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Tzarich Iyun: Jews with Tattoos
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Misconception:[1] A Jew with a tattoo may not be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Fact: This belief has no basis in Jewish law. Just as a Jew who violated other Torah laws may be buried in a Jewish cemetery, so too may one who violated the prohibition against being tattooed. Background: This misconception is widespread […]
Tzarich Iyun: Kosher Soap
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Misconception:There is no valid reason to use kosher soap. Fact: There is a solid halachic basis for using kosher soap exclusively. Background: People often fail to consider what a marvelous substance soap is—when used with water, it loosens unwanted particles, emulsifies grease and absorbs dirt into foam. Its efficacy is usually due to a chemical […]
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 […]
Tzarich Iyun: Bentching Over Wine
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Misconception:Birkat Hamazon (Grace after Meals) is said over a cup of wine only on special occasions, such as Sheva Brachot or a brit milah. Those who are particularly meticulous use wine whenever there is a minyan “bentching” together. Fact: It is meritorious to bentch over wine whenever there is a zimun.[1] Background: Wine has a […]
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: Davening with a Minyan
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Misconception:The main purpose of davening (praying) with a minyan is to be able to recite devarim shebekedushah (prayers with the status of sanctity), such as Kaddish, Kedushah and Barchu. Fact: There are many advantages to davening in shul with a minyan: creating community; davening slower and with more kavanah (concentration); responding to Kaddish, et cetera, […]
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: Mayim Achronim
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Misconception:Mayim achronim (washing before bentching) is a chumrah (stringency) in which women need not participate. The water used for mayim achronim needs to either be covered or removed from the table. Fact: Mayim achronim is an obligation equally incumbent upon men and women. There is scant basis for covering or removing the water. Background: An […]
Tzarich Iyun: Women’s Zimun
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Misconception:Three or more women forming a zimun (responsive introduction to Grace after Meals), especially in the presence of one or two men, is the product of late 20th century feminism and has no basis in traditional halachah. When such a zimun is formed, the men present should leave. Fact: Women participating in a meal in […]
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 […]