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Tzarich Iyun: 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), […]
Tzarich Iyun: Seudah Shelishit
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Misconception: One can fulfill the obligation to eat Seudah Shelishit (The Third Meal) on Shabbat by studying Torah in lieu of eating. FACT: The third Shabbat meal, Seudah Shelishit (colloquially termed “shalashudas”) is an obligatory meal that should ideally include bread. BACKGROUND: There is an obligation to eat three meals on Shabbat (Rambam, Shabbat 30:9; […]
Tzarich Iyun: Rav Kook’s Hebrew University Invocation
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Misconception:[1] In 1925, in Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook’s invocation for the inauguration of the Hebrew University, he applied the Biblical verse “Ki miTzion tetzei Torah, u’devar Hashem meYerushalayim, For out of Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of God from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3; Michah 4:2).[2] This is an oft-used criticism cited by […]
Tzarich Iyun: Leather and Fasting on Yom Kippur
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I. Wearing Leather Misconception: It is prohibited to wear leather items, such as a leather belt or yarmulke, on Yom Kippur and Tishah B’Av. Fact: Only leather shoes are prohibited on Yom Kippur and Tishah B’Av. One is permitted to wear belts, yarmulkes, jackets, or other items made from leather. Some authorities prohibit all “protective […]
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: Before the Wedding
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Misconception: A bride and groom may not see each other during the week preceding their wedding. Fact: This is a widespread Ashkenazic practice with little basis in traditional sources. Background: In Ashkenazic[1] circles, often a bride and groom do not see each other for a full week before their wedding, although they do speak by […]
Tzarich Iyun: King David’s Tomb
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Misconception: King David is buried on Mount Zion, in a room that bears the inscription “King David’s Tomb.” Mount Zion is located just outside and to the south of the Armenian Quarter and Zion Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. Fact: Evidence indicates that the area known today as Mount Zion was not part of inhabited […]
Tzarich Iyun: Sitting Shivah on Erev Shabbat
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Misconception: Aveilim (mourners) stop sitting shivah on erev Shabbat at noon. Fact: Private displays of mourning continue on Shabbat, while the public aspects of shivah cease shortly before Shabbat.[1] Background: For the first seven days following the burial of a first-degree relative (father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter or spouse), one observes a period of […]
Tzarich Iyun: The Sabra
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Misconception: The sabra, a symbol of a native-born Israeli, is indigenous to the desert areas of Israel. Fact: The sabra is native to the desert areas of Mexico and southern United States. Background: The sabra is known in Hebrew as tzabar,[1] in English, as the prickly pear or Indian fig. Scientifically, it is in the […]
Tzarich Iyun: Duchening
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Misconception: During duchening (when the Kohanim bless the congregation), one should not look at the Kohanim mainly because it can lead to losing one’s vision. Ways to avoid this include covering oneself with a tallit or turning around and facing sideways or backwards. Fact: According to most opinions, nowadays, one should not look at the […]