27 votes
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A rabbi asked me to light candles before weekday Mincha/Ma'ariv. Is this customary? Is there a bracha?

Many synagogues - mainly Orthodox, not specifically Hassidic, light two candles in front of the Chazzan's (cantor's) table. The candles are on during the duration of the prayers and extinguished ...
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  • 68.9k
18 votes

Did the Ba'al Shem Tov actually exist?

I think the Ba'al Shem Tov had to have existed in some way (even if it's not the way we've been taught), as I doubt an entire branch of Orthodox Judaism would base itself off the teachings of a ...
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  • 17.7k
12 votes
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Bish'vili nivra ha'olam/Anochi afar Papers

This practice was advocated (possibly first suggested) by R. Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, as brought in his name in the collection of Hassidic Torah and lore entitled 'Siach Sarfe Kodesh' (n. 233): ...
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  • 11.8k
11 votes

Is there a chasidus that is makpid on dikduk?

Yes, the Minchas Elazar was very makpid (strict) on both dikduk (grammar) and wording. His hakpada (strictness) is a major subject in the preface to the current main Munkacser siddur, Tzvi Tiferes. ...
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  • 6,434
11 votes
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Source for a story: Rambam paskening people out of heaven

This is quoted in the Afrakasta D'anya (4: 370) of R. David ben R. Baruch Kalonymus Sperber (leader of pre-war Romania) in the name of R. Moshe Stern in the name of the author of Imrei Yosef in turn ...
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  • 34.9k
10 votes
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Where could an extreme ultra-orthodox baal t'shuva etc. realistically find a shidduch?

Generally with other ulta-orthodox baalei t'shuva or other people with similar backgrounds. That is a good idea, regardless, as the compatibility is more likely to be there. (The only exception to ...
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  • 31.4k
10 votes
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Who is Rebbe Nachman referring to when he mentions "Sheid Yehudi" (Likutei Moharan 12)

The source is the Zohar Pinchas 253b. There the Zohar says ואוף הכי דפרשין דמלכא הוו מארי משנה דאינון כמלאכים משמשין לון שדים יהודאי דאינון רשימין באות שדי (ס"א באת י') ואית שדין ומזיקין מסטרא ...
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  • 39.9k
10 votes

The Yiddish Language and its Sanctity

In a letter to the Tog–Morgn Zhurnal, February 24, 1961 (also printed in דרשות און כּתובֿים), Rav Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik wrote that Yiddish can be considered as a tashmish kedusha. He says that ...
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  • 8,686
10 votes

Did the Ba'al Shem Tov actually exist?

Aside from the fact there are countless prominent Rabbis from his time who state clearly that they met and learned with him face to face, such a the Maggid of Mezerich, any student of history is aware ...
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  • 12.4k
10 votes
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From where does Rabbi Nachman know that King David's Lyre possessed 5 strings?

This comes from Tikunei Zohar Tikuna Asira'ah (here page 25b), in discussing numerical connections between the 5 knots on tzitzis and the 5 first words of Shema and the 5 strings on King David's lyre: ...
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9 votes

Hassidim and white shirt

Hassidim generally wear three types of shirts: A regular white dress shirt. As above, but with reversed buttoning, i.e. right-over-left. Pocket remains on left side of the chest. Basically identical ...
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  • 6,434
8 votes

What clothes do the members of Neturei Karta wear? Why?

There is no Neturei Karta dress code: Each member dresses according to his custom or preference. That being said, many are very religious and seek a old fashioned outwards appearance. Therefore, many ...
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  • 6,434
8 votes
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Why do Lubavitchers put on tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam from bar mitzva?

The traditional practice in Chabad was to only start putting on Rabbeinu Tam Teffilin with permission from the Rebbe* (basically establishing that they had achieved this requisite level of piety), and ...
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  • 31.4k
8 votes

A rabbi asked me to light candles before weekday Mincha/Ma'ariv. Is this customary? Is there a bracha?

Many chasidim light candles on the yahrtzeits of important figures in chasidic history. One of the more widely-practiced ones (in the US) is to light a candle on the Yahrtzeit of R' Mendel of Riminov, ...
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  • 5,221
8 votes
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Are women allowed to drive?

