Thursday, May 15, 2008

Silly Things That People Believe

"The order of eating the meal- first cholent, then kugel and meat- has been passed down through the generations from Har Sinai. Not only is the eating of these three foods a tradition, but so is the order in which they are eaten."

- Rabbi Yosef Yitzchock of Lubavitch (quoted on page 290 of Shabbos Secrets, R. Dovid Meisels)

I don't know if the above quote is accurate or not. However, I have to believe that if it is indeed accurate, it certainly wasn't meant literally. I simply can't imagine that R. Yosef Yitzchock believed that God dictated to Moshe that he should eat cholent first, followed by kugel and then meat at the Shabbos meal. Did they even have the first two in the Wilderness? And how is it that this tradition managed to avoid transcription between the time of Moshe Rabbeinu all the way to R. Yosef Yitzchock's time?

The point, I suppose, is not that R. Yosef Yitzchock made such a statement -- he could very well have made it in an offhand or joking manner. The point, I suppose, is that there are people who take everything any gadol says so seriously as if it were literally and absolutely true that they can't even stop and think for a second if such a thing could even logically be true.

The Wolf


chabakuk elisha said...

I haven't much time to get into it here - and I never heard the specific quote before - but I dont find it troubling, and it makes sense. You see, there is a fundamental lack of understanding out there, and it's due to a few things, but lemme just try a quick explanation:

The mystical (chassidic) approach is fundamentally different than the nigla or halachich (and more rationalist) approach in that things have intrinsic qualities for a mystic. For example, a chossid or mekubal looks a Jew and Non-Jew as interestingly different, while a Maimonidean perspective rejects intrinsic or inherent differences.

Fast forward to the case in pint: A Minhag Yisroel has special kedusha - the highest level of kedusha for that matter - and the older it is (and more prevalent it is) the higher and greater the kedusha. That Kedusha is inherent, and it goes right to the issue of why Chassidim are so into minhagim (and decidedly not into chumros).

This is explanation is obviously VERY bekitzur, but I hope it's relatively clear...

Child Ish Behavior said...

I'm confused. Didn't they say that the Yidden didn't go to the bathroom because all they ate was Mun?
If they ate chilent wouldn't that have defeated the who purpose? I personally eat chulent by shalosh sudos, when I'm starting to feel hungry again after the big kiddish in shul.

BrooklynWolf said...


Thanks for the comment. However, I think you missed my point. I wasn't saying that the Minhag wasn't a good one. If you want to eat your meal in that order, and that's your Minhag, then all the more power to you.

My point is the idea that this is somehow all from Moshe at Sinai. *That's* the silly thing.

The Wolf

chabakuk elisha said...

Oh! Sorry -- I understand what you mean now, but think that “passed down through the generations from Har Sinai” is a manner of speech, and not exactly meant literally. I think that it’s the concept of Minhag Yisroel Torah Hi (and thus analogous to “Given at Sinai”) is what he is referring to (IMHO).

But, don't get me wrong - I don't mean to say that anybody is obligated to take this view, I am merely trying to explain how it is understood from a Chassidic perspective.

Larry Lennhoff said...

Child Ish:

In the Midbar the mun had whatever taste you wanted. So you would first eat it desiring that it tasted like cholent, etc. :>)

There's actually an interesting debate somewhere about whether the mun could taste like forbidden foods, e.g., a cheeseburger. Personally I tend to believe the literal Torah text, which says it tasted like a honey donut Exodus 16:31. That would explain the various food based revolts.

Lubab No More said...

Personally, I've never heard of this quote. Furthermore, I've never met a Lubavitcher who was particularly fanatical about eating cholent (and when Lubabs take on a tradition fanaticism is often involved). As far as I know this isn't something that people actually follow.

aaron from L.A. said...

Yeah,right,like the bnai yisrael ate "kugel" dating from the days of the wilderness.Let's see,although lukshen would only be invented about 2500 years later by the Chinese,and potatoes would come from the New World only several centuries after that,God must have let Moshe in on both lukshen and potato kugel,which,it follows, must have been among the things held in store from Creation, like Bilam's ass(and you thought "Mr. Ed was an original idea) ....Tell the truth,namely that there was no kugel,and the second course was actually deli wrap.Of course,all the Jews of the time were ashkenazim,why there's no mention of Sephardi delicacies for the Sabbath table.

ProfK said...

As a lapsed "chosid"--grand daughter of a Vishnitzer tz'vack--I can tell you I've never heard of this minhag. Would have been problematic anyway in our family. The kugel (a flour-based one) was baked in the cholent as was the meat. All three were eaten together at one time.

Isn't there enough to do in our present without reinventing our past?

Mike S. said...

The thought that cholent is tasty is silly enough for me. I will occasionally eat it for Shabbos lunch, because there is a paucity of food that is even half edible after a whole night on the blech, but I really don't understand those who want to eat it any other time.

Anonymous said...

"“passed down through the generations from Har Sinai” is a manner of speech, and not exactly meant literally."

i sometimes suspect this was true for the amoraim as well...