Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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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 ...
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1answer
242 views

Tachnun in Nissan

Why is there no Tachnun said in the month of Nissan?
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2answers
888 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 ...
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485 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 ...
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150 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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745 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?
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3answers
153 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 ...
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2answers
491 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
151 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 ...
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183 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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534 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?
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81 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 ...
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319 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?
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215 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 ...
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1answer
98 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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333 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 ...
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253 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 ...
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312 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 ...
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123 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?
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261 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 ...
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3answers
1k 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 ...
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120 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 ...
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131 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 ...
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224 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 ...
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198 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 ...
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176 views

Why does the Chazzan bow when saying “Gadlu” holding the Torah?

There's a widespread custom for the Chazzan to bow, facing the ark, when reciting "Gadlu" with the Torah before carrying it away. The Aruch Hashulach (282:1) says that one should do this, but doesn't ...
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317 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 ...
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1answer
229 views

When to close the ark after putting away the Torah

On shabbat morning when putting away the Torah, many chazzanim like to draw out different tunes for the verses recited then. Should the one honored with putting the Torah back wait until after the ...
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2answers
494 views

Why do some women light additional shabbat candles for the past weeks they didn't light?

Some women have the custom to light an additional shabbat candle for every week which, for whatever reason, they did not have a chance to light shabbat candles in the past. For example, if a woman ...
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1answer
320 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 ...
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2answers
395 views

Minhag not to view moon through a window?

I have a vague memory of being told not to gaze at the moon through the glass of a window. I think it had something to do with kabbalah. I know it's permitted to say kiddush levanah by looking at the ...
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133 views

What was the attitude of Rabbonim regarding Purim Torah?

Purim Torah seems to be a two sided concept. On one hand, many people do it for many years (for example, Maseches Purim was published in 1871). On the other hand, it seems to be a Bizayon HaTorah ...
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11answers
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Widespread American Minhag

What is the single most widely practiced minhag (religious Jewish practice that's not mandated by halacha) among Jews in the United States today? By "widely practiced" I mean practiced by the most ...
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6answers
718 views

Custom to refrain from eating meat at the Pesach Seder?

I recently heard from two separate people about a custom not to eat any meat at the Seder (i.e. only fish and chicken are eaten). This was surprising to me, as the minhag mentioned in the Mishnah, ...
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4answers
592 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 ...
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5answers
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Is there a reason to cover your yawn?

My 9th grade Rebbi told us that we have to cover our mouths when we yawn to avoid evil spirits entering our bodies. Is there any source that says this? If not, is there any other Jewish reason, ...
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2answers
1k views

Ripping out a blade of grass by a funeral?

At my great-uncle's funeral today, all of the participants (except the mourners) were told to rip out a blade of grass and say a passuk (I don't remember which). Is this a Jewish minhag? If so, what ...
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557 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 ...
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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 ...
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782 views

Covering eyes when saying Shema Yisrael

When saying Kriyas Shema many have the custom of covering their eyes when saying Shema Yisrael. What is the reason this is done?
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2answers
370 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 ...
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6answers
395 views

Customary foods for the erev Yom Kippur meal(s)

Are there any customary foods to eat* at the meal(s) eaten on erev Yom Kippur? If so, what are they? *other than meat, which is mentioned in the answer to the linked question.
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2answers
229 views

Do women also wear white on Yom Kippur?

Is it customary for women to wear white clothing on Yom Kippur, or is it largely a custom men observe?
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4answers
586 views

The value of the daily study of Chitas (Chumash, Tehilim, Tanya)?

What's the value of learning "Chitas" compared to any other daily Torah study? Side question: If it's so important, why was it introduced only recently?
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3answers
112 views

Why do we put out greenery on Shavuos?

Those that have the Minhag to put out greenery in the Shul on Shavuos, why do we do it?
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5answers
242 views

Why do we say Vhu Rachum before Maariv?

Before Maariv, we say the pasuk "Vhu rachum yichaper avon..." (Psalms 78:38). Why?
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246 views

How to bow during Shemone Esre

During the Shemone Esre, we bend our knees and then bow. I have observed two ways of doing this. One is to bend the knees, then to straighten the knees, and then to bow at the waist. The other is ...
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2answers
518 views

What is the difference between dati, chasidish, and charedi?

How would one explain the distinctions between datim, chasidim, and charedim, especially to an American Jew who didn't know much about the Israeli religious spectrum? In particular, are all chasidim ...
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622 views

Being Shaliach Tzibbur in a Congregation with a different Nusach

In Yalkut Yosef OC 101:10 rules that a Sephardi who is davening in an Ashkenazi minyan should not daven Nusach Ashkenaz as shaliach tzibbur. He can only be shaliach tzibbur if the minyan agrees to let ...
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1answer
367 views

Why do we cover the challot on Shabbos?

The answer I learned growing up was that "we don't want to embarrass the bread because we are first making kiddush" or some variation thereof. I later learned that is a zecher for the ma'n which fell ...