The Minhagim

The Customs And Ceremonies Of Judaism Their Origins And Rationale

By Abraham Chill

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 338

ISBN: 9781602803213


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To live Jewishly is to weave an elaborate and intricate fabric fashioned from the divine commandments, the mitzvot. This pattern of Jewish life is embellished by a fascinating network of minhagim, customs which have evolved in the course of centuries, often varying from place to place, inspired by faith and devotion to the fulfillment of God's will. By means of minhag the spiritual leaders of old aimed to preserve the folk-thinking, conscience and character of their communities.

For the individual Jew the minhag was, and is, the vehicle through which he demonstrated his devotion to God in a manner wholly spontaneous and embracing something of his own personality. The word minhag, generally translated as ''custom'', denotes a time-hallowed religious practice superimposed on a mitzvah of Biblical or Rabbinic origin. There are various types of minhagim, some even reflecting the influence of the non-Jewish environment. Most minhagim have in the course of time attained the status of law. According to Talmudic maxim ''minhag supersedes halakhah''. A vast body of literature has been produced in Hebrew dealing with all aspects of minhag.

This is the first book in the English language to present the whole range of the minhagim as observed by the Jew every day of his life, on his festivals and fast days, in his days of happiness and of sorrow from the cradle to the grave. In his aim to present the origin and rationale of each minhag, the author draws on the entire range of our traditional literature from Pentateuch and the Talmud, the Kabbalah and Hassidic masters, as well as numerous works of the minhag literature.

''Rabbi Abraham Chill has done a great service to all who seek an introduction to the range and richness of minhagim… His work is valuable for the important practical guidance that it offers to sincere Jews who would like to include in their ceremonial life not only the spare purity of the law, but also the beautiful poetry and art of ancestral Jewish custom''
~From the forward of Prof. Marvin Fox