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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 […]
Tzarich Iyun: Tuesday Weddings
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Misconception:The ideal day to get married is Yom Shelishi (Tuesday) because in the Creation story, the phrase “ki tov” (for it is good)[1] is used twice on that day. Fact: Tuesday may be a fine day on which to get married. However, there does not seem to be any basis for the belief that it […]
Tzarich Iyun: Ga’al Yisrael
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Misconception:The modern-day practice of some shelichei tzibbur—communal prayer leaders—of ending the berachah of Ga’al Yisrael in a whisper is a requirement and has been around for generations. Fact: The practice of ending Ga’al Yisrael silently seems to have originated relatively recently. Prior to modern times, the shaliach tzibbur (sha”tz) would recite the entire berachah of […]
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: 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: Hallel on Pesach
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Misconception:The sole reason that we do not recite the complete Hallel[1] on the last six days of Pesach is because the Egyptians drowned in the Red Sea on the seventh day of Pesach, and this human tragedy mutes our joy. Fact: This reason for “half” Hallel is cited in later sources, but it is not […]