Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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6
votes
1answer
111 views

All these verses to say before havdala

Before saying the blessings relevant to havdala on motzei shabbos, we (Ashkenazim) include a bunch of p'sukim: "הִנֵּה אֵל יְשׁוּעָתִי אֶבְטַח וְלֹא אֶפְחָד כִּי עָזִּי וְזִמְרָת יָהּ יְהוָה וַיְהִי ...
8
votes
1answer
165 views

Baal haTanya's donning shel yad seated

I have heard that the baal haTanya put on his t'fila shel yad while seated (as S'faradim do). Does anyone have a source for this (or for the opposite: that he put on his shel yad standing)? If he ...
5
votes
2answers
180 views

Which tefilot you say when your minhag differs from that of the shoul your praying in?

Here is the case: This past Sabbath, at an ashkanazi synagogue, a sephardi comes to pray. This is the synagogue that he normally attends (there are about 20 within 1 sq mile). He prays with the ...
7
votes
1answer
117 views

Sefer Torah enclosures

The Torah scrolls of Ashkenazim have a very different look than those of Sepharadim. Ashkenazim just roll the parchment onto two poles, and read it in a horizontal position; the Sepharadim install the ...
8
votes
2answers
126 views

Haftara reading customs

There seems to be a wide range of customs with regard to reading the haftara. In some shuls (mostly Chassidic) the one who is called up recites the berachah, and everyone then says the haftara quietly ...
4
votes
1answer
154 views

Shalosh Seudos song - B'Vo'o M'Edom/Yetzave Tzur Chasdo

At Shalosh Seudos - the third Shabbos meal often the song B'Vo'o M'Edom/Yetzave Tzur Chasdo is sung. Some people/Shuls start from B'Vo'o M'Edom and some people/shuls start from Yetzave Tzur Chasdo. ...
11
votes
3answers
262 views

Who distributed the zemiros across the three meals?

Any book of zemiros whether it's a siddur, birchon, or what have you divides the zemiros between the three meals. Sometimes the rationale is obvious as with the tikkunim which are written for each ...
6
votes
3answers
393 views

What's the deal with all the washings?

Sometimes we wash with a cup, sometimes not; sometimes we wash twice, sometimes thrice; and not everyone agrees on method or pattern in all cases. Who says which ways we are supposed to wash, in ...
3
votes
1answer
77 views

Why is moisture a chatzizah for netilas yadayim?

Why is moisture a chatzizah for netilas yadayim? I guess you can say that the hands must be completely clean, but then why don't you have to wipe your hands in middle? For example, one who washes his ...
23
votes
3answers
5k views

Questions about Polygamy in Jewish Law and Culture

I've recently been looking into polygamy (having more than 1 wife), and had a few cultural questions. Was polygamy accepted at the time of David and Solomon? Were there any laws about it? Was ...
7
votes
3answers
254 views

How to bow during Shemone Esre

During the Shemone Esre, we bend our knees and then bow. I have observed two ways of doing this. One is to bend the knees, then to straighten the knees, and then to bow at the waist. The other is ...
10
votes
3answers
234 views

Flexibility in choice of verses for morning Kiddush

The morning Kiddush on Shabbat and holidays consists of one or more Torah verses followed by the blessing on the wine (or perhaps other beverage). I have seen in print and in practice various ...
8
votes
3answers
228 views

Which parts of the head should be covered by the kippa?

I understand that it is a widespread minhag for men to wear a head covering. Recently I have seen kippot covering different portions of the head. So please tell me which parts of the head should be ...
3
votes
1answer
145 views

Birkat Kohanim in Mussaf on Simchas Torah?

MB 669 seif koton 17 says in the name of the Levush that the custom is that the Kohanim do not bless the people at Mussaf on Simchas Torah because there is a likelihood that the kohanim may be ...
3
votes
3answers
182 views

Why do we step before Shemona Esrei?

Why do we take steps before the Shemona Esrei?
4
votes
1answer
170 views

Source of Dzikov customs

Does anyone know of a book of minhagim (practices) or a sidur (prayer book) of the chasidim of Dzikov (דזיקוב, sometimes דז׳יקוב)? (Or anything that would show their minhagim.) Hebrewbooks.org ...
6
votes
1answer
108 views

Pounding the pavement WITH LEAVES?

Is hitting the Hoshanos on the ground a universal practice? And what is the source for this custom?
2
votes
1answer
167 views

Up all night Hoshanah Rabbah: why?

