Questions tagged [minhag]

Questions about Jewish customs and traditions.

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43
votes
12answers
9k views

Reason behind pinky during hagba

Why do people lift their pinkies during Hagba?
36
votes
3answers
11k 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 ...
32
votes
4answers
2k 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?
31
votes
4answers
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 ...
30
votes
2answers
812 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 ...
28
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
28
votes
2answers
726 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 ...
27
votes
5answers
582 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?
24
votes
3answers
410 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 ...
24
votes
4answers
900 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 ...
23
votes
6answers
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?
22
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
22
votes
2answers
409 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 ...
22
votes
2answers
329 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. ...
21
votes
6answers
2k 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?
21
votes
2answers
294 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?
21
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
21
votes
1answer
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, ...
20
votes
7answers
2k views

Why wear Black hats

Why do people wear black hats if their kippa has 2 layers?
20
votes
9answers
8k 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)...
20
votes
5answers
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 ...
20
votes
4answers
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?
20
votes
4answers
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 ...
20
votes
2answers
539 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 ...
20
votes
4answers
1k 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?
20
votes
1answer
513 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?
20
votes
2answers
455 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?
19
votes
4answers
1k 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" ...
19
votes
1answer
891 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 (...
18
votes
8answers
2k 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." ...
18
votes
3answers
385 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 ...
18
votes
1answer
987 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. ...
17
votes
5answers
3k 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?
17
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
4k 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.
17
votes
3answers
1k 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., ...
17
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
441 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?
17
votes
1answer
335 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)?
17
votes
3answers
2k 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"- ...
17
votes
1answer
767 views

Time-frame for naming a newborn girl

I have heard many differing Minhagim as to the time-frame for naming a newborn girl. There are those that name at the first possible opportunity and some that wait till the second Shabbos. Many others ...
17
votes
4answers
564 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 ...
16
votes
9answers
1k 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
1k 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?
16
votes
3answers
737 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
788 views

Standing up at the Chuppa when the Kallah passes by

Last night I was at a wedding, and when I stood up as the bride was passing by on the way to the Chuppa, a fellow in all seriousness told me "It is not proper and a lack of Tzniyus to stand up for the ...
16
votes
2answers
377 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?

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