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Tzarich Iyun: Sheva Berachot
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Misconception: A newly married bride and groom are required to participate in sheva berachot (festive meals) each day for seven days. Fact: There is no obligation to have festive meals during the week following a wedding celebration. However, if the chatan (groom) and kallah (bride) participate in a festive meal made in their honor in […]
Tzarich Iyun: Ga’al Yisrael
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Misconception:The modern-day practice of some shelichei tzibbur—communal prayer leaders—of ending the berachah of Ga’al Yisrael in a whisper is a requirement and has been around for generations. Fact: The practice of ending Ga’al Yisrael silently seems to have originated relatively recently. Prior to modern times, the shaliach tzibbur (sha”tz) would recite the entire berachah of […]
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: 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 […]
Women Bentching Gomel
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Misconception: After childbirth, a woman’s husband should bentch Gomel on her behalf. Fact: According to most authorities, a woman after childbirth should personally recite Birkat HaGomel. Background: Birkat HaGomel is a blessing recited to thank God for His salvation after one safely emerges from a dangerous situation, of which one of the four prototypical examples […]
The Age to Study Kabbalah
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Misconception: One may not study kabbalah before reaching age forty. Fact: The appropriate time to commence study of the esoteric dimension of Torah is largely determined by one’s level of Torah knowledge and spiritual development, not by one’s age. Background:1 Torah sources provide various suggestions regarding how and when one should go about studying various […]
The Korbanot
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Misconception: Leading authorities including Rambam and Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook maintain that korbanot, animal sacrifices, will not be reinstated in the time of the Third Temple but will be replaced with grain offerings. Fact: Rambam and Rav Kook never assert that animal sacrifices will not be reinstated in the Third Temple. Background: Temple ritual […]
Checking Tefillin
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Misconception: Tefillin must be checked twice every seven years to ensure that they are kosher. Fact: The halachah is that tefillin that have been checked and found to be kosher and are then used regularly are not required to be rechecked. Nonetheless, as a stringency, various customs have arisen regarding how often they should be […]
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), […]
Eliyahu HaNavi at the Seder
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MISCONCEPTION: According to ancient tradition, Eliyahu HaNavi makes a furtive appearance at every Pesach Seder. FACT: There is no classical (Talmudic or midrashic) source stating that Eliyahu pays a visit to the Seder every year. Most sources refer only to an eschatological appearance at the End of Days, that is, Eliyahu’s arrival to announce the […]