Questions seeking sources for a given practice or idea, or seeking the location of a specific source.

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4
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3answers
133 views

Where and when is the earliest attestation of the word “mohel”?

Where is the earliest attestation of the word mohel for one who performs the act associated with a ritual circumcision? When was it written? What language is it? [Inspired by Why is there a ה in &...
4
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1answer
122 views

Kalam Cosmological Argument

Wikipedia writes: The Kalām cosmological argument is a variation of the cosmological argument that argues for the existence of a first cause for the universe, and the existence of a god. Its ...
4
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1answer
153 views

Source that a woman is considered to have a bris milah

I recall learning, I think in mesechtas kiddushin, that a woman is the (halachic?) equivalent of a man who has had a bris milah performed. In other words, since she does not have the same organ she is ...
4
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1answer
109 views

Source and reason for throwing the Hoshanos on top of the Aron Kodesh

I have seen in many Shuls on Hoshana Raba after using the Hoshanos people throw the used Hoshanos on top of the Aron Kodesh. What is the reason and source for this Minhag?
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1answer
137 views

Midrash on children and the letter shapes?

I've heard about a midrash that discusses a day when little children took over the study hall and, by interpreting the shapes of the Hebrew letters, articulated many of Judaism's most powerful ...
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1answer
1k views

What is the source of the Birkat Habayit?

What is the source of the text of the Birkat Habayit: May this house be a place of happiness and health, of contentment, generosity and hope, a home of creativity and kindness. May those ...
4
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1answer
260 views

Jewish saying: “To be lenient when you should be firm is to be cruel when you could be kind.”?

I heard today there is an old Jewish saying that goes something like this: "To be lenient when you should be firm is to be cruel when you could be kind." This, as so many Jewish sayings do, ...
4
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1answer
212 views

Where does the Taz say that beer gives us life?

There is a Taz on the topic of yoshon (old grain) that says something to the effect of: כי עיקר חיינו תלוי בשכר While it's an awesome quote out of context, the basic pretense is that since the ...
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1answer
511 views

Can one play computer games on Chol Hamoed

I know that there is a debate among the poskim as to whether one can type on Chol Hamoed. Does anyone discuss whether one can play computer games on Chol Hamoed?
4
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3answers
177 views

Study of Written Law Without Comprehension

What are the earliest sources that confirm or contradict the assertion that recitation of Torah Shebiksav fulfills the obligation to study Torah even without understanding of the words? Preferred: ...
4
votes
2answers
131 views

Graphology - sources that permit or forbid it

I saw a orthodox Jewish newspaper that has a column on graphology. Are there any sources that discuss graphology, pro or con? Is it hocus pocus? Is it similar to palm reading?
4
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1answer
53 views

Which Tzemach Tzedek?

When the Pitchei Teshuva (on the daf of Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah) quotes teshuvot of the Tzemach Tzedek, who is he quoting? Is he quoting Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, the Tzemach Tzedek of ...
4
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2answers
441 views

Where does the proverb “as you teach you learn” come from?

I ran across the proverb "As you teach, you learn" on a list of Jewish proverbs. (Here is an example of it online.) Does anyone know its source? I saw a few cites attribute it to "Midrash Tehilim", ...
4
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1answer
150 views

Source to make noise when Haman's name is mentioned?

Where is the source to make noise when Haman's name is read from the Megillah?
4
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1answer
74 views

Counting years according to the solar calendar

I once heard there is an opinion in Rishonim (maybe Gaonim?) that says we count ones years of life according to the solar calender. So for example a boy would become bar mitzvah when he would turn 13 ...
4
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1answer
142 views

Referring to parent in third person

I have seen some homes where the children refer to the parent in third person as a sign of respect (Would Abba like to...). I'm curious to know if this practice is brought down in any sefer and if in ...
4
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1answer
326 views

What is the origin on metziztah b'peh?

Is metzitzah b'peh of biblical origin or was it instituted by the rabbis? What is the source for this practice?
4
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1answer
108 views

Source in Tosafos for playing ball on Yom Tov

I know there is a Tosafos in Beitza 12a that discusses playing ball on Yom Tov, but I remember learning another Tosafos which said something like "for children under nine it would be permitted on ...
4
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3answers
377 views

Which Talmudic source for Ḥanukah is the real source?

