16 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 ...
mevaqesh's user avatar
  • 35.5k
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 (...
mevaqesh's user avatar
  • 35.5k
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 ...
Scimonster's user avatar
  • 23.1k
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 ...
Kazi bácsi's user avatar
  • 7,569
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 ...
Aryeh's user avatar
  • 11.5k
10 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 ...
mevaqesh's user avatar
  • 35.5k
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 ...
Harel13's user avatar
  • 25.4k
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 ...
mevaqesh's user avatar
  • 35.5k
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,...
mevaqesh's user avatar
  • 35.5k
7 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.
RabbiS's user avatar
  • 71
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 ...
Noam Sienna's user avatar
  • 3,632
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 ...
mevaqesh's user avatar
  • 35.5k
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 ...
רבות מחשבות's user avatar
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 ...
sam's user avatar
  • 41.5k
6 votes

Did Rambam have Rashi's works?

The Mishnah in Pesachim 4:10 states that Hezekiah hid the Book of Remedies. Rambam in his commentary quotes an explanation of this. ששמעתי וגם פירשו לי ששלמה חבר ספר רפואות שאם חלה אדם באיזו מחלה ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 49.2k
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)...
mevaqesh's user avatar
  • 35.5k
6 votes

Where does the tune for birkat hamazon come from?

Most of the tunes still used were written by Moshe Nathanson in 1938 (some say 1939) for Camp Ramah, a Conservative Jewish overnight camp. He published the sheet music in "Shirei Manginoth", and here ...
Micha Berger's user avatar
  • 9,598
6 votes
Accepted

Was the Hasidic gartel influenced by Zoroastrianism?

No, the Chassidic practice of wearing the gartel, which is properly called Avnet (אבנט) in Hebrew, was not influenced by the Zoroastrian practice. It is worth pointing out that after listening to the ...
Yaacov Deane's user avatar
  • 14.6k
6 votes

Don't teach if they won’t follow...?

The Sefer Hachinuch Mitzva 239 - רלט. מצות תוכחה לישראל שאינו נוהג כשורה - does mention such a concept. ומכל מקום, אמרו זכרונם לברכה (שם) גם כן, שאם יראה המוכיח שאין בדברי תוכחותיו שום תועלת נמצא, ...
Danny Schoemann's user avatar
6 votes

Don't teach if they won’t follow...?

The phrase you're looking for may be אלא הנח להם לישראל מוטב שיהיו שוגגין ואל יהיו מזידין But leave the Jews alone. It is better that they be unwitting sinners and not be intentional sinners. which ...
Isaac Moses's user avatar
  • 48k
6 votes
Accepted

What is the source for בית נאמן בישראל for newly married couples?

The term בית נאמן appears in three places in Tanakh: I Samuel (2:35), I Samuel (25:28), and I Kings (11:38). A similar term is found in II Samuel (7:16). Based on the Bar Ilan database and the ...
mevaqesh's user avatar
  • 35.5k
5 votes
Accepted

"שליט״א" only for certain people

Looking at contracts in the Cairo Geniza, שליטא was added after someone's name if they were the head of the household or patriarch. It was simply the Aramaic word for ruling, from the root \שלט\ . So, ...
Micha Berger's user avatar
  • 9,598
5 votes

Source of a common tune to "Adon olam"

This tune for Adon Olam appears as early as 1897 when published by Eliezer Gerovitch (Eliezer ben Yitzchok Gerowitsch 1844-1913) in his שירי תפילה. It is not certain whether he composed it or ...
EraserX's user avatar
  • 2,568
5 votes
Accepted

Shabbos Zemiros source for Al Ahavosicha?

If the song that you are referring to is this one, it was composed by R' Yehuda HaLevi in the 11th or 12th century according to Hebrew Wikipedia.
Daniel's user avatar
  • 24.9k
5 votes

Who composed THIS melody for Shoshanat Ya'akov?

The following is lightly adapted from an email I received from Cantor Sherwood Goffin: In 1950, Mr. Harry Coopersmith published his “Magnum Opus” – Songs We Sing – I believe in collaboration with the ...
Isaac Moses's user avatar
  • 48k
5 votes

Why are we not fluent in Greek philosophy anymore?

Aside from all the other answers, it's worth mentioning that no one studies Greek philosophy today. The thinkers that were so respected by (some of) the Rishonim are mostly irrelevant even to ...
MichoelR's user avatar
  • 3,362
5 votes

Earliest source for "Zos Chanuka"

Thanks to all of the above commenters. A Bar Ilan search shows that the earliest mention of the day known as "Zos Chanukah" is in the Sefer Haminhagim of R' Isaac Tyrnau, 14th-15th century (Minhagim ...
רבות מחשבות's user avatar
5 votes

Origin of Histakel Be'Oraisa Uvara Alma

The sources that I can find for this idea is as follows. 1 - Beginning of Medrash Raba - Breishis. מביט בתורה ובורא את העולם 2 - Zohar Teruma 635 אסתכל בה באורייתא וברא עלמא
Gershon Gold's user avatar
5 votes

Where does this Havdala-oriented prayer come from?

You have found an English abridgement of the old Yiddish prayer, Gott fun Avrohom. גָאט פוּן אַבְרָהָם - G-d of Abraham. It was customary in many European communities for the women to recite the ...
ezra's user avatar
  • 18.6k
5 votes

Where does this Havdala-oriented prayer come from?

Thanks to Scimonster and ezra identifying this as an abridged form of Gott fun Avrohom, some persistent Googling, and the Library of Congress, I've confirmed that this particular English abridged ...
Isaac Moses's user avatar
  • 48k

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