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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36
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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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3answers
667 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?
13
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1answer
503 views

Who broke the parshiyot into aliyot and how?

The Torah readings on Shabbat are broken into 7 aliyot. I know that there are rules for the minimum number of pesukim for each aliyah but I am wondering who set up the exact placement of the aliyah ...
11
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2answers
273 views

What is the provenance of Maseches Sofrim

Who wrote Maseches Sofrim and when did he live. Is it accepted by everyone? The Rashba in Brachos 34a writes that is one of the minor masechtes that were authored by the early sages. He reiterates in ...
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5answers
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What is the original halachic source for a woman covering her collarbones out of modesty (tznius)?

Many contemporary instructions on women's modesty (tznius) say that necklines have to be high enough to cover the collarbones. I can certainly accept that if this is the communal standard, it should ...
16
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3answers
14k views

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" ...
18
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1answer
308 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 ...
15
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4answers
337 views

How do we know what the Chazzan should say aloud?

In many siddurim, the text indicates a position, toward the end of each normal paragraph of prayer, where the Chazzan is supposed to start reading aloud, so that everyone knows when it's time to go on ...
4
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1answer
213 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 -> ...
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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 ...
14
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1answer
449 views

“Yaamod p'loni ben p'loni… chazak”?

The last ole (person called to the Torah) (besides the maftir) of Vaychi, P'kude, B'chukosay, and Mas'e is, in my experience, called using the formula "yaamod p'loni ben p'loni sh'vii chazak", with ...
11
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2answers
254 views

“שליט״א” only for certain people

Living people sometimes have "שליט״א" added after their respective names. This means, roughly, "may he live a good, long life". That seems like a nice blessing for anyone; yet, in my experience, only ...
11
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1answer
351 views

What is the origin of the claim that they played games to hide Torah learning prior to Chanuka

This question makes a very commonly heard claim: "Before the miracle of Hanukkah, when those who controlled the land severely restricted Torah study, Jewish children would gather to study Torah in ...
6
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1answer
358 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 ...
6
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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 ...
6
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2answers
612 views

What is the origin of the song Echad Mi Yodeya?

Who is the author or what is the origin of the song commonly found in the haggadah called Echad Mi Yodeya?
4
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0answers
118 views

Tu Bishvat Seder Permissibility

Given that this answer notes that the particular ritual of the Tu Bishvat Seder is likely Sabbatean in origin (although the practice of eating fruit in general on Tu Bishvat dates from the 16th ...
2
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1answer
330 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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2answers
178 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 ...
13
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5answers
813 views

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 ...
8
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1answer
701 views

What is the origin of the dispute on which way to wrap tefilin shel yad?

Non-Chasidic Ashkenazim wrap their tefilin shel yad inward toward the body when coming over the top of the arm, while Sefardim and Chasidim wrap outward away from the body when coming over the top of ...
17
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2answers
1k views

Where did the sing-song chant that Jews often use while contrasting points come from?

I am having a very hard time coming up with a good way to describe the phenomenon that I am thinking of, but many people will recognize it. I am talking about the kind of singing rhythm that people ...
16
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5answers
2k views

Why do Jewish people sway while praying?

Is there a reason that people sway back and forth while praying? I saw a lot of people pray like this, but I'm too shy to ask them why do they do this.
12
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1answer
1k 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 ...
10
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1answer
258 views

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 ...
3
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1answer
380 views

Why do most Ashkenazim read the Torah flatly on a table while many Sefardim read it standing vertically?

(In case you didn't know,) I am Ashkenazic. Most Ashkenazic congregations perform Torah reading by laying the Torah flatly on a table and reading the Torah as it is on the table. Many Sefardic ...
2
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2answers
317 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?
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2answers
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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 ...
15
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3answers
441 views

Origin of Unveiling

Often, the family of the deceased will have an unveiling service for the presentation of the matzevah.* What is the origin of this custom? *Source: Goldin, Hyman. Hamadrikh. Hebrew Publishing Company:...
11
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1answer
141 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, ...
9
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1answer
311 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. ...
7
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1answer
279 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 ...
5
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1answer
135 views

Useshuva Usefillah Utzedakah maavirin es roah hagezeira, where is this from?

Does anyone know the history of how "Useshuvah Usefillah Utzedakah maavirin es roah hagezeirah" was put into our Tefillah and/or who wrote it? (It's in the chazaras hashatz for musaf on Rosh Hashana ...
4
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0answers
118 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 ...
3
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1answer
95 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 ...
0
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1answer
120 views

Standing during pesukei d'zimrah

What is/are the earliest origins of the customs to stand during various passages of the daily service before the Amidah (e.g. Baruch She'amar, Shirat Yam, Yishtabach)?
20
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2answers
2k views

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 ...
12
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3answers
346 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?
12
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2answers
614 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 ...
7
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2answers
1k views

What is the Pilpul method of learning?

What is the Pilpul methodology? (Examples demonstrating application of this methodology would be appreciated.) Who utilizes this methodology? (Which yeshivot learn this way?) Where did this ...
6
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1answer
660 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 ...
2
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1answer
119 views

Individual Life Mission

What are the earliest sources that support or contradict the view of Sfas Emes and Chiddushei HaRim that each person (or Jew) has a unique mission in the world? Specifically looking for sources pre-...
19
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2answers
413 views

The custom of adding a candle for each child

Many people, including myself, added or will add a candle on Friday night for each child that is born. Where and when did this custom originate?
13
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1answer
853 views

What is the source of the expression המבין יבין?

The Forward writer Philologos in his most recent column claimed that the earliest uses of the expression והמבין יבין are found in the Ra'avad and in the Radak. Based on the fact that both these ...
7
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2answers
294 views

Candles in bedroom over Yom Kippur

What is the reason for the minhag to have a yartzeit-size candle lit in the bedroom over Yom Kippur? (this is unrelated to candles lit for deceased parents for Yizkor). Is it just so we have a new ...
7
votes
2answers
106 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 ...
13
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2answers
835 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 ...
12
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4answers
437 views

Sitting for “Ashre”?

I have seen people seemingly careful to sit down when beginning the paragraph of prayers that starts "Ashre yosh've vesecha" (Ps. 84:5). One such person told me that he was, in fact, careful to do so, ...
7
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1answer
304 views

Who added on the words לאלתר לחיים טובים ולשלום to the greeting לשנה טובה תכתב ותחתם?

Orach Chaim 582:9 - The Rama brings in the name of the Tur that on Rosh Hashana one should bless his friend & family לשנה טובה תכתב. Be'er Hataiv says that one should say לשנה טובה תכתב ותחתם. ...
7
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1answer
129 views

First Use of the Phrase “Cheit HaMeraglim”

The negative report given by the people who are sent to scout the land of Cana'an before Bnei Yisrael go in, resulting in the punishment that they have to wander for another 38 years in the desert, is ...