Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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22
votes
3answers
4k views

Questions about Polygamy in Jewish Law and Culture

I've recently been looking into polygamy (having more than 1 wife), and had a few cultural questions. Was polygamy accepted at the time of David and Solomon? Were there any laws about it? Was ...
27
votes
8answers
3k views

Reason behind pinky during hagba

Why do people lift their pinkies during Hagba?
15
votes
8answers
1k views

Why wear Black hats

Why do people wear black hats if their kippa has 2 layers?
16
votes
4answers
511 views

Stripes on a Talis

Is there any reason for the stripes on a talis? Does the color of the stripes have any significance?
6
votes
3answers
376 views

What's the deal with all the washings?

Sometimes we wash with a cup, sometimes not; sometimes we wash twice, sometimes thrice; and not everyone agrees on method or pattern in all cases. Who says which ways we are supposed to wash, in ...
10
votes
2answers
248 views

May I rely on the halachik leniency of others?

If "Reuven" believes the halacha to be one way and "Shimon" believes it to be more lenient may Reuven rely on Shimon to do something for him based on this leniency? Here is a 100% fictional ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

What makes something “chukat goyim?”

One of the most famous examples I have heard is that one should not even tie one's shoes like the non-Jews do in times of persecution. That seems rather excessive. What if the Jews started doing some ...
16
votes
1answer
490 views

Why don't we bow “correctly” during tefillah anymore?

According to the Gemara (Megillah 22b), and according to the RaMBa"M (Hil. Tefillah 5:13) (and apparently R' Avraham ben HaRaMBa"M was adamant), when we pray we are supposed to bow down ON our knees ...
13
votes
4answers
450 views

Why do we eat Milchigs (dairy) on Shavuos?

Why do we have a Minhag to eat Milchigs (dairy) on Shavuos?
10
votes
4answers
628 views

Is it permissible to name one's child with a name from the opposite gender?

Is a person allowed to name a boy with a girl's name and vice versa? I remember seeing that one musn't, although in Nach one finds these things a lot. I understand it is not best practice for ...
16
votes
6answers
1k views

Why do some people wear their tzitzis out for people to see, and others don't?

Why do some people wear their tzitzis strings out for people to see, and others don't?
14
votes
2answers
413 views

Stacking Seforim

Are we allowed to place less holy seforim on top of more holy seforim? I believe that the consensus is that you are only allowed to stack seforim in chronological order from top to bottom (e.g., ...
7
votes
3answers
656 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
242 views

Electronic communication immediately before wedding

Is it permissible to chat with your future spouse during the week before the wedding when you are not supposed to see each other face to face? Are any, all, or none of the following permissible: ...
6
votes
3answers
380 views

Who says the Ribbono shel Olam in Birkas Kohanim?

I've "seen" many Talmidei Chachamim not saying the Ribbono shel Olams following each bracha of Birkas Kohanim. At least, I hear them chanting with the Kohanim from start to finish. Are these tefilos ...
5
votes
4answers
8k views

Rules for Cutting Nails

My question about nail-cutting is whether each of the following is halacha, minhag, or old-wives' tales. Not cutting both fingernails and toenails on the same day. Not cutting nails at night (is ...
14
votes
7answers
649 views

What is the source for the “Upsheirin”?

In some families/communities, little boys do not get their hair cut until they are three, and then there is a gathering for cutting their hair. The haircut is called an "upsheirin" or "chalakeh." ...
12
votes
5answers
869 views

Why does the Tefilin Shel Yad have a protective cover?

When you purchase Tefilin, the Tefilin Shel Yad has a protective cover. Why? Is it Halachically necessary?
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 ...
13
votes
2answers
818 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
873 views

Reasons for different minhagim regarding if and when to put tallit gadol over head?

I'm curious about the reasons and sources for the different customs about if and when to cover one's head with the tallit gadol during davenen. For example: cover head from after bar'chu until after ...
19
votes
2answers
263 views

Why the custom to switch around negative-sounding numbers, such as שד?

Often in sefarim we find that if the number of the siman spells out something negative, such as siman 304 which has a letter value of שד, we switch it around so it no longer reads as a "bad" word. ...
16
votes
2answers
215 views

People half-standing for אלקינו in zimun

When conducting a zimun with ten or more men, the nusach is to say "...ברוך אלקינו שאכלנו משלו". I have noticed that many people, when saying the word "אלקינו", get up from their seats at least a ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

B'siyata D'shmaya or Baruch Hashem

Often, at the top of written work, Jews write either ב"ה, which stands for Baruch Hashem =blessed is the Name i.e., God, or בס"ד, which stands for b'siyata d'shmaya =with Heavenly help. What is the ...
14
votes
7answers
1k views

Do Chasidim avoid wearing ties?

