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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 […]
Tzarich Iyun: The Two Brothers and the Temple Mount
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Misconception: God’s choice of Mount Moriah as the site for the Beit Hamikdash is based on a midrash involving two brothers who expressed their mutual devotion to each other by each surreptitiously giving of his grain to the other. Fact: This beautiful and widespread fable has no basis in traditional Jewish literature. Background: The holiest […]
Tzarich Iyun: Using Horseradish for Maror
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Misconception: Horseradish (chrain) is the preferred item to use to fulfill the mitzvah of eating maror at the Seder. Fact: Among Ashkenazim, horseradish is widely used for maror. While horseradish often appears as the translation for tamcha, one of the vegetables listed in the Mishnah that may be used for maror, the translation is probably […]
Tzarich Iyun: The Meaning of “Pesach”
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Misconception:The only meaning of “Pesach,” the Hebrew name for the holiday of Passover, is “to pass over.” Fact: While that is a correct translation, an equally valid, and possibly older, translation is “to have compassion for.”[1] Background: The name of the spring holiday, and its associated temple animal offering, is based on a description first […]
Tzarich Iyun: Mordechai and Esther
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Misconception: Mordechai and Esther, the Purim heroes, were uncle and niece.[1] Fact: According to Megillat Esther, Mordechai and Esther were first cousins. Background: This is a widespread misconception, even found in the renowned midrashic compilation of Louis Ginzberg. For example, in Legends of the Jews Vol. IV, page 387 he writes: “This lively interest displayed […]