Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Choosing a path...

This is something that I've been struggling with for a while...

Over the past Chag, and then again when I was home two weeks ago, my mother kept on making disparaging remarks about how my siblings "went off". She didn't mean literally; thankfully, all my siblings are quite religious. However, due to several different factors, some of my siblings don't practice Judaism quite the same way as my folks do.
My family comes from a Hungarian/Hasidic background - from both sides - and we have certain traditions that have been passed down. For example, my family prays in Nusach Sfard, and my father wears a gartel ( a special belt worn during the prayers and other important services that acts as a barrier between the torso and the lower half of the body, thereby separating the animalistic part of the body [i.e. the genitals] from the spiritual part [the heart and the brain] of the body).

My brothers do not do either of these things (opting to pray in Nusach Ashkenaz, and to rely on their actual belts as a separation), and these are among many other differences. This bothers my mother to no end, and she never misses an opportunity to harp on it.

I do most of the things that my father does, albeit with a twist or two. I looked into many things when I was searching, trying to learn more about my roots, and I found that many of our own traditions appealed to me, and give meaning to my service of God.

Still, I don't understand: I know that it would be great if my siblings did everything like my folks; it makes my dad feel good, they're keeping up the tradition, etc.
However, if they honestly don't feel any satisfaction in their service, then what's the big deal if they do things a little differently? Should they really continue down a path that makes then feel empty or unsatisfied? Wouldn't it be better if they found a way that makes them feel whole (provided that it's within the parameters of halacha)?

How far does mesorah go?

Do you have to keep it alive, at the risk of feeling unaccomplished?


The Dreamer said...

Obviously, I can't pasken the answer.
I can't say I do everything the way of my parents, but our minhagim I totally keep. (unless, of course, it's one that my mom made up... which she tends to do sometimes)

Then again, I'm not a guy. I would say it's different then, because it really depends on the yeshiva one attended.

m00kie said...

the problem with a lot of traditions and customs is that they relate to more outward ways of doing things and eventho it makes sense that a parent wants to see the fruit of their labor, ie: their child keeping the same traditions and customs they do, the emphasis on that aspect can give a "wrong" impression to the child - that more worth is attributed to outward appearance than where the real work is happening.

altho judaism is expressed outwardly, a person's worth (even their "religious" worth) can never be judged based on external factors.

i personally think its one of the biggest issues today in judaism, that so much emphasis is put on these outward expressions and not nearly enough on what really counts.. eventually pushing those who "dont fit in" out

jjl said...

i take some of zadies i take some of my dad's( he bein g asmerican for 4 genwerations gives me a lot of lee way) and take my own. mesorah is what torah shel ball peah is today. its not written down in order for it to evolve

Sefer Hachinukh said...


>> Should they really continue
>> down a path that makes then
>> feel empty or unsatisfied?

A couple of thoughts.
Fist, it is said that "Minhag Israel Mitzvah Hi" (a Jewish tradition is a precept).
Second, the Sefer Hachinukh says that the exterior has an impact on the interior. Which means that if you adopt a practice which makes you "feel empty", with time it will have influence on you and you will find meaning in doing it.

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