15 votes

Ripping out a blade of grass by a funeral?

On chabad.org it says the following: On the way out of the cemetery, it is customary to pull out some grass, throw it back over the shoulder, and recite the passage below. This symbolizes the ...
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  • 381
15 votes
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Ripping out a blade of grass by a funeral?

You asked: Is this a Jewish minhag? If so, what is the source for it? Yes. it is mentioned in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 199:10 - סימן קצט - דין הקבורה ובית הקברות "The custom - when leaving a ...
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15 votes
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Why a burning bush?

The midrash in Sh'mot Rabbah (2:5) offers some explanations: Why fire? To inspire him with courage so that when he comes to Sinai later he is not afraid of the fire.1 Why a thornbush? R' Yehoshua b....
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13 votes
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How to grow your own aravos

After Sukkos is over (and you don't need them for mitzvah purposes anymore), collect your leftover aravah branches that you used for ד' מינים and הושענות. (You may also want to collect other's ...
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9 votes
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How do you maximize your aravot's period of freshness?

I've tried the paper towel/aluminum foil (my father's method) idea, keeping them in the fridge, and keeping them in water. One year I got a whole lot of them and experimented with around seven ...
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8 votes

Kilayim in Chutz la'eretz

The Rambam (Kilayim 1:3) and the Shulchan Aruch (YD 297:2) explicitly rule that the issue of Kilaei Zeraim (planting mixtures of edible seeds (except grapes)) only applies in the Land of Israel and a ...
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8 votes

Why "Hamotzi Lechem" instead of "Hamotzi Chitah"?

The Bach in O.C. Siman 167 has a nice explanation of this. He starts by pointing out that the word "hamotzi" is the preferred word for the blessing, even though the word "motzi" would suffice, ...
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8 votes

Is it still prohibited to raise sheep/goats in Eretz Yisrael?

Welcome to Mi Yodeya! This very broad article deals with the issue well. The main source he quotes is Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat, 409:1. אין מגדלים בהמה דקה בארץ ישראל מפני שדרכם לרעות בשדות של ...
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7 votes

Time-Set Irrigation for Shmita?

According to a shiur I heard recently, there's a Machlokes Rishonim (early Poskim argue) about whether the Mitzva of Shmitta is: Don't work your land - but your land may work. Your land may not work ...
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7 votes

Chanukah Bushes?

The Chochmas Adam 89:1 wrote that the Vilna Gaon abolished the minhag of decorating the synagogue with trees in honor of Shavuos because of the problem of Chukkas HaGoy (i.e. the practice of ...
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7 votes
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What bracha should be made on hydroponics/aeroponics?

It's actually a machloket haposkim (argument among the decisors), with the point of contention exactly that raised in the question. From the CRC: Some (Chayei Adam 51:17 & Nishmas Adam 152:1, ...
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6 votes
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Why don't we distribute Ma'aser Rishon or Ma'aser 'Ani nowadays?

R Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz (Chazon Ish Shevi'it 5:12) writes that were we to give Maaser Rishon nowadays to Leviyim on the basis that they claim the Levi Aliya in Shul, more people would lie and ...
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6 votes

Would there be any maaser derabbanan on hydroponically grown plants?

The Star-K cites an argument about this between Rs Tzvi Pesach Frank and Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky. For extensive discussion, see Derekh Emunah (Terumot 2:1 Beiur Halacha sv Ochel).
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6 votes

Is a bottle or jug of 100% pure maple syrup kosher without certification?

There are two problems as explained at this article There are two major kosher concerns with “pure maple syrup.” First, an observant Jew is required to turn on the evaporator because only an ...
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6 votes

Why "Hamotzi Lechem" instead of "Hamotzi Chitah"?

