15 votes

Why was שמאי holding a ruler?

I heard once in a recording from R. Y.S. Schorr that Shamai represented a middas hadin, an exacting attitude of strict justice (as is evidenced by those very stories). His measuring stick was a ...
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14 votes
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Source for eulogy of lost bookcases

Megillah 28b (English) ההוא דהוי תני הלכתא סיפרא וסיפרי ותוספתא ושכיב אתו ואמרו ליה לרב נחמן ליספדיה מר אמר היכי נספדיה הי צנא דמלי סיפרי דחסר there was a certain man who used to repeat halachoth, ...
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13 votes

Why was שמאי holding a ruler?

The Chassam Sofer seen here s.v. על רגל אחד says that Shammai besides being a Talmid Chacham was also a builder by trade, כי הוא היה תלמיד חכם וגם בנאי באמת הבנין. The apikores thought that a person ...
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13 votes
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Is there a Jewish tradition of God reviving Israel at Sinai?

Shemos Rabbah (29:4) says: דבר אחר "אָנֹכִי ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ" רבי אחא ברבי חנינא פתח בו (תהלים נ, ז) שמעה עמי ואדברה (כמ"ש בעשרת הדברות (פסיקתא רבתי, יב) עד) א"ר שמעון בן יוחאי אמר להם הקדוש ברוך ...
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13 votes
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Are Synagogues "holy ground," offering protection from evil creatures?

The Babylonian Talmud (M'gila, page 3 column 1) relates in the name of Ravina: One who is afraid [for no apparent reason] — although he doesn't see [anything], his mazal sees [something]. The ...
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12 votes

Werewolf in the Torah

Despite this being an old question, it recently came up in conversation, so I'll take a stab at it. Three of these sources (the exception being the Chizkuni, which I found myself) come from a footnote ...
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Is the leviathan kosher?

The medrash tanchuma on parshas Shmini #7 takes the opinion that at that great feast of Beheimos and Leviason, the mitzvos which until now were only to purify/smelt the people with will no longer ...
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12 votes
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Looking for a source which was mentioned in a shiur

This is found in Brachot 8a: אמרו ליה לרבי יוחנן איכא סבי בבבל תמה ואמר למען ירבו ימיכם וימי בניכם על האדמה כתיב אבל בחוצה לארץ לא כיון דאמרי ליה מקדמי ומחשכי לבי כנישתא אמר היינו דאהני להו ...
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11 votes
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source for a story: man who went to milk a lion

The story is found in מדרש שוחר טוב to Tehillim (39:2). (Menachem's comment [now deleted]) This is probably the earliest source. It is also quoted in the אורחות צדיקים (in שער כ"ה, שער לשון הרע) [on ...
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10 votes
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Story of Rabbi Who Burned Out His Eyes

It was R' Masya ben Charash. The Tanchuma (Chukas) relates the story you mention, except it says that he burned his eyes (he didn't stab them). The story is related in the Hebrew Wikipedia article (fn....
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10 votes
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Where did the "a cat will always be a cat" story about the Rambam come from?

This folktale is quite popular throughout European and Asian cultures, and predates Jewish oral accounts. In Folktales of the Jews, Volume 1: Tales from the Sephardic Dispersion, folklorist Dov Noy ...
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  • 10.6k
9 votes

On What Subjects Does One Say Birchas HaTorah?

The Gemara in Maseches Berachos (11b) clearly tells us what types of learning require a blessing. א"ר יהודה אמר שמואל השכים לשנות עד שלא קרא ק"ש צריך לברך משקרא ק"ש א"צ לברך שכבר נפטר באהבה רבה אמר ...
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8 votes
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How do different scholars define "aggadah"?

I'm not sure if "anyone has ever conducted a study" of what some scholars consider to be aggada and others do not. However, we should be wary of such black and white distinctions, and of assuming that ...
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8 votes

rav wosner and the kind kallah who got a brocho

One source for the story you mentioned: http://yeranenyaakov.blogspot.co.il/2012/06/rav-wosner-asks-kallah-for-blessing.html In short, the author relates how a young woman received a wonderful ...
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What was the ריב"א thinking?

