There’s a saying that “conventional wisdom is often neither.” For example, “everyone knows” that we’re supposed to throw bread at tashlich on Rosh Hashana and that Jews with tattoos cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery.
Except that, you know, neither of those things is true. (In fact, since tashlich is supposed to be performed at a body of water that has fish in it, throwing bread in the water when tashlich is performed on yom tov is actually prohibited!)
On OU Torah, there’s a series that debunks such misconceptions and enlightens us as to how the “conventional wisdom” evolved. By Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky, the series is called “Tzarich Iyun,” from a phrase meaning that a matter requires further investigation. (You may be familiar with Tzarich Iyun from the pages of the OU’s Jewish Action magazine, where it appears under the title “Legalese.”)
A sample of the “conventional wisdom” covered by Rabbi Zivotofsky in Tzarich Iyun includes:
* Rashi’s daughters wore tefillin (they didn’t);
* The Temple was built where two brothers embraced (it wasn’t);
* The reason we don’t eat giraffe is because we don’t know where to slaughter it (not true);
* Women are not required to wash mayim achronim (baseless);
* Mordechai and Esther were uncle and niece (inaccurate);
* The letter in between pei and kuf is called a tzaddik (it isn’t);
* and many more!
(My two examples of tashlich and tattoos also appear in the series but I’ll let you find them).
So check out Tzarich Iyun – it’s like Snopes for your Torah learning!