Mixed-Up Minhagim

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  • #592707
    myfriend
    Member

    What is this newfangled (or perhaps even not so newfangled) business where people mix up minhagim from different sources, to their liking?

    What happened to maintaining ones mesorah and minhag avos?

    #713263
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    maintaining ones mesorah

    What if one has no mesorah or minhag avos?

    The Wolf

    #713264

    I think it’s beautiful.

    #713265
    Sacrilege
    Member

    “What if one has no mesorah or minhag avos?”

    Exactly. Plus, nowadays there is a lot of “inter-marriage” (chassidish/litvish litvish/sfardi) so minhagim get combined.

    Also, boys go away to Yeshiva at a young age and learn from Rabbeim and take on the Minhagim of the Yeshiva they belong to. There is nothing wrong with this.

    #713266
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    I posted this a while back. I guess it’s appropriate for this thread:

    A few years ago, Eeees and I attended a Bar Mitzvah given by a family in our neighborhood. Over the previous two years, we had become friendly with the family, had them over to our house for meals, invited them to our son’s Bar Mitzvah and now attended the Bar Mitzvah of their oldest son.

    This Bar Mitzvah was not like the Bar Mitzvah that we had for our son. We had separate seating, they had mixed seating. All of our music was Jewish, theirs had quite a few secular tunes. Ours had a mechitza for dancing, theirs didn’t. At theirs, the DJ gave away a giant blowup Simpson’s couch to the best dancers (thank God our kids didn’t come away with that – they were orange! 🙂 ). We didn’t have a DJ or prizes. But that’s fine… no one has to do things our way, or their way.

    During the festivities, Eeees and I talked about how our Bar Mitzvah was different from this and concluded that this type of affair was not one that we would have. If we had Walter’s Bar Mitzvah to do over again, we would probably do it the same way again. Aside from the separate seating (which we did for other reasons), we preferred the way we did it to the way this Bar Mitzvah went. That’s not to say that this Bar Mitzvah wasn’t good… we had a great time, and loved being present to help celebrate our friend’s simcha. It’s just not the way we would do it… but that’s fine – as I said above, two people don’t have to celebrate the same simcha the same way.

    One of the things that we talked about at the affair was how we seem to be somewhere in-between several different mehalchim (paths). We’re not Yeshivish, yet I wouldn’t say that we’re really Modern Orthodox either. This past Shabbos we ate with a family who could be described as Yeshivish, maybe even Chareidi-like… and we were comfortable and had a great time. At the same time, we are also comfortable with our friends who just had the Bar Mitzvah, and they are clearly Modern-Orthodox and have a good time with them as well. We daven in a shul that could be described as Yeshivish, but yet has many people who are not in the Yeshivish mold. I don’t wear a hat, nor do I cover my head with my tallis, and yet I am the regular ba’al kriah there and sometime ba’al tefillah as well. We hang around with people who are to the “right” of us and the “left” of us. So, where do we fit? What’s our “label?” With which community to we belong? That was the question that Eeees asked me yesterday.

    I responded to her that you don’t have to buy the whole package from any one group. You can take some elements that you like from the Yeshivish mehalech, and some elements from the Modern Orthodox mehalech and some elements from other mehalchim and synthesize them into your own mehalech. There is no one, I told her (apart from some Chareidim) that say that you have to take the entire package of any one group and live by it. Feel free to borrow from here or from there. Sure, you may not end up fitting neatly into one of the “labels” but who cares? People don’t (or shouldn’t) live their lives to fit into a label — they should live their lives according to the values, ideals and mores that they hold dear and wish to live by. And that’s actually how we’ve been living our lives for the last sixteen years, taking a bit from here and a bit from there to form our own whole. Maybe we should start a new mehalech called “Wolfish?”

    It’s very interesting living in-between the different communities. We have a television in our house (and yes, it’s in the living room — not hidden away in our bedroom or in a closet). We go out to movies. I’m a firm believer in higher education (read: college) and critical thinking. I’m a firm believer in encouraging children to ask questions, not stifling them. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you know my position on many matters regarding Judaism today. I’m very open about who I am and what I believe.

