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New Book: Jewish Customs of Kabbalistic Origin

Most research into the origins and development of Jewish customs is in Hebrew, including writings that discuss the influence of Kabbalah. Recently, Morris M. Faierstein has published Jewish Customs of Kabbalistic Origin, a book that makes discussion about the influence of Kabbalah on the development of Jewish customs accessible to the English reader. Jewish religious […]

Profile of Daniel Sperber

Haaretz has a short profile of Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber: Undoubtedly, says Sperber, the rise of feminism and the growing numbers of Orthodox women engaging in Jewish study have been catalysts for the movement. “It’s almost a natural progression from learning Torah to a greater role in the synagogue,” as he notes. And the trend […]

The Origins of the Tikkun Leil Shavuot

Rabbi David Golinkin writes here about the origins of the Tikkun Leil Shavuot.

Beyond the Inner Mehitza by Vered Noam

Vered Noam recently wrote an article in Hebrew about women and Jewish law in the Israeli National-Religious community. The article, which I wrote about here, caused quite a large amount of discussion. You can read the responses (H) that were published in Musaf Shabbat of Makor Rishon, or some of the close to seven hundred […]

Fifty Shades of Yom Kippur

The following illustration is from Friedrich A. Christiani’s Der Juden Glaube und Aberglaube (The Faith and Superstition of the Jews) in his description of Yom Kippur. In his book Judaism in Christian Eyes: Ethnographic Descriptions of Jews and Judaism in Early Modern Europe, Yaacov Deutsch brought the following Jewish sources that discuss self-flagellation on the day […]

What Happened to Immersion for a Ba’al Keri

Daf Yomi has recently been learning about the case of the Ba’al Keri, a man who ejaculated and was required to immerse in a mikveh before learning Torah and praying. An interesting question is what happened to the requirement of immersion for a Baal Keri? Below is an old article by Meir Havatzelet who traced […]

The Origins of Shabbat Challah

This past Shabbat my wife asked “Since when have Jews called the bread that we eat on Shabbat ḥallah (חלה)?” I had no idea what was the answer, so during the past few days I did a little searching and this is what I came up with. Many people associate Shabbat ḥallah with the ḥallah […]

New Book-Defining Jewish Difference

In this week’s Torah reading the following verse will be read (Lev. 18:3): כְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ־מִצְרַיִם אֲשֶׁר יְשַׁבְתֶּם־בָּהּ לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ וּכְמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ־כְּנַעַן אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מֵבִיא אֶתְכֶם שָׁמָּה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶם לֹא תֵלֵכוּ You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in […]

Passover in a Hotel with Kitniyot in America

For people living in America who are looking for a kitniyot Passover, the following hotel option is available in New Jersey under the auspices of Avraham Ohavi. The advertisement says that its for “kitniyot eaters only,” although I am not sure how they define a “kitniyot eater.” The food may have kiyniyot, but it isn’t […]

Tefillin at Minha on Erev Yom Kippur

Over the holiday I saw an advertisement for a Syrian synagogue, Magen David of Union Square, that described minḥa before Yom Kippur as being “with tefillin.” I had never heard of this custom before and a little searching found some discussion of this custom. In the always helpful Keter Shem Tov I found the following: […]

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