Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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9
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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 ...
9
votes
2answers
292 views

Where does the concept of “shirayim” come from?

Please explain the concept of shirayim (literally, leftovers) wherein the followers of a chassidic Rebbe will receive portions of his food to it, these leftovers are considered holy or special in some ...
9
votes
1answer
86 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
439 views

Hand movements when lighting shabbat candles

When women light shabbat candles I often see them making hand gestures. These look like two or perhaps three circles around in the air. What is the source for this practice? Is it a law or custom? Is ...
8
votes
9answers
618 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
369 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
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4answers
3k 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
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6answers
1k views

What is the source not to eat the endpiece of the challah?

At the shabbos meal, why do some people (such as Yodeyan NBZ) not eat the end piece of the challah? Some people don't even just start at the middle, they avoid the end-piece altogether.
8
votes
3answers
262 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
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 ...
8
votes
4answers
712 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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2answers
239 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
874 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
1answer
2k 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
1answer
761 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
287 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
912 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
220 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
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
3answers
2k 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
votes
2answers
113 views

Why do we say עושה השלום during yamim nora'im?

I'm struggling to find a reason/meaning behind saying 'עושה השלום' with a 'ה' at the end of amidah and during kaddish for the yamim nora'im period. I have heard (unverified source) that there is ...
8
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2answers
129 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
592 views

Why Do Converts Change Their Names?

Rabbi Avigdor Miller said that it used to be that gerim (converts) and baalei teshuvah (repentants) who had been given non-Jewish names did not change their names when they became part of the Jewish ...
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
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1answer
326 views

Tachnun in Nissan

Why is there no Tachnun said in the month of Nissan?
8
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2answers
1k 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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2answers
934 views

How do you know when to make Chacham Harazim if you can't count Jews?

As I understand it, "Chacham harazim" is the bracha we make upon seeing an assembly of more than 600,000 Jews. I'm not clear on the exact detail of this law/tradition, but I also know we are not ...
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
1answer
176 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
1answer
116 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 ...
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 ...
8
votes
2answers
660 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?
8
votes
2answers
822 views

Why do Jewish funeral homes tend to be the main supplier of Jewish calendars?

Perhaps, this question is too "trivial". It seems that Jewish funeral homes tend to be the primary "printer" and supplier of Jewish calendars. For decades, many yeshivot as well as shuls get the large ...
8
votes
1answer
186 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
votes
1answer
237 views

Origin of Spilling Wine by 10 Plagues

The custom among all Jews (as far as I know) is to spill a drip of wine for each of the plagues as they are mentioned in a list in the haggadah. This custom is not mentioned anywhere in the Talmud (as ...
8
votes
2answers
162 views

What are some traditional Iraqi Minhagim?

I'm a Sefaradi Jew of Iraqi descent, but my dad is not religious. I have looked in books like "A Treasury of Sefaradic Laws and Customs", but they tend to not have Iraqi specific Minhagim. I would ...
8
votes
2answers
213 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
1k 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
votes
1answer
113 views

Earliest Sources for Custom of Not Shaving from 17th of Tammuz

What are the earliest sources for the custom of not shaving from the 17th of Tammuz? The Shulchan Aruch (OC 551:3) only mentions this only in the week of the 9th of Av. שָׁבוּעַ שֶׁחָל בּוֹ ...
8
votes
2answers
389 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
1answer
309 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
283 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
136 views

Why are the ends of Tefilin Retzuos cut on a slant?

I noticed than the end of my Tefillin Retzuos are cut on a slant. In the comments to this answer various reasons are postulated. What is the true reason?
8
votes
1answer
395 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
286 views

Why has Judaism traditionally discussed intimacy only privately?

To quote msh210's formulation of this site's rule on intimate topics: Please respect that in the Jewish tradition certain questions, especially certain questions relating to sexuality, are ...
8
votes
1answer
351 views

Following the Biur Halacha

As far as I know, the most accepted Posek around the entire non-Chassidic Ashkenazi world is the Mishna Berura (and of course the Rama). He wrote the sections to his commentary to the Code of Jewish ...
8
votes
2answers
302 views

Kiddush Levanah - Saying Aleichem Sholom with the other person?

As discussed here, while doing Kiddush Levanah, we say "Shalom Aleichem" to 3 other people, and they respond back with "Aleichem Shalom". I've seen some people saying "Aleichem Shalom" together with ...
8
votes
2answers
499 views

Changing minhag about tallit gadol

I first became involved with a non-orthodox congregation where it was customary for everyone over Bar Mitzvah age to wear a tallit gadol. However, I understand that it is an Ashkenazi minhag not to ...
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
2answers
130 views

Haftara reading customs

There seems to be a wide range of customs with regard to reading the haftara. In some shuls (mostly Chassidic) the one who is called up recites the berachah, and everyone then says the haftara quietly ...