Why do we stay up all night on Hoshanah Rabbah, and what is its source?
6
votes
2answers
806 views

What does biting off the Pitum have to do with Pregnancy?

I recently read that it's a Segulah (others put it as a minhag) for a pregnant woman to bite off the Pitum of the esrog on Hoshana Rabbah for an easy labor. (please correct me if I misunderstood it) ...
6
votes
2answers
227 views

Bal Toisif on the Four Minim

It seems that there exists a Minhag (a practice of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe Zatzal) of adding extra Hadassim or Aravos (Hashanos) — I am uncertain which, maybe both — to the standard 4 ...
4
votes
2answers
792 views

When cutting nails, which hand comes first?

When cutting nails there are some very specific instructions when cutting them. If I recall correctly, one is supposed to start with the left hand and then proceed to the right. This seems strange, as ...
7
votes
3answers
337 views

Why don't we say Tachanun at Mincha on Erev Shabbat or Erev Yom Tov?

It says in the Rambam that there is a custom not to say Tachanun at Mincha on Erev Shabbos and Yom Tov. What is the reason for this custom?
7
votes
2answers
770 views

What is the difference between dati, chasidish, and charedi?

How would one explain the distinctions between datim, chasidim, and charedim, especially to an American Jew who didn't know much about the Israeli religious spectrum? In particular, are all chasidim ...
5
votes
1answer
149 views

Customs of the parents when the parents don't have past customs

I am of mixed Sephardic and Ashkenazic parentage. I view this as allowing me to behave Sephardically when it suits me (for instance, eating kitniyot for Pessach) or Ashkenacikally when it suits me ...
12
votes
2answers
578 views

Is it inappropriate to say Baruch Dayan Haemes on a Ben Noach? Why or why not?

Is it inappropriate to say Baruch Dayan Haemes on a Ben Noach? What about someone who may have been an oved avoda zarah? Someone who is definitely such? I'm asking because I've seen such discussion ...
11
votes
2answers
965 views

Why the difference in minhagim about wearing a kittel on Yom Kippur only, or also on Rosh Hashanah

My families minhag is to wear a kittel just on Yom Kippur (so I do). But in shul I see a number of folk with the minhag to wear it also on Rosh Hashanah. I know it is related to Yom Hadin, and ...
5
votes
1answer
58 views

Why are we strict during the 10 days of repentance?

The lone halacha in Shulchan Aruch O.C. 603: Even someone who is not careful about eating [pas akum], during the 10 days of repentance he must be careful. Since the S.A. didn't mention stringencies ...
6
votes
1answer
452 views

Why does Lubavitch eat in the Sukkah when it rains?

I have always heard that while we do not eat in the Sukkah while it rains, those of Chabad do. Why is this so? Found it on wikipedia too: Though the halakha doesn't obligate one to eat or sleep ...
8
votes
3answers
591 views

Lubavitch not sleeping in a Sukka?

If Lubavitch is careful not to eat or drink anything outside of the sukka, why does Lubavitch not sleep in the Sukka?
3
votes
2answers
222 views

Is Shir HaShirim recited on a Yom Tov that falls on Friday?

There are those (Sephardim and Chassidim, I guess) who have the custom to recite Shir HaShirim on Friday, Erev Shabbat. Do they also recite it on a Friday when Yom Tov leads directly into Shabbat? If ...
13
votes
1answer
285 views

Avinu Malkeinu - middle verses said out loud by Chazan

Why do we repeat out loud the verses of Avinu Malkeinu - from Hachzireinu B'Teshuva until Kosveinu B'Sefer Slicha U'Mechila? Why only these verses? Why not others?
5
votes
2answers
176 views

Lulav-shake count varying with shake history

T'hilas Hashem, the standard sidur (prayer book) of the Lubavitch chasidim, includes, passim, rulings of their first rabbi ("the Rav"), copied from his own sidur. The rules printed before halel ...
3
votes
1answer
62 views

What species of esrog do people use?

I know Lubavitchers are makpid to use only Esrogim from Genoa (if not grown there, at least that species). What do other communities use? Does anyone still use Korfu?
3
votes
1answer
132 views

When to get an aliya for a Bar Mitzvah?

According to the new "Annotated Edition" of the Siddur Tehillas Hashem, a Bar Mitzvah bachur should get his first aliya either on Shabbos Mincha time, Monday, Thursday, or Rosh Chodesh. I assume that ...
11
votes
2answers
335 views

Why a formulaic greeting on ליל ראש השנה?

