Wednesday, November 30, 2005

One People, Two Shulchan Aruchs

My friend remarked to me that he doesn't understand half the things his wife does. Their origins are a mystery, and definitely don't stem from halacha. In fact, there's many a story (some aprochrphyl, others not) of the wives of rabbonim kashering their kitchens after they went on a trip, leaving their husbands alone. In essence, there are two Shulchan Aruchs, one of which is ba'al peh[, ironic for the position of women not learning Torah sheba'al peh].

Based on what I perceive to be a stronger education for men (gemara being a good example), I'd like to think men aren't as guilty, though this isn't always so.

From the perspective of knowing the halacha, this isn't good. If you think cleaning for Pesach is spring cleaning, you miss out on what cleaning for Pesach is, not to mention the added hassle, headache, and family strife. But it does show a certain resolve that parents (and teacher) have in passing down traditions to their children, which is a good thing.

So what's the deal? Is this good? Can we really expect parents and rebbeim to accurately delineate the differences between halacha, minhag, and common practice? Should we care? We have enough trouble passing down the basics, why water it down even more with distinctions? And would there actually be much practical impact if they did?