I was walking through South Williamsburg the other day, the part where a very large Hassidic Jewish population lives, when I started thinking about traditions. The thing that started it was the thought of walking around on a bright 85 degree and 60% humid Saturday and that it really must suck dogs balls to wear a heavy black wool coat and a weird kind of fur hat (a shtreimel, which only married men wear and only on the Sabbath or other holidays).
Seriously. Dogs balls.
But I wasn’t just thinking of religious traditions but cultural ones as well…and how they relate to us humans…when it dawned on me how utterly useless and meaningless traditions are, or would be, if we couldn’t communicate or leave a record. Cultural and religious traditions absolutely rely on the idea that we must repeat some aspect of living, over and over again, based on what someone else has taught us. Based on some recorded event or activity.
Think about it. In the middle of a sweltering NYC summer, no one just spontaneously puts on a heavy wool coat and a shtreimel to run down to the store for some eggs and milk.
That kind of idiocy has be taught.
As humans we are singularly complete and able to survive and succeed in life based on nothing more than the fact that we are human. In the absence of everything else that society provides, we are able to learn these capabilities by simply being born and growing up amongst other humans. All of the traditions we know and follow, regardless being religious, are taught to us by the society segment that we live in…the sphere of humanity that surrounds us. Some of them going back thousands of years.
THOUSANDS OF YEARS
Say that again to yourself silently and wonder what was known about the world thousands of years ago—that could possibly drive a tradition of wearing heavy winter clothes at the height of summer—that has any relevance whatsoever on the world that we know today. Knowing that there is really no—zero, zip, nada—connection to the past allows us to step away from those traditions and live our lives the most productive and efficient way possible.
It allows us to be free.
Believe. Go. Do.