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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1answer
2k views

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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2answers
136 views

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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2answers
388 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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2answers
224 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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1answer
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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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1answer
413 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
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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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2answers
176 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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6answers
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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
56 views

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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2answers
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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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1answer
71 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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3answers
348 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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0answers
107 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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1answer
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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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0answers
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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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0answers
56 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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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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1answer
135 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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5answers
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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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2answers
180 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
55 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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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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0answers
119 views

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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4answers
719 views

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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2answers
204 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 ...
13
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1answer
147 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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2answers
417 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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3answers
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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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2answers
839 views

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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1answer
251 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 ...
3
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1answer
347 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
434 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
147 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 ...
4
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1answer
192 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
121 views

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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2answers
626 views

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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2answers
146 views

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 ...
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1answer
314 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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1answer
139 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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7answers
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Where does the concept of Gilgulim (reincarnations) in Judaism come from?

What is the source of Gilgulim (reincarnations) in Judaism? Are there people who disagree with its existence? Who was the first to mention it? What I am asking essentially is what is the historical ...
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2answers
132 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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1answer
189 views

Who first said “You're being machmir on pikuach nefesh”?

I've been hearing the phrase "This is not being meikil1 on Shabbos, this is being machmir2 on pikuach nefesh3" for a long time. I've heard it quoted from R' Chaim, from the Gra, and from various and ...
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1answer
275 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
256 views

Custom of singing Aishes Chayil before kiddush

It seems that not everyone [always] sang/sings Aishes Chayil with Sholom Aleichem at the Friday night Shabbos table. When and how did the custom of singing Aishes Chayil at the table begin? Who ...
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1answer
593 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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1answer
349 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
214 views

Origin of custom to switch Shli'ach Tzibur in Shacharit

In a number of shuls, it has become a minhag to switch Shat"z during the weekday Shacharit at these locations. I am assuming Nusach Ashkenaz in my examples: One person says only Birkot Hashachar -> ...