Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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10
votes
2answers
196 views

Can one write one's own Hespid?

Tragically, I have an incurable disease and have little time left. I have told a number of friends about this and said good-bye to them in an email. In return, I have received a number of emails ...
10
votes
3answers
150 views

What side does someone with Situs inversus bang

For tachanun, al cheit, twice in selach lanu etc, we bang on our heart. My question is: if someone has Situs inversus, a condition where the heart is on the right side of the body instead of the left, ...
9
votes
3answers
183 views

BBQ for Yom Hatzmaut

What is the source for making barbecues on Yom Haatzmaut?
9
votes
4answers
267 views

Is it required to knock on doors before entering?

Do we have to knock on people's doors before entering?
9
votes
6answers
402 views

Challah Friday Night

When you make Hamotzi on Shabbos you use the top Challah. However, on Friday night you use the bottom. Therefore, so as not to pass over the Mitzvah you hold the bottom one closer. My question is why ...
9
votes
3answers
204 views

Lag Baomer - why not Laomer?

Nusach Askenaz says Baomer, Nusach Sefard and Sefardim say Laomer - Why does everyone call it Lag Baomer - why not call it Lag Laomer?
9
votes
4answers
539 views

“Jumping” at the end of Shemoneh Esrei

Some people are accustomed to performing a few little "jumps" at the end of Shemoneh Esrei (after taking the requisite three steps backward and forward) by lifting their heels a number of times. Is ...
9
votes
2answers
261 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
848 views

Hand motions for trope in Torah reading

I've seen people standing next to Torah readers and making hand signals during the Torah reading, presumably to prompt the reader in the trope. I think @Shalom mentioned this in Method for practicing ...
9
votes
2answers
958 views

How should one dispose of cut finger nails? Is it dangerous for a pregnant woman to walk on them?

Is there an Inyan of pregnant women walking over cut nails ex: a nail salon? Also, can I just vacuum up the cut nails from the floor?
9
votes
2answers
166 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
709 views

Wedding ring composition

I was recently told that the ring used for kiddushin should be made entirely out of one kind of metal (usually gold), with no other adornments such as diamonds, etc. I had been under the impression ...
9
votes
2answers
259 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?
9
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2answers
234 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
1answer
220 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
705 views

Custom of not giving knives as a gift?

I'd heard that some people have a custom not to give knives as a gift (as knives are a sign of shortening life, not extending it); I asked one rabbi who said he hadn't heard of such a custom, but it ...
9
votes
2answers
187 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
231 views

May a man learn Torah without a Kippah?

Is it permissible for a man to learn Torah without a Kippah? Let's say that he can't wear a Kippah at work, or he lives someplace where it is dangerous to outwardly display signs of being Jewish, ...
9
votes
2answers
319 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
555 views

Where does the custom of a second “bar mitzvah” at 83 come from?

I have noticed more 83 year old men celebrating their second bar mitzvahs, and cannot find any source for this. Is it a new custom? Does it have any basis in pre-20th century practice?
9
votes
2answers
295 views

bracha on tefillin while sitting

The shulchan aruch apparently writes (by hilchos tzitzis) that one should stand while reciting birchas hamitzvah. Tefillin are a mitzvah. So why is the Sfardic minhag to sit while putting them on and ...
9
votes
2answers
268 views

How to celebrate conversion?

Are there any customs from modern or historic communities involving the celebration of a person's conversion to Judaism? In contrast to other transformative occasions in one's life (i.e., bar mitzvah, ...
9
votes
2answers
261 views

Must a Divorced Man Wear a Tallis While Davening?

According to a common custom among Ashkenazim, a man only starts wearing a tallis while davening after he gets married. Does a divorced man continue to wear a tallis when davening? Or could/should he ...
9
votes
2answers
312 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
3k 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
1answer
172 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
179 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
289 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
1answer
73 views

Why do we read from Yechezekel on Shavuos and Yeshayahu on Parshas Yisro?