    And yet, Eeees covers her hair — not because of societal pressure, but because she believes that it’s the right thing to do. I learn every day, not because I think it’s an interesting intellectual pursuit or because I think that the learning police are going to catch me if I don’t — I do it because I think it’s the right thing to do. I don’t have secular music at a seudas mitzvah not because I don’t like secular music, but because I think that, for me, it doesn’t have a place at a seudas mitzvah. I monitor which television shows my kids watch, what movies they see and what internet sites they visit, because I think it’s the right thing to do. (As an aside, George won a Simpsons blow up doll by the Bar Mitzvah. The DJ asked him who he likes better, Bart or Homer. Eeees and I were laughing because we knew that he had no idea who either of them were — we don’t let our twelve year old watch The Simpsons.) We have some definite ideas about what is considered tznius and how a young girl should act. We have rules on how we feel that our sons, as B’nei Torah should act, both in the Bein Adam LaMakom and Bein Adam L’Chaveiro categories. We have standards of kashrus that the kids know that they can’t eat in certain places, even if they are labeled as kosher.

    So, we’re neither here nor there. But you know what? I’m happy that way.

    The Wolf

    (And, no — my kids names aren’t George, Walter, et al… they actually only have Hebrew names.)

    #713267
    RSRH
    Member

    What happened to this newfangled (or perhaps even not so newfangled) business where people follow their families minhag?

    What happened to establishing and following the minhag hamakom, or the minhag of the kehilla to which you belong?

    #713268

    a lot of us baal tshuvim have no family Mesorah

    #713269
    minyan gal
    Member

    I also think it is beautiful. Since it is custom and not halacha, why not adapt customs that you think are beautiful. I find that some of the Sephardic customs are lovely – like decorating a seder table with green vegetable leaves like romaine and I have done that at my Ashkenazi seder. (I have NOT however started to serve rice but wish that I could).

    #713270
    WIY
    Member

    myfriend

    Examples please?

    #713271

    If you take upon yourself minhagim that isn’t a contradiction to your other minhagim, what’s wrong with that? I saw other people bentching their kids every Fri. night and thought it was a nice minhag. I took that upon myself when I had kids. My father didn’t do that nor does he have a problem with it.

    However it’s a shame when one drops minhagim that he grew up with. (ie. the yeshivishe guys that came from a chassidishesh background and now scoff at their fathers minhagim)

    #713272
    rescue37
    Participant

    There is no real minhag avos nowadays, almost everything got mixed up. I find it ironic that chassidim hold the inyan of minhag avos very strong but if you go back to the start of what they hold is a minhag you will see someone changing their minhag to hold of the current minhag.

    #713273
    so right
    Member

    I heard a maaisa that on one Succos, as many people came to give Gut Yom Tov to the Klausenberger Rebbe (?) zt”l, one Yid came to him with a bent down hat and bekeshe (i.e. mixed chasidic/non-chasidic dress) and the Rebbe, with a big smile, vintched him “Ah Freilichen Purim!”

    #713274
    theprof1
    Participant

    Wolf if one has no mesora, then one has a severe problem going beyond mixing minhagim. The only ones who wouldn’t have mesora are converts or BTs who’s family has been so far away from yiddishkeit that they can’t recall any customs.

    Mixing minhagim isn’t beautiful at all. You can be left with basically nothing. Nisht aheen and nisht ahehr. Maintaining minhag avos is a posuk, al titosh toras imecho. Rav Yitzchok Weiss ztzl even paskined that this means not to change the pronunciation of davening from chasidish to litvish or to sfardit.

    #713275
    apushatayid
    Participant

    What was it the Sanzer Rav z’l said about those who like to do things “because thats how it was done in the heim” and not because “thats vas shtait”, thast eventually people would be shlugging kapparos with an esrog?

    Minhag avoseinu is nothing to be taken lightly. RavYackov Kamenetzky Z’l was once asked which minhag he follows by havdala, to recite it standing or sitting and he replied “my fathers minhag”.

    #713276
    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    Wolf if one has no mesora, then one has a severe problem going beyond mixing minhagim. The only ones who wouldn’t have mesora are converts or BTs who’s family has been so far away from yiddishkeit that they can’t recall any customs.

    Why is being a BT a “severe problem”?

    #713277
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Wolf if one has no mesora, then one has a severe problem going beyond mixing minhagim. The only ones who wouldn’t have mesora are converts or BTs who’s family has been so far away from yiddishkeit that they can’t recall any customs.

    Well, who did you think I was talking about??

