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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 […]
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: 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 […]