Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What is a Minhag (tradition)?

Today is the 4th day of Tamuz, 5770

In virtually every Halakhic subject there are very often some controversies as to what the final application of the law is. The origin of these controversies is not the same for every case. Most of the time, they depend on different interpretations not of the Biblical commandment but of the Talmudic determinations.

Illustration: The Talmud said that between eating meat and dairy one should wait “from one meal to the next meal”. Most rabbis interpreted this Talmudic statement as related to ‘time’: after eating meat, one has to wait the ‘time’ that normally one waits from one meal to the next: 6 hours (Rashi, Rambam). Other rabbis interpreted ‘next meal’, literally: you cannot have meat and diary on the same meal, like beef and a dairy dessert, but you don’t need to wait full six hours (Tosafot).

In this context, Minhag means the interpretation each community follows in the case of Halakhic controversy. Both are totally valid, as they don’t refer to the core case (the prohibition of eating together meat and milk) but to the details of it.

In the area of Minhaguim, as long as a community follows a valid Halakhic opinion, even if it comes from a minority opinion, it is a valid Minhag.


BH, in the next HOTD about Kashrut I will bring some examples of Minhaguim in this area.

By popular demand: link to reliable Kashrut symbols: .

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