    The Wolf

    #713278
    apushatayid
    Participant

    “BTs who’s family has been so far away from yiddishkeit that they can’t recall any customs.”

    B”H this group of yidden is growing larger and larger (the BTs that is).

    #713279
    ZosHaTorah
    Participant

    BT’s can simply take on the minhagim of their rebbe. Then they can tell their parents all about their family’s minhagim, much to their parent’s amazement.

    #713280
    oomis
    Participant

    Wolf – I could have written your post almost verbatim. There have been so many times when I have felt like my family does not fit into any religious “mold.” We are not Yeshivish, but neither are we so very “modern,” either. We are comfortable at all types of simchas, including the one you described, yet I would only want Jewish music at my own simchas (and yes, I listen to secular music). Even your description of your wife covering her hair, is exactly how I feel. I do it because I feel it is right, not because of societal pressure, and not because it is a fashion to do so.

    But it is also very hard being that person in that spiritual place, because you can catch a lot of flak from people who expect you to be a certain way because you appear that way at times, (i.e. expect you to have separate seating, when you are perfectly comfortable with mixed), and don’t “get” where you are religiously speaking.

    Interesting that a thread about minhagim brought this point out.

    #713281
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    BT’s can simply take on the minhagim of their rebbe.

    Why would their rabbeim’s minhagim be any more “accurate” than ones they pick out themselves?

    The Wolf

    #713282
    charliehall
    Participant

    Sacrilege, you wrote,

    “boys go away to Yeshiva at a young age and learn from Rabbeim and take on the Minhagim of the Yeshiva they belong to. There is nothing wrong with this.”

    No, there is something VERY wrong with this. Kvod Av requires us to follow in the derech of our fathers. Including minhagim.

    RSRH wrote:

    “What happened to establishing and following the minhag hamakom, or the minhag of the kehilla to which you belong? “

    That was destroyed in America in the early 19th century. The first five Jewish communities here all followed the Western European Sefardic nusach. Even the Ashkenazic Jews followed it. But then the arrogance of the Ashkenazim caused them to want to break away from the established minhagim. Between 1797 and 1850 dozens of Ashkenazic shuls were established, each with whatever minhagim the organizers felt like establishing.

    Every single one of those early Ashkenazic congregations either died out or became non-Orthodox. Every single one. Meanwhile, two of the old Sefardic congregations that preserved their minhagim have been operating continuously for over two centuries as Orthodox synagogues.

    Judaism is not about “Doing what feels good.” Minhagim are important. Including family minhagim. Not as important as a d’oraita or a d’rabbanan, but we don’t change minhagim unless we have a really good reason.

    Admittedly this is not so simple for BTs and gerim. But that is what rabbis are for, to help out in these things!

    #713283
    apushatayid
    Participant

    So, you are saying the first one to settle the island establishes minhag hamakom?

    #713284
    theprof1
    Participant

    Rav Aron Kotler ztzl kept mostly the minhagim of the Vilner Gaon except one. The Vilner Gaon had only 2 matzos at the seder; Rav Aron had 3 matzos. When asked why he answered, because that was the minhag of my father. Charlie you are so right. Tradition is just about all that has kept the Jewish nation alive all these years. And the sad part of American Judaism is that it’s mostly about doing whatever feels good or right. The secular Jews all say that Judaism is so wonderful because it’s flexible, you can do whatever you feel like doing. We know that it isn’t so, Shulchan Orech rules. Plus the accepted minhagim of each community or sect or sector.

    #713285
    tzippi
    Member

    Not to be simplistic but for BTs and geirim: this is why there should be ongoing mentoring. (Not that we all wouldn’t benefit.)

    Good point about the yeshivos: there was a chinuch column in Yated a few weeks ago about a kid who wanted to wear his payos a certain way, and a good discussion about minhag, hanhagos (i.e. conduct not under the rubric of minhag), etc.

    #713286

    From Migrant Soul by Avi Shafran.

    a Latin American who became a GER asked an Adom Gadol (cannot check the book for ID is in circualtion)whetheer he should adpot

    Nusach Sfard as he had a “feeling” that he was of Anusim descent.

    The gadol asked him where he plans to daven on a steady bais and stick to that. ????? ??

    Whoever Paskens from a story on a forum is a ???? and is exempt from Mitzvos.

