Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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2
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2answers
97 views

What's with the Bima?

When the Bais Hamikdash stood, on Yom Kipper the kohen gadol read from the torah facing the people and on Sukos the king read from the torah facing the people, why does our Bima face the Aron? If ...
3
votes
3answers
174 views

Why do we step before Shemona Esrei?

Why do we take steps before the Shemona Esrei?
12
votes
1answer
199 views

Would a widower observe Yahrzeit after remarriage?

If a Jewish man's wife died, he would naturally observe the Yahrzeit on the anniversary of her death. Would he continue to do so if he remarried? My question comes from reading about the Yahrezeit ...
3
votes
0answers
64 views

Why are challot traditionally braided?

What is the reason that challot are traditionally braided? When did this tradition begin?
4
votes
1answer
180 views

What's the connection between Tu B'Shevat and (Bukser) carob?

Tu B'Shevat many people eat many different types of fruit. Growing up and continuing until today there seems to be a Minhag to specifically eat (bukser) carob. Is there some sort of special connection ...
3
votes
0answers
73 views

Why don't Ramaniote Jews use the hei in names?

I am named after my grandfather and great grandfather on my mother's side, both of whom were Ramaniote. My name, therefore, is "Avram Mosh" (אברם מוש) instead of "Avraham Moshe" (אברהם משה). I've been ...
8
votes
9answers
484 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 ...
5
votes
7answers
519 views

Stepping Back Before Amidah

Why do people step back three steps before the Amidah (as mentioned here in Mishnah Berurah, S'if Katan Gimmel) if the Gemarah only mentions stepping three steps forward? Is there a kabbalistic source ...
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 ...
11
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2answers
740 views

Different traditions in Hebrew pronunciation

The theme of Hebrew pronunciation is one that facinates me and, as such, I want to get some feedback on some issues I've been thinking about for years. I have already discussed some of these issues ...
5
votes
1answer
321 views

Minhag not to learn Torah on the night of Nitel (Who and where)

This related question explains what this minhag is and a couple of reasons for it. I was wondering to what extent is this minhag practiced today apart from Chabad (see Hayom Yom - 17 Tevet)? Do all ...
13
votes
5answers
979 views

Nittle Nacht Meaning

What is Nittle Nacht? What does the name mean? What is its significance? Which Halachic authorities speak about it, and what do they say? What is the actual date for it? How is it effected this ...
12
votes
1answer
580 views

Why is the Lubavitch custom to have short Peoth?

If R' Schneur Zalman of Liadi had long Peoth, as in this famous sketch, why is it not the custom in Lubavitch circles these days for adult men to maintain long, emphasized Peoth as it is in many other ...
3
votes
1answer
76 views

Naming a baby after a living non-relative

As an Ashkenazi Jew, can I name my child after someone who is alive if they are not a relative or are you not supposed to name a child after the living, regardless of your relationship with them or ...
3
votes
0answers
41 views

Who says צִוָּה vs. צַוֵּה at a b'ris?

The passage "על כן בשכר זאת קל חי חלקנו צורנו צוה להציל ידידות שארנו משחת" is part of one of the blessings recited at a b'ris mila. Pische S'shuva (Yore Dea 265:4) cites a difference of opinion as to ...
3
votes
0answers
42 views

When and why would one don sackcloth?

There are various instances in tanach of someone donning sackcloth. I would like to know whether any commentators have compiled an outline as to when and why someone would don sackcloth (is it only ...
2
votes
0answers
35 views

Are separate stainless steel and aluminum dishes really required? [duplicate]

I can understand the need for separate cast iron dishes and raw pottery dishes for meat and dairy, but is stainless steel and aluminum really required according to halakha? Pottery (klei heres) is ...
17
votes
3answers
282 views

תהלת ה' ידבר פי - what's the origin?

In between the 'Shir HaMaalot' that precedes birchat hamazon and the the blessings themselves, there are a few psukim beginning תהלת ה' ידבר פי . Some people add these, and some don't. What's the ...
1
vote
1answer
195 views

Pronouncing the Cholam like a Tzeirei

The Litvish/Russian pronunciation of the Cholam sound is an /ay/ sound, similar (I think actually exactly the same) as a tzeirei. Are there any sources saying that it is a Halachic problem pronouncing ...
3
votes
2answers
210 views

Why do Lubavitch talisos ensure tzitzis hang off the side?

A Lubavitch chasid's talis gadol has a special way of being tied that ensures that the tzitzis hangs off of the side of the talis and not off of its front or back. Why?
1
vote
1answer
148 views

Cookies for kiddush

Many people, including Chabad, eat cookies before shacharis which raises a question about kiddush asked here. I understand that they do this because cookies don't count as a seudah.1 The flip side of ...
5
votes
0answers
209 views

Saying “Elokim” when not referring to Hashem

People often say "Elokim" instead of "Elohim" when speaking in order to avoid taking God's name in vain. I have observed, however, that some people always substitute the word "elokim" for "elohim" ...
2
votes
1answer
123 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
58 views

סימן יתק״ק and Shir Hashirim

In the copy of Echa I used this past 9 Av, the final p'sukim were followed by the notation "סימן יתק״ק". These stand for "ישעיה",‎ "תרי עשר",‎ "קהלת", and "קנות" (i.e. Echa). These are ...
5
votes
0answers
114 views

Do Sepharadim celebrate Thanksgiving?

