Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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6
votes
1answer
148 views

To sing or not to sing - Piyutim on Shabbath

Some Piyutim recited on Shabbath are widely (in the Ashkenazi world) sung by the congregation (usually in unison, but in some rare instances in the Ashkenazi world they are sung responsively). Among ...
6
votes
2answers
255 views

Rubbing the Havdalah wine

Is there any source for the practice of not only dipping one's fingers into the Havdalah wine that was used to extinguish the fire and rubbing the eyes with it, but also spreading it around onto other ...
5
votes
1answer
169 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
441 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 ...
4
votes
12answers
528 views

What is the most widespread Israeli Minhag? [closed]

What is the single most widely practiced minhag among Jews in Israel today? By "widely practiced" I mean practiced by the most people.
3
votes
3answers
425 views

Kissing a Sefer Torah as it passes

Some people in shul mark it as a sign of respect, as the Torah makes its way to/from the Aron Kodesh, to kiss it, and rush to get as close as possible. Others, given the cold season, think that this ...
15
votes
5answers
910 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
831 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 ...
18
votes
1answer
619 views

Blessing the Children on Friday Night

I have noticed that many families (including my own) have the custom for the father to bless all the children on Friday night before kiddush. When and where did this custom originate, and by whom, ...
11
votes
9answers
3k views

Where do the different traditions for hours of waiting between meat and milk come from?

As far as I can tell, there are 5 different traditions for how long one has to wait between eating meat and milk: wait 6 full hours wait into the 6th hour (thus, 5 hours and 5 minutes would ...
7
votes
1answer
224 views

Explanation for couple not seeing each other before the wedding?

What is the source and reason for a couple not to see one another before the wedding?
7
votes
4answers
668 views

What practices are affected by a belief in demons?

Inspired by R' Slifkin's new monograph, Wrestling with Demons, and acknowledging the fact that the existence of sheidim and other things magical in nature is an age-old dispute, I am wondering about ...
6
votes
4answers
382 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 ...
22
votes
1answer
406 views

Why don't people bentch on a kos nowadays?

Bentching with a kos (recite Grace after Meals with a cup of wine) was clearly a popular thing to do in the times of the gemara. Additionally many Ashkenazi rishonim (Rosh, Ri, and many other ...
21
votes
1answer
531 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?
10
votes
2answers
333 views

What is the origin of the custom to kiss a Mezuzah?

What is the source or origin of the custom to kiss a Mezuzah?
10
votes
1answer
6k views

Does ב"ה actually stand for Boruch Hashem?

We asked here about writing either ב"ה or בס"ד on the top of a letter. In the question it was assumed that ב"ה stands for Boruch Hashem. Do we have a source that ב"ה actually stands for Boruch ...
9
votes
6answers
558 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?
8
votes
1answer
326 views

Tachnun in Nissan

Why is there no Tachnun said in the month of Nissan?
6
votes
4answers
257 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
223 views

Where does the custom to spill off from a drink come from?

I had a Lubavitcher classmate in high school who used to spill off from his cup whenever he would drink anything. He claimed it was a minhag. What is the reason/source for this practice?
16
votes
1answer
218 views

Placing notes in the Kotel/Western Wall

Is there any source for the custom to place notes in to the Western Wall? A very prevalent practice in Israel. And even if there is no source, is it a good idea?
13
votes
4answers
452 views

Boruch Shem Kevod Malchuso L'Olam Voed - why do we whisper it?

Why do we say Boruch Shem Kevod Malchuso L'Olam Voed in Kriyas Shema in a whisper?
12
votes
5answers
1k views

Why do some people wrap their Tefilin around their arms 8 times?

I have seen people who wrap the Tefilin 7 times around their arm and some that wrap it 8 times around their arm. Why do the people who wrap it 8 times do so?
10
votes
3answers
198 views

When there are four aveilim (mourners), Is it better to have one minyan of 40 people or 4 minyonim of ten each?

Today I was in a shul where there were four parallel mincha services because four mourners wanted to lead the services. I thought there was a principle of ברב עם הדרת מלך? What sources are there that ...
8
votes
2answers
390 views

How historically accurate is Josephus?

How accurate is the writing of Josephus? Can we rely on any of his writings to establish authentic Jewish practices or in areas of halacha?
7
votes
1answer
153 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
183 views

How do we operationally define kitniyos?

I've heard/read much debate on whether certain plants qualify as kitniyos, such as snow peas and quinoa. What exactly halachically defines "kitniyos?" is it based on what was popular in 13th century ...
7
votes
3answers
126 views

Why do we put out greenery on Shavuos?

Those that have the Minhag to put out greenery in the Shul on Shavuos, why do we do it?
6
votes
2answers
129 views

What are the major regions relevant to Ashkenazi minhagim?

