No I'm not dead, I've just been very busy:
I'm hitting the homestretch on the sefer torah....Projected date for fininshing the writing is March 2013.
Between the torah, work, the 4 little NFs and gabbaing I've had zero free time to amuse you, the greater gonging community.....until now.
So last Shabbat, the NF and the rest of the neighborhood posse headed over to KY/S&M for a little mincha action. As the leining was the Big Gong's bar mitzvah parsha we all eagerly awaited to hear his rendition. But alas it was not meant to be.
There is a American-born mitpallel (or to be more specific, mispallel) in KY/S&M who is known around the neighborhood as the AshkeNazi. The AshkeNazi feels very strongly in maintaining minhagei Ashkenaz and that is very admirable --- at least in theory (we'll discuss further below). So the AshkeNazi's Israeli-born and raised teenaged son get's up to lein....The son of the AshkeNazi, henceforth called Hitler Youth, speaks Hebrew with a thick Israeli accent so he leined that way ---expect clearly his father, the AshkeNazi, had drilled into him the importance of havara Ashkensis....so hitler youth started guessing which tavs where savs and of course got them all wrong all the while reading the rest of the words with an Israeli (Sephardic) havara. Gong. It was just plain offensive. The AshkeNazi was overheard murmuring in the corner:
"I knew I should have worn a condom".
Why is minhag so important (to people)? the NF intentionally put the words "to people" in parantheses because there is the reason minhag is important and there is the reason that it is importnant to people.
Minhag is important in halacha because of the simple concept "מנהג אבותינו בידינו". Translation: We follow our parent's minhagim. So if your parents waited 6 hours between meat and milk, so should you. If your family ate kitniyot on Pesach in the old country, so should you. If your father talked in shul and told dirty jokes during leining, so should you. Why do we do this? Because חז"ל said so. And they all had really long beards. And if we stopped listening to חז"ל it could lead to mixed dancing.
Minhag is also important becuase it gives people a sense of belonging. People get hot under the collar that we have to daven this nusach or that not because that is the only version that Hashem listens to --- Most people have never thought about that. People get hot under the collar becuase they like to get hot under the collar (for lack of anything better to do)...and also doing things a certain way may remind them of where they came from (most likely illiterate cavemen or monkeys if I have to guess) and that they can't be lumped together with the rest of "amcha" that includes unwanteds you would never want to date your daughter.
So is minhag bad? No. But it should be taken with a grain of salt. Hitler Youth didn't understand that the tav and sav is not what makes torah reading Ashkenazi. He forgot about the rest of the requisite accent (example komotz) and the need to yell "oy vey" at the end of every aliya. However, in Hitler Youth's defense when he finished leining, he sat down to have some Shaloshoodis (on the menu: gribines, gefitle fish, ptcha and mashgiach beard hair kugel). After bentching, Hitler You looked aound and asked if there were any Sephardim in the room. One swarthy young man answered in the affirmative. Hitler Youth then said "Well, go ahead and clean up"
***** Please note: some of this post is satire. Some is not.