Shaalos Uteshuvos Radbaz 3:444 says that perhaps the Riva felt that his time was up and knew that he would die either way and therefore did not eat. "אפשר דריב"א ז"ל הרגיש בעצמו דאפילו שיאכל ימות ...
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8 votes
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Is Julia Donaldson's "a squash and a squeeze" based on a Jewish source?

This is from an old Jewish Polish folk tale. A man's house is too crowded, so the rabbi tells him to bring in all his animals, one species at a time. When there are no more to being in, he tells him ...
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8 votes
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Legend About Rashi

The source for this is the Chida in Shem HaGedolim letter Shin:7
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8 votes
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Source that Gr"a finished the "whole" Torah?

It is brought in the introduction to the Sefer Peat HaSulchan. It says there that he learned and understood clearly all that there is to learn (until the Achronim on the Shulchan Aruch) including the ...
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8 votes

Are Synagogues "holy ground," offering protection from evil creatures?

Also to the contrary, see Talmud Kiddushin 29b, where the story is told of a demon that attacked people who entered the study hall. הוה ההוא מזיק בי רבנן דאביי דכי הוו עיילי בתרין אפי' ביממא הוו ...
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  • 81
8 votes

Why didn't Titus consort with someone worse than a harlot?

While I don't think that the premise for the question is very strong, as Titus may or many not have known about the technical severity of different relationships, and may or may not have cared, as ...
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7 votes

Are Synagogues "holy ground," offering protection from evil creatures?

Somewhat to the contrary, there was a superstition among Easter European Jews that the dead held services in synagogues at night, a “minyan macabre” if you will. My grandfather z"l told me how in his ...
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6 votes

Jews were on 49th level of Tumah. Says who?

Here is a picture of the Zohar with the perush masok midvash on bottom. It is zohar charash yisro on daf lamed tes amud aleph in the original Zohar print.
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6 votes

Who said many agados were to wake students?

The Rashb"o in Chindushai HaHagodos (Mosad Horav Kook) to Brochos 54b states that after a long halachik discussion the Ameroim switched to Agadato to awaken the students.
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6 votes

Which of the Napoleonic wars had no casualties?

This is a reference to the Siege of Pressburg, also known as the Siege of Bratislava, in 1809, which was a little over a month-long Napoleonic campaign that ultimately failed (on Napoleon's part). I ...
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  • 20.2k
6 votes

Why was שמאי holding a ruler?

in chovos halevavos gate 9 ch.5 Do so in your heart and mind if you are unable to free your body to matters of the next world due to being so fully engaged with providing for your livelihood ...
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6 votes

Source for story of rabbi's claiming land said "you're both mine"

Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum of the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland brings the story in his dvar torah on Parshas Behar: There is a famous anecdote, related by Horav Yeruchem Levovitz, zl, which ...
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6 votes

A theological problem with the Miriam "Magdalene" story in Chagiga 4b

The Gemara you quote asks and answers that very question. Miriam B was doing something dangerous and thereby she was at high risk of dying. היכי יכלת לה? הות נקיטא מתארא בידה והות קא שגרא ומחריא ...
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Rabbi Akiva and Ketarim

The מהר'ל in תיפארת ישראל , chapter 63 explains in length that these ketarim are actually secrets and deep ideas, related to concepts foreign to the materialistic perspective of the world. דע כי ...
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6 votes

Where is the story from (I believe in the Talmud ) about a Rebbe who was head of a beis din in regards to a widow and his sentencing to death?

You're probably thinking of the story in tractate Semachos, one of the minor tractates וכשבאו רשב״ג ורבי ישמעאל גזרו עליהם שיהרגו והיה רבי ישמעאל בוכה ור״ש אמר אברך בשתי פסיעות אתה נתן בחיקם של ...
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