Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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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 ...
9
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1answer
214 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
627 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
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2answers
174 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
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2answers
297 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
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1answer
202 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
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1answer
305 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?
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2answers
268 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
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2answers
238 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
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1answer
148 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 ...
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2answers
183 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 ...
9
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1answer
277 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
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1answer
69 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
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1answer
142 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
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9answers
446 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
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5answers
589 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?
8
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9answers
321 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 ...
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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?
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3answers
245 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?
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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 ...
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6answers
515 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?
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3answers
241 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
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4answers
514 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 ...
8
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2answers
218 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
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3answers
324 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
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1answer
915 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?
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2answers
752 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 ...
8
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5answers
337 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 ...
8
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1answer
203 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
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3answers
460 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
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3answers
242 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 ...
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2answers
158 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
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3answers
209 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
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3answers
350 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 ...
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2answers
176 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
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2answers
188 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?
8
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2answers
518 views

Why the difference in minhagim about wearing a kittel on Yom Kippur only, or also on Rosh Hashanah

My families minhag is to wear a kittel just on Yom Kippur (so I do). But in shul I see a number of folk with the minhag to wear it also on Rosh Hashanah. I know it is related to Yom Hadin, and ...
8
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3answers
1k views

Sefira Restrictions During Chol Hamoed Pesach

For those who hold sefira from the first day until the thirty-third, are the restrictions in effect during chol hamoed? While you are not allowed to cut your hair even during chol hamoed Succos, can ...
8
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2answers
447 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
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1answer
147 views

Baal haTanya's donning shel yad seated

I have heard that the baal haTanya put on his t'fila shel yad while seated (as S'faradim do). Does anyone have a source for this (or for the opposite: that he put on his shel yad standing)? If he ...
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2answers
664 views

Is there an issue with ladies going to the zoo when they are pregnant?

Is there an issue with ladies going to the zoo when they are pregnant? If yes then why is it a problem?
8
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3answers
151 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
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2answers
481 views

matzah = mezonos or hamotzi

What is the reasoning of the 2 different minhagim (traditions) on what bracha to say on matzah when its not Peasach?
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1answer
146 views

Do the customs in regards to *Yud Av* apply to *Yud-Aleph Av* on a year when the fast is pushed off?

I know that people have the custom (I don't know how universal it is), to keep a lot of the restrictions of the nine days until Chatzos on Yud Av. Such as not eating meat or doing laundry. This year ...
8
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3answers
346 views

How does laughing confuse the Satan?

Sefardim have a practice (custom?) to laugh during habdalah. When I asked the reason for this practice I was told that it was "to confound the satan". I assume it has something to do with ...
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2answers
171 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 ...
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2answers
453 views

Naming your child using a dead relative's initial

Is there a Jewish tradition of naming your child using the first letter of the name of a recently deceased relative?
8
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2answers
285 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?
8
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1answer
95 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 ...
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1answer
273 views

Yachid blowing shofar during Elul

During the first few days of Elul, I will be away in a city with no minyan. I have a shofar, but was wondering whether a yachid blows a shofar if possible. On the one hand, the reasoning exists, but ...