What is the Talmudic source for Ḥanukah? In discussing candles for Shabbath, the Talmud (Shab. 21b) goes into a discussion about candles generally, touching upon Ḥanukah candles, and ultimately asks, ...
4
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3answers
306 views

Source in Jewish writings for Moshiach?

What is the source in Jewish writings (Pre-Rambam) that there is a concept of a Moshiach, and his nature?
4
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3answers
2k views

Eating at a shiva house

What is the basis for some people's practice not to eat the food at a shiva house; is there a halachik basis for this, is it a minhag or perhaps just superstition?
4
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1answer
83 views

Source for the description of Mashiach in MBD's “Some Day”

Mordechai Ben David's classic song "Some Day" gives a description of what will happen in Yemot HaMashiach (the days of Mashiach). It seems to be a very popular song, and has doubtlessly influenced ...
4
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1answer
95 views

Washing After Leaving Cemetary

What are the earliest sources (i.e. Chazal or Rishonim) for washing one's hands after visiting a cemetery? Is this mentioned by the Rambam?
4
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1answer
70 views

Who first said “You're being machmir on pikuach nefesh”?

I've been hearing the phrase "This is not being meikil1 on Shabbos, this is being machmir2 on pikuach nefesh3" for a long time. I've heard it quoted from R' Chaim, from the Gra, and from various and ...
4
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1answer
93 views

Source for statement that we don't know how to rebuke today

I recall hearing that someone, perhaps R' Yisroel Salanter, said that today we do not know how to respectfully give rebuke, and therefore we are all in the category of onus regarding the mitzvah of ...
4
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1answer
110 views

Why did R. Zera want to forget the Talmud Bavli?

I read that R. Zera fasted one hundred days to forget the Babylonian Talmud before he left Babylon to live in the Land of Israel. Why would he do this when I've understood that the Babylonian Talmud ...
4
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2answers
397 views

דע לפני מי אתה עומד on the ark

In some shuls it says on the ark, "Da Lifnei Mi Atah Omeid." Is there any source from which that comes?
4
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3answers
114 views

Interpreting divine messages

It is an article of faith that Hashem directs our lives individually (hashgacha pratit), and part of that guidance includes instructions about what each person should or shouldn't be doing. If we had ...
4
votes
4answers
191 views

Bitahon and Hishtadlut for livelihood

The Sefarim discuss (see Hobot Halevavot, Michtav MeEliyahu etc.) the idea of being Mishtadel (making an effort) for one's livelihood but believing that the Hishtadlut (effort) has absolutely nothing ...
4
votes
1answer
297 views

Where does it say that one must wear two layers on their head(one of the reasons for the black hat)?

I know that a reason for wearing a black hat is because one must wear two layers covering their head (Mishna Brurah 91:5) but am wondering if that Din is based in Kabbalah?
4
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1answer
114 views

What is a “migu”

A popular topic discussed sometimes at length in Yeshivas I would like to pose the question here with a few additional points: What is a "migu"? How is it used in Shas? What is a "classic" (or the ...
4
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1answer
63 views

Gemara on volunteering?

I heard that there was a Gemara to the effect of "volunteers cost more than employees because their motivation is not as good" -- or somesuch. Any ideas? Thanks.
4
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1answer
80 views

Feeling compassion for re'shaim and the mitzvah to hate

There are certain (specific) cases where it is correct or even a mitzvah to hate someone else. [See The following sources: Tehillim 97:10 and 139:21, Amos 5:15, Mishlei 8:13, Pesachim 113b, Sefer ...
4
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1answer
175 views

Vilna Gaon on Yom HaAtzmaut?

I've heard repeatedly the claim that there is a specific prediction by the Vilna Gaon regarding the dates of Yom HaAtzma'ut (5 Iyar) and Yom Yerushalayim (28 Iyar). What is the source for this claim? ...
4
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1answer
130 views

Can an autopsy be performed on a Jewish body?

