Author: Ari Z. Zivotofsky

“What’s the Truth about … Using Horseradish for Maror”?

Misconception: Horseradish (chrain) is the preferred item to use to fulfill the mitzvah of eating maror at the Seder. Fact: Among Ashkenazim, horseradish is widely used for maror. While horseradish often appears as the translation for tamcha, one of the vegetables listed in the Mishnah that may be used...

What’s the Truth about . . . How Much to Open the Torah for Hagbah?

Misconception: During hagbah, when the Torah is lifted in shul, the more columns of text visible to the assembled, the better. Fact: According to many authorities, when the Torah is lifted, at least three columns of the Torah scroll should be visible; this is not just the minimum requirement,...

What’s the Truth about . . . Muslim Anti-Semitism?

Misconception: Unlike the Jews of Christian Europe who suffered pogroms, blood libels, Crusades, et cetera, the Jews living under Islamic rule were not persecuted. It was the rise of the Zionist movement that spurred Muslim anti-Semitism.

“What’s the Truth about . . . Starting to Wear Tefillin?”

Misconception: All boys must begin putting on tefillin thirty days before their bar mitzvahs. Fact: There are two main opinions in halachah: boys should either begin laying tefillin several years before their bar mitzvah or on the actual day of the bar mitzvah. However, in some circles, there is a...

What’s the Truth about . . . A Woman Bentching Gomel?

Misconception: After childbirth, a woman’s husband should bentch Gomel on her behalf. Fact: According to most authorities, a woman after childbirth should personally recite Birkat HaGomel. Background: Birkat HaGomel is a blessing recited to thank God for His salvation after one safely emerges from a dangerous situation, of which...