Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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13
votes
3answers
684 views

May a Jew be a Freemason?

According to what I've been told by several people who have inquired of "practicing" (is that the right word?) Freemasons, and supported by Wikipedia, "Freemasonry explicitly and openly states that it ...
1
vote
0answers
491 views

Why do we wish someone “long life” on the occasion of the anniversary of the death of relative?

Why do we wish someone “long life” on the occasion of the anniversary of the death of relative? I can understand this wish directly after the death when I have heard that a person should consider ...
9
votes
1answer
272 views

May a man learn Torah without a Kippah?

Is it permissible for a man to learn Torah without a Kippah? Let's say that he can't wear a Kippah at work, or he lives someplace where it is dangerous to outwardly display signs of being Jewish, ...
13
votes
1answer
265 views

Is there a Beta Israel Siddur?

Ashkenazi siddurs are different from Sephardic siddurs, do Beta Israel Siddurs even exist?
3
votes
1answer
90 views

What's done on Zos Chanuka?

I know people call the last day of Chanuka "Zos Chanuka" (taken from Bamidbar 7:84, read on that day). How is it specially commemorated if at all? I've heard it is, but know no details. I'm not ...
3
votes
0answers
113 views

Should I rend k'riyah if I witness the death of a non-relative? If so, what's the procedure?

In another question, Chalutznahal cites Yoreh De'ah 40:5, which says that when I witness a fellow Jew die, I must rend my shirt out of sadness. And British Rabbi Dr. Moshe Freedman brings this down as ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Traditions what to do with removed foreskin

In Germany we recently started a debate, whether foreskin-amputation of children (not only Jews, but Muslims as well) has to be forbidden according to our fundamental laws. Some magazine illustrated ...
3
votes
0answers
50 views

Best practices for long-distance Nihum Aveilim and Kavod HaMeith

What are some best practices for people who learn from afar of the passing of an individual (not immediate family) and who want show their respects to the deceased and the surviving family? If they ...
8
votes
3answers
241 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, ...
4
votes
1answer
160 views

Why do we let the tzitzit go after saying Shema at either לָעַד or צָרֵיהֶם

In the answer to When we say "עַל צִיצִת הַכָּנָף" at which point do we kiss the tzitzis? we were told that it is the Chabad Minhag to kiss the tzitzit six times, at the words tzitzit, ...
2
votes
1answer
150 views

Communities where men didn't put their טליתות over their heads?

I heard that the Rambam in his commentary to the Mishna mentioned cases where the custom of the place was different, one such place being יָוָן, where men didn't cover their heads with their tallitot, ...
7
votes
1answer
133 views

Wrapping up Tefilin to form dove's wings

Gemara Shabbos 49a mentions a story about Elisha Baal Kenafayim who was saved by his Tefilin turning into dove's wings. Magen Avraham Orach Chaim 28:4 says the Minhag is to wrap the Tefilin like ...
3
votes
2answers
201 views

What is the significance of the shtreimel?

What is the esoteric or hashkafic significance of the shtreimel? Some things I have seen but without details or sources are that it is like a crown, that the number of pelts involved have numerical ...
4
votes
2answers
147 views

What is the source for lighting a candle for the whole year after the death of a close relative?

I am familiar with the idea of a yahrzeit candle. I have observed a custom of keeping a flame alight for the whole year (or maybe 11 months) after the death of a close relative. (When one goes out, ...
9
votes
1answer
225 views

Where does the concept of “shirayim” come from?

Please explain the concept of shirayim (literally, leftovers) wherein the followers of a chassidic Rebbe will receive portions of his food to it, these leftovers are considered holy or special in some ...
0
votes
0answers
95 views

Triennial reading cycle for guests

On one Shabbos, to accommodate a large number of guests from another shul who follow a triennial Torah reading cycle, can we revert to the triennial cycle reading for that one Shabbos?
2
votes
1answer
148 views

Is it true that proselytes immersed in their birthday suits in ancient times?

