Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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7
votes
1answer
117 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. ...
6
votes
1answer
305 views

What is the origin of the dispute on which way to wrap tefilin shel yad?

Non-Chasidic Ashkenazim wrap their tefilin shel yad inward toward the body when coming over the top of the arm, while Sefardim and Chasidim wrap outward away from the body when coming over the top of ...
13
votes
3answers
932 views

Why don't brides (always) cover their hair for their weddings?

Why don't brides (always) cover their hair for their weddings? I understand that in some ultra-religious groups they do, but there seem to be many groups within Orthodoxy where they do not cover their ...
11
votes
2answers
366 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
240 views

Waiting Less Time on Shavuos

My family has a minhag to wait less time (3 hours as opposed to 6) between Meat and Milk on Shavuos. I was wondering if this has a written source? [or if not, has anyone else heard of it?]
10
votes
2answers
557 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.
10
votes
1answer
319 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? ...
10
votes
6answers
884 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
217 views

Wearing no head-covering?

Under what circumstances is it permissible for a man to wear no head-covering? If one is in a place that is experiencing anti-semitism, for example, does one need to wear a hat if one feels ...
8
votes
2answers
643 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
317 views

Speaking while wearing Tefillin

Is there a real halachic source for the widespread practice not to speak while wearing tefillin? Of course, one is required to keep his mind on the tefillin, and may not get drawn into conversations ...
6
votes
2answers
677 views

What's the source for naming children after Alexander the Great?

I know many Jews whose actual bris-given name is Alexander, and this has been a popular name even among great tzaddikim of the past (such as R. Alexander Ziskind). I've heard a legend (mentioned on ...
6
votes
2answers
621 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
514 views

When is a Minhag no longer a Minhag?

It can be all too easy for people to underestimate the halachic significance of minhagim (traditions/customs). While there are, as I understand it, a variety of halachic issues/differences of ...
5
votes
2answers
205 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
389 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
655 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
393 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
222 views

Aleinu L'Shabeach - Nusach HaTefila

The words "Sheheim Mishtachavim Li-Hevel Voryk Umispallelim El Eil Lo-Yoshiya" - Was this originally part of Aleinu and then removed, or was it added later to Aleinu? Why was this done?
2
votes
1answer
350 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
131 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
514 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
292 views

Is there a Beta Israel Siddur?

Ashkenazi siddurs are different from Sephardic siddurs, do Beta Israel Siddurs even exist?
12
votes
3answers
187 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
1k 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
267 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
451 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
275 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
175 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
354 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
299 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
362 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
2answers
232 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
646 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
2k 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
237 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
1answer
347 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
182 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
133 views

Why put Psalm 130 right before barchu?

I've seen the custom quoted in many siddurim to recite Psalm 130 (שיר המעלות ממעמקים), with the Ark open, between ישתבח and ברכו during עשרת ימי תשובה. This particular Psalm was chosen because it's ...
7
votes
3answers
710 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
491 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
165 views

When is “vesain tal umotor” said in Australia?

When is "vesain tal umotor" said in the Southern Hemisphere eg Australia?
7
votes
1answer
239 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
206 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
206 views

Tachanun on Yahrtzeit

Where does the custom not to say Tachanun on a Yahrtzeit come from?
7
votes
2answers
570 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
661 views

Saying kaddish when davening in a minyan that isn't your nusach

I have been to many minyanim where people are saying kaddish of a variety of nuschaot. What should one do with regards to this? Some examples: In a sephardi minyan, should an ashkenazi person remain ...
6
votes
2answers
232 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
1answer
103 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
161 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. ...