Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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5
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1answer
134 views

Why do we say “Boruch Shem…” loudly on Yom Kippur?

As discussed in this question, there are two reasons generally given why we say "Boruch Shem K'Vod..." quietly when saying Shema: The Talmud (Pesachim 56a) says that Yaakov Avinu said it in response ...
5
votes
2answers
198 views

Source for not having picture taken

Is there any source, halachic or otherwise, for an aversion to having one's picture taken?
5
votes
3answers
324 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?
5
votes
7answers
609 views

Stepping Back Before Amidah

Why do people step back three steps before the Amidah (as mentioned here in Mishnah Berurah, S'if Katan Gimmel) if the Gemarah only mentions stepping three steps forward? Is there a kabbalistic source ...
4
votes
2answers
341 views

What are the requirements of a men's mikva?

There are many requirements given for a women's mikvah (See Yoreh De'ah siman 201), yet I have not seen much information regarding a men's mikva (to tovel every day before prayers or for Erev Yom ...
2
votes
1answer
304 views

What are the different types of Shpitzlach?

Do shpitzels include some fake hair ? Are they always made with foam inside to imitate the hair?
2
votes
1answer
116 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
502 views

Why do we say Mazel Tov? Shouldn't we thank Hashem?

Why do we say "Mazel Tov" when something good happens to a person? Doesn't that mean "good luck?" Are we saying that what happened, happened because of luck?
13
votes
1answer
267 views

Is there a Beta Israel Siddur?

Ashkenazi siddurs are different from Sephardic siddurs, do Beta Israel Siddurs even exist?
13
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4answers
357 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
3answers
179 views

2 Sifrei Torah for close readings

This morning we read Parashat Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1 - 24:18) and the special reading of Parashat Shekalim (Exodus 30:11-16). The custom everywhere I have ever seen is to remove two Sifrei Torah from ...
11
votes
2answers
913 views

Source for the practice of not blowing out candles/flames?

It seems that a custom exists not to blow out candles/flames, but rather extinguish them another way, such as waving in the air. (Snuffer anyone?) What is the source for this custom? I am including ...
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 ...
11
votes
4answers
395 views

Why fill the glass all the way to the top?

Why is it that when people make kiddush/havdallah they insist on filling up the cup all the way to the top, sometimes till it overflows just a little? Is this a documented minhag/custom etc...?
10
votes
2answers
255 views

Should we say Al Naharos Bavel?

Tehillim 137 is printed in several bentchers before birkas hamazon, but from what I have seen most people do not say it. What is the correct thing to do: say or omit? Are there different minhagim?
10
votes
2answers
170 views

Source for kissing an aron

I've seen people kiss an aron kodesh (cabinet holding Torah scrolls) when they approach it and, if they were standing near it, before they leave it. Does this have any written source; or, are there ...
10
votes
3answers
344 views

Wear your tzitzis out or in? [duplicate]

There seems to be some misunderstanding/machlokes (disagreement) on how you should wear your tzitzis - with the strings sticking out or tucked in. What's the proper way?
9
votes
2answers
297 views

Not to give a divorce (Get) in the month of Iyar

I heard today in Shul that there is a Minhag not to give a divorce in the month of Iyar. What is the source and reason for this Minhag?
9
votes
2answers
357 views

Source for not eating Matzah prior to פסח?

Thanks to this question I am compelled to ask: What is the source for not eating Matzah prior to פסח? Is there a source for not eating it for 30 days prior?
9
votes
1answer
306 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? ...
9
votes
2answers
213 views

Purpose of announcing Molad

The custom is that the gabbai announces the time of the Molad during the course of "Bircas HaChodesh" on Shabbos Mevorchim. What is the purpose of this? The molad is anyhow not directly connected to ...
8
votes
2answers
624 views

Why doesn't Chabad read Ruth on Shavuot?

I was at Chabad this Shavuot and they did not read Ruth. Everywhere else I've been (all Nusach Ashkenaz) has read it claiming that it's appropriate since this is the time of the wheat harvest. Are ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Why do some people have a custom to boil only odd numbers of eggs?

I heard that some still have a custom to boil only odd numbers of eggs at a time. I heard that the reason is if there is a blood-spot in an egg, the egg will be Battel Berov. This only explains why ...
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 ...
8
votes
3answers
178 views

Staying up all night on Shavu'ot

Every year, when I stay up learning Torah through the first night of Shavu'ot, I invariably fall asleep during the subsequent morning prayers. Last year, I tried something new: Learn all night, but ...
8
votes
4answers
748 views

Should I wear tefillin during Chol HaMoed?

