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Does anyone know what to do if the minhag of