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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 […]
Reading the Megillah on Purim Morning
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Misconception: Of the two Megillah readings on Purim, the one at night is the more important one. Therefore, one should be careful to attend the nighttime reading even if he or she will thereby miss the morning reading. Fact: Halachically, the morning reading is more important than the night reading. Background: The Shulchan Aruch (OC […]
Mishloach Manot
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 Misconception: The two foods sent on Purim for mishloach manot must be from two different categories of blessings. Fact: This widespread misconception has no halachic basis. Background: Mishloach manot is one of the four mitzvot established by Mordechai and Esther to be performed on Purim day. Alluded to in Megillat Esther, these mitzvot are: reading […]
The Legend of 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 […]
Giving a Levi the First Aliyah
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Misconception: If there is no Kohen, it is preferable to give the first aliyah to a Levi. Fact: Most authorities rule that it is equally acceptable to call upon a Levi or Yisrael in place of a Kohen, while some prefer to give it to a Yisrael. Background: The Torah is read publicly on Shabbat […]
Tzarich Iyun: The Mitzvah of Mezuzah
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Misconception:A person who moves into a new dwelling has thirty days to affix mezuzot to the doorposts. Fact: The mitzvah of mezuzah is derived from two sections in the Torah: Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 and 11: 13-21. The mitzvah consists of affixing a parchment inscribed with these two sets of verses (beginning respectively with “Shema” and […]