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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 […]
Tzarich Iyun: Pomegranate Seeds
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Misconception:According to rabbinic tradition, a pomegranate (rimon) has 613 seeds. Fact: The pomegranate is used in rabbinic tradition as an example of a fruit that contains many seeds, but not necessarily 613. Background: The pomegranate (Punica granatum)[1] has been cultivated all over the Mediterranean region since ancient times, and was well known in the Biblical […]
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 […]