One of the more difficult challenges we face in keeping the holy minhogim of our Ashkenazic ancestors is posed by present day unrestricted imports from Eretz Yisroel, of Sepharadic minhagim posing as Ashkenazic ones.
With so much travel these days between Eretz Yisroel and the diaspora lands, instant worldwide communication, so many youngsters as well as more mature students studying in the Holy Land, and massive amounts of Judaica produced in and exported from there, we are faced with a virtual invasion of foreign customs.
As we have touched on in the past, many Ashkenazic Jews in ארצנו הקדושה, whether due to past compulsion or present proximity, practice some questionable Sepharadic minhagim (actually they may not be really Sepharadic, but for descriptive ease, I am referring to them that way now), that are not in accordance with their heritage.
When people are aware that practices are not from or in accordance with the holy מסורה of אשכנז, they can more easily be on guard against their infiltration. But when they are depicted as Ashkenazic, and even more so, from the holy Ashkenazim of ארץ ישראל, the people that some think have a constant virtual halo around them, especially if they are of the ירושלמי variety, people can let their guard down and think that they are 100% acceptable for Ashkenazic Jews. But it ain’t so. The minhogim of the אשכנזים in חו”ל (the diaspora) are actually often more authentic and accurate than those of their cousins in Eretz Yisroel.
So first and foremost, people have to be alerted about this dangerous phenomenon. And then hopefully they will take steps to counter this dangerous fad, and reject the foreign adulterated customs, בעזרת השי”ת.
I will list here a few examples of such dangerous foreign imports, the mislabeled practices that need to be exposed for what they are, Sepharadic minhagim posing as Ashkenazic minhogim. Some of them have been written about previously, while others will perhaps אי”ה will be the subjects of future posts.
1) Chalaka (a word of Arabic origin), also known as Upsherin in Yiddish.
2) Bonfires and other questionable Lag Baomer activities. I wonder if there is a relationship between the widespread Lag Baomer bonfires in Eretz Yisroel and the new problem of an outbreak of Charedi juvenile pyromania there. השם ירחם.
3) Expanded version of the last part of Rosh Chodesh Bentching, starting with יחדשהו, as we have touched on in an earlier post. סידורים from ארץ ישראל can be vehicles for spreading such foreign nuschaos. Hey, the בני ארץ ישראל need to make a פרנסה, I know they sell siddurim overseas, but if they want to sell them to us, they can make them according to our מנהג.
4) Kaddish after Krias HaTorah being given to any aveil, rather than being said by the בעל קריאה, as per the classical minhog.
5) Cheap Judaica trinkets, e.g. Sepharadic/Oriental Shivisis and Hamsas. The former are sometimes purchased by well meaning people and given to Shuls, where sometimes unwittingly they are accepted and hung, usually at the amud, despite being against Ashkenazic practice. The latter may be hung or worn by individuals.
6) Finger pointing (pinky or other) at the sefer Torah during hagbah. The minhag Ashkenaz is to bow toward the sefer Torah then, an earlier recorded minhog mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch, a gesture of reverence and respect toward the holy Torah. But now one sees quite a few people in some places doing the easier finger pointing which lacks the type of giving of kavod to the Torah that bowing shows.
People have to be aware of this serious problem, take a stand, and refuse to go along with the adulteration of our holy Ashkenazic heritage, which happens when people accept such customs. And then אי”ה we will be hopefully be able to get the אשכנזים of ארץ ישראל to go back to their old minhogim, ולשלוח המנהגים הנכריות , and return to the ways of their ancestors before they came under foreign influences.
יה”ר שנזכה לכך בב”א, ובזכות השבת מנהגי האבות החביבים והקדושים אל הבנים נזכה ל”והשיב לב אבות על בנים ולב בנים על אבותם” בקרוב, אכי”ר