All Ye Into The Melting Pot! Melting Pot Minhogim vs. Minhag Avos – Minhogim Fads vs. Mesorah

In the Western world in recent decades (e.g. in the USA, Western Europe, and Australia), the melting pot model, encouraging the assimilation of immigrants into the dominant white culture, formerly the prevailing approach, has been dropped (a similar thing has happened in Eretz Yisroel, to a degree). In it’s place, a more enlightened approach of cultural pluralism was adopted. People of different backgrounds could still (or were even encouraged to) maintain their culture, language, links to homeland, etc.

But from what I am reading and hearing from some people, it seems that some frum Jews still adhere to the melting pot assimilationist model. They seem to believe that we all must go into a melting pot with regard to מנהגים. Everyone must accept the new frum commandments of upsherin and the like. After all, it is a מצוה דאורייתא of ערלה, right 😉 ? And חס ושלום that you refrain from dancing around a bonfire on ל”ג בעומר. How can anyone have the חוצפה to do such a thing, after all? What are you anyway? Some type of killjoy?

These assimilationists use euphemisms like ‘development of minhogim’. ‘Minhogim have always changed’, they claim. So how dare you insist on keeping the commandment of אל תטוש תורת אמך, sticking to the Ashkenazic minhogim of your מסורה, and resisting the latest fads, whether from ארץ ישראל, a Chassidic group, or elsewhere? After all, the grass is greener there, you know. Their מנהגים must surely be better than the ones of your father, right? So you better change and assimilate. You must accept all the fads that come along. Get with the program! Point your finger at the sefer Torah during hagbah, say Hallel on Pesach night in Shul in addition to your old way of saying it just during the seder at home, stop wearing tefillin on Chol Hamoed, give your son an upsherin even if you, your father, and grandfather didn’t….. You must conform and jump into the new frum melting pot, ASAP!  Don’t waste a minute!

Is this what ‘frumkeit’ has come to today?

Well, I, for one, am not going along with this new, PC (politically correct) ‘frumkeit’. I am not jumping into the melting pot to join all the latest fads. Nope. Mesorah is more important to me. I am not giving up my Ashkenazic מסורה, just because someone may think it is old fashioned.

Enough of this phony PC frumkeit already. Vive la difference!

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12 Responses to “All Ye Into The Melting Pot! Melting Pot Minhogim vs. Minhag Avos – Minhogim Fads vs. Mesorah”

  1. YDL Says:

    The Melting Pot phenomenon is the biggest blessing, on a large scale, in the US. We live in the freest country known to mankind (disregarding EY for the moment) – ever. Many, unfortunately, take that for granted. Concerning Minhagim it has been a disaster. “Freedom of religion” in no way has to mean conformity!

  2. Dr. Yitzchok Levine Says:

    I think that you detract from the effectiveness of your blog by not revealing who you are. When Rav Dr. Y. Breuer received a letter, the first thing he did was to look to see if it was signed. If it was not, then he threw it in the garbage without reading it.

    Please see “More on Anonymous Letters” The Hamodia Magazine, April 18, 2007, page 3 at http://personal.stevens.edu/~llevine/hamodia_mag_4_18_07.pdf

    and “Name Withheld” The Hamodia 10th Anniversary Magazine March 2008, page 83 at http://personal.stevens.edu/~llevine/name_withheld.pdf

    • Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

      You may have a point, but sometimes there are other considerations that need to be taken into account.

      Also, we know that gedolim have published things without giving their names, so it is not so simple. E.g. the Chofetz Chaim published his sefer anonymously. I doubt Rav Breuer would have thrown it out. A friend (D.) pointed out that Rav S.R. Hirsch זצ”ל published his nineteen letters without giving his name either. I don’t Rav Breuer would have discarded it either.

      This site is like a sefer, not a letter, so no problem. 😉

  3. yeshivaman Says:

    i comment at yeshivaman.blogspot.com
    it was too long for a comment here.
    Thanks for all of your posting!!!

  4. Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

    Since I don’t see my response up at the ‘yeshivaman’ site, I will try to post some of what I submitted there last night, from memory.

    The problem of different minhogim, minhag avos vs. minhag hamakom is not new as yeshivaman claims. About five hundred years ago, when those Yidden who were expelled from Spain went to other places and encountered communities with different minhagim, e.g. in the Ottoman empire, there was conflict between the newcomers and the older communities. There are teshuvos (responsa) dealing with it. That is just one example.

    אל תטוש תורת אמך, where the Torah tells us to keep the minhogim of our family, is from a posuk in כתובים. And it is not a light matter. The חתם סופר and חיי אדם say that it is an איסור לאו מדברי נביאים!

