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Tzarich Iyun: Rashi’s Father
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Misconception:Rebbi Yitzchak, whom Rashi—the commentator par excellence—cites in his commentary on the first verse of the Bible, is Rashi’s father. Fact: Rashi’s father, Yitzchak, and the “Rebbi Yitzchak” whom Rashi cites are different people. Background: The name “Rashi” is an acronym for Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, i.e. Rabbi Shlomo, the son of Reb Yitzchak.[1] But the […]
Tzarich Iyun: Giraffe Meat
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Misconception:Although the giraffe is a kosher animal, it is not slaughtered because it is not known where on the neck to perform the shechitah (ritual slaughter). Fact: The makom shechitah (region of the neck in which ritual slaughter is valid) on a giraffe is precisely defined by halachah, just as it is for all animals, […]
Tzarich Iyun: Errors in Laining
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Misconception: If a baal korei (person publicly reading the Torah) makes an error that alters the meaning of the text and he has already read God’s name in that verse, he must first finish the verse and then reread the entire verse. Fact: There is no need to first complete the verse, nor to restart […]
Tzarich Iyun: Bobe-Mayses
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Misconception: The term bobemayse refers to bobes, Jewish grandmothers. Fact: A bobe-mayse is an old wives’ tale or incredible story. While in Yiddish, bobe is an affectionate name for grandmother, and mayse means tale or story; the term bobe-mayse probably derives from a sixteenth-century Yiddish classic Bove-Bukh.[1] Background:One of the first (chronologically and in pride […]
Tzarich Iyun: Tzadi
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Misconception: The eighteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet (the one between pei and kuf ) is called tzaddik. Fact: The correct name is tzadi, with no “k” sound at the end. However, the use of tzaddik as a viable alternative has gained some acceptance. Background:The letter is referred to as tzadi in the Talmud. In […]
Tzarich Iyun: The Parah Adumah
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Misconception:The person who sprinkles the ashes of a parah adumah (“red heifer”) on a tamei (ritually impure) person becomes tamei himself. Fact: Most of the people involved in preparing the ashes become tamei, but the one who sprinkles the water with the ashes does not. Background: Among the various types of tumah (ritual impurities) enumerated […]
Tzarich Iyun: Mar Cheshvan
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Misconception:The complete and correct name for the month following Tishrei is Cheshvan, and it is a quaint tradition to call it Mar Cheshvan because it is bitter (Hebrew: mar) due to its lack of holidays. Fact: The correct name for this fall month is the one word Marcheshvan/M’rachsh’van[1] (Aruch ashulchan, Even Ha’ezer 126:17). Background: The […]
Tzarich Iyun: Pomegranate Seeds
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Misconception:According to rabbinic tradition, a pomegranate (rimon) has 613 seeds. Fact: The pomegranate is used in rabbinic tradition as an example of a fruit that contains many seeds, but not necessarily 613. Background: The pomegranate (Punica granatum)[1] has been cultivated all over the Mediterranean region since ancient times, and was well known in the Biblical […]
Tzarich Iyun: Kissing the Mezuzah
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Misconception: There is a Talmudic source for the common practice of kissing the mezuzah upon entering and exiting a room. FACT: There is no Talmudic source obligating one to kiss the mezuzah, although there may be a source for touching the mezuzah. Kissing the mezuzah seems to have been introduced by the Arizal (sixteenth century), […]
Tzarich Iyun: Seudah Shelishit
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Misconception: One can fulfill the obligation to eat Seudah Shelishit (The Third Meal) on Shabbat by studying Torah in lieu of eating. FACT: The third Shabbat meal, Seudah Shelishit (colloquially termed “shalashudas”) is an obligatory meal that should ideally include bread. BACKGROUND: There is an obligation to eat three meals on Shabbat (Rambam, Shabbat 30:9; […]