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Tzarich Iyun: Nikkur Achoraim
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Misconception:Nikkur achoraim (rendering the hindquarters of an animal fit for kosher consumption) is a Sephardic practice that is banned by rabbinic fiat for Ashkenazim and thus not performed in the United States Fact: There is no such ban, and nikkur was practiced in many Ashkenazic communities into the twentieth century. The practice of some communities […]
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 […]
Tzarich Iyun: Rambam’s Physician’s Prayer
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Misconception:The popular Jewish “physician’s prayer” was authored by the Rambam (Maimonides) , who was born in 1135 CE. Fact: This commendable prayer is of uncertain authorship. Most likely, it was not written by Maimonides (who was actually born in 1138), but rather by an 18th century Jewish-German physician. Background: The physician’s prayer attributed to Moses […]
Tzarich Iyun: Making Berachot after Kiddush
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Misconception:After drinking wine at a kiddush, one is required to make a separate berachah (blessing) over soda and other liquids. Fact: Assuming one drank some wine or grape juice, the borei peri hagafen recited over it exempts all drinks within the collation, much the same way that hamotzi covers other foods. Background: Over the centuries, […]
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: Schach
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Misconception:If stars are not visible through the schach (roof of the sukkah), the sukkah is invalid. Fact: According to many opinions, ab initio, one should be able to see starlight through the schach. However, even if one is unable to see stars, the sukkah is kosher according to most authorities. Background: : A sukkah has […]
Tzarich Iyun: The Kohen Gadol’s Rope
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Misconception:The Gemara relates that on Yom Kippur, when the Kohen Gadol entered the Kodesh Hakodashim (Holy of Holies) in the Beit Hamikdash (Temple), a rope was tied to his ankle so that in case he died, there would be a way to extricate his body. Fact: While there was a real concern about the Kohen […]
Tzarich Iyun: Tashlich
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Misconception:A feature of the Rosh Hashanah tashlich ritual is the throwing of bread or other food into a body of water, to be eaten by the fish and ducks.[1] Fact: For the performance of tashlich, a custom which is symbolic of numerous things, it is customary to seek out a body of water that harbors […]
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: Aramaic
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Misconception: Aramaic is a dead language used only in the study of the Talmud, the Targum, and the book of Daniel. Fact: There are hundreds of thousands of people around the world, including thousands of Jews in Israel, who speak Aramaic as their mother tongue. Background: [1] In the “ingathering of Jews” that is taking […]