Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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8
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2answers
407 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
votes
3answers
195 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
2answers
302 views

Direction of Tefillin Winding

Why do some people have the custom to wind the Tefillin-Shel-Yad towards themselves, while others wind it away from themselves? What is the reason behind these two customs, and which sects of Judaism ...
8
votes
2answers
738 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
226 views

The Split Between Sefardim and Ashkenazim

How did this split happen historically and halachically before Shulchan Aruch, and why is not like having two Torahs? Where is the source for the split?
7
votes
3answers
216 views

Tachanun on Yahrtzeit

Where does the custom not to say Tachanun on a Yahrtzeit come from?
7
votes
2answers
201 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
2answers
706 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
213 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
775 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
565 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
134 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
1answer
256 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
390 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
165 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
1answer
105 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
4answers
608 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
702 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
4answers
323 views

Is cholent required?

Is making cholent on Shabbos a minhag that is so universal that it has in effect become required for Ashkenazim? Or, if I am correct that it is required (by at least some authorities) to have hot ...
6
votes
2answers
633 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
645 views

Why do the laws of kitniyot still apply today to Ashkenazi Jews on Passover?

How did the tradition start? Why is it still around today? What is the basis for this Halacha (הלכה)?
6
votes
2answers
223 views

Yemenite Sefira

What is the source for the custom that Yemenite Jews people count Sefira in Aramaic? and why do they do it?
6
votes
1answer
211 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
3answers
500 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
0answers
122 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
1answer
322 views

Is there anything wrong with messing with the rules of Dreidel?

In this article on Slate, Ben Blatt calls the classic rules of Dreidel "slow and unfair," citing simulation-based statistical analysis, and proposes his own modified rules to speed up the game. Given ...
5
votes
1answer
148 views

When we say “עַל צִיצִת הַכָּנָף” at which point do we kiss the tzitzis?

When we say Krias Shema, the widespread custom (referred to in OC 24 (4) Rema), is to kiss the tzitzis when we say the word, “צִיצִת”. When we come to the words, עַל צִיצִת הַכָּנָף (which Singer ...
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 ...
5
votes
1answer
245 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
282 views

Speaking while wearing Tefillin - revisited

In today's day and age the vast majority of the time we only wear Tefillin when we are Davening. However, in theory, we should wear them all day (ibid). So what about the requirement not to speak ...
4
votes
1answer
310 views

What defines “hard cheese” [duplicate]

I grew up with the minhag that after "hard cheese", one must wait for 15 minutes before one may eat meat. However, the question often arises as to what qualifies as such in terms of halacha and minhag,...
4
votes
2answers
160 views

Prishus in Jewish Marriage

I know that there is a concept of prishus (going beyond the letter of the law, and abstaining from things that are really allowed) within Jewish marriage, but what exactly does this constitute, and ...
4
votes
2answers
146 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 ...
4
votes
0answers
84 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
119 views

Egg matzah in early Nisan

This shabbos, my LOR announced that the shul was done being kashered for Pesach, and so kiddush would be pesadich. To fulfill the need for mezonot, he had brought in egg matzah, saying that egg matzah ...
3
votes
1answer
245 views

Are milchigs forbidden on Yom Tov? What about Shavuos?

I recently stumbled upon a page that said this: Eating Dairy Products on Shavuot Many families have a custom to eat dairy products on Shavuot. As noted above, Darkei Teshuva questions this ...
3
votes
1answer
91 views

Corn as kitniot

Traditionally, most if not all observant Ashkenazim refrain from eating corn and corn-products on Passover because of their traditional prohibition on eating kitniyot (legumes) for fear of eating ...
3
votes
2answers
450 views

Do modern Jewish cemeteries separate the “righteous” from the “wicked”?

Do modern Jewish cemeteries separate the "righteous" from the "wicked"? I have read in various sources that "we don't bury rashim near tzadikim"--that people must be buried near others of similar ...
3
votes
2answers
239 views

Is Shir HaShirim recited on a Yom Tov that falls on Friday?

There are those (Sephardim and Chassidim, I guess) who have the custom to recite Shir HaShirim on Friday, Erev Shabbat. Do they also recite it on a Friday when Yom Tov leads directly into Shabbat? If ...
3
votes
2answers
154 views

Decorating of the Beitzah

Somebody told me in Israel some have the custom of decorating the egg for Pesach (like an Easter egg). Wouldn't that be considered chukas hagoyim or avoda zara?
3
votes
1answer
84 views

Splitting up Shacharis between two Chiyuvim

I have Davened in a few Shuls where they have split up Shacharis between two Chiyuvim. (One Davens until Ashrei after Tachanun / One davens from Ashrei until the end.) What is the source for doing so?
3
votes
0answers
37 views

Standing for the last aliyah of a sefer

Right before the final aliyah today (Parshat Pekudei) the gabbai asked everyone to stand up. He does this before the final aliyah of each of the books of the Torah. While I have seen discussions about ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Traditions what to do with removed foreskin

In Germany we recently started a debate, whether foreskin-amputation of children (not only Jews, but Muslims as well) has to be forbidden according to our fundamental laws. Some magazine illustrated ...
3
votes
1answer
166 views

Saying Hallel in Shul on Pesach Night

There is a minhag by some kehillas in chutz L'aretz and by almost all kehillas in Israel to say the complete version of Hallel in the shul during maariv on the first night of Pesach (and second in ...
2
votes
2answers
163 views

What kavanos should one have when sharpening a challa knife Erev Shabbos?

What are some kavanos should one have in mind when sharpening a challa knife on Erev Shabbos? I'm sure I heard that there are kavanos but never learned what they are.
2
votes
1answer
131 views

Pirkei Avos on Shabbos Tisha B'Av

When Tisha B'Av comes out on a Shabbos, do we say Pirkei Avos in the cycle on that Shabbos?
2
votes
2answers
238 views

Nusach for silent Amida when chazzan in an other-nusach congregation

My understanding (based, if I recall correctly, on R' Moshe Feinstein) is that when I pray in a congregation that uses a different version of the prayers (nusach) from the one I usually use, I should ...
2
votes
2answers
102 views

What constitutes roasting with regard to Minhagim?

Roasting in Halachah generally refers to dry heat, such as broiling and barbequing. But with respect to Minhagim, such as not eating roasted meat (or poultry) at the Seder, do we follow the same ...
2
votes
6answers
475 views

Yotzros and Musaf for the 4 Parshios

Are there any Nusach Ashkenaz Shuls that say Yotzros or Musaf on the weeks of the Four Parshios?
2
votes
2answers
139 views

Holocaust Rembrance Day(s)?

What is with the different Holocaust Remembrance Days? When I was a kid, my entire community observed Yom HaShoah. This came about approximately one week after Pesaḥ. Although I'm not totally sure, I ...