I was told that Jewish proselytes immersed in their birthday suits in ancient times. Is this true? If so, could you please provide sources stating this fact?
6
votes
2answers
1k views

A Convert taking on customs of ashkanazim or sephardim

When someone converts is there any determining factor on what minhagim (customs) they will take upon themselves in terms of Ashkanazim or Sephardim? Should it be dependent on the Beis Din they ...
7
votes
0answers
122 views

Minhag of bothering the chazzan on Simchas Torah

I have seen the custom of bothering the chazzan during the musaf service on Simchas Torah. I have seen people tie the chazzan's gartel to a chair, or try to move the chazzan to a diffrent place. I ...
3
votes
2answers
292 views

Hanging the kesubah on the wall?

I've heard from some people that there is a problem with hanging/displaying ones kesubah on the wall. Others have told me that it's good to display the kesubah as a reminder to the husband to fulfill ...
2
votes
2answers
162 views

What kavanos should one have when sharpening a challa knife Erev Shabbos?

What are some kavanos should one have in mind when sharpening a challa knife on Erev Shabbos? I'm sure I heard that there are kavanos but never learned what they are.
1
vote
1answer
214 views

Post-conversion ketubah

She's Jewish. He wasn't. 2+ decades later, he converted. (I don't know when he first intended to... these are the parents of co-workers of a friend of mine.) Can they get a ketubah now? Should they? ...
7
votes
1answer
110 views

Moving Sefer Torah with Tallis (source?)

Often times, when someone will move a Sefer Torah from one place to another, on top of what the Sefer Torah is already normally covered with, he will put an additional covering of a Tallis-Gadol. ...
3
votes
2answers
109 views

Chanukiyot inside or out?

Shabbat 22a says that the halacha is that we should place the chanukiyah outside, within a hand-breadth of the door, to the left. In Israel I've seen people do this, placing the chanukiyah in a glass ...
2
votes
2answers
113 views

Minhag Kaparos with Money - What's the source?

In the Rama on SA OC Siman 605, we find the custom of "Kaparos" that many do Erev Yom Kippur. Of those who perform this custom a chicken is used. However many also use money (i.e. instead of waving a ...
6
votes
2answers
541 views

Eating by one who doesn't separate glass

Some, mainly Ashkenazim, hold that glass dishes must be separated between milk and meat. Some, mainly Sefardim, do not. May the former eat on the latter's glass dishes?
2
votes
1answer
126 views

What is the source for “the custom of our forefathers is in our hands”?

Where does "minhag avoseinu byadeinu" as a halachik concept, which is commonly cited as the source for keeping two days of yom tov outside of Israel, originate from?
2
votes
2answers
201 views

Source listing all Jewish wedding customs?

Is there a comprehensive source that lists all various orthodox wedding customs (mitzvah tantz, mezinkah, etc.)?
6
votes
0answers
157 views

Original source for Maharil endorsing tunes as “MiSinai”?

Cantor Goffin describes how over 500 years ago, Maharil endorsed several cantorial tunes as "MiSinai" -- "so authoritative it's as if they go back to Sinai" -- for use in the prayers. What's the ...
4
votes
1answer
86 views

Source and reason for throwing the Hoshanos on top of the Aron Kodesh

I have seen in many Shuls on Hoshana Raba after using the Hoshanos people throw the used Hoshanos on top of the Aron Kodesh. What is the reason and source for this Minhag?
2
votes
1answer
78 views

When is the end of the Tishrei holiday “season”?

(Inspired by this question) I'm curious if there is any discussion on when the Tishrei holiday "season" officially ends. Just off the top of my head, I'm curious if anyone recommends refraining from ...
7
votes
1answer
106 views

Where/when/how/why did flags become part of Simchas Torah celebrations?

