Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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2
votes
2answers
268 views

Should a woman wear a gartel?

My understanding of the halachic need for a gartel is very limited; is there any reason a woman should or should not wear one during prayer?
20
votes
4answers
292 views

Glasses and Shema

The Shulhan Aruch records the custom of placing one's hand over his eyes in Shema in order to increase concentration. What about someone who wears glasses? Must he move them or remove them?
16
votes
2answers
451 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?
15
votes
1answer
155 views

Placing notes in the Kotel/Western Wall

Is there any source for the custom to place notes in to the Western Wall? A very prevalent practice in Israel. And even if there is no source, is it a good idea?
15
votes
4answers
511 views

What is the source of the Magen Dovid (Star of David)?

What is the source of the Magen Dovid (Star of David) in Rabbinic Judaism? When was it first used, and for what?
14
votes
4answers
299 views

Women and Mayim Acharonim

I very often eat at meals where after the meal, all of the men wash mayim acharonim, but none of the women do so. I am aware of a number of halachic sources that say both men and women should wash ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

Which passages comprise the classic Tikkun Leil Shavuot?

As we count down to Shavuot, I find myself wondering: [First, some background for those who don't know what a Tikkun Leil Shavuot is] According to tradition, we overslept the morning of Matan Torah ...
12
votes
3answers
290 views

I heard not to say “Good Shabbos” after mincha. Is it true, and what defines mincha?

I heard from somewhere that, on Shabbos, one does not say "Good Shabbos" after mincha. I am not sure whether it's in a halacha sefer somewhere (I tried looking) or just a minhag. First of all, is ...
12
votes
3answers
992 views

What is the red string all about?

Where did the concept of wearing a red string come from? I have heard different opinions ranging from "you should definitely wear it" to "its forbidden like idol worship" - who is right?
12
votes
2answers
678 views

40 minutes offset for candle lighting?

Several Zmanim apps are giving a choice on my "candle lighting offset". The default here is 40 minutes instead of the usual 18 minutes I've heard. Why 40? Why do I even have a choice? Does the fact ...
11
votes
2answers
185 views

Why omit “Av harachamim” for the four parashiyos?

"Av harachamim" is a prayer asking God to recall those who died al kidush hashem. It was written in response to the First Crusade (and is thus said only in the Ashk'nazi rite). Because of its somber ...
11
votes
1answer
220 views

Kapparos on money - How much?

If one does the Minhag of Kapparos on money, how much money should be used for each person? (Sources.)
11
votes
1answer
218 views

Is all-night Shavu'ot learning as prevelant in the Southern Hemisphere?

In the Northern Hemisphere, Shavu'ot falls in the late Spring or early Summer. As a result, sunrise is relatively early, so learning "all night" and then praying the morning service at the earliest ...
11
votes
3answers
146 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
3answers
229 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
142 views

Haftora for a wedding

ונוהגין להפטיר בחתונה שוש אשיש.‏ The Rama above (from OC 428) says that in his area the custom was to read a special haftora if a groom was present in the synagogue. Has anyone seen this ...
10
votes
3answers
222 views

Flexibility in choice of verses for morning Kiddush

The morning Kiddush on Shabbat and holidays consists of one or more Torah verses followed by the blessing on the wine (or perhaps other beverage). I have seen in print and in practice various ...
9
votes
1answer
361 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
243 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
230 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
129 views

Using Hoshanos more than once

On Hoshana Rabba after one uses (Klaps) his Hoshanos may another person use the same Hoshanos?
9
votes
2answers
278 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
780 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
1answer
216 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
240 views

Who should walk the Chosson and Kallah to the Chupa?

At the Chuppah in some weddings I've been to, the father and father-in-law escort the Chosson and the mother and mother-in-law escort the Kallah. In others, the mother and fathers each escort their ...
8
votes
1answer
149 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
472 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
2answers
221 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
245 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
73 views

Are there any minhag and customs specific to Czech Jews and have they been documented?

I'm a baal teshuva with Czech Jewish ancestry. I have an interest in the minhag of my ancestors as well as in common cultural practices, and perhaps pass them on where I can. Have they been documented ...
7
votes
3answers
215 views

Sitting for “Ashre”?

