Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



We Won’t Let Go

Riki Goldstein

Your zeide was an Oberlander, tenaciously clinging to the old nusach and minhagim his family lived by for generations. But you live among 21st-century Yidden who are neatly grouped into categories of “chassid” or “Litvak.” Why hold on to those unfashionable customs, continuing to daven, dress, and act in the ancient style of a group whose ranks are shrinking?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

If you’re an Oberlander, chassidim call you a Litvak and the litvish call you a chassid. But while the heimishe style of dress might look chassidish, an Oberlander Yid davens Nusach Ashkenaz and his minhagim bear a definite Ashkenaz stamp. While the frum world tends to clump everyone into easily identifiable boxes, Oberlanders — Jews whose ancestors came from neighboring Austria and Czechoslovakia to settle in the “Oberland” (the “highlands,” or northwestern Hungary), as opposed to the “lowlanders,” who later immigrated to eastern Hungary from the borders of Galicia, Ukraine, and Romania — bear their own distinct heritage, stubbornly clinging to the customs of their oft-misunderstood historic communities. Your zeide lived in Nitra, in Unsdorf, in Paks, or in Szerdehel. He lived according to the mesorah of his fathers and grandfathers, the community following their rav in matters big and small, and the way forward was clear and uncompromising — there were no shortcuts yet no complications. But you live in Yerushalayim, Boro Park, or London. On the corner is a chassidishe shtiebel, the next block yeshivah alumni. Your neighbors, lovely upright Yidden, are all serving the same G-d. So why hold on to the nusach and the minhagim that are so unfashionable today? Why continue to daven and dress in the style of a group that seems to be shrinking? Reb Baruch Weissmandl is a scion of a prominent Oberlander family, a baal tefillah, and a staunch member of the Viener shul in Boro Park. He stands up for every last Hungarian custom, but his reasoning is not petty or nostalgic. “Today people tell themselves, ‘I’m more educated than my father, I have bigger nisyonos, I face challenges he never faced — what did my father know about life today?’ We Hungarians don’t say that,” affirms Reb Weissmandl. “We’re hanging on to what our fathers and zeides did for generations. Why? Because if I change one thing today, tomorrow it’ll be something else, and what will hold me back? Let’s say today I’m rushing. But if I skip Tachanun, tomorrow it’ll be Korbanos… I’ve been fasting Beha”b [the Monday-Thursday-Monday fasts following aYomTov] all my life, but this year I have a cold. If I skip it and I live out the year, next year I probably won’t fast, and then I will have lost something…”

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"