Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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7
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2answers
159 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
276 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
3answers
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
266 views

Start of the Upsherin ceremony

When did it become popular to have a ceremony for a boys Upsherin, his first haircut when he reaches the age of three?
7
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3answers
300 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
158 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
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2answers
148 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
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1answer
190 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
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3answers
167 views

Tachanun on Yahrtzeit

Where does the custom not to say Tachanun on a Yahrtzeit come from?
7
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2answers
190 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
133 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
1answer
159 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
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1answer
120 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
393 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
270 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
144 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
247 views

Is there a custom to color eggs on Lag Baomer?

I heard from an old Lithuanian/Polish Jew (frum from Lithuania/Poland). He says that he had a custom to eat colored eggs in his shtetl, and everyone did it. Is this custom documented anywhere, and ...
6
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2answers
126 views

Why a Beitzah on the Seder Plate?

Why do we use a roasted (maybe?) egg on the Seder Plate to represent the Festival offering?
6
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1answer
323 views

Tallit with Wool Atara

The only tallit I know of that has an all wool atara is the Beit Yosef Tallit, which is marketed for Sephardim. Is there a specific source for this or is it simply being machmir to wear an all-wool ...
6
votes
1answer
107 views

All these verses to say before havdala

Before saying the blessings relevant to havdala on motzei shabbos, we (Ashkenazim) include a bunch of p'sukim: "הִנֵּה אֵל יְשׁוּעָתִי אֶבְטַח וְלֹא אֶפְחָד כִּי עָזִּי וְזִמְרָת יָהּ יְהוָה וַיְהִי ...
6
votes
1answer
106 views

Pounding the pavement WITH LEAVES?

Is hitting the Hoshanos on the ground a universal practice? And what is the source for this custom?
6
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1answer
263 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
420 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
1answer
195 views

Washing Kohen's Hands

Following kedusha during mussaf on a day when there is birchas kohanim (duchening), the Leviyim and Kohanim assemble at the sink and a Levi washes each Kohen's hands. What procedure of hand-washing ...
6
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6answers
492 views

Bedikas Chometz - 10 pieces of bread

In Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 432:2 the Rama says that the Minhag is to place bread in such a place that the searcher can find it. Both the Be'er Hataiv and the Mishna Berura say that according to the ...
5
votes
1answer
112 views

May a non Ethiopian Jew celebrate sigd?

Ethiopian Jews recently celebrated their festival of Sigd, which involves reaccaptence of the Torah, communal fasting and feasting, and prayers. Is it acceptable for someone of a Minhag other than ...
5
votes
1answer
64 views

Which takes precedence - dina d'malchuta or halacha? What about minhag yisrael?

A more practical ramification of Is a ban on government workers wearing religious symbols a gezeirat hamalchut for which one would be obligated to give up his life? If the law of the land (dina ...
5
votes
2answers
621 views

What's the source for naming children after Alexander the Great?

I know many Jews whose actual bris-given name is Alexander, and this has been a popular name even among great tzaddikim of the past (such as R. Alexander Ziskind). I've heard a legend (mentioned on ...
5
votes
3answers
124 views

Prohibition to wear black for mourning?

I've heard a rumor floating around to the effect that Jews should not wear all black as an expression of mourning. Is there anything to that? If so, is there anything inherently wrong with it, is it a ...
5
votes
4answers
266 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
155 views

What to do if the minhag of my ancestors changed

Does anyone know what to do if the minhag of one's ancestors was changed within such a timeframe that the old minhagim should still be remembered? My great-grandfather "converted" from a Galizianer ...
5
votes
1answer
73 views

reprinting of tanyas in many locations, why?

Why do Lubavitcher חסידים print “ספר של בינונים" in many different places — something about outward expansion of wellsprings?
5
votes
3answers
262 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
2answers
484 views

Drinking Water after Eating Fish

Is anyone familiar with the practice of not drinking water after eating fish? I know that something has to be used to clean your mouth before eating meat, but somehow I got the idea in my head that ...
5
votes
1answer
224 views

Customs surrounding fasting when a sefer torah falls to the floor?

Based on this question I would like to know what the earliest source for fasting when a sefer torah falls comes from? Is is true that if a person is in the room but turns away so as not to see it ...
5
votes
7answers
299 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
680 views

Hardboiled eggs and salt water at the Seder

I've participated in only 3 different families' Passover Seders, so my experience is limited in terms of different families' traditions. How widespread is the custom of eating a hardboiled egg in ...
5
votes
1answer
176 views

Eating faux-Matza Before Pesach

Mishna Berura 471:2:12 says there are those that do not eat Matza starting Rosh Chodesh Nissan. May one eat Matza that is Chometz?
5
votes
3answers
821 views

wearing a hat instead of a kipah

If I want to do something and/or go somewhere and partake in something that is permissible, but I just don't want anyone to hassle me about being Jewish, am I allowed to wear a baseball cap or some ...
5
votes
2answers
107 views

Special Grace After Meals in a House of Mourning

The Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh De'ah 379 outlines a special version of Bentching to be recited in a House of Mourning. I have been in several houses of mourning and have never seen this done. Has anyone ...
5
votes
2answers
160 views

Is it permitted to have a boy under barmitzvah age sing Anim Zemiros?

Is it permitted to have a boy under barmitzvah age sing the Shir Hakavod (or Anim Zemiros)? Why is it not like any other part of davenning where we use someone over barmitzvah?
5
votes
3answers
591 views

May one swim on Shiva Asar B'Tamuz?

May one swim on Shiva Asar B"Tamuz? If not, why not? (sources)
5
votes
1answer
310 views

Putting a talis on during Shabas mincha

Why (in some synagogues) does the shatz (leader) put on the talis during mincha of Shabas, before "Vaani s'filasi", rather than before the start of mincha? As Gershon Gold notes in his answer, Shaare ...
5
votes
3answers
146 views

When to count Sefira

Why do some count the Omer before Aleinu and some after?
5
votes
2answers
156 views

Yemenite Sefira

What is the source for the custom that Yemenite Jews people count Sefira in Aramaic? and why do they do it?
5
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2answers
639 views

Why should A Capella music be allowed during Sefirah/Three Weeks?

Background: I'm not sure how I feel about: a)the custom to refrain from listening to recorded music during Sefirah or b)the assumption that recorded a cappella music is not considered instrumental ...
5
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3answers
446 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?
5
votes
2answers
333 views

Bracha on an indirect view of lightning

The general practice is to make a bracha on the sky illuminating from lightning without actually seeing the bolt. Does anyone know a source for this? Is this the most appropriate practice? Also, ...
5
votes
2answers
291 views

What does Yarmulka mean?

What does the word Yarmulka mean?
5
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4answers
167 views

Why do we stand when we do toward the end of Tachanun?

In the Tachanun prayer, it's traditional to sit for most of the core of Tachanun, but then to stand three words into the last paragraph, between "Va-anachnu lo neida'" and "ma na'aseh" ("And we won't ...