In Psalms 104.14 it is written "Lehotzi lechem min ha'aretz" צְמִיחַ חָצִיר, לַבְּהֵמָה, וְעֵשֶׂב, לַעֲבֹדַת הָאָדָם; לְהוֹצִיא לֶחֶם, מִן-הָאָרֶץ. I have always assumed that this was the source of ...
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6 votes

Climate and growing season in Iron Age Israel and Judah

I won't answer the question as stated. Instead I will address one premise of the question, which is actually very common with this type of question. The question assumes that Pesach is supposed to be ...
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  • 3,294
5 votes

Rashi to Devarim 11 (11). In what way is mountain land superior to the land of the plain?

It's pure geometry. The simplest example of this in 3D is that the surface area of a hemisphere is double the surface area of a flat circle, so if you grow things on the surface you have double the ...
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  • 3,626
5 votes

How do you maximize your aravot's period of freshness?

I was just referred to "How to keep your aravos fresh throughout sukkos: The definitive guide for frustrated palm-frond wavers", an apparently anonymous document describing a series of nine ...
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  • 46.7k
5 votes

Why a burning bush?

Rashi says God appeared in a thornbush to show He was sharing the Jews' pain.
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  • 73.4k
5 votes

In what way are hybrid plants/trees prohibited?

The prohibition not to sow your field with a mixture of seeds is called Kilayim. PracticalHalacha describes how it prohibits from planting two species of fruit or vegetable plants (and trees) ...
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5 votes

Black seed (Nigella Sativa) - "קצח" in talmud

Ketzach - assuming that this name refers to the same plant in question - is mentioned in the Talmud twice as a cure for heart disease: "He who is in the habit of taking black cumin will not ...
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  • 20.2k
5 votes

Who named trees and plants?

Philo (Midrashei Philon 2:19) posits, that Adam also named the entire plant world, along with the mineral world. See also Abarbanel (Breishis) who asks your question: השאלה הי"ז. באמרו וייצר ה' ...
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  • 4,109
4 votes

Plants before the Sun in the Order of Creation

Ralbag has two explanations of the order of creation that can address this. The first explanation is that everything existed at once. The sequence delineated in Genesis is just the order in which they ...
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  • 47.8k
4 votes

Cutting down fruit tree not worth its upkeep

It is only prohibited to cut down trees for no purpose, but what "purpose" includes is hard to define. Rambam Laws of Kings 6:9 deals with your case directly, however: כל אילן סרק מותר לקוץ ...
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  • 166
4 votes
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Peah on a circular field

Strictly speaking, Peah doesn't have to be from the corners of the field. (Mishnah Peah 1:3). The mishnah says that the minimum measure of a field that should be reserved for peah is 1/60th (Mishnah ...
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4 votes
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Benefits and Reasoning of Orlah?

You asked: Have there been any (scientific) studies that prove the benefits of Orlah? Well, as you will see from the answer to your second question, it's not about benefits. You can see from ...
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4 votes

Why don't Jewish people put flowers on graves?

To summarize this book: Rabbi Moshe Sofer considers it an unacceptable attempt to emulate the gentiles. (Responsa Bet Shearim, YD No. 402). In a similar vein, R. David Tzvi Hoffman cites Rabbi ...
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4 votes
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(How) Are these aravos kosher?

Small serations are kosher, large ones are not. See Halachipedia's entry on aravos.
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  • 42.7k
4 votes
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Why "Hamotzi Lechem" instead of "Hamotzi Chitah"?

Neither the question, nor the seven answers so far, mention what is probably the most relevant Talmudic passage to this issue. The Talmud, in discussing the blessing for olive oil, states the ...
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4 votes
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Which plants are not subject to peah, leket, and shichecha?

Mishna Peah Chapter 1, Mishna 4: ‏ כלל אמרו בפאה. כל שהוא אוכל, ונשמר, וגידוליו מן הארץ, ולקיטתו כאחת, ומכניסו לקיום, חייב בפאה. והתבואה והקטניות (1) בכלל הזה.‏ First principle, fruits ...
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