Motivating this question are the instructions in the ArtScroll Siddur for the two versions of kel erekh apayim, said on weekdays before taking out the sefer torah: one is identified as “נוסח אשכנז, ...
6
votes
3answers
380 views

Is a convert free to choose his own minhagim?

Back when Jews lived in the same communities for generations, they were obligated to follow the minhagim (customs) of their community. The classic example is that East European Jews held that one ...
6
votes
2answers
299 views

Start of the Upsherin ceremony

When did it become popular to have a ceremony for a boys Upsherin, his first haircut when he reaches the age of three?
6
votes
2answers
504 views

What is the source for the Kallah's circling the Chasan 7 times?

What is the source for a Kallah (bride) to circle her Chasan (bridegroom) seven times at their wedding?
6
votes
2answers
950 views

Wearing a gartel

Where did the minhag of wearing a gartel come from?
5
votes
1answer
1k views

What are the halachot of Chanukat Habayit?

What are the laws and customs appertaining to chanukat habayit? At what point, if at all, should you make a shehechiyanu; upon closing? Moving in? Should you make a chanukat habayit on a home that ...
5
votes
3answers
453 views

If it's your minhag to daven Hanetz, do you do so even without a minyan?

A friend once told me that if one's minhag is to daven with Hanetz (i.e., starting the Amida prayer at sunrise), and if there's no Hanetz minyan nearby, you should still daven Hanetz, even without a ...
4
votes
2answers
109 views

Custom for a mourner to be chosen to read the haftora every week

The Chabad rabbi near me has the custom of taking (for himself) both the kaddish recitation after the Torah reading (when applicable) and the reading of the haftorah on Shabbat — specifically ...
4
votes
2answers
152 views

Hyphenating the word Hashem

I've seen the word Hashem hyphenated ("Hash-m"). Is there any valid reason for this practice?
4
votes
1answer
287 views

Where does it say that one must wear two layers on their head(one of the reasons for the black hat)?

I know that a reason for wearing a black hat is because one must wear two layers covering their head (Mishna Brurah 91:5) but am wondering if that Din is based in Kabbalah?
4
votes
4answers
655 views

Matzah meal before פסח

On the subject of not eating Matzah before פסח, may one eat products containing Matzah meal in that time?
4
votes
1answer
178 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
174 views

Tachanun on Pesach Sheni - sources for the diffferent customs

Some say Tachanun on Pesach Sheni (14 Iyar); some do not; some do not say Tachanun on 14 & 15 Iyar. What are the sources for these customs? See related Why do we do anything for Pesach Sheini? ...
3
votes
3answers
340 views

Kissing the hand to catch a cold?

There is a popular custom in Israel to shake a person's hand and then kiss your own. In every single Sephardic and Mizrachi synagogue I've ever been to in the country this is the standard way of ...
2
votes
1answer
225 views

Origin of two customs on wearing the Talis after making the brocho

How do we wear the Talis Godol immediately after making the brocho? 1) There seems to be one method practised by those following German minhogim. Can someone give a source for it please? Is this ...
1
vote
1answer
213 views

Singing Lecha Dodi before Shabbos

In every community I have been in there is a custom to sing Lecha Dodi, sometimes along with yedid nefesh or shir hashirim, during kabbalat shabbat. Are there any communities which do not sing lecha ...
21
votes
4answers
959 views

Why do people frequently change tunes toward the end of Lecha Dodi?

Frequently, perhaps even most of the time, I've noticed that the chazan (prayer leader) for Kabalat Shabbat switches tunes for the last four verses of Lecha Dodi. Is there any reason for this, or are ...
18
votes
4answers
676 views

How does an outsider know how to dress for a particular Orthodox community?

Standards of dress (at least for women) aren't nearly as consistent within Orthodoxy as we might wish. Wearing exactly the same halachically-correct clothing I have been under-dressed in some places ...
14
votes
1answer
347 views

“Yaamod p'loni ben p'loni… chazak”?

The last ole (person called to the Torah) (besides the maftir) of Vaychi, P'kude, B'chukosay, and Mas'e is, in my experience, called using the formula "yaamod p'loni ben p'loni sh'vii chazak", with ...
9
votes
2answers
376 views

Shliach Mitzva money

Many people give their friends money to give to Tzedakah when they are traveling. The reason they do this is that it says "Shluchei Mitzva Ainom Nizakim". If someone is travelling to Eretz Yisroel ...
8
votes
1answer
288 views

Why has Judaism traditionally discussed intimacy only privately?

To quote msh210's formulation of this site's rule on intimate topics: Please respect that in the Jewish tradition certain questions, especially certain questions relating to sexuality, are ...