Tuesday, 9 October 2007

A Grandfather Clause, Halachah and Minhag in Yemen

I just came across an interesting post on the web:
Where the Halacha is not like Rambam" (See file in the group's File Section, in folder entitled "Customs which are Different")
Although the Yemenite Jews accepted as a whole the halachic rulings of Rambam, especially where Rambam came to contend with other exponents of Jewish law over difficult halachic issues, still, where they found contradictions between their own halachic traditions and those prescribed by Rambam in his Code of Jewish Law, the practices and customs bequeathed unto them by their forefathers were those that were generally upheld by the community- despite their great love and respect for Rambam. This only goes to show that the Jews of Yemen were not devoid of Torah in themselves, before the light of Rambam shone upon them in Yemen. Rambam's epistle to the Yemenites, as also the following selection of thirty-two, so-called, anomalies found amongst them proves this fact beyond any reasonable doubt. By their persistence in their own particular customs, they showed thereby that halacha and religious observance did not begin for them with Rambam.

For more details see

From the above we can clearly make the following observations::
That local custom is not necessarily superseded by canonical text. Au contraire, at least SOME earlier customs remain as a legacy - grandfathered in DESPITE the subsequent canonization of a code such as the Rambam's Mishneh Torah was in Yemen.


1 comment:

Rabbi Richard Wolpoe said...

As such I posit that this is how the Talmud Bavli was adopted in Ashkneaz, that the earlier layuers of Minhag were grandfathered in to show a continuous Oral Tradition had existed before and would NOT be superseded by subsequent authorization of the Talmud as the Supreme Halachic text.
And the role of Tosafot was to provide this substrata of data just as Hagahot Maimoniyyot did for Rambam's Mishneh Tora and the Rema did for Shulchan Aruch