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The Fast of Behab
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There exists a somewhat intriguing and lesser-known custom to fast on three separate days following Pesach and Sukkot. The fast is observed on a Monday, Thursday, and again on a Monday. It is called the “Behab” fast, its name being taken from combining the letters bet, hey, and bet, which refer to Monday, Thursday, and […]
Sefirat Ha’omer Restrictions
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It is well known that between Pesach and Shavuot, a time of year which is referred to as sefirat ha’omer, one is required to limit certain activities which bring joy.[1] The primary reason for this custom is in order to mourn the students of Rabbi Akiva who perished as a result of a plague which […]
Erev Pesach: The Fast of the Firstborn
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It is customary[1] for all firstborn males to fast on Erev Pesach in order to recall the tenth and final plague which God inflicted upon Egypt – the death of the firstborn.[2]  There are grounds to suggest that the Fast of the Firstborn is actually of relatively recent vintage, as it is unlikely that in […]
Bedikat Chametz
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On the night of the 14th of Nissan, one is obligated to perform “bedikat chametz”. [1]Bedikat chametz is the requirement to search one’s home and other property for any chametz which one may not be aware of.[2] Chametz which is found during the search is put aside and burned the next morning. The search should […]
Ma’ot Chittim
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Ma’ot chittim, also known as “kimcha d’pischa”, refers to the obligation upon everyone to donate funds prior to Pesach in order to help the poor to cover their holiday expenses. Not only is Pesach the festival of freedom but it is also intended to impart within every person a feeling of royalty. As such, efforts […]
Banging and Noisemaking at the Mention of “Haman”
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There is an ancient and beloved custom to bang and make all forms of noise each time the name of “Haman” is mentioned during the course of the Megilla reading. Children are especially excited at this once-in-a-year opportunity in which they take advantage of their rabbinical dispensation to disrupt the services, using all forms of […]
Drinking on Purim
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The Talmud teaches that one is required to get drunk on Purim until one cannot distinguish between “cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai”.[1] The reason for this requirement is in order to recall the many miracles of the Purim story which actually occurred during the course of wine parties, such as Vashti’s downfall, Esther’s […]
Kosher Worms & Insects
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Although the Torah clearly prohibits the consumption of worms, or all other insects for that matter, there are, however, some interesting exceptions to the rule. The Torah’s prohibition on consuming insects applies only to those things that “live in the seas and in the streams”, “fly in the air” and “creep on the ground”.[1] So […]
Fish and Meat
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Although modern-day medicine and science may beg to differ, the sages of the Talmud were under the impression that eating fish and meat together is extremely dangerous to one’s health.[1] In fact, in those days, there was actually a dermatological condition that was believed to be caused by eating fish and meat together. The rabbis, […]
Jerusalem Weddings
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There is an intriguing custom among certain communities in Jerusalem of only hiring a one-man-band to perform at weddings. Sometimes this one-man-band individual even does the singing as well. Although most of the more familiar customs and restrictions intended to recall the destruction of Jerusalem have been in place for many centuries, the custom of […]