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Tzarich Iyun: Sitting Shivah on Erev Shabbat
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Misconception: Aveilim (mourners) stop sitting shivah on erev Shabbat at noon. Fact: Private displays of mourning continue on Shabbat, while the public aspects of shivah cease shortly before Shabbat.[1] Background: For the first seven days following the burial of a first-degree relative (father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter or spouse), one observes a period of […]
Tzarich Iyun: The Sabra
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Misconception: The sabra, a symbol of a native-born Israeli, is indigenous to the desert areas of Israel. Fact: The sabra is native to the desert areas of Mexico and southern United States. Background: The sabra is known in Hebrew as tzabar,[1] in English, as the prickly pear or Indian fig. Scientifically, it is in the […]
Tzarich Iyun: Duchening
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Misconception: During duchening (when the Kohanim bless the congregation), one should not look at the Kohanim mainly because it can lead to losing one’s vision. Ways to avoid this include covering oneself with a tallit or turning around and facing sideways or backwards. Fact: According to most opinions, nowadays, one should not look at the […]
Tzarich Iyun: Tuesday Weddings
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Misconception:The ideal day to get married is Yom Shelishi (Tuesday) because in the Creation story, the phrase “ki tov” (for it is good)[1] is used twice on that day. Fact: Tuesday may be a fine day on which to get married. However, there does not seem to be any basis for the belief that it […]
Tzarich Iyun: The Har HaBayit
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Misconception:Many religious Jews do not visit Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount) today. This is because we are all presumed to be in a state of tumat met (ritual impurity due to “contact” with the dead), and a tamei met is prohibited from ascending Har HaBayit. (Since the removal of tumat met requires the use of […]
Tzarich Iyun: Ga’al Yisrael
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Misconception:The modern-day practice of some shelichei tzibbur—communal prayer leaders—of ending the berachah of Ga’al Yisrael in a whisper is a requirement and has been around for generations. Fact: The practice of ending Ga’al Yisrael silently seems to have originated relatively recently. Prior to modern times, the shaliach tzibbur (sha”tz) would recite the entire berachah of […]
Tzarich Iyun: Nikkur Achoraim
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Misconception:Nikkur achoraim (rendering the hindquarters of an animal fit for kosher consumption) is a Sephardic practice that is banned by rabbinic fiat for Ashkenazim and thus not performed in the United States Fact: There is no such ban, and nikkur was practiced in many Ashkenazic communities into the twentieth century. The practice of some communities […]
Tzarich Iyun: The Mitzvah of Mezuzah
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Misconception:A person who moves into a new dwelling has thirty days to affix mezuzot to the doorposts. Fact: The mitzvah of mezuzah is derived from two sections in the Torah: Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 and 11: 13-21. The mitzvah consists of affixing a parchment inscribed with these two sets of verses (beginning respectively with “Shema” and […]
Tzarich Iyun: Rambam’s Physician’s Prayer
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Misconception:The popular Jewish “physician’s prayer” was authored by the Rambam (Maimonides) , who was born in 1135 CE. Fact: This commendable prayer is of uncertain authorship. Most likely, it was not written by Maimonides (who was actually born in 1138), but rather by an 18th century Jewish-German physician. Background: The physician’s prayer attributed to Moses […]
Tzarich Iyun: Making Berachot after Kiddush
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Misconception:After drinking wine at a kiddush, one is required to make a separate berachah (blessing) over soda and other liquids. Fact: Assuming one drank some wine or grape juice, the borei peri hagafen recited over it exempts all drinks within the collation, much the same way that hamotzi covers other foods. Background: Over the centuries, […]