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As discussed in this question and the comments there, we know, based on Beitza 4b, that there is some halachically binding concept of minhag avoseinu b'yadeinu (the custom of our forbears is in our hands).

  1. What are the parameters in halacha for applying this idea? Meaning, we know it is applied as far as keeping two days of yom tov outside of Israel, but is not applied in other situations (eg many people are no longer careful to avoid mayim megulim because of the absence of snakes). How do we decide when to apply minhag avoseinu or not?

  2. Why should this be so? Meaning, why should we continue doing something l'halacha (not just as a custom) just because it was done in the past, if the factors behind the halacha have changed (eg. 2 days of yom tov in chutz l'aretz even with a fixed calendar)

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Are you asking about minhagim that contradict text-based halacha or those that are otherwise neutral? Those are very different questions! –  Double AA Dec 24 '12 at 17:09
    
@DoubleAA I'm not asking about minhagim at all (don't be confused by the word minhag in mingah avoseinu - it's actually a halacha) –  user2110 Dec 24 '12 at 17:27
    
I'm not talking about them either. I am asking about what kind of customs you are thinking of applying this principle to. –  Double AA Dec 24 '12 at 18:08
    
@DoubleAA I wouldn't apply them to customs but perhaps to laws that we no longer adhere to; perhaps every Jewish city still needs 2,000 amos of farm land outside it etc. –  user2110 Dec 24 '12 at 18:39
    
So you would apply it to the custom of not maintaining a certain amount of farm land which seems to contradict an explicit written rule. So it seems you are taking the first side of my comment. –  Double AA Dec 24 '12 at 18:42

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