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How does a Minhag become a Minhag? More specific is it possible to enact new Minhagim in todays generation?

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See the flip side of this question here: mi.yodeya.com/questions/1303/… – WAF Oct 26 '10 at 2:12

There are 2 types of minhagim (at least):

Many "minhagim" are halacha, but varying communities will follow different rulings based on the Rav's psak. Many new minhagim of this nature start because a new Rabbi comes to town and changes the custom of which psak to follow. I have seen this happen in a number of places. Right or wrong, the custom becomes significant enough that people who come to town should not act differently- like the evolution of any halacha. (Of course the minhag may only apply until the next Rabbi comes to town.

The other type of minhag enhances other mitzvos. Many minhagim are in the process of development simply because they are brought in the Mishna Berurah. How many people do we see giving tzedaka during v'atta moshel bakol because the MB mentioned that the ARI did it? Or how about minhagim that came about through tziyonut?

In short, minhag is whatever people do and these can change at any time.

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Can you enact new Minhagim not brought down by a previous generation Poisek today? – Gershon Gold Oct 22 '10 at 15:10
I don't know abought changing a minhag (the first paragraph). That could be the next spin-off question. Any community can start a minhag as long as it is a) clear that it is not a Torah mitzva and b) enhancing or protecting a mitzva (or middah). Something new with no Torah format is problematic. – YDK Oct 22 '10 at 15:39
An interesting story I heard from Yahu (Yahu, please confirm and feel free to add in details), a new rabbi was installed in a European town and, because of tznius reasons, was mevatel a minhag in the town where an appointed person (the mikva lady's husband??) would approach the men by shacharis the morning after their wives went to the mikva and informed them that their wives had done so. The rabbi soon realized that this minhag was necessary as some wives would pretend to their husbands that they used the mikva, but had not. The rabbi reversed his decision and reinstituted the town minhag. – YDK Oct 22 '10 at 17:50
The story about the mikva is a legend concerning the Rema in Krakow. The story is that the owner of the mikva (!) would tell them men "mazal tov" after their wives were tovel. When the Rema was appointed rav of Krakow, his first action was to instruct this man to stop it, since he was certain this was a terrible practice. A man who hadn't heard that the rav abolished it went to the man and asked him why he didn't say mazal tov; his wife was tovel the night before. The man answered that it was for two reasons: One, the Rema told him not to, and two, your wife didn't come last night - the... – user92 Oct 26 '10 at 1:17
+1 "minhag is whatever people do and these can change at any time." On the mark! – Double AA Oct 18 '12 at 15:45

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