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Tzarich Iyun: Washing after Leaving the Washroom
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Misconception:[1] Upon exiting a bathroom, one should wash by pouring water from a keli (utensil) three times on each hand. Fact: There is an obligation to wash after using the bathroom (Shulchan Aruch OC 4:18), but three times is not specified, and a keli is not required. Background: There are many reasons for halachically mandated […]
Tzarich Iyun: Your Hebrew Birthday
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Misconception:A person’s Hebrew and English birthdays coincide once every 19 years. Fact: There is a 19-year cycle within the Jewish calendar, but it only determines which years are “regular” years and which are leap years. The calendar does not precisely repeat every 19 years, and birthdays do not necessarily coincide (mine did not). Background: The […]
Tzarich Iyun: Milk and Honey
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Misconception:In the Biblical phrase that praises the Land of Israel, “Eretz zavat [1] chalav udevash, a land flowing with milk and honey,” the honey refers to bee’s honey, and the milk to cow’s milk. Fact: In the Bible, honey usually refers to date honey, not bee’s honey. And the milk is as likely to be […]
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: 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 […]