Questions tagged [minhag]

Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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51 votes
16 answers
11k views

Reason behind pinky during hagba

Why do people lift their pinkies during Hagba?
cookie monster's user avatar
39 votes
3 answers
12k views

Questions about Polygamy in Jewish Law and Culture

I've recently been studying 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 polygamy ...
stringo0's user avatar
  • 551
34 votes
4 answers
3k 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?
user avatar
32 votes
4 answers
1k views

Placing stones on a grave

My office is situated right next to a Jewish cemetery. A coworker, noticing the yarmulke on my head, asked me why he sometimes sees stones placed on some of the gravestones. I told him that as far as ...
Michael Kopinsky's user avatar
30 votes
4 answers
3k views

Why do people frequently change tunes toward the end of Lecha Dodi?

Frequently, perhaps even most of the time, I've noticed that the chazan (prayer leader) for Kabalat Shabbat switches tunes for the last four verses of Lecha Dodi. Is there any reason for this, or are ...
Isaac Moses's user avatar
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29 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
Double AA's user avatar
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29 votes
2 answers
916 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 ...
Double AA's user avatar
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27 votes
5 answers
686 views

Glasses and Shema

The Shulhan Aruch records the custom of placing one's hand over his eyes in Shema in order to increase concentration. What about someone who wears glasses? Must he move them or remove them?
Hacham Gabriel's user avatar
24 votes
5 answers
4k 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 ...
SimchasTorah's user avatar
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24 votes
4 answers
2k views

What was the shape of the Luchot?

According to the Talmud in Bava Batra 14a, the Luchot HaBrit were square. As a side note, I have seen those "correctly-modeled Luchot" in the Shteblach of Meah Shearim. Where did the common "tablet" ...
Baal Shemot Tovot's user avatar
24 votes
4 answers
2k 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?
ertert3terte's user avatar
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24 votes
3 answers
460 views

Must EMTs and others rend Kriyah each time they see a patient die?

I was looking at Yoreh De'ah 340:5 (יו"ד סימן ש"מ ס"ק ה) and Moed Katan 25b (כה עמוד ב), which require Kriyah (garment-rending) for all who are there at the time of death. It would seem to me that an ...
Chalutzhanal's user avatar
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24 votes
4 answers
1k 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 ...
Laizer's user avatar
  • 777
23 votes
6 answers
1k views

Why do we say Mazel Tov? Shouldn't we thank Hashem?

Why do we say "Mazel Tov" when something good happens to a person? Doesn't that mean "good luck?" Are we saying that what happened, happened because of luck?
wayon's user avatar
  • 1,215
23 votes
2 answers
546 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 ...
jake's user avatar
  • 28.5k
23 votes
2 answers
375 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. ...
Baal Shemot Tovot's user avatar
22 votes
6 answers
3k 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?
YRU's user avatar
  • 845
22 votes
7 answers
2k views

Stripes on a Talis

Is there any reason for the stripes on a talis? Does the color of the stripes have any significance?
YDK's user avatar
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21 votes
4 answers
1k views

How does an outsider know how to dress for a particular Orthodox community?

Standards of dress (at least for women) aren't nearly as consistent within Orthodoxy as we might wish. Wearing exactly the same halachically-correct clothing I have been under-dressed in some places ...
Monica Cellio's user avatar
21 votes
2 answers
331 views

Making the Kohen's Gesture

Is it forbidden for a non-Kohen to form the hand formation that Kohanim use during their priestly blessings?
Tzvi's user avatar
  • 5,695
21 votes
2 answers
2k views

Different traditions in Hebrew pronunciation [closed]

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 ...
Seth J's user avatar
  • 41.6k
21 votes
1 answer
1k views

Blessing the Children on Friday Night

I have noticed that many families (including my own) have the custom for the father to bless all the children on Friday night before kiddush. When and where did this custom originate, and by whom, ...
jake's user avatar
  • 28.5k
21 votes
4 answers
3k views

Halachic Justifications for the Amshinover Rebbe

The current Amshinover Rebbe in Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem is known in the Jewish world as a man of great piety and for his great knowledge in Torah. He is also known to keep very different "Zmanim"- ...
Shoel U'Meishiv's user avatar
21 votes
4 answers
855 views

Why is Lag Baomer celebrated the way it is (or at all)?

Why do we celebrate lag baomer with bon-fires and bow-and-arrow. Why do we celebrate lag baomer at all?
shlomo's user avatar
  • 3,087
20 votes
7 answers
2k views

Why wear Black hats

Why do people wear black hats if their kippa has 2 layers?
shlomo's user avatar
  • 3,087
20 votes
5 answers
2k 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 ...
ertert3terte's user avatar
  • 40.4k
20 votes
2 answers
616 views

Naming after the living. Why is it considered bad?

