Holidays are a time in which we look both forwards and backwards. There is no better example of times in which we engage in activities that we can classify as being traditions. Each year on such and such a holiday Grandpa leads the family in singing a particular song.

Or for Thanksgiving we eat a turkey that is stuffed with great-grandma’s special stuffing. I love traditions and think that they are great.

There are other traditions that are more serious in nature than family recipes. Traditions that relate to religious/political/educational practices. Some of the things that we do are logical and make sense, but not all of them fit into this category.

I am of the school of thought that thinks that there should be a periodic evaluation of traditions. Why do we do what we do? Does it still make sense? The fact that a particular action/activity is a tradition should not be enough to prevent changing/stopping or altering it in some way.

What do you think?

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  1. TRW December 23, 2004 at 4:30 am

    There’s also a concept of applying tradition to your life and connecting its relevance to the way you live today. If you consider the people that started the traditions to be greater than you (in Judaism, that’d be because they’re closer to Sinai than we are), than you’ve gotta think that they kinda knew what they were talking about. And if we don’t understand why they did certain things, why not research it yourself? (Taamei Haminhagim has the reasons for a whole lot of traditions; Sefer Hachinuch gives reasons for actual mitzvos)

  2. Koftu December 23, 2004 at 2:25 am

    Personally, I also think that traditions are great. They are a link to the past. I also think that they should be evaluated occasionally as to there usefulness. The following is somewhat off topic and a little bit more negative than I am on the role of tradition, but it is well-written.

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