Do Chasidim not wear ties as a rule? If so, is this by design or an accident of history? If by design, where can I find said intended reason in print?
11
votes
3answers
590 views

Talis Gadol for Unmarried Individuals

In my minhag (and I believe it's minhag Ashkenaz), unmarried men do not wear a Talis Gadol (only a Talis Katan). Why is this so?
10
votes
2answers
1k views

How should one dispose of cut finger nails? Is it dangerous for a pregnant woman to walk on them?

Is there an Inyan of pregnant women walking over cut nails ex: a nail salon? Also, can I just vacuum up the cut nails from the floor?
8
votes
1answer
224 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
3answers
253 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?
7
votes
6answers
978 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, ...
10
votes
1answer
358 views

Dipping fingers in Havdalah Wine

What is the source or origin of the custom to dip one's fingers in the wine poured over the candle to extinguish it at the conclusion of Havdalah? As a side note, and a reason I'm tagging it this ...
10
votes
4answers
255 views

Not falling on hands for Tachnun

How come Sepharadim do not "fall on their faces" during Tachanun as Ashkenazim do, if the prayer is called "nefilat apa'im" (literally the falling of the faces)? The Shulchan Aruch seems to hold of ...
9
votes
4answers
579 views

“Jumping” at the end of Shemoneh Esrei

Some people are accustomed to performing a few little "jumps" at the end of Shemoneh Esrei (after taking the requisite three steps backward and forward) by lifting their heels a number of times. Is ...
8
votes
1answer
154 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
2answers
270 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
805 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?
6
votes
2answers
1k views

A Convert taking on customs of ashkanazim or sephardim

When someone converts is there any determining factor on what minhagim (customs) they will take upon themselves in terms of Ashkanazim or Sephardim? Should it be dependent on the Beis Din they ...
6
votes
2answers
221 views

Rubbing the Havdalah wine

Is there any source for the practice of not only dipping one's fingers into the Havdalah wine that was used to extinguish the fire and rubbing the eyes with it, but also spreading it around onto other ...
5
votes
1answer
149 views

6 chapters of Avos in 7 weeks

Some study pirke Avos weekly through the summer, from Pesach to Rosh Hashana. Others do so only for the six Shabasos between Pesach and Shavuos, one chapter a week. I've heard the latter custom ...
4
votes
1answer
369 views

Beracha on lighting yom tov candles : before or after?

There are two minhagim concerning the time the beracha should be said on lighting yom tov candles for a woman, before or after (like shabbos neros). I've read arguments like these : before, because ...
4
votes
12answers
510 views

What is the most widespread Israeli Minhag? [closed]

What is the single most widely practiced minhag among Jews in Israel today? By "widely practiced" I mean practiced by the most people.
2
votes
1answer
190 views

Following minhagim when praying in a different community?

Say you go to a minyan of a different community than your own, how should you behave? When being hazan do you use their pronunciation or yours? Do you pray your nusach or theirs? Do you put on talit ...
13
votes
4answers
698 views

What does “to confuse the Satan” mean and why does it work?

There are several things we don't do in order "to confuse the Satan", like not blowing Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashana. How does it help? Does Satan not realize that Rosh Hashana didn't pass yet? He ...
22
votes
2answers
364 views

Matza on 14 Iyar

I have seen a custom (it seems to me primarily among Chassidim) to eat matza on 14 Iyar (known as Pesach Sheni). What is the earliest source for this custom? What are the reasons given for following ...
7
votes
1answer
177 views

Explanation for couple not seeing each other before the wedding?

What is the source and reason for a couple not to see one another before the wedding?
21
votes
1answer
399 views

Is there any source for not sharing a baby's name before the bris?

For some reason, I have it ingrained in me that a baby boy's name before the bris is a secret and should not be shared. Are there any sources for this, or is it something made up?
19
votes
1answer
355 views

Why don't people bentch on a kos nowadays?

Bentching with a kos (recite Grace after Meals with a cup of wine) was clearly a popular thing to do in the times of the gemara. Additionally many Ashkenazi rishonim (Rosh, Ri, and many other ...
12
votes
2answers
166 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
301 views

Kubutz and shuruk in Polish/Hungarian pronunciation

What is the origin or basis of the Polish and Hungarian prevalence for pronouncing "oo" vowels as "ee"? The variants of other vowels are easier to understand in the context of phonological shifting, ...