A couple of days ago was one of those food outtings. On a break from work, I went to my favorite Yemenite-owned, shuwarmah places (no Arab employees, by the way). and ordered a shuwarmah b'laffah. I was surprised when “Moti” the owner gave me a puzzled look, and asked if I was Sefardi. I looked at him funny, and said, “Um,...no. Why?”
“It's the 'Nine Days,'” he replied.
“The Ramba”m doesn't even mention the 'Nine Days.' We actually talked about this last year.”
Moti smiled, and then started preparing my shuwarmah, making sure I wanted my “usual” stuff in it.
The religous lady standing next to me chimed in. “Oy. My husband drives me crazy with this stuff!”
Moti and I chuckled.
While preparing my shuwarmah, he and I and the other owner "David," bantered on about the relatively new “invention” of the “Three Weeks,” and other such things.
Moti lifted his arms into the air and made a face, as if to say, “Where do they come up with these things?!”
I gave him my trademark “Diasporah Mentality” response.
Then after paying, Moti left me with an expression I had never heard:
“Ashkenzim have the custom to... Sefardim are strict [on the halacha]... And Yemenites do not have the custom to...”
Obviously, Yememites have do customs regarding certain practices. So, what was he talking about?
The jist of it was that, in Moti's opinion, Yemenites just stick with the halacha, and do not go out of their way to find new ways to make things difficult for themselves.
So, the next you someone eating meat during the “Nine Days,” or who just cut his hair to look good for Shabbath, don't jump to any conclusions.
Not everyone has the same customs as you.
Furthermore, one needs to ask oneself, “Why is there such diversity of customs amongst Jews in Eretz Yisra'el anyway?”
But, that's another blog post at another time.
Shabbath Shalom and have an easy fast!
Notes from the Ramba"m can be found below in the comments section, with thanks to fellow blogger HaMekubal.