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Behind Jewish Customs

Tracing the origin and meaning of Jewish traditions

Why Jews Toast L’Chaim (To Life)
The origin of raising a glass of wine together
Discover the history and significance of the custom to raise a cup of wine with well-wishes of L’Chaim to one another.
Why Is the Tallit White?
The reason behind the common custom for tzitzit
Discover the halachic and mystical basis for the white fringes of tzitzit and the matching white Tallit shawl with black or blue stripes.
Why the ‘Shabbat Shalom’ Greeting
Discover the layers of meaning behind what seems to be just a polite gesture to wish others Shabbat Shalom.
Behind the ‘Shalom Aleichem’ Song
On Friday night prior to reciting Kiddush, we sing Shalom Aleichem greeting the accompanying angels. What is the origin and meaning of this popular custom?
The Custom to Wear a Special Hat
Discover the reasons behind the practice to wear a dignified head covering especially during prayers.
Why We Wear a Gartel for Prayer
Why do many traditional Jewish men wear a sash (called a gartel) around their waste during prayers?
Shuckling: Why Jews Sway During Prayer
Why do some traditional Jews sway while they pray or study?