15 votes

Is this the Chofetz Chaim?

Click here to see this video that has been making the rounds on Jewish sites recently has a short scene of the Chafetz Chaim. Here are some screen caps:
  • 32.4k
15 votes

Animal sacrifice in Judaism -- was it copied from other religions?

Rav Hirsch writes in his commentary to the Bible, on Gen. 4:4, the first time that animal sacrifice is mentioned: First, idolatry did not yet exist. It follows, then, that the offering are not a ...
  • 18.7k
15 votes
Accepted

Who broke the parshiyot into aliyot and how?

In terms of the history of division of Aliyot, you should see Ilana Katzenellenbogen's survey article in Sinai 119 (1998), pp. 224-45. She looks at 33 different division customs from the last 1000 ...
  • 95.7k
15 votes

Did Rambam have Rashi's works?

Did Rashi's works even reach the lands in which the Rambam lived? To summarize Prof. Shamma Friedman's piece, scholars in the early 20th century assumed from Rambam's silence, that he did not have ...
  • 34.9k
14 votes

Where does the concept of Gilgulim (reincarnations) in Judaism come from?

There is a piece in the Tshuvas HaRashba in siman 418 which denigrates the belief in gilgulim. It is a response from the Chachmei Luniel to the Rashba, proving that they don't believe in any nonjewish ...
  • 32.4k
14 votes
Accepted

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

Nitei Gavriel Chanuka - page 306 mentions this in the name of Otzar Kol Minhagei Yeshurin. Rabbi Genut at din.org.il also quotes Otzar Kol Minhagei Yeshurin and says it is mentioned in Chapter 19:4 in ...
14 votes
Accepted

First use of modern names for books of Torah

Sefer B'Reshit: the Yerushalmi (Sotah 1:10) already refers to it as Sefer B'reshit. This is also found in the Zohar (Raya Mehemna Vol. II Parashat Mishpatim 119b). Sefer Sh'mot: The Midrash Lekah Tov (...
  • 34.9k
13 votes

Where does this Havdala-oriented prayer come from?

This looks like an English translation of the Yiddish prayer גאט פון אברהם: גאט פון אברהם און פון יצחק און פון יעקב! באהיט דיין פאלק ישראל פון אלע בייזן אין דיינעם לויב, אז דער ליבער שבת קודש ...
  • 22.8k
12 votes
Accepted

Pronouncing "O" (Cholam) as "Oy"?

I've contacted Dovid Katz from Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, a renown scholar of the Yiddish language (among others), who wrote numerous papers on linguistics, and his PhD dissertation ...
  • 7,100
10 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 10.9k
10 votes
Accepted

Standing for whole of Lecha Dodi

Kovetz Bais Aharon V'Yisrael 66 - page 97 says the source for standing at Lecha Dodi is the Tikunei Shabbos which mentions that one should stand Lekovod Shabbos Kodesh while saying the Lecha Dodi. It ...
10 votes

Authorship of Rashi's Bible commentary

Chida in Shem Hagedolim (page 7 of the file) quotes Seder Hadoros, who says that the commentary on Iyov isn't from Rashi. On that same page he also quotes someone who claims that none of the ...
  • 1,657
10 votes

Minhag of eating jelly doughnuts on chanukah

Wikipedia brings the following quote from Rabbi Maimon, father of the Rambam: "אין להקל בשום מנהג ואפילו מנהג קל. ויתחייב כל נכון לו עשות משתה ושמחה ומאכל, לפרסם הנס שעשה השם יתברך עמנו באותם ...
  • 21.3k
9 votes

Why do Jewish people sway while praying?

One finds swaying both in the context of prayer and Torah study. Since the reasons may be connected, I will discuss both. To paraphrase On the Mainline: The first source is critical...The first ...
  • 34.9k
9 votes

Animal sacrifice in Judaism -- was it copied from other religions?

