands in the morning is because of the "evil spirit" (רוח רעה) that had settled on them during the night. Is this custom referenced prior to ...
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1answer
178 views

Source for Expression: “There is No Prophet For His Own Town”

There is an expression: אין נביא לעירו which apparently refers to the lack of control or respect wielded by local authorities over their own populace. The earliest source I know for this is the ...
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100 views

What is the source for making a “Shabbos Kallah”?

What is the source for making a get-together for a bride and her friends on the Shabbos before the wedding? What is the earliest record of such a minhag in the Jewish community?
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1answer
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Did the Urim veThumim have a “bad question” filter?

In 2 Shmuel, perek 21, a famine strikes Israel and God says it is punishment for Saul's maltreatment of the Gibeonites. David attempts to appease them, but the Gibeonites demand he hand over members ...
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53 views

Notes in the Kosel [duplicate]

I was wondering if there is any good source that discusses the reasoning behind the tradition that many have of putting prayer notes into the Kosel (occidental wall) rocks. I am aware of the "legend" ...
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1answer
142 views

Every blessing begins baruch attah adonai elohany melech ha'olam. Why?

For the past half-century, every blessing I have recited has begun with " baruch attah adonai elohany melech ha'olam". Why is this so? When was the phrase created? Was there some rationale behind ...
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1answer
590 views

Where are Jews forbidden to speak the name of God

It is commonly asserted that the Jews do not speak the name of God (Tetragramaton) in reverence to the Name. It is even treated as taboo to speak or pronounce, or utter the name. Yet, in the Bible ...
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3answers
655 views

Why are we not fluent in Greek philosophy anymore?

Why is it that the Rishonim and many Achronim used to be fluent in philosophy (mainly Greek) and these days it's unheard of? Is it due to our weakness, and it is really allowed?