Shevet HaLevi 4:1 s.q. 2 by Rav Shmuel Wosner writes that "experience has taught him" that it is proper to completely forbid women driving because the activity of learning to drive leads to immodest ...
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  • 31.4k
8 votes

Hassidim and their socks

You cannot determine sect solely by the socks, but often you can tell something based on the socks. Combining sock style with hat/jacket/girdle/shoe/glasses/shirt style will narrow things down even ...
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  • 6,434
7 votes
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Toldot Aharon Tallit

They are still woolen. Since tallitot and tzitziot are under strict supervision, they are (wrongly?) assumed to be safe. Source: My uncle, a Toldos Aharon chassid.
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  • 6,434
7 votes

What is the significance of "mayim nukvin" according to chassidus

Another name for it is Isarusa Dilesato אתערותא דלתתא, An arousal of below. It's when we work hard to achieve an inspiration to connect with and serve Hashem. It's called מים נוקבין mayim nukvin ...
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  • 2,365
7 votes

Halachic Justifications for the Amshinover Rebbe

Regarding Havdalah during the week, I believe the reason why you find the Rebbe doing is so is because he actually keeps Shabbas until Tuesday. I heard this from a well-known story that the Gedolim ...
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7 votes
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Why didn't the prophets (and others "inspired from Above") ever learn the secrets of science or cures for disease?

There was once a book that had all the cures you are talking about, but it was buried. In the mishna of Psachim 4:9 it says that the king Chizkia buried "the book of cures": ששה דברים עשה חזקיה ...
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  • 975
7 votes
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Are Orthodox Jews opposed to women singing in public, particularly if the woman is singing to a fussy baby in an attempt to soothe it?

The Parameters of Kol Isha by Rabbi Howard Jachter addresses this. See the full article for the details, but here are some excerpts: The Gemara (Berachot 24a) states, “The voice of a woman is ...
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7 votes

Gerer Chassidishe Minhagim

Gur Tefillin: Square knot (edit: some wear single dalet) , Shel Yad Ashkenaz, Wrapping also Ashkenaz way, Brachos on both must be said standing. Ksav: Ari Zal with Shin of Beys Yosef which is called ...
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7 votes
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Chassidish pronunciation: הוא and היא

Most American and European Chassidim use what is often (wrongly) called Chassidish pronunciation. However, Hungarian is probably a more precise term, as even non-Chassidim that stem from parts of ...
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  • 6,434
7 votes
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Is there definitive breakdown/explanation of the various philosophical differences of Hasidic dynasties?

For a historical work that also dives deep into the divergent philosophies of different Hasidic sages, it is hard to beat Hasidism: A New History by David Biale, David Assaf, Benjamin Brown, Uriel ...
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  • 5,054
7 votes
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How did the Lubavitcher Rebbe react to the Crown Heights riot?

Chaim Miller, in his biography Turning Judaism Outward (p. 396-397), discussed the Lubavicher Rebbe's response to the riot when Mayor David Dinkins publicly met with the Rebbe, surrounded by members ...
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  • 10.7k
7 votes

Looking for an easy to read chassidic commentary on the Torah

As @sam said his comment, the Nesivos Shalom is a classic. It's been translated to English as well.
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  • 1,452
6 votes

A rabbi asked me to light candles before weekday Mincha/Ma'ariv. Is this customary? Is there a bracha?

I agree with DanF's answer above. This has nothing to do with yahrzeit candles. If someone has a yahrzeit they should light a 24 hour candle to help remind him to think about the special qualities of ...
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6 votes

What is the origin of Hasidic pronunciation?

This was not in opposition to Maskilim, and is not specific to Hasidim. In fact, dialectic variation in Yiddish (whence the Hebrew pronunciation) predates the Haskalah. Max Weinreich, on page 16 of ...
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  • 8,686
6 votes

What the Bal Shem Tov Said

Source in Jewish Literature The Talmud (kiddushin 70b) states that one who stigmatizes another is guilty of the same: ותני: כל הפוסל - פסול, ואינו מדבר בשבחא לעולם, ואמר שמואל: במומו פוסל He who ...
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  • 34.9k
6 votes

Arguments FOR Radzyner Techeiles

The Radzyner Rebbe wrote three books about it, so that would be a good place to check. Dr. Mendel Singer wrote an article about techelet, and in the course of the article, he mentions how the ...
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