Halachically can one perform an autopsy on a Jewish body? One one hand, the Talmud Sanhedrin 47a explains that the verses in Deuteronomy 21:22-23 we can learn that one must not delay a burial and ...
4
votes
1answer
176 views

Should single men not sit at corner of the table?

I heard that there some say that single men should not sit at the corner of the table, because it could lead to someone staying single forever. Is there a source for this idea?
4
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1answer
107 views

Blessings on Birthdays

There is apparently a practice among contemporary Jews of giving out blessings on one's birthday. Is there any source for this in the Jewish tradition?
4
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3answers
366 views

text for Rav Kook's positive viduy?

It was quoted in a class that I was in once that Rav Kook has a text for a positive viduy where he takes the normal expression of sin and inverts it to talk about what we have done right. What is the ...
4
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1answer
164 views

Different aspects of married relationship described in the last of the Sheva Brachos?

In the 6th (at a meal) or 7th (under the Chuppah) of Sheva Brachos, we read the line of גילה רינה, דיצה וחדווה, אהבה ואחווה, ושלום ורעות. I have heard that the first four words are referring to the ...
4
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1answer
211 views

A woman's singing voice when there are other singing voices

There is a famous Teshuva of the Sridei Aish, Rabbi Yaakov Yechiel Weinberg, that permits one to hear kol isha (a women's singing voice) when there are other people singing. Where is this Teshuva ...
4
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1answer
90 views

Is there a stated freedom to contract?

In the United States (and other countries), there is the notion of the freedom to contract. This is the idea that two people of sound mind have the right to enter into any contract with one another ...
4
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1answer
84 views

Saying a pasuk to scare dogs

It seems somewhat widespread that Jews that are scared of dogs think that saying ולכל בני ישראל לא יחרץ כלב לשונו will either protect them or scare the dog away or something like that. Does this have ...
4
votes
2answers
92 views

Where do we get the number for how many alyot in the torah reading?

We know that 7 people are called for reading torah at shabbat shakharit (and one for the maftir), but we find that the number drops down to 3 at minkha and again on weekdays (Monday & Thursday). ...
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1answer
68 views

Shabbat Mincha 2 Nuschaoth

I wondering what is the source of the difference between Sepharadi and Ashkenazi nussach:Sepharadiוּמִי כְעַמְּךָ כְּיִשְׂרָאֵל גוֹי אֶחָד בָּאָרֶץ שמואל ב, ז, כא Ashkenaziוּמִי כְּעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל ...
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2answers
90 views

Family purity by degree

I have the opportunity to reach out to someone who will be getting married soon, to discuss the laws of family purity. He has no real connections to any religious community at this point in life so ...
4
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2answers
67 views

What happened with G-d's promise?

In Bereshit 15:18 G-d makes a covenant with Abraham in which He says that He has given certain land to Abraham's descendants. בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא כָּרַת יְהֹוָה אֶת אַבְרָם בְּרִית לֵאמֹר לְזַרְעֲךָ ...
4
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2answers
63 views

source for Potiphar not believing his wife

I mentioned to someone a vort I once heard pointing out a difficulty in the story of Potiphar's wife. Why did Potiphar not have Yosef killed, which would be the expected punishment for attacking the ...
4
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1answer
59 views

Source for Memorial Lights in Synagogue [duplicate]

What is the source for having memorial electric lights usually affixed to plaques that are found in many shuls to remember the yahrtzeit of relatives? Is this an old minhag or of relatively recent ...
4
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1answer
72 views

Origin of “May God Avenge His Blood” (הי"ד)

What is the origin (i.e earliest usages) of appending הי"ד ("May God Avenge His Blood") after the name of a murder victim.
4
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1answer
76 views

What's the source for the phrase in Krias Shema al HaMitah: : …בְּשֵׁם יְיָ אֱלֹקֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל and to recite it 3x?

What's the source for the actual phrase that is cited in Krias Shema al HaMitah: בְּשֵׁם יְיָ אֱלֹקֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל: מִימִינִי מִיכָאֵל וּמִשְּׂמֹאלִי גַבְרִיאֵל וּמִלְּפָנַי אוּרִיאֵל וּמֵאֲחוֹרַי ...