Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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3
votes
1answer
245 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?
13
votes
4answers
701 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
490 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
313 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
120 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
99 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
228 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
138 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
195 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
280 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
227 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
404 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
153 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
160 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, ...
17
votes
4answers
606 views

What is the source of the Magen Dovid (Star of David)?

What is the source of the Magen Dovid (Star of David) in Rabbinic Judaism? When was it first used, and for what?
4
votes
1answer
93 views

In Shabbos Shacharis which is right “sheboro bemidas rachamim” or “sheboro bemidas HOrachamim”?

In the brocho of “hakol yoducho” Shabbos Shacharis, some siddurim have “sheboro bemidas rachamim” while some have “sheboro bemidas HOrachamim”. Why?
8
votes
2answers
539 views

Why do some women light additional shabbat candles for the past weeks they didn't light?

Some women have the custom to light an additional shabbat candle for every week which, for whatever reason, they did not have a chance to light shabbat candles in the past. For example, if a woman ...
5
votes
3answers
296 views

Saying selichos before midnight

What is the position with saying selichos (end of Elul and Aseres Ymei Teshuva) with a minyan that starts straight after maariv at say 10:30 or 11pm?
7
votes
1answer
134 views

Why does Yalkut Yosef recommend women not do “tashlich”?

I read in Yalkut Yossef that women don't need to go to Tashlikh and the Rav Y. Yossef shlit"a concludes with "Shev Veal Tasse Adif" (trans. it's better to do nothing). Does anyone know the reason ? I ...
4
votes
1answer
98 views

When & whether to say El Maleh or Kaddish

I wish to honor the memory of family members (names & relationships unknown) who died when all the Jews were killed in the town from which my parents came. The date this year comes out on 8/26. ...
10
votes
2answers
251 views

What is the origin of giving “Pesicho” to the expectant husband?

What is the origin of the practice of giving “pesicho” (the honor of opening the Ark) to the husband whose wife is expecting a baby?
9
votes
1answer
182 views

Piyyutim on Yomim Noraim. Why do we split phrases against their meaning?

Why is it that in the davenning for Yomim Noraim, we split up the phrases in many of the piyyutim against their real meaning? For example, in “Vechol maaminim shehu…” (p 538 Artscroll Machzor For Yom ...
3
votes
2answers
181 views

What happens at bedeken?

Wikipedia says both that the groom puts on the veil, and in a separate paragraph says he uncovers it. Which is it? Does he put it on, lift it, and then drop it again? Can he just lift it and ...
7
votes
2answers
160 views

Is there any restriction on what constitutes a veil for bedeken?

What can be considered a veil to be used in a bedeken at a wedding? (See also my other related question)
6
votes
1answer
103 views

Shalom Aleichem in Kiddush Levana to an Aveil

We do not say Shalom Aleichem to a Aveil. What about saying Shalom Aleichem to an Aveil (after the Shiva, during the year of Aveilus) during Kiddush Levana - do you or do you not? (sources please)
9
votes
1answer
228 views

Chamisha Asar B'Av - when did the Minhag stop?

The Gemara Taanis 31. says אמר רבן שמעון בן גמליאל לא היו ימים טובים לישראל כחמשה עשר באב וכיוה"כ שבהן בנות ירושלים יוצאות ... וחולות בכרמים ומה היו אומרות בחור שא נא עיניך וראה מה אתה בורר לך אל תתן ...
3
votes
2answers
454 views

Can you wash your hands completely after Chatzos on Tisha B'Av?

One of the restrictions of Tisha B'Av is to only wash your hands until the knuckles. Is this restriction relaxed after Chatzos on Tisha B'Av? (sources please)
6
votes
1answer
202 views

Zecher L'Churban - Why a plate at Tenayim and a glass at the Chupah?

When a person gets engaged and married there are various things that we do as a Zecher L'Churban. At the Tenayim (whether done immediately or at the wedding) we break an earthernware plate, at the ...
4
votes
1answer
162 views

What to do when visiting Kivrei Tzaddikim?

When visiting Kevarim of Tzaddikim, when are proper procedures to follow? I would hope an answer would cover: What and how to daven If there's any specific Tehillim to say If one should (or must) ...
8
votes
3answers
441 views

Saying VaYhi Erev VaYehi Voker before Kiddush Friday night

The Minhag that many people have is to start Kiddush Friday night with VaYehi Erev VaYehi Voker before saying Yom HaShishi. I heard that HaRav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal did not say VaYehi Erev VaYehi ...
8
votes
1answer
130 views

Why are the ends of Tefilin Retzuos cut on a slant?

