July 18, 2009

Traditions


It is Shabbat morning. It is traditional, for this family anyway, to have an erev Shabbat meal Friday evening, to go to shul Shabbat morning, participate in liturgy, stay at shul all day and close with Havdalah at sundown. All good traditions I would say. But, those are all the traditions of man. Scripture simply states to "keep the Sabbath and make it holy". Do our traditions do that?

We have all kinds of traditions, don't we. Humankind seems to need these traditions to maintain sanity, keep order, give meaning and purpose to the day-in-day-out rhythm of life. Every day people live out these traditions, from things as simple as making a pot of coffee upon rising, to the most obvious three traditional meals a day. I often wonder how these things came into being - out of necessity? The natural order of things? Especially the three meals a day - was that just when folks get hungry? I ask because we are so trained, indoctrinated from birth that we eat at specific times of the day, I sometimes cannot tell if I'm truly hungry then or not.

What about women wearing skirts and men wearing pants. Back in first century times everyone wore long tunics that could be called skirts or skirt-like garments. I am positive there was some gender distinction, but when did the tradition of woman wearing skirts evolve? Oh sure, I could google the history of skirts, but I want to know who...was it just one person who thought men should traditionally wear pants? And I find it a fascinating tradition that some women feel that they need to only wear dresses and sometimes head coverings, too, in order to fulfill their role as female or to be more modest. There is nothing in Scripture, at least that I have read or studied, that states this to be the case.


What about holidays? Those are definitely huge traditions, layers upon layers of tradition; so much so that most don't even know why they do certain things or the significance of them. There comes a certain comfort from doing them that we cannot get away from, even when shown they are unrighteous or un-Scriptural. This fascinates me and shows how powerful tradition can be and it takes a strong, out-spoken soul to turn away from the crowd; it's not easy, no matter what group you are in.


And while traditions are some kind of necessity for us, we tend to use them against each other, as well. Judgement of another on how we perform various traditions can be murderous to a relationship, putting cracks into communities and causing smaller groups to form. They give us identity, but sometimes self-righteousness rears it's ugly head. Calling others to our perceived standards of keeping a tradition can be so hurtful and damaging to everyone involved.

I continue to take a closer look at the traditions I keep, digging out the motivation and examining it closely to see if it is valuable and righteous. I so want to do right in the eyes of my LORD, and this inspection of everything I do is right and good.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

(Psalm 19:14)

4 comments:

Mama Cache said...

While looking for this:
“Test all things; hold fast what is good.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21

I found this, too:
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:15

Not offered in opposition to your thoughts – quite the contrary. I think in its context it supports them. Keep up that examination, my friend.

Ari C'rona said...

Amein, my dear friend.

Hendel D'bu said...

"...to do one's duty is not always to do right. Concern yourself with the right action. Let duty take care of itself."

~Qui-Gon Jinn

YourBrother said...

We know that we couldn't get through a simple day if we didn't establish by practice an action pathway we call a "habit". If we had to think about every action it took to get up, get dressed, eat, work, etc., we would be exhausted by day's end.
I feel in some ways traditions fill a similar role. When we incorporate ordered tasks or events into our lives they give us anchoring points that we come to depend on for security of mind and body. We don't have to constantly establish new references to define our place in the world. This gives us what we often refer to as a "comfort zone".
However, both habits and traditions contain a caution. If overused they can turn from anchoring boundaries to prison walls that prevent us from interacting with a constantly changing world of fellow beings. Once in a while we need to re-examine our traditions and see how we can renew and expand them to include new experiences and friends. Thus the old traditions provide the foundation for ever enriching and expanding relationships among people and nations.
There it is... another personal opinion!