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Ayin Hara
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There exists an ancient belief known as “ayin hara,” or “The Evil Eye,” which teaches that certain supernatural forces can have a negative influence on one’s welfare. While this may appear to be a matter reserved only for the mystically inclined, it is actually far more than a mere superstition. The Torah and Talmud both […]
Kiddush Between 6 pm and 7 pm
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There exists an intriguing custom found primarily in Chassidic communities to avoid reciting kiddush between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday night.[1] This is based on kabbalistic considerations relating to the “mazalot”, the different celestial influences, which are dominant in the world at various hours throughout the day and night.[2] It is taught that […]
Forty Days at the Kotel
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There is a somewhat widespread belief that praying at the Kotel for forty consecutive days is an effective segula for ensuring that one’s prayers and requests will be answered. There are a number of other segulot which are based on a forty day sequence, as well. Among them are: reciting the entire book of Tehillim […]
Binding the Lulav
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Although one can often appoint another person to perform a mitzva on one’s behalf, it is always preferable for one to do mitzvot oneself.[1] It is interesting to note, however, that some authorities suggest that it is actually better to appoint someone to assemble one’s lulav bundle on one’s behalf rather than to do so […]
Sleeping on Rosh Hashanah
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There is a widespread custom not to sleep during the day on Rosh Hashana.[1]This custom originates in the Talmudic teaching that “if one sleeps at the year’s beginning, his good fortune will also sleep” – something which one would surely like to avoid happening.[2] One should be using the day for engaging in activities which […]
El Maleh Rachamim & Yizkor
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There are a number of occasions in the Jewish lifecycle where we mention or pray for the souls of our departed loved ones. We are taught that prayers and good deeds which are performed in honor of the dead have beneficial results for their souls in Heaven.[1] It is noted that one who wishes to […]
Visiting a Parent’s Grave
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It is customary for to visit a parent’s grave at least once a year, and most people do so on the yartzeit. While the source for this annual pilgrimage is not completely clear,[1] it is the prevalent custom today.[2] There is a widespread misconception that one who has not visited a parent’s grave in seven […]
Reinterment
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As a general rule, it is forbidden to exhume the remains of a deceased for reinterment in another place.[1] This is true even if one’s intention for doing so is in order to better honor to the deceased by the change of location. We are taught that the dead should never be disturbed. It is […]
Tombstones
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Erecting a tombstone or monument on top of every grave is actually a Jewish custom. The practice most likely originated with Yaakov Avinu who erected a monument upon the grave of his wife, Rachel.[1] Some suggest that God Himself instructed Yaakov to erect a monument on Rachel’s grave.[2] In fact, it is interesting to note […]
Death and Mourning: Pouring Out the Water
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There is an ancient[1] Jewish custom to pour out any bottled water which one may have in one’s home upon hearing of a death in the neighborhood.[2] It is taught that the source of this custom is alluded to in the Torah where it says: “and Miriam died there…and there was no water for the […]