A good deal of ink has been spilled in the past century regarding the permissibility and appropriateness of American Jews celebrating Thanksgiving. For the most part, Ashkenazim are split, with some ...
8
votes
1answer
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 ...
7
votes
3answers
217 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, ...
1
vote
1answer
77 views

Wearing tefilin all the time included Shabbat?

When people used to wear tefilin every day, did they do so on Shabbat as well? If so, why did people stop wearing tefilin on Shabbat? If not, why not?
8
votes
8answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
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 ...
2
votes
0answers
110 views

Customs for closing eyes for Keriyat Shema [duplicate]

When davening by Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg one Friday night he did not cover his eyes for Shema. Are there any sources that suggest merely closing one's eyes for Shema rather than covering them ...
5
votes
2answers
278 views

When did the use of Rashei Tevot, Heh Kuf, הק׳ in writings, books, letters, etc., begin?

Perhaps I'm among the last to have found this out, but it took me quite a while to understand why, in a signature, the name was preceeded by a הק׳. THe Ozar Rashei Tevot book has 31 different ...
6
votes
4answers
615 views

Should I wear tefillin during Chol HaMoed?

If I don't have a known family minhag regarding this, how should I decide whether to wear tefillin during Chol HaMoed? Which communities generally follow each option, and what are the reasons behind ...
5
votes
0answers
62 views

Why don't we say the first verse of Psalm 6 in Tachanun?

When Ashkenazim say Tachanun, they say the text of Psalm 6 without the first verse introduction “To the conductor with melodies on the sheminith, a song of David.” In the text, we say, “I am weary ...
6
votes
1answer
156 views

Does minhag hamakom apply to a college minyan?

At my university our minyan davens nusach Ashkenaz. Recently some have expressed the desire to allow the shatz to daven nusach Sefard, under the logic that since there are basically no permanent ...
3
votes
3answers
353 views

Cutting chala with a knife

Are people insistent upon cutting bread with a knife rather than tearing it apart manually? If so, why?
2
votes
1answer
166 views

Why don't women drink alcohol (other than kiddush wine) in shul?

I've noticed that in Orthodox shuls, it's common for men to drink alcohol (such as a shot of scotch or vodka or perhaps a liqueur), other than just kiddush wine, especially after Shacharis on Shabbos. ...
2
votes
1answer
118 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
73 views

Order of blessing children on Erev Shabbos

When blessing children on erev Shabbos, is there a correct or preferred order (oldest to youngest, boys first or girls), or may parents decide however they like? If there is not a correct order, can ...
5
votes
1answer
81 views

Minhag of reciting Tikkun Chatzot during the daytime?

I have heard, offhandedly, that there is supposedly a minhag to recite Tikkun Chatzot at/after midday during the 3 weeks. Would anyone happen to know the source for this? Is this recitation intended ...
2
votes
1answer
142 views

Communities where men didn't put their טליתות over their heads?

I heard that the Rambam in his commentary to the Mishna mentioned cases where the custom of the place was different, one such place being יָוָן, where men didn't cover their heads with their tallitot, ...
8
votes
3answers
219 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
188 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
333 views

Shalom Aleichem to angels?

The zemer "Shalom Aleichem" is obviously addressed to angels. The Tur (OC Siman 3) gives a short text to says before entering the bathroom: התכבדו מכובדים משרתי עליון, etc. (also obviously addressed ...
3
votes
3answers
553 views

What does the Bible say about a father walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding?

I believe a father's walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding came about as a Jewish tradition. If so, why is this done and what does it symbolize? Is it a biblical tradition? What is the ...
4
votes
0answers
82 views

Significance to the number of stripes on a tallis?

For Orthodox Ashkenazim, the most prevalent custom is to wear a tallis gadol with black stripes. In my area, I've noticed that the vast majority (of non-Chabadniks) wear tallesim with five thick black ...
2
votes
3answers
422 views

Rambam Tzitzith: 7 or 13 chulyoth?

The Gemara says you have to tie no fewer than 7 chulyos and no more than 13. According to most shitas, 13 is the ideal. My question is, according to the Rambam, can you do whatever you want - 7 or 13? ...
3
votes
1answer
220 views

What do Teimanim do with regards to modern questions?

It's known that Teimanim follow the opinion of the Rambam exclusively. What do they (or even more so Rambamists) do when there are questions not discussed at all by the Rambam? For example, Do ...
4
votes
1answer
120 views

What is the origin of the “sukkah hop”?

I was debating with my brother whether they had sukkah hops in Europe, and failed to find a good answer via Google Books or Scholar. Is it a specifically American institution? What's the first ...
0
votes
1answer
80 views

Why The Torah is in scrolls in modern times when books are more convenient

Why The Torah is in scrolls in modern times when books are more convenient to hold and read ? I can understand that in olden days it was convenient to carry and read on scrolls as the Torah was often ...