June 21, 2024
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June 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Ever since I started writing these articles about my personal Yom Tov minhagim, I’ve been surprised by how many people tell me they have the same exact minhagim, despite that no sefer that I’ve seen mentions any of them.

I have not yet seen all the seforim.

But I think that the fact that so much of Klal Yisrael was mechaven to all of the same minhagim, completely independent of each other, says something about this deep connection that all Yidden have.

Yes, there are the minhagim that are mentioned in the seforim, such as buying flowers or having milchig seudos, but to be honest, my wife wants flowers every Yom Tov. And I can’t just tell her, “Show me the halacha!”

I have a minhag to buy my wife two bouquets of flowers—one for naaseh, and one for nishmah. Also because I can’t remember what kind of flowers she likes.

I have a minhag that one of the bouquets I buy has to have at least one of those flowers that when you buy it, it’s closed, but over the course of yom tov, it opens, because that causes your wife to get excited a second time without you having to do anything. You can be sleeping.

The Minhag Yisrael is that kids come home with fake flowers made primarily from pipe cleaners stabbed through Styrofoam balls, which you will put on your mantel, and unlike all the other crafts that the kids bring home that they play with and crush and eventually you can throw them out, such as the upside-down bowl, this one will be on display forever. You will spend years dusting around it, afraid of hurting the kid’s feelings, and then some day you’re going to mention it, and the kid is going to go, “That’s mine?” and then you’ll have to keep dusting around it forever, now that they know.

My wife and I have a minhag to decide that we want to have company for some of the seudos, but not for one of the night seudos because they’re late, and not for one of the day seudos because of naps.

We have a minhag, altz pirsumei nisa, to tell everyone which seudos we did milchig.

A lot of people who, the entire year, are always scared of becoming fleishigs suddenly have a minhag to hem and haw about making any meals milchig at all.

We have a minhag that at least one person has to make a joke the first night of Shavuos about how we forgot to count the Omer. Which would be hilarious if this person hadn’t already forgotten six weeks earlier.

Our shul has a minhag on the first night of Shavuos to not daven Maariv until after nacht because they can’t just say, “Hey, don’t anyone make Kiddush until after nacht!” This is the one halacha they don’t trust us with.

I have a minhag to make or buy like eight milchig desserts for the maybe two milchig seudos we’re going to have. I think one milchig seudah should be just desserts.

A lot of K’lal Yisrael has a minhag to stay up all night to show that if we had to do it again, we’d stay up the whole night before we get the Torah, and then take a huge nap right after we get the Torah.

My kids have a minhag to stay up primarily so they can tell their friends that they stayed up.

I have a minhag to fall behind on whatever I’m learning in the weeks before Shavuos so I have something extra to learn Shavuos night.

I have a minhag to show up to shul on Shavuos night with a cloth bag containing way more seforim than I’m going to use, so I can decide what I’m learning as I go.

The shuls in town have a minhag to have shiurim all night with titles designed to draw people in, such as “Making the Omer Count!” and “Where is Har Sinai today?” I went to the Har Sinai shiur—I walked across town for that one—and the answer they came up with was, “We don’t know, and it’s not important.”

My shul has a minhag that someone gives a halacha shiur about medical issues.

Some people have a minhag that if they fall asleep in a room with a shiur going on, it’s like they were learning. It’s called subliminal learning. They also do it as a zecher for when Hashem was giving us the Torah, and every time Hashem started saying one of the dibros, everyone collapsed.

The Minhag Yisrael is that if a food is out all night on Shavuos, it’s not halachically considered as if it was out all night. But to be extra careful, there are people in the shul who dedicate themselves to spending all night standing over the food so there won’t be a shaylah.

I have a minhag to eat milchigs for the first seudah so I can stay up all night drinking coffee, and then actually spend most of the night drinking soda because it’s summer and coffee’s hot. Until the point of the night that I’m cold because I’m tired, at which point I have coffee. All this so I can make an Asher Yatzar before Shacharis. And a couple of times during.

Despite learning all night, I have a minhag for it to always occur to me right before Shacharis that I forgot to learn the halachos of which brachos I have to listen to others say for me. The machzor has a minhag to not say one word about this.

My non-Jewish neighbor has a minhag to do yard work outside my bedroom window on Shavuos morning.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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