Kids today all know that they have flags when dancing on Simchas Torah. How, when, where, and/or why did the flags originate? (Someone decided it was fun, and then it caught on?) What pictures were ...
6
votes
2answers
169 views

“Tzon k'doshim!” ―“Baa!”: source/provenance

In some synagogues, on Simchas Tora, someone will shout "Tzon k'doshim!", meaning "holy sheep/goats", or "Tzon kadashim!", meaning "sheep/goats of sacrificial-offering sanctity". He's replied to with ...
10
votes
2answers
163 views

Using Hoshanos more than once

On Hoshana Rabba after one uses (Klaps) his Hoshanos may another person use the same Hoshanos?
0
votes
0answers
67 views

Stuffed cabbage on Sukkoth

There is a well-known custom to eat stuffed cabbage on Simhath Torah. But many also eat it on Sukkoth. Is it an extension of the same reason? Are the reasons cited for Simhath Torah (in the answers to ...
4
votes
2answers
147 views

What is the right way to wave the lulav and esrog in the down direction?

We wave the lulav and esrog (4 minim) in six directions including “down”. What is the right way to wave down? I have seen two procedures. 1) The 4 minim are held lower (nearer to the ground) than ...
4
votes
3answers
759 views

Why do some Jews get married at night?

In images and other media I have seen of Jewish weddings, there seems to be a trend to get married in the evening or night time. Is this a Jewish custom a halachic requirement and what is the origin ...
5
votes
2answers
303 views

Is there a justification for the practice not to whip on Erev Yom Kipur?

The Shulchan Aruch (607:6) writes that on erev Yom Kipur, everyone gets whipped 39 lashes. However, I have not seen this done in practice. Is there any source who justifies the practice not to do ...
4
votes
2answers
187 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
195 views

How/why does kaparot work?

The ritual of kaparot [lit. atonement], which is usually done just prior to Yom Kippur (usually the day before), where one waves a chicken or an [unspecified] amount of money over one's head in a ...
1
vote
0answers
69 views

Davening by a Tzaddik on Rosh HaShanah

Where does the inyan of davening with a Tzaddik on Rosh HaShanah come from? Where did it start? Was there ever such a minhag before chassidus come along? (Assuming it started with the Chassidim -- my ...
5
votes
6answers
228 views

Why specifically an apple on Rosh HaShanah?

There is a custom of eating an apple dipped in honey on first night of Rosh HaShanah (among the other foods) as a sign that we should have a sweet year. Why is this done specifically with an apple and ...
11
votes
1answer
300 views

Kapparos on money - How much?

If one does the Minhag of Kapparos on money, how much money should be used for each person? (Sources.)
2
votes
1answer
112 views

What is the point of Hataras Nedarim every year?

The second paragraph of Hataras Nedarim has the person being mattired saying that "I am making a modaah that any oaths being made in the future are considered to be as if 'bli neder'". Is this ...
0
votes
2answers
209 views

Bal Keri and Learning

Many are stringent: if they become a bal keri (have a nocturnal emission) for any reason they don't learn or pray before going to the mikveh ("tevilas ezra"). However, even according to those that are ...
4
votes
1answer
394 views

Beracha on lighting yom tov candles : before or after?

There are two minhagim concerning the time the beracha should be said on lighting yom tov candles for a woman, before or after (like shabbos neros). I've read arguments like these : before, because ...
3
votes
1answer
105 views

What if there is no object for use in a mitzva?

There is a story I once heard about the Ben Ish Chai examining the only known etrog available in Iraq. Despite the great need for it, he declared the etrog passul for use and no one could fulfill the ...
1
vote
1answer
265 views

Yom tov kiddush tune

There's a popular tune used for kidush on the nights of the shalosh r'galim. (It's available on YouTube (but ignore the "shehechiyanu" part of that recording).) What's its origin? Does it have the ...
6
votes
1answer
198 views

Minhag of saying Selichos only before Rosh HaShanah

There is a minhag to only say Selichos before Rosh HaShanah and not during Aseres Yemei Teshuva. I know in Chabad this is in the minhag. Is this minhag practiced anywhere else? Where does it come ...
3
votes
1answer
188 views

Saying Misod and Reshut (introduction) for piyutim, then skipping them

I have seen that many yeshivos (and recently, even some shuls) often say just Misod and the Reshus on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and then skip the actual piyutim they are meant to introduce! This ...