    An alleged pesak of R. Moshe זצ”ל, for a baal teshuvoh, is mentioned. Now I am not aware of such a pesak being published. In general one must be cautious with applying one pesak to other situations. Perhaps there were special considerations there. A baal teshuvoh can be vulnerable, lacking family support, so in need of special care that he integrate well into his new frum community.

    Yeshivaman mentions a letter from the Rosh. Where is this letter? Perhaps he can tell us so people can examine it. We know that the רא”ש stated clearly that he holds the mesorah of Ashkenaz over that of Sepharad, where he moved, and didn’t rely on the latter with regard to kashrus of a bird. As רבש”ה explained, the Sepharadim had great masters, great gedolim. But when it came to מסורה, they were considered lacking compared to bnei Ashkenaz, of whom it was stated התורה ירושה להם לבני אשכנז!

  5. Ray Newton Says:

    What would you consider the most authoritative Ashkenazi siddur? I have been using Ezor Eliyahu for years. Is there anything else without the Arizal etc. influence? I often refer to the Shelah’s Shaar Hashomayim (an ancestor of mine) which I found on-line. Of course, with all the commentary you can’t daven with a giant looseleaf.

    • Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

      Thanks for stopping by.

      See discussion at KAYJ forum here

      I believe רבש”ה has been working on a siddur. If you contact MMA, maybe you can get more info on it. KAYJ and the Kehillas Ashkenaz in Baltimore, MD USA might be able to help too.

  6. Danny Schoemann Says:

    Vive la difference!

    Considering that Minhogim are a result of trying to unify each community, it’s a rather strange line to end with.

    You’re also mixing questionable behavior (e.g. celebrating with bonfires) and Halocho (e.g Tefilin on Chol HaMoed) – these do not deserve the same treatment.

    • Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

      Hi and thanks for stopping by.

      “Minhogim are a result of trying to unify each community”

      Is that how minhogim came about? I thought they came about because they were considered the right thing to do על פי התוה”ק. It seems to me, לענ”ד, that unifying of community is just a by product, not the impetus for their coming about.

      Re your second comment, true, they are not the same, but they are both part of a disturbing trend among some people that I thought deserved attention and scrutiny.

  7. Richie Says:

    As I understand it, there are 12 different mesoros. The Ari z”l then invented a 13th for those who don’t have a Mesora.

    Where I live there does seem to be an evolution of Minhogim. It is with this in mind, that I have predicted a new Shulchan Aruch will come out soon that has all the latest Minhogim, some of which are now veering towards becoming halacha. Consider for example:

    1 Davening maariv at nacht on the 1st night of Shavouos

    2 Breaking up a minyan so that more than one chiyuv can have the omud.

  8. Dr. Yitzchok Levine Says:

    Richie wrote

    Breaking up a minyan so that more than one chiyuv can have the omud.

    This is part of the Chassidization of Yahadus that we see today. When I point out that B’rov Am Hadras Melech, I am ignored. “We have different minhogim.” is the response

    • Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

      It is a problem. The problem is that people are so fixated on saying kaddish that they get carried away with it, and it is like some of them are on a mission to maximize, by almost any tolerated means, the amount of kaddeishim they say. As we stated in one of the past posts about kaddish, based on the shiur by Rav Hamburger shlit”a, גדולי אשכנז have stated clearly that the ideal is to minimize the amount of kaddeishim, not to maximize it, and that reciting kaddish excessively is very problematic.

      As stated there as well, people have to realize that they can generate zechusim for נפטרים in ways other than kaddish as well, and that לימוד התורה helps even more than kaddish, for one example.

      I am reminded of something I heard Rav Hamburger shlit”a say in a shiur. He related that once, when he was saying kaddish for his mother, ע”ה, one day he did not say kaddish, because he didn’t get the עמוד for some reason, and he couldn’t say kaddish otherwise, because he doesn’t say group kaddeishim. So someone said to him, ‘ay, where is the breakfast of your mother?’ Rav Hamburger was taken aback at how this person thought of kaddish in such a way.

      In general, we know in Torah that sometimes, כשם שמקבלין שכר על הדרישה, מקבלין על הפרישה – sometimes one is rewarded for not doing something when it is not in order, even if it is usually considered a good thing. Perhaps there is even a greater שכר. Also כשם שמצוה לומר…..כך מצוה שלא לומר.

      I recall a similar thing happened to me, when I didn’t say kaddish under similar circumstances. A gabbai wondered aloud how I could not say kaddish. My response was that I concentrate on quality of קדישים, rather than quantity.

      I hope אי”ה to have some more postings on kaddish coming up, since it is an important area, in which confusion abounds. Hopefully if people learn the teachings of גדולי אשכנז about them, they will wake up and things will improve, בעזרת השי”ת.

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