Misconception: If the tenth of Tevet (Asarah B’Tevet) would fall on Shabbat, it would be observed as a fast even on Shabbat.
Fact: Polygamy remains generally prohibited and the situation has not and will not revert to the pre-cherem situation.
Misconception: The “Kotel”1—the Western or Wailing Wall—is Judaism’s holiest site. Fact: The location of the Kodesh Hakodashim (the “Holy of Holies” section of the Beit Hamikdash) on the Temple Mount is Judaism’s holiest site. In recent centuries, when Jews were barred from the Temple Mount and the closest accessible site was a piece of the […]
Fact: The date of an eved Ivri’s release is calculated on an individual basis, and thus they are not all released at one time.
In whatever manner one understands the saying about walking four amot in Israel, it is clear that Chazal placed great emphasis and value on the physical Land of Israel and creating a personal connection with it.
Misconception: In the Biblical phrase, which praises the Land of Israel, “Eretz zavat chalav udevash, a land flowing with milk and honey,” the honey refers to bee’s honey, and the milk to cow’s milk.
Misconception: King David was not permitted to build the Beit Hamikdash because he had “blood on his hands” from all the wars he fought. Fact: David mentioned this reason to his son Shlomo, who eventually built the Beit Hamikdash, but that was not the reason G-d conveyed to David through Natan the Prophet when David expressed interest in building the Temple.
Misconception: On Shabbat it is permitted to carry a child in a public domain that does not have an eruv because of the principle of “chai nosei et atzmo—living beings ‘carry’ themselves.”
Misconception: Nine adult men plus a boy holding a sefer Torah constitute a minyan, thus enabling the recitation of prayers such as Kedushah and Kaddish. Fact: A minyan is defined as ten adult male Jews. Whether a child can be counted is a long-standing controversy.
Misconception: The first son of a levirate1 marriage (yibbum) must be named after the deceased husband/brother. Fact: There is no such requirement, although whether it is allowed, discouraged or encouraged is subject to debate. This misconception may have arisen due to a comment made by Rashi in Bereishit.
Why the Jews merited to be redeemed
One of the most iconic features in a Jewish wedding is the groom stomping on a glass.
The Torah declares in an engimatic passage: “Hashem said, ‘My spirit shall not contend evermore concerning man since he is but flesh; his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’”
Misconception: One may daven facing a mirror, reflective window or family pictures.
Fact: Even with one’s eyes closed, one should not daven facing a mirror, nor should one daven facing pictures of people or a reflective surface such as a glass breakfront or a window at night.
The earliest year-counting system used by the Jewish people, found in Tanach, counted from Yetziat Mitzrayim.
There is a centuries-old custom not to “invite” guests to a brit and the accompanying meal but rather to merely “inform” them when and where it will be taking place.
While there are specific instances where thrusting a knife into hard soil ten times will kasher it, that does not work for other cutlery, and there is no halachic basis for leaving a knife in the soil for a long period of time.
The layers that have been added continue to develop. Irrespective of who fasts or for how long, this custom is a testament to the respect the Jewish people afford a sefer Torah.
Was the ketonet passim an “Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?” There are traditional interpretations that describe it as multi-colored, although that is not the prevalent opinion. But it was certainly not a “dreamcoat.”
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 for maror, the translation is probably […]
The obligation to wash one’s hands from a vessel before eating bread1 is an early and important rabbinic enactment that was instituted for a variety of reasons.
Every time a Jew eats bread and washes his hands, he is reminded of the complex tasks that went into making the uniquely human product of bread and of God’s wondrous creation of the human hand.
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, but the ideal number of columns. […]
With regard to wedding celebrations, the overriding mitzvah is to bring joy to the new couple.
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.
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 widely accepted practice for boys to start wearing tefillin approximately thirty days prior to their bar mitzvah.
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 one of the four prototypical examples […]
Misconception: The two foods sent on Purim for mishloach manot must be from two different categories of blessings. Fact: This widespread misconception has no halachic basis. Background: Mishloach manot is one of the four mitzvot established by Mordechai and Esther to be performed on Purim day. Alluded to in Megillat Esther, these mitzvot are: reading […]
Misconception: Mordechai and Esther, the Purim heroes, were uncle and niece.1 Fact: According to Megillat Esther, Mordechai and Esther were first cousins. Background: This is a widespread misconception, even found in the renowned midrashic compilation of Louis Ginzberg. For example, in Legends of the Jews, Vol. IV, page 387 he writes: “This lively interest displayed by […]
Misconception: Leading authorities including Rambam and Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook maintain that korbanot, animal sacrifices, will not be reinstated in the time of the Third Temple but will be replaced with grain offerings. Fact: Rambam and Rav Kook never assert that animal sacrifices will not be reinstated in the Third Temple. Background: Temple ritual […]