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Tzarich Iyun: Aramaic
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Misconception: Aramaic is a dead language used only in the study of the Talmud, the Targum, and the book of Daniel. Fact: There are hundreds of thousands of people around the world, including thousands of Jews in Israel, who speak Aramaic as their mother tongue. Background: [1] In the “ingathering of Jews” that is taking […]
Tzarich Iyun: Mayim Achronim
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Misconception:Mayim achronim (washing before bentching) is a chumrah (stringency) in which women need not participate. The water used for mayim achronim needs to either be covered or removed from the table. Fact: Mayim achronim is an obligation equally incumbent upon men and women. There is scant basis for covering or removing the water. Background: An […]
Tzarich Iyun: Women’s Zimun
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Misconception:Three or more women forming a zimun (responsive introduction to Grace after Meals), especially in the presence of one or two men, is the product of late 20th century feminism and has no basis in traditional halachah. When such a zimun is formed, the men present should leave. Fact: Women participating in a meal in […]
Tzarich Iyun: The Destruction of the Beit Hamikdash
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Misconception:According to rabbinic tradition, the destruction of the Second Beit Hamikdash (Temple) can be attributed solely to sinat chinam—gratuitous hatred. Fact: Some rabbinic sources do, indeed, attribute the destruction to sinat chinam. But other sages have identified additional causes for this national tragedy. Background: [1] Statements of Chazal regarding the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash […]
Tzarich Iyun: Jews with Tattoos
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Misconception:[1] A Jew with a tattoo may not be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Fact: This belief has no basis in Jewish law. Just as a Jew who violated other Torah laws may be buried in a Jewish cemetery, so too may one who violated the prohibition against being tattooed. Background: This misconception is widespread […]
Tzarich Iyun: Rashi’s Daughters
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Misconception: Rashi’s daughters wore tefillin. Fact: There is no evidence that Rashi’s daughters wore tefillin. Background: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, known colloquially as “Rashi,” is the commentator par excellence on both the Torah and Talmud. Born in Troyes in northern France in 4801 (1040 CE), he descended on both sides from influential families. He studied in […]
Tzarich Iyun: Kosher Soap
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Misconception:There is no valid reason to use kosher soap. Fact: There is a solid halachic basis for using kosher soap exclusively. Background: People often fail to consider what a marvelous substance soap is—when used with water, it loosens unwanted particles, emulsifies grease and absorbs dirt into foam. Its efficacy is usually due to a chemical […]
Tzarich Iyun: Adam’s Rib
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Misconception:According to the traditional viewpoint, Chava was created from one of Adam’s ribs. Fact: According to the opinion of Rashi and many other medieval commentators, “woman” was created from one side of Adam, not from his rib. Background: The creation of woman is described in Bereishit 2:21-22: “And the Lord God caused man (haAdam) to […]
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: The Uganda Plan
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Misconception: The early Zionists were offered, and nearly accepted, Uganda as the Jewish homeland. This demonstrates that Zionist leader Theodor (Binyamin Ze’ev) Herzl and his supporters were indifferent to the historic Jewish homeland and did not appreciate the unique relationship between the Jews and the Land of Israel. Fact: None of the land offered by […]