There are two times that we read about the giving of the Torah: When we read Yisro and on Shavuos. On both days we read Haftoras of Neviyim going up to Shamayim. On Shavuos we read about Yechezkel ...
9
votes
1answer
148 views

Accepting parents' minhagim

Since the Conservative movement tends to take most of its minhagim from the German tradition due to its German roots, most Conservative Jews in America tend to practice the German customs (such as ...
8
votes
9answers
485 views

fish before meat - why?

To the best of my knowledge eating fish after meat has the same Halacha as eating meat after fish. You are supposed to eat a cracker and take a drink to seperate between them. Why is it most common ...
8
votes
9answers
336 views

When do you say a beracha on a minhag?

When lighting Hanukkah candles in the synagogue, we say a beracha "asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav.." on a minhag. Unlike kiddush in shul, and early counting of the omer in shul, nobody would say that one ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Why is it customary for Jews to grow beards?

What is the reason for growing one's beard? Many rabbis have beards. Why?
8
votes
3answers
249 views

Meforshim Nick"names

It has become common practice to refer to most meforshim by acronyms of their name (eg Rashi, Rosh, etc.). When and why did this practice start, and is it proper?
8
votes
8answers
2k views

Why do Sephardic Jews dress in black and white?

Many observant sephardim in Israel, especially those in yeshivot, dress in black and white. Does anyone know how this happened? There is no tradition of Jews in North Africa or in the Middle East ...
8
votes
6answers
525 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
3answers
243 views

Is one allowed to make Kneidlach when the last day of Pesach is Shabbos?

According to those who eat Gebrotz only on the last day of Pesach, is one allowed to make Mazta balls when the last day of Pesach is Shabbos? On a normal year, one can cook and eat Gebrotz on the ...
8
votes
2answers
227 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
3answers
743 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?
8
votes
3answers
340 views

Standing up at the Chuppa when the Kallah passes by

Last night I was at a wedding, and when I stood up as the bride was passing by on the way to the Chuppa, a fellow in all seriousness told me "It is not proper and a lack of Tzniyus to stand up for the ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the origin of hazak u'baruch?

Hazak u'barukh is a phrase commonly said after one does something in the synagogue (e.g., after an aliyah). What is its origin?
8
votes
3answers
551 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?
8
votes
1answer
265 views

Replies to “l'chayim”

The most common responses I've heard to a wish of "l'chayim!" ("life!") is "l'chayim tovim ulshalom" ("a good life and peace!") except from Lubavitch chasidim and "l'chayim v'livracha" ("life and ...
8
votes
3answers
251 views

Should I follow the congregation if their view on prayers for Yom Ha'Atzma'ut is different than mine?

How should one go about davening in a minyan on yom haatzmaut when his custom is not to change davening? My minyan does no tachanun and hallel without a bracha after shmona esreh. Should I- do ...
8
votes
1answer
832 views

What is the reason behind blowing the shofar from the side of one's mouth?

I've been told that the custom is to blow the shofar from the sides of one mouth, rather than like blowing a trumpet. What is the source for this custom and the reasoning behind it?
8
votes
2answers
169 views

Mezuza positioning: why top angled in not out?

Why does the angle a mezuza positioned on the doorpost at have its top towards the room, and the bottom away from the room? I understand this may be an Ashkenazi custom, and that Sephardim position ...
8
votes
3answers
219 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
399 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
2answers
196 views

Why don't some people say Vihi Noam Motzei Shabbos of Shabbos Hagadol 5772?

Regarding saying Vihi Noam on Motzei Shabbos Shabbos Hagadol which falls out a week before Pesach (The first night of Pesach is on Friday Night) Luach Kollel Chabad writes: On Saturday night, we ...
8
votes
2answers
57 views

Taschlich Bread crumbs on Yom Tov

What is, and more over is there a source for throwing of bread during Tashlich (other then the Kids song that says to throw our Aveiros away)? The reason for the the question is because on Rosh ...