If I don't have a known family minhag regarding this, how should I decide whether to wear tefillin during Chol HaMoed? Which communities generally follow each option, and what are the reasons behind ...
7
votes
1answer
137 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
3answers
646 views

Why do Lubavitchers fold their talisos under, on the shoulders?

A Lubavitch chasid wears his talis with the sides folded under, at the shoulders, bunching the side material under rather than over the material that lies on the shoulder (see an example). Why?
7
votes
6answers
427 views

Sources for/about breaking a plate at a wedding

Are you aware of any literature that either provides a source for or discusses the significance of the two mothers breaking a plate at the "Tisch" at a wedding? It's not hard to find mentions of this ...
7
votes
1answer
149 views

When is “vesain tal umotor” said in Australia?

When is "vesain tal umotor" said in the Southern Hemisphere eg Australia?
7
votes
1answer
225 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
196 views

Standing during the Aseres HaDibros

There are people that always stand by Laining and people that always sit. Among those that sit there are those that stand at certain points, such as the Aseres HaDibros or the Shira, etc. Is it proper ...
7
votes
3answers
197 views

Tachanun on Yahrtzeit

Where does the custom not to say Tachanun on a Yahrtzeit come from?
7
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2answers
492 views

Walking around the house after shiva

I'd heard something about how some people, when getting up after the week of "sitting shiva" (mourning), take a walk around the outside of their house before going back to "normal" life. Has anyone ...
6
votes
2answers
166 views

Which takes precedence - dina d'malchuta or halacha? What about minhag yisrael?

A more practical ramification of Is a ban on government workers wearing religious symbols a gezeirat hamalchut for which one would be obligated to give up his life? If the law of the land (dina ...
6
votes
2answers
111 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
1answer
71 views

Selichot origins

In what year (CE) did saying selichot in Elul begin? In what year were they made a standard addition to prayer books? Looking for an academic answer, not the yeshivahish one. And did Sephardim start ...
6
votes
1answer
157 views

Why kiss Tzitzith?

Why do we kiss Tzitzith when making the Birchath HaMitzvah, reciting Shema', and after Baruch SheAmar (at least acc. to Minhag Ashkenaz)? An acceptable answer (for my purposes) would either a. ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Hardboiled eggs and salt water at the Seder

I've participated in only 3 different families' Passover Seders, so my experience is limited in terms of different families' traditions. How widespread is the custom of eating a hardboiled egg in ...
6
votes
2answers
453 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
550 views

Source of Burning Lulav with Chometz

What is the source of the custom to keep the Lulav untill Erev Pesach and burn it with the Chometz?
6
votes
2answers
356 views

Can you turn your back to the Aron HaKodesh?

I'm quite certain that it is mentioned in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch that one should not turn one's back to the Aron HaKodesh (ark which holds the Torah Scrolls). Can anyone tell me where this is ...
5
votes
0answers
109 views

Siddur for Skolyer Chasidim

Is there a specific siddur for the minhag of the Skolyer Chasidim (Chasidim of Ukrainian town of Skole)?
5
votes
3answers
372 views

Do sefirah mourning restrictions occur on Isru Chag?

Many North African Jews celebrate the day after Pesach (which is Isru Chag) with the festive Mimouna. Does such a party atmosphere conflict with the customs of mourning during sefirat haomer? Could ...
5
votes
1answer
188 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
449 views

Lady drinking Havdalah wine

Many times I have heard that a lady should not drink the wine from Havdalah as it will make her grow a beard. If a lady drank from the Havdalah wine will she really grow a beard? Is there a source ...
5
votes
1answer
232 views

What determines a Minhag?

How does a Minhag become a Minhag? More specific is it possible to enact new Minhagim in todays generation?
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Trimming Toenails in sequence

As a follow up to the question "Rules for Cutting Nails" it occurred to me that while we spoke about the idea of not trimming one's nails in sequence (as well as discussing the relevancy of lenient ...
4
votes
0answers
63 views

Choreography of Kaddish

I have seen a number of different customs of when people bow or sway or bob or whatnot during Kaddish. Some of the people I have witnessed have been very knowledgeable, and I assume they weren't just ...
4
votes
2answers
132 views

Why do we do anything for Pesach Sheini?

According to my handy Luach, on Pesach Sheini, some people omit tachanun (I haven't looked into any source texts to see who does) and according to the Wikipedia page, some eat matzah but I'm wondering ...