In recent years, gentrification has become very popular , as well as one of the ‘hottest’ trends in real estate, and living in general. In places around the world, old, run down areas and buildings, often in inner cities, have been rediscovered, renovated, improved, and resettled, in the process greatly increasing in valuation. People have gotten tired of continually moving further away from the city or city center, to more modern and newer developments. They have come to realize that older buildings and places can possess considerable charm and value, exceeding that of newer structures and locations at times. And that is even before factoring in the convenience of being closer to the center of things, rather than on the periphery. In the wake of these trends, urban living has become popular again, and suburbs and exurbs have lost some of their shine.
People have come to realize that newer is not always better, and that the polish of old, solid quality can outshine more modern glitter, bringing about a sorely needed correction in perspective.
In the spiritual realm as well, gentrification is something that deserves serious consideration. Instead of continually looking to newer ideas and customs, older and time tested practices of our ancestors and previous generations should be reexamined with a fresh eye, discarding preconceived notions that they are outdated, irrelevant, and inferior, to their newer competitors. Those who do so will often find themselves richly rewarded. It might take somewhat of a pioneering spirit to buck some current, modern trends at first, but, after a while, the vintage minhogim and teachings can become popular and mass movements, as they were in the past. We see stirrings of such trends developing now, with the growing interest in מנהגים ישנים מדורות קדמונים, as evinced in contemporary seforim, shiurim, and articles.
If a tzibbur is in need of some spiritual reinvigoration, they might consider incorporating some ‘spiritual gentrification’ into their lives. Trying some old minhogim of מסורת אשכנז, such as reciting kedushah in the derech of old Ashkenaz, saying kaddish the old Ashkenaz way, singing לדוד ברוך on מוצאי שבת, and so on. The old minhogim may take some time to get used to for those new to them – like fine wine, they can be somewhat of an acquired/learned taste. But once you savor their special flavor, it can be addictive.
השיבנו ה’ אליך ונשובה חדש ימינו כקדם