I noticed than the end of my Tefillin Retzuos are cut on a slant. In the comments to this answer various reasons are postulated. What is the true reason?
16
votes
1answer
496 views

Why don't we bow “correctly” during tefillah anymore?

According to the Gemara (Megillah 22b), and according to the RaMBa"M (Hil. Tefillah 5:13) (and apparently R' Avraham ben HaRaMBa"M was adamant), when we pray we are supposed to bow down ON our knees ...
6
votes
2answers
522 views

Why do the laws of kitniyot still apply today to Ashkenazi Jews on Passover?

How did the tradition start? Why is it still around today? What is the basis for this Halacha (הלכה)?
3
votes
4answers
375 views

Fasting on the wedding day - when getting married right before or after a fast

When a person gets married a day before Yom Kippur or a day after Tzon Gedalya - does he/she have to fast two days in a row?
5
votes
3answers
601 views

May one swim on Shiva Asar B'Tamuz?

May one swim on Shiva Asar B"Tamuz? If not, why not? (sources)
2
votes
2answers
407 views

Can a person start swimming in the three weeks?

Someone told me that if a person did not swim prior to the three weeks, he may not start swimming during the three weeks? Is there a source for this? (sources)
6
votes
4answers
317 views

Kissing Tzitzis during Shema

There are those that kiss their Tzitzis during Shema at Shacharis as per Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 17:7 and the Kaf HaChaim 18 and there are those that do not. What is the source and reason for those that ...
8
votes
6answers
534 views

Is there a Kabbalistic source for not walking with one's hands behind one's back?

I've heard from people that it says in Kabbalah that one shouldn't walk with one's hands behind one's back. Does anyone know the source?
4
votes
2answers
451 views

Can one follow Rabbeinu Tam time for beginning Shabbos?

Does anyone today follow Rabbineu Tam time for the beginning of Shabbos? Reading some tshuvas (e.g. Eretz haTzvi) it is clear this was widespread in Europe. If one has previously been accustomed to ...
4
votes
2answers
470 views

No kaddish for a sister?

I have heard that some (e.g. Chabad?) have the practice not to say kaddish for one's deceased sister. Can anybody confirm this? What might be the reason for this? I had thought there is an ...
6
votes
3answers
484 views

When to say Hamapil

In the bedtime shema, some siddurim have the bracha of Hamapil printed immediately before the paragraph of shema, whereas others have it printed at the very end of the bedtime shema prayers. What is ...
9
votes
1answer
299 views

Does Drinking Seltzer == Drinking Water?

Inspired by this revision of this answer: There are various minhag implications with regards to drinking water. Seltzer is essentially carbonated water. So how do those minhagim apply to seltzer? ...
5
votes
1answer
182 views

tying tzitzis together on Simchas Tora

When I was a child in the 1980s, something the boys in my synagogue did on Simchas Tora was tie one person's talis to another, or sometimes to furniture. (Now that I'm older and in a different ...
19
votes
3answers
256 views

Must EMTs and others rend Kriyah each time they see a patient die?

I was looking at Yoreh De'ah 40:5 (יו"ד סימן ש"מ ס"ק ה) and Moed Katan 25b (כה עמוד ב), which require Kriyah (garment-rending) for all who are there at the time of death. It would seem to me that an ...
5
votes
1answer
354 views

Putting a talis on during Shabas mincha

Why (in some synagogues) does the shatz (leader) put on the talis during mincha of Shabas, before "Vaani s'filasi", rather than before the start of mincha? As Gershon Gold notes in his answer, Shaare ...
8
votes
3answers
792 views

Why do we comfort a mourner with Hamakom Yenachem Eschem?

Why, when comforting a mourner at the completion of a Shiva visit, do we refer to G-d as Hamakom? We say Hamakom Yanachem Eschem - why not Hashem Yenachem or Elokim Yenachem?
7
votes
1answer
125 views

Source for wearing special clothing on Rosh Chodesh

Is there a source for wearing somewhat festive clothes on Rosh Chodesh? I have seen some people who hold this custom.
12
votes
5answers
890 views

Why does the Tefilin Shel Yad have a protective cover?

When you purchase Tefilin, the Tefilin Shel Yad has a protective cover. Why? Is it Halachically necessary?
6
votes
1answer
232 views

how to call up a kohen/levi as acharon

Shulachan Aruch (OC 135:10) holds, and Rama (there) seems to also hold, that if a kohen (or levi, m.m.) is called as acharon then the gabai should say "af al pi shehu kohen". The purpose of this is to ...