This question is in reference to tzitzit knots but it can really apply to any Jewish tradition which comes in "flavors" so to speak.

Tzitzit are an interesting article because they tend to come in a variety of options depending on your cultural background. The differences being the way Jews choose to tie off their Tzitzit.

There's a very cool image which shows the various tying styles. Some of these are from specific ethic sub-groups (sephardic, Ashkenaz, etc.) and others have more to do with specific leaders or schools of Jewish thought.

My question relates to how a novel method of practice eventually becomes a norm.

I'm an Ashkenazi Jew. While I tie my tzitzit using the Ashkenazi method, I would never tell a Sephardic Jew that they're wrong because of their method for tying their strings. That being said, if I saw a Jew tying their tzizit using a random style completely unrelated to Jewish tradition, I would correct them.

This is where my question comes in. I was curious as to how these shifts in what was an original historical practice eventually get recognized and legitimized. When did these new ways become recognized as legitimate?

At some point, one Jew had to have chosen to go against the grain and do something a new way. At what point are they seen as legitimate rather than breaking the established rules?

Thank you in advance!

  • Are you only asking about cases where halakha concedes that all variations are acceptable anyway? Or are you asking how, in the event of disputes regarding legitimate form of practice, how both are acceptable. The answer to the latter, is that if something is thought to be the halakha, then lo bashamayim hi. It is in the hands of rabbinic authorities; not objective historical correctness. – mevaqesh Oct 26 '17 at 12:52
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    "At some point, one Jew had to have chosen to go against the grain and do something a new way. " NO. This could've evolved slowly as opposed to deliberately. Or, some things, particularly those in which variation does not jeopardise fulfillment of the nitsva, may never have been defined and could've always had variations. – mevaqesh Oct 26 '17 at 12:55

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