Can old minhogim realistically make a comeback?
There are some people, who, upon learning about vintage minhogim whose observance has been lost in some quarters, such as, let us take for example, the singular Ashkenazic kaddish, as well as others mentioned at the conclusion of the previous post, agree that ideally they should be reinstituted or reinvigorated. However, they feel that it can not be accomplished, it is too late, the cat is out of the bag, and so on. They have despaired of them coming back. They think that it is impractical to realistically think or dream such a thing, of such a restoration.
But is such a pessimistic attitude itself realistic/justifiable? Can we really ‘turn the clock back’? Has such a thing ever been done in recent times? The answer is a resounding yes!
The return of Yoshon observance
Leaving aside great modern Jewish examples along such lines of other types, such as those related to ארצנו הקדושה, Eretz Yisroel, let us just examine what has transpired in recent years with regard to the מצוה/practice of ישן/שמירת איסור חדש, in the diaspora, חוץ לארץ.
Consumption of grain products from plants grown after the beginning of Pesach, the time the korban omer was brought בזמן שביהמ”ק היה קיים, is proscribed by the Torah. In the past, in the exile, it was difficult to observe and there were heterim expounded to deal with the issue. Nowadays, in our modern era, ב”ה, it is much easier to observe, and a growing practice, especially among the more learned and pious, is to observe it without recourse to leniencies utilized in the past.
‘They said it couldn’t be done’, but now, the practice of Yoshon is solidly entrenched and frequently incorporated and respected by institutions, manufacturers, caterers, and individuals. I am not getting involved now in the details and different opinions/shitos about it, but rather am just observing how it is possible, and we have seen in our own time, something that was forgotten among the masses, making a remarkable comeback.
Analyzing the Yoshon return
How did it happen? אכשר דרא, a new generation, better educated in תורתנו הקדושה, ב”ה, better conditions of living, ב”ה, and so on. Education led to people here and there taking upon themselves the old-new altneu practice/הנהגה , and, after a while, things snowballed, and it became even better known, and headed into ‘mainstream’ territory.
A return of Yoshon in the realm of minhogim
So why can’t a similar thing happen with important old practices of our ancestors, such as the Ashkenazic kaddish, the Ashkenazic way of reciting kedushah, LeDovid Boruch on מוצאי שבת, and so on, as well? Such things don’t happen overnight, of course, but to state with absolute certainty that the old ways are gone forever, seems much too pessimistic and misplaced.
Cycles, ebb and flow, in Jewish history
We are now at the beginning of a new chodesh, אדר שני. Rosh Chodesh is a time of renewal. The moon seemingly disappeared. Then there is an invisible rebirth, followed by a glimmer of light, a sliver of white, which proceeds to grow and increase. Just like the לבנה, practices that were neglected can become rediscovered, reestablished, and reinvigorated, like עם ישראל, the Jewish people, who are compared to the moon. Such things have happened many times in Jewish history.
In fact we see nowadays a great and growing interest in classic minhogim in general. There are more publications, seforim, articles, discussions about them, in places where you may not have expected such. In just the last year or so, I have noted in well-trafficked, highly popular fora, online, as well as in a well-known Chareidi newspaper, discussions about the old Ashkenaz way of saying kaddish, in which it was held up as a proper and superior practice, and serious grappling with the question of why it is not universally followed today. I don’t recall such discussions at such a level growing up. This indicates a growing awareness and interest in such מנהגים ותיקים. And why should it be surprising? We are in a time when people are going back to practices of their ancestors in other areas, so why not here? It is a well-established general trend, going back to roots, חזרה אל השרשים. So why not in the area of minhogim as well? The groundwork, the foundation, has already been laid, conceptually, and in practice.
ב”ה, אכשר דרא באמת, תודה להשי”ת.
In the zechus of such renewal, may we be zoche to national renewal, בביאת משיח צדקנו, במהרה בימנו, אמן!
א גוטען חודש!