    #713287
    WIY
    Member

    Minhag follows ones father. There’s something I do differently than my father and a Rov advised me to ask my father if he minds, otherwise I would have to do it like his minhag! Its not so pashut to change family minhag and one should discuss with a Rav.

    #713288
    rescue37
    Participant

    To all those who keep saying you are not allowed or it’s not so pashut to change ones minhag. Please explain how one can keep chassidishe minhagim that were introduced in the 17 and 1800’s. For example nusach ashkenaz was the predominate nusach until chassdim started davening nusach sefard.

    #713289
    rebdoniel
    Member

    A BT is supposed to take on the minhagim and nusach of the persons or rebbeim who were mekarev him. I would think the same holds true of a ger tzedek.

    #713290

    so right IMHO The story with Klausenburger Rav ZT”L is irrelevant to this dialogue. I daresay his intent was in more in line with what the Satmar Rav ZT”L told a former talmid who came wearing a grey hat with a pinch. What happened to you? I remember you as a Bachur. You were so neat and now your hat is grey with dust and banged up.

    #713291
    WIY
    Member

    rebdoniel

    I would think as a priority a BT should do what his family minhag was and do it. If he has a religious grandfather or grandmother or other relative that is still alive they would be able to help him/her.

    If that is not available then adopt the Rebbes minhagim.

    #713292
    ronrsr
    Member

    the nice thing about minhagim are that there are so many nice ones to choose from.

    #713293
    chesedname
    Participant

    pirchei avos says

    (minhagim) mesorah is a fence for the torah (keeping the torah, remembering halachos)

    #713294
    so right
    Member

    Maintaining minhag avos is a posuk, al titosh toras imecho.

    Perhaps some people weren’t aware of this posuk in the Torah, when they dumped their minhug.

    #713296
    Helpful
    Member

    What about the posuk in the Torah?

    #713297
    apushatayid
    Participant

    That’s why you need a Rav. Correct me if I’m wrong, but “al titosh” is not one of the taryag mitzvos, is it?

    #713298
    Ben Torah
    Participant

    al titosh toras imecho

    Dumping minhag avos cannot be done on a whim.

    #713299
    charliehall
    Participant

    “you are saying the first one to settle the island establishes minhag hamakom”

    If they actually establish a community — and the Western European Sefardim who were the first Jews in America certainly did — the answer is yes. Particularly when those who had different minhagim in the old place all accepted it.

    #713300
    charliehall
    Participant

    “The secular Jews all say that Judaism is so wonderful because it’s flexible, you can do whatever you feel like doing.”

    In this forum it is the Orthodox Jews who are saying that!

    #713301
    so right
    Member

    In EY the Vilna Gaon’s talmidim settled there in the late 1700’s were there before the Sefardim, so there minhagim should be minhug EY.

    In fact, since Ashkenazim follow the minhagim of EY from the time of the Bais Hamikdash, it is more authentic than non-Ashkenazim.

    charlie, how are you going to twist this one with your half-truths?

    #713302
    metrodriver
    Member

    Wolfish Musings; From reading your post, we can conclude that you are a fine Yiddishe Family that doesn’t have any tags or labels. Just fine. Doing whatever needs to be done at the right time and place. But sometimes, people who take the best of all cultures could end up in a very funny place. For example, the father could have a Shtreimel or Spodik with Peyos spun over the ears in the Belzer style. Wearing a 3-piece suit & tie with rolled-up pants and black stockings. The mother could be wearing a “Shpitzel” (A hyper frum form of headdress.)and very short (just knee-length) dress. “Sheer”? stockings with a seam and pink, high heel shoes. The oldest boy would have a flat “Biber Hat”, short pants and socks with high-gloss shoes. You can figure out the rest. (Enough of writing these narishkaiten.)

    #713303
    so right
    Member
    #713305
    charliehall
    Participant

    “I also notice you describe your wife as covering her hair in order to differentiate yourself from the mo”

    I noticed yesterday in my big MO shul that almost every woman was wearing a hat. A few were doilies on their head, and the Rebbitzen was wearing a wig. Some women I knew to be single had uncovered heads.

    #713306
    twisted
    Participant

    Metrodriver, I think it is sort of sad that all your examples of minhag are that of chitzonius, and sad that some of our fundamentalist brothers equate a mussar from kesuvim to a d’oraisa.