I have seen people seemingly careful to sit down when beginning the paragraph of prayers that starts "Ashre yosh've vesecha" (Ps. 84:5). One such person told me that he was, in fact, careful to do so, ...
7
votes
4answers
548 views

spitting in aleinu leshabeach

Does anyone know the origin of the custom to spit in Aleinu after the words שֶׁהֵם מִשְׁתַּחֲוִים לְהֶבֶל וְלָרִיק? Where did it start? And in which seforim is it mentioned? I have seen in the ...
7
votes
2answers
940 views

Why do we give tzedakah money to someone to pass along in Israel?

Reuven is planning a trip to Israel. Shimon, knowing this, gives Reuven money for tzedakah with the expectation that Reuven will distribute it when he gets to Israel. Reuven and Shimon both ...
7
votes
1answer
107 views

Is the Haftarah a Minhag?

Is reading the Haftarah a Minhag? I know that the practice was instituted when we couldn't publicly read torah, and then it was kept. Does that make it a Minhag?
7
votes
2answers
158 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
1answer
248 views

Is there a source for not buying things for a baby before it is born?

Is there any source for the custom to not buy things for a baby before it is born? I have heard that the reason is due to averting ayin hara, but I would like to know if there is any recorded source ...
7
votes
1answer
202 views

Dropping a phone siddur or chumash

If you have a siddur or chumash on your phone and you drop it, do you kiss it if... the siddur is not open the siddur is open, but shem hashem is not showing the siddur is open and shem Hashem is ...
7
votes
3answers
529 views

Baby boy's MOTHER as the sandek(et)

I have recently come upon historical evidence of the mothers of baby boys serving as the sandek(et) during the brit milah. From page 18 of The Orthodox Jewish Woman and Ritual: Options and ...
7
votes
3answers
273 views

Why don't we say Tachanun at Mincha on Erev Shabbat or Erev Yom Tov?

It says in the Rambam that there is a custom not to say Tachanun at Mincha on Erev Shabbos and Yom Tov. What is the reason for this custom?
7
votes
1answer
147 views

When to say LeDovid HaShem Ori in a minyan with different nusach

I daven Nusach Ashkenaz saying “LeDovid HaShem Ori” at Shacharis and Maariv. Q1 If I daven Mincha with a Minyan which says “LeDovid HaShem Ori” at Mincha, should I say it with them? (I assume yes, ...
7
votes
2answers
141 views

Is there any restriction on what constitutes a veil for bedeken?

What can be considered a veil to be used in a bedeken at a wedding? (See also my other related question)
7
votes
1answer
189 views

wording of the invitation to birkas hamazon

I know some Ashk'nazim say rabosay n'varech, some rabosay mir velen bentschen, and some hertzi rabosay mir velen bentschen. (Any other forms?) Is there any particular reason given for one or another?
7
votes
3answers
164 views

Tachanun on Yahrtzeit

Where does the custom not to say Tachanun on a Yahrtzeit come from?
7
votes
2answers
187 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?
6
votes
2answers
48 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
121 views

Adopting minhagim not from your mesorah

Is it appropriate to adopt minhagim that have historically not been observed by your community? Examples Ashkenazim pointing to the sefer Torah, usually with the pinky, during hagbah (after Krias ...
6
votes
0answers
128 views

reason for black lines on wool talis katan

What is the reason why wool talis katanim have black lines on them? Why don't talis katanim of other materials have them also?
6
votes
1answer
104 views

Kaparos for a pregnant woman — why the extra chicken?

From Sidur Tehilas Hashem, Sidur Rav Amram, and Nitei Gavriel Hilchos Yom Hakipurim 10:20 you take additional chickens for Kaparos for a pregnant lady in order to cover the fetus. What sin (or sins) ...
6
votes
2answers
358 views

Ostrich eggs in Shul?

Kinyan L'Shabbos (published weekly by Hamodia) - July 18, 2012, page 11 has a fascinating article by Rabbi Avraham Y. Heschel regarding an ancient custom of displaying ostrich eggs in a Beis Knesses. ...
6
votes
1answer
245 views

When did “Zal” give way to “Zatzal”?

Inspired by this answer and it's comments. Early on, it was standard to refer to great Rabbis who had passed away with the appellation "Zal" - "zichrono/ah livracha "May his/her/their memory be a ...