Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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11
votes
3answers
1k views

Infant seeing reflection in mirror

I have heard that some people do not allow a child to see his or her reflection in a mirror before they can speak (or say their name, possibly). Is there any traditional source for this practice?
9
votes
2answers
135 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
324 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
510 views

Baal Teshuva Minhag

I have read that Rabbi Avraham Yosef (the son of Rav Ovadiah Yosef) paskened that a Baal Teshuva in Israel should adopt the Sephardic Minhag, regardless of family history, as their immediate ancestors ...
8
votes
1answer
310 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
2answers
594 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
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
9answers
620 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
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?
7
votes
1answer
218 views

Ring and kiddushin

Where did the concept of the chosson (groom) giving the kallah (bride) a ring, specifically, for kiddushin (i.e. under the chuppah) come from?
7
votes
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 ...
7
votes
6answers
811 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?
7
votes
2answers
2k 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
537 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
589 views

Schlissel Challah

What is the source for the "Key Challah" Segulah (charm) that is said to bring Parnassah (prosperity)? And which is it: do you put the key in the Challah or do you make the Challah in the shape of a ...
6
votes
1answer
264 views

Can you sing during the sheva brachos?

I have been to weddings where, during the recitation of the seventh bracha under the chuppah, the congregation sings "asher bara...". Sometimes it is along with the one reciting the bracha and other ...
6
votes
1answer
554 views

Why does Lubavitch eat in the Sukkah when it rains?

I have always heard that while we do not eat in the Sukkah while it rains, those of Chabad do. Why is this so? Found it on wikipedia too: Though the halakha doesn't obligate one to eat or sleep ...
6
votes
1answer
562 views

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue?

Is there a problem of "chukat goyim" with the bride having "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" at her wedding?
5
votes
1answer
64 views

Kaparos with fish

In How to do kapparos with fish it discusses doing Kaparos with fish. Is anyone aware of any group or individuals that do Kaparos with fish?
5
votes
2answers
230 views

Covering eyes for Shema

What is the requirement of covering our eyes for Shema? For example, do your eyes need to be closed? Must one cover with their hand? Does it matter which hand is used?
5
votes
5answers
231 views

Shavuos and Malachim(angels)

We all know that there is a custom on Shavuos to eat dairy. One of the reasons given is based on a Medrash that When Moshe Rabbenu went up to Heaven to receive the Torah the angels complained and said ...
4
votes
1answer
633 views

Blowing shofar at a wedding

Friends of mine are getting married this Sunday and asked me if I would blow shofar at the chuppah. I have been ba'al toke'a probably 2/3 of the years since my bar mitzvah (2002) in three different ...
4
votes
2answers
739 views

Chabad Minhag for Shalosh Seudos

Is it true that the Chabad custom is specifically not to wash hands for (and eat) bread for shalosh seudos, and, if so, why?
4
votes
3answers
130 views

Green pretty shavuot?

Why is there a custom to hang up flowers and growing green things on shavuot?
3
votes
4answers
400 views

Are women allowed to drive?

Prompted by this article is there any basis for not allowing woman to drive? Can this practice even be termed a 'minhag'? If so, what is the motivation behind this 'tradition'? As quoted from the ...
3
votes
2answers
339 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?
2
votes
2answers
54 views

Is there a practice of palming face by “shin” shape?

A friend of mine from B7 said that there's a custom to palm one's face during Kriyat Shma with shin-shaped hand. It looks like a Cohanim's hand shape, but it forms a shin-like shape. Who's custom is ...
2
votes
3answers
484 views

Doesn't the wide use of Sheitels among Orthodox Jewish women prove that hair no longer retains the erotic status that it once had?

In reading scores of halakhic material on the subject of kisui rosh le-nashim throughout the ages, I have found that there are essentially two views as to the nature of the obligation for a woman to ...
2
votes
1answer
152 views

Mikvah with three additional chambers

I was looking at documentation of a mikvah being constructed, and it confused me. In addition to the immersion pool, this mikvah had three additional chambers. From what I have gathered, they appear ...
2
votes
1answer
151 views

Is it permitted to make hand gestures in the Amidah?

Someone told me that I should not move my hands during the Amidah. I found this article in the Jerusalem Post which says: Indeed, an eerie silence hovers over the issue of outstretched arms ...
17
votes
4answers
685 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
344 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
2answers
217 views

Using Hoshanos more than once

On Hoshana Rabba after one uses (Klaps) his Hoshanos may another person use the same Hoshanos?
13
votes
3answers
1k 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?
13
votes
4answers
2k 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
258 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 ...
12
votes
6answers
487 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
157 views

When and why did we stop wearing sackcloth?

When and why did we stop wearing sackcloth in times of mourning and other times of distress (e.g., when fasting for rain)? (I presume sackcloth was quite uncomfortable.) Sackcloth is mentioned in ...
11
votes
1answer
457 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
238 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
1k 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?
10
votes
2answers
346 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
320 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, ...
10
votes
4answers
287 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, ...
10
votes
4answers
799 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 ...
10
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
426 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
157 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
237 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
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 ...