From a skeptical standpoint it would probably be easiest to presume that the ancient Israelites merely adopted and or adapted the methods of worship common at the time their religion emerged but I see ...
  • 13.2k
9 votes
Accepted

Covering the mirrors in the house of a mourner

Zvi Ron wrote an entire article about this in Ḥakirah (vol. 13). To quote and summarize: the earliest source is the Hattam Soffer (19th century) [i]: He explains that mirrors were turned around ...
  • 34.9k
9 votes
Accepted

What's controversial about Chemdat HaYamim?

The work deals with laws and customs, particularly relating to the holidays. It is strongly associated with Sabbatianism and was attributed by R. Yaakov Emden (e.g. in his Torat HaK'naot, Altona, 1752,...
  • 34.9k
8 votes
Accepted

Source for "Bein Ish L'Ishto" in Nusach Ari

There is a book called שער הכולל that aims to explain the choices made in that version of the siddur. The author notes the following in regard to the phrase ובין איש לאשתו (chapter 1, paragraph 19): ...
  • 4,811
8 votes
Accepted

First use of the term "Taharat HaMischpacha "

There's a Sefer by that name from 90 years ago - תרפג/1923. A search of HebrewBooks.org seems to show that the term was not used [much] earlier. A search of Toras Emeth Software indicates that it's ...
7 votes

Selichot origins

Rabbi Dr. Immanual Shochat's introduction to his translation of Slichos (page xii) places the first text of Slichos to Rav Amram Gaon. Wikipedia contends that the slichos part is of later vintage, but ...
  • 31.4k
7 votes
Accepted

3 kugels for 3 sifrei Torah?

Perhaps your Rav based it on Minhagei Komarna. Minhagei Komarna - 235 says that the Minhag Komarna was to have 3 Kugels every Shabbos. When 2 Sefer Torahs were read they had 4 Kugels. When 3 Sefer ...
7 votes
Accepted

Source for Striking Self during Viduy

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Prayer: The Ashkenazic and Sephardic Rites (Macy Nulman) has the following on the beating of the heart during Viduy When saying Ashamnu we stand somewhat bent over, ...
  • 1,926
7 votes
Accepted

Who wrote the Aramaic translation for Psalms and when?

The general scholarly answer is, "We don't really know." On linguistic grounds (i.e. an analysis of its language of Late Literary Jewish Aramaic) it is usually considered a "late" targum, i.e. having ...
  • 3,612
7 votes
Accepted

When did masturbation become such a severe prohibition?

Even before the Arizal, it was known as a serious sin. For example, the Talmud (Niddah 13b) states: מאי דכתיב ידיכם דמים מלאו - אלו המנאפים ביד What is the meaning of the verse: "your hands ...
  • 34.9k
7 votes

Who composed the text for Tena'im?

I don't believe there is a single set one, but a few with minor variations. Some of the classic Tenaim texts were collected in Sefer Nachalas Shiv'a, and another version was drafted by Rav Moshe ...
7 votes
Accepted

Source for the tradition of buying seats in synagogues

The gemara in brachos 6 already mentions the importance of having a specific shul to daven in (some meforshim),and to have a specific seat(other meforshim). The earliest I know of is in teshuvos ...
  • 39.9k
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.
  • 61
6 votes

Standing for whole of Lecha Dodi

The Aderet Rav Eliyahu David Rabinowitz-Teomim basing himself on the Gemara in Bava Kama 32b and in Shabbos (119a) implies that the Lecha Dodi should be said while standing. The Gemara says: :רבי ...
6 votes
Accepted

Custom of singing Aishes Chayil before kiddush

The custom of saying Eshet Hayil on Friday night does not seem universal among Teimani Jews. R. Qafih makes no mention of it in his discussion of Friday night practices in Yemen (Halikhot Teiman (1969)...
  • 34.9k
6 votes

Earliest Sources for Custom of Not Shaving from 17th of Tammuz

The Rama himself actually forbids haircuts starting on the 17th of Tammuz (ShA OC 551:4). In his Darkei Moshe, he cites Minhagim Tirna on Tammuz (written ~1400 CE) which mentions this custom.
  • 95.7k

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