On Rosh Hashana night, it is customary to greet one another with "לשנה טובה תכתב (ותחתם)‏" (Rama 582:9, MB). People (in my experience) and machzorim (Rosh Hashana prayer books) treat this as ...
3
votes
1answer
252 views

A new knife for Rosh Hashanah?

There is a custom to buy a knife for Rosh Hashanah: the qualifier is that the knife not be serrated. What is the source for this custom and what is the significance of the knife not having edges?
4
votes
1answer
77 views

Why do the Ashkenazim say Selichos for a minimum of 4 days before Rosh HaShana?

The Ashkenazim start saying Selichos a minimum of 4 days before Rosh HaShana? What is the reason of a minimum of 4 days?
14
votes
4answers
727 views

What does “to confuse the Satan” mean and why does it work?

There are several things we don't do in order "to confuse the Satan", like not blowing Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashana. How does it help? Does Satan not realize that Rosh Hashana didn't pass yet? He ...
10
votes
2answers
507 views

How does Hagbah work on a Sephardic Torah case?

How does one do Hagbah on a Torah in a Sephardic Torah case, such as one of these silver cases (picture courtesy of Hadad Brothers) : See also the Ashkenazi version of this question.
12
votes
1answer
323 views

Kubutz and shuruk in Polish/Hungarian pronunciation

What is the origin or basis of the Polish and Hungarian prevalence for pronouncing "oo" vowels as "ee"? The variants of other vowels are easier to understand in the context of phonological shifting, ...
4
votes
2answers
121 views

When to say “Yehallelu” by Mincha Shabbos Afternoon?

Chabad starts the Half-Kaddish by Mincha Shabbos afternoon just after Hagbahah and continuing the Kaddish until the Sefer Torah is put back in the Aron. Since one should not interrupt in the middle ...
8
votes
1answer
101 views

Why is it considered respectful to capitalize G-d and its derivatives/pronouns?

I recognize that in English proper nouns are supposed to be capitalized, especially in the case where a proper noun is also a common noun (e.g. the mall vs. the Mall), but only when referring to G-d ...
8
votes
2answers
232 views

Does one need dry hands before washing?

I've always noticed people that make sure their hands are perfectly dry before washing (i.e. washing for eating bread). Why do people do so? Where does this apparent stringency come from?
8
votes
2answers
147 views

What are some traditional Iraqi Minhagim?

I'm a Sefaradi Jew of Iraqi descent, but my dad is not religious. I have looked in books like "A Treasury of Sefaradic Laws and Customs", but they tend to not have Iraqi specific Minhagim. I would ...
8
votes
2answers
201 views

What is the source for washing Mayim Acharonim with only a few drops of water?

OC 181 (4) MB [10] says that when washing mayim acharonim one must wash up to the second knuckle and using a few drops does not fulfill the mitzvah at all. Shulchan Oruch HaRav 181 (4) says there is ...
7
votes
1answer
294 views

Yemenite shofar not from sheep

I've heard that Yemenite Jews follow the Rambam for halacha generally, and Wikipedia concurs. The Rambam writes that one must use a sheep's horn as the shofar on Rosh Hashana. Shulchan Aruch is less ...
6
votes
2answers
256 views

What is the origin of the shofar sounds?

There are 4 major shofar sounds, or notes, sounded on Rosh Hashana: Tekiah: A long, continuous blast. Shevarim: Three short "broken" blasts. Teruah: A rapid series of nine or more very short blasts. ...
21
votes
1answer
461 views

Is there any source for not sharing a baby's name before the bris?

For some reason, I have it ingrained in me that a baby boy's name before the bris is a secret and should not be shared. Are there any sources for this, or is it something made up?
5
votes
1answer
163 views

6 chapters of Avos in 7 weeks

Some study pirke Avos weekly through the summer, from Pesach to Rosh Hashana. Others do so only for the six Shabasos between Pesach and Shavuos, one chapter a week. I've heard the latter custom ...
7
votes
1answer
161 views

When to say LeDovid HaShem Ori in a minyan with different nusach

I daven Nusach Ashkenaz saying “LeDovid HaShem Ori” at Shacharis and Maariv. Q1 If I daven Mincha with a Minyan which says “LeDovid HaShem Ori” at Mincha, should I say it with them? (I assume yes, ...