This is a fairly straight forward question. I am under the impression that this is bad. This is why you don't see many Moishe Abromowitz, III. Why is this bad, and why isn't that practice carried ...
Andrei Freeman's user avatar
20 votes
1 answer
683 views

Placing notes in the Kotel/Western Wall

Is there any source for the custom to place notes in to the Western Wall? A very prevalent practice in Israel. And even if there is no source, is it a good idea?
Hacham Gabriel's user avatar
20 votes
2 answers
800 views

The custom of adding a candle for each child

Many people, including myself, added or will add a candle on Friday night for each child that is born. Where and when did this custom originate?
morah hochman's user avatar
20 votes
1 answer
1k 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 (...
Seth J's user avatar
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19 votes
9 answers
11k views

Where do the different traditions for hours of waiting between meat and milk come from?

As far as I can tell, there are 5 different traditions for how long one has to wait between eating meat and milk: wait 6 full hours wait into the 6th hour (thus, 5 hours and 5 minutes would suffice)...
Barry Hammer's user avatar
  • 1,896
19 votes
1 answer
1k views

Killing somebody with the keys to the synagogue

In Yoreh Deah 339:1, the mechaber brings a variety of things that one is not permitted to do to a goses (a person on the brink of death), since each of these things causes the goses to die sooner. ...
Shimon bM's user avatar
  • 18.9k
18 votes
8 answers
3k 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." ...
JXG's user avatar
  • 3,130
18 votes
3 answers
467 views

2 Sifrei Torah for close readings

This morning we read Parashat Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1 - 24:18) and the special reading of Parashat Shekalim (Exodus 30:11-16). The custom everywhere I have ever seen is to remove two Sifrei Torah from ...
Double AA's user avatar
  • 98.7k
18 votes
3 answers
2k 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., ...
Tzvi's user avatar
  • 5,695
18 votes
1 answer
654 views

Is there a Beta Israel Siddur?

Ashkenazi siddurs are different from Sephardic siddurs, do Beta Israel Siddurs even exist?
הראל's user avatar
  • 2,545
17 votes
5 answers
4k 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?
Gershon Gold's user avatar
17 votes
3 answers
4k views

Why don't brides (always) cover their hair for their weddings?

Why don't brides (always) cover their hair for their weddings? I understand that in some ultra-religious groups they do, but there seem to be many groups within Orthodoxy where they do not cover their ...
SAH's user avatar
  • 19.7k
17 votes
5 answers
5k views

Why do Jewish people sway while praying?

Is there a reason that people sway back and forth while praying? I saw a lot of people pray like this, but I'm too shy to ask them why do they do this.
KingBabar's user avatar
  • 341
17 votes
6 answers
6k views

May a Jew be a Freemason?

According to what I've been told by several people who have inquired of "practicing" (is that the right word?) Freemasons, and supported by Wikipedia, "Freemasonry explicitly and openly states that it ...
Seth J's user avatar
  • 41.6k
17 votes
4 answers
7k views

Minhag of married women shaving during marriage

The custom for married women to shave their heads is, evidently, a fairly widespread custom that exists at least amongst (certain) Hasidim. I have heard a variety of supposed, non-authoritative ...
The Lone Scribe of Volozhyn's user avatar
17 votes
2 answers
429 views

Why don't we use a translator during Torah reading?

Outside of the Teimanim I am not aware of any other segments of Judaism that still employ a meturgamen (translator) during kriat ha'torah. Why has this practice fallen into disuse?
none's user avatar
  • 3,948
17 votes
2 answers
4k views

40 minutes offset for candle lighting?

Several Zmanim apps are giving a choice on my "candle lighting offset". The default here is 40 minutes instead of the usual 18 minutes I've heard. Why 40? Why do I even have a choice? Does the fact ...
Nathan H's user avatar
  • 2,619
17 votes
1 answer
412 views

Why do we open the ark for important prayers?

What is the origin of the custom of opening the ark for important prayers (not connected with the need to take out the Torah scroll)?
Avrohom Yitzchok's user avatar
17 votes
4 answers
796 views

Mizmor L'Toda with Melody

In the context of p'sukei d'zimra, the Shulchan Aruch in Orach Chaim 51:9 rules that "The Psalm of Thanksgiving [i.e. Psalm 100] should be recited with a melody, for all songs are destined to fall ...
Vincent Calabrese's user avatar
16 votes
9 answers
2k 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 separate between them. Why is it most common ...
Gershon Gold's user avatar
16 votes
6 answers
3k views

Why is Soy milk considered Parve and not Milchig/Halavi?

Considering that milk is forbidden with chicken (as stated in this answer), because chicken could be confused with meat, why isn't soy milk considered milchig as well? In Israel, chicken is ...
Carmi's user avatar
  • 261
16 votes
3 answers
2k 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?
yydl's user avatar
  • 38.6k
16 votes
4 answers
5k 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 ...
Tzvi's user avatar
  • 5,695
16 votes
3 answers
1k views

I heard not to say "Good Shabbos" after mincha. Is it true, and what defines mincha?

I heard from somewhere that, on Shabbos, one does not say "Good Shabbos" after mincha. I am not sure whether it's in a halacha sefer somewhere (I tried looking) or just a minhag. First of all, is ...
MosheY's user avatar
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