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Tradition....Tradition!

Thursday, 3 April, 2014 - 2:30 pm

In December, my cousin Rabbi Mendel Greisman, from Rogers, AR, sent me an email that he shared with his community. I saved it for this week. Hope you enjoy.

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 

Tradition....Tradition! 
By Rabbi Mendel Greisman 

Many years ago, before the internet took over the world, there used to be a book found in every home called "dictionary." Unlike my children, I still remember life before theinternet and in those ancient days, I purchased the Oxford American Dictionary of Current English. Here are two entries from my dictionary.

On page 425: Ju-da-ism /Joodeeizem, -day-/ n. the religion of the Jews, with a belief in one God and on a basis in Mosaic and rabbinical teachings [there is a symbol over the oo in Joodeeizem which I cannot reproduce in this program.]

On page 862: Tra-di-tion /tredishen/ n. a custom, opinion or belief handed down to posterity, esp. orally or by practice.

So if one plus one equals two, the definition of "a Jewish tradition" would be: a custom, opinion or belief of the religion of the Jews, with a belief in one G-d and on a basis in Mosaic and rabbinical teachings that is handed down to posterity, esp. orally or by practice.

It is important to distinguish "a Jewish tradition" from a tradition of Jews. A Jewish tradition would have its origin in the "belief in one G-d," and have a basis "in Mosaic and rabbinical teaching."

So while eating Matzah ball soup may be a tradition of Jews, only eating Matzah on Seder night, after dark, can be labeled a "Jewish tradition;" and while dipping your latkes in apple sauce is a Chanukah favorite for many Jews, it is the lighting of the Menorah (with a live flame) that is the Chanukah Jewish tradition .

The traditions of Jews may change with time and as we move around the world; Jewish traditions, however,  have been practiced non-stop since Sinai. If for me, an Ashkenazic Jew, a Shabbos table without Gefilteh fish is lacking, my Sephardic friends never even heard of it; yet both of us will make Kiddush on a cup of wine at the beginning of our Shabbos meal, as Kiddush is a sacred Jewish tradition.

While traditions of Jews are great, it is only the Jewish traditions that withstood the tests of generational and geographical changes and challenges. Nearly 3,500 years later, they're alive and well .

So let's embrace our Jewish faith and practice our Jewish traditions, as many as we can. So not only will we be able to talk about our Jewish grandparents but also of our Jewish grandchildren.

Gut shabbos,

Rabbi Mendel Greisman 

Some Passover Mitzvahs to consider; Seders, eating Shmurah Matzah on April 14th after 8:15 pm, sellingyour Chametz, support those who can’t afford Passover supplies.

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