    There is a tshuva in Igros Moshe ztkl, about someone from chassidic ancestors, but with frumkeit skipping the genration before his, i.e., a BT aware that his grandparents or before them were chassidim. Reb Moshe ztkl paskened he should adopt nusach Ashkenaz. I am such a case, and count myself fortunate to have learned by a RY who himself had many unique positions in finely detailed halacha, but very few minhagim.

    #713307
    twisted
    Participant

    Metrodriver, I think it is sort of sad that all your examples of minhag are that of chitzonius, and sad that some of our fundamentalist brothers equate a mussar from kesuvim to a d’oraisa.

    There is a tshuva in Igros Moshe ztkl, about someone from chassidic ancestors, but with frumkeit skipping the genration before his, i.e., a BT aware that his grandparents or before them were chassidim. Reb Moshe ztkl paskened he should adopt nusach Ashkenaz. I am such a case, and count myself fortunate to have learned by a RY who himself had many unique positions in finely detailed halacha, but very few minhagim.

    #713308
    twisted
    Participant

    sorry about the double post. MODs! this is the coffee room– help yourselves.

    #713309
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    Wolf: Re your long post; why do you not consider yourself mo?

    I don’t want to go into it in length, but suffice it to say that there are some elements of the MO camp that make me uncomfortable. The same applies to other camps as well. Perhaps that’s why I don’t self-identify with any group.

    I also notice you describe your wife as covering her hair in order to differentiate yourself from the mo,

    No, that’s *not* why she chooses to cover her hair, nor did I ever say that it was the reason. She covers her hair because she believes it’s the right thing to do — finished. She couldn’t care less about labels such as MO, chareidi and the like. She follows the mehalech we both agreed to when we were going out — it has nothing to do with any particular “camp” that we belong to.

    I’d rather not address this here, since it’s not germane to the topic, but suffice it to say, telling your kids “It’s okay to ask questions, but you’d better have these answers at the end of the day” is not allowing someone to think critically. And it’s not just chareidim — virtually all branches of Orthodox Judaism (including many in the MO camp too) have the same issue.

    But that said, I don’t want to take this thread off course, so I’m not going to answer any further questions about this last point in this thread — so please don’t ask.

    The Wolf

    #713310

    “Sure, you may not end up fitting neatly into one of the “labels” but who cares? People don’t (or shouldn’t) live their lives to fit into a label — they should live their lives according to the values, ideals and mores that they hold dear and wish to live by.”

    Wolf, while I agree and identify with your post, in Eretz Yisroel this does not work. People who don’t fit themselves into a certain mold do not make it there. This is why many Americans have a hard time when they make aliyah. In America they did just fine being who they were and not fitting exactly into any specific group, while in EY they’re completely lost if they can’t slap a label onto themselves. It’s sad, but it’s the truth.

    #713311
    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    while in EY they’re completely lost if they can’t slap a label onto themselves. It’s sad, but it’s the truth.

    It saddens me very much to hear that. No one’s life (or ability to lead a normal life) should have to depend on their slapping a label on themselves.

    The Wolf

    #713312
    twisted
    Participant

    About Minhag Hamakom, this has fallen victim to, among other things, mobility. Prior to the industrial revolution, most people were born, lived and died all in the small radius of their hometowns. Jews were the unfortunate exception with expulsions and other tzoros that mixed things about. From this, we have sfardim with notably askenazic names, and askenazim with notably sfardi names. There were “newly settled islands” that saw mihag switch as inflows became rov minyan. (Amsterdam, Istanbul, and the Glenn Avenue shul in Baltimore, among others.

    In EY there is an unsettled dispute as to who rules the roost. There were sfardi communites in EY prior to the arrival of Talmidei HaGRA, and so the Sfardi poskim hold a ger or BT in EY is bound to follow the BY. Counter to this is the fact that late in the Geonic period, the residents of EY were deprived of their one day Rosh Hashana by the Chachmei Provence of early Ashkenaz. At present, chaos reins, and there are batei knesset ( generally dati leumi) where “any nusach goes” depending on the flavor of shatz.

    #713313
    so right
    Member

    Wolf, you misunderstood about covering hair. My point was not *why* she covers it, but rather your observation that since she covers it, _that_ point differentiates you from the mo. (A point that I’ve seen some mo’s here take umbrage to.)

    Point 2; It is correct to insist that they don’t answer the questions incorrectly.

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