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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65 views

Religious origin of Yiddish expression

My father used to say "Nem di oygn in di hent," literally "Take your eyes in your hands." This was meant as a warning to be careful. I wonder if there is a religious source for ...
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Beer at a Shalom Zachor

There is a common custom I have observed to serve beer at a Shalom Zachor. This is also mentioned here with some speculation about the source. What is the source for this practice?
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Why skip wife's name in invitations?

Although there is certainly a wide range of 'customs' regarding this question, why do some Orthodox communities skip the wife's first name in invitations saying: "Mr. and Mrs. [Husband First and ...
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Was R' Yishmael aware that his blessing was Hashem's prayer?

Berachos 7a: אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי יוֹסֵי: מִנַּיִן שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מִתְפַּלֵּל? ... מַאי מְצַלֵּי? אָמַר רַב זוּטְרָא בַּר טוֹבִיָּה, אָמַר רַב: ״יְהִי רָצוֹן ...
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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?
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Where does the tune for birkat hamazon come from?

It's hard to describe who's tune this is and I can only refer to it as the 'commonly used' or 'popular' tune for birkat hamazon. I seems like it is compiled of many unrelated tunes. At times there are ...
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Praying based on national merit - Origin of Tachanun Compositions

It seems to be a common theme in the prayer service that we ask for our needs basing our requests on the mercy of G-d, and, occasionally, on the merit of our forefathers. Nonetheless, we find some ...
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Why did the Tos'fos Yom Tov compose his Mi Sheberach?

It is well known that R. Yom Tov Heller, author of the Tos'fos Yom Tov and other works, wrote a prayer to be recited for the benefit of those who don't speak in the synagogue (or: during prayer). I'm ...
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Why is the concluding supplication after kidush levana formulated as a personal prayer?

In many Ashkenazi sidurim (e.g. Artscroll and the Sidur Vilna), kidush l'vana concludes with a supplication that the greatness of the moon be restored, and that the Jewish people merit the restoration ...
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Did Rambam have Rashi's works?

While the Rambam lived a century after Rashi, I cannot recall ever seeing or hearing the Rambam cite or mention Rashi or any of his works. Is there any evidence that Rambam had access to Rashi's ...
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Source for the tradition of buying seats in synagogues

In many synagogues, it is common to buy a seat before the new year's day. The price for a seat often serves also as "membership fee" for membership in the synagogue community. When did this tradition ...
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Where did the “a cat will always be a cat” story about the Rambam come from?

I've seen and heard a story about the Rambam told multiple times along the lines of this particularly concise retelling: There is a beautiful story of a disagreement that Maimonides had with a ...
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What is the origin of learning Talmud daf yomi?

These days, it is the practice of many to learn a folio of the Vilna printing of the Talmud each day. Where did this custom come from? When?
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488 views

Source for spoon, feather, and candle used in bedikas chometz?

What is the original source for the Ashkenazic tradition to do--as is popularly taught--the final search for chometz with a spoon, a feather, and a candle? It may not have an official source; in that ...
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256 views

What is the origin of the special trop for the journeys of Bnai Yisroel, B'midbar 33:10-49

This question reminded me to ask what is the origin of the special trop for the masa'ot - the section enumerating the places Bnai Yisroel travelled, as described in B'midbar 33:10-49. A recording of ...
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How does gematria deal with zero?

I have some questions regarding gematria and zero: which characters of alphabet means zero according to gematric rules? since which time did Jews consider zero as a character equivalent to other ...
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474 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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Is this the Chofetz Chaim? [closed]

What is the story behind this picture being known as the image of the great Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan(Chafetz Chaim)? Is it him in fact? Where does it come from? The only true picture (that I am aware ...
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227 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 ...
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Niddah and Counting 7 Clean Days - What are its Origins?

The following comment is made in the wikipedia entry on Niddah: In the days of the Amoraim, because of possible confusion in determining when menstruation began and ended and hence whether blood ...
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1answer
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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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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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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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375 views

Earliest source for “Baruch Hu U'Baruch Sh'mo”

What is the earliest source for saying "Baruch Hu U'Baruch Shmo" when hearing someone say the Name of HaShem in a blessing?
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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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What are the origins of the תושלב"ע prayer at the end of holy books?

When I finished the Book of Bereishit this Shabbos, the Tanakh I was reading concluded with this prayer: תם ונשלם תהילה לאל בורא עולם (Finished and completed. Praise to G!d, Creator of the Universe.) ...
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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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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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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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154 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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What's “chelek Eloak mimaal”?

I have frequently heard the human (or only the Jewish?) soul referred to as "חלק אלוק ממעל", literally "portion/section/piece/allotment of God (from) above". What does this mean? Who's the first to ...
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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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190 views

Questions related to shul structure

I am seeking sources related to the origin of the physical structure of a shul. Specifically: Placement of the ark in the front of the shul. Torah reader's bimah - I've seen 3 arrangements: Most ...
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1answer
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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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Why is V'Zot Habracha read on Simchat Torah instead of on Shabbat?

I understand that Ezra began the concept of an annual Torah cycle where each Parsha is to be read on a Shabbat (except if coinciding with Yom Tov.) However, V'Zot Habracha was scheduled to be ...
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The history of the Parshiot division

The Gemarah does not seem to make much mention of the 54 Torah Parshiot in the annual Torah reading. I don't know, offhand, what Ramba"m mentions about them either. Who organized both the annual and ...
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Who wrote the Aramaic translation for Psalms and when?

The Talmud in Migila specifies that no translation (Targum) for the Ktuvim was written since although Rabbi Yonatan Ben Uziel wanted to, he was told not to do so: עוד ביקש לגלות תרגום של כתובים ...
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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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1answer
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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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2answers
529 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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Is this really in the Talmud?

I've seen this before on anti-semetic sites - is it really in the Talmud? Extracts from the Jewish text the Talmud "Just the Jews are humans, the non-Jews are no humans, but cattle" ...
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Jews were on 49th level of Tumah. Says who?

There is a well known idea that when the Jews left Egypt during the Exodus, they were on the "forty-ninth level of tumah". Many explanations are given for this and it is expounded upon at length by a ...
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309 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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1answer
410 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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3answers
664 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 ...
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2answers
151 views

Authenticity of Rosh's commentary to Torah

What do different sources state regarding the authenticity of the commentary to the Torah attributed to Rosh? I remember seeing people claiming that it is missatributed. If I recall, the suggested ...
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1answer
400 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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Authorship of Rashi's Bible commentary

Besides for the commentary on Divrei Hayamim (which as noted here was not written by Rashi), is the authorship of any of the commentaries to the Bible attributed to Rashi disputed?
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Traditional Approaches to Midrash Tanchuma

What do traditional Jewish sources say about Midrash Tanchuma (in contradistinction to the Midrash Tanchuma Yashan) regarding its date of redaction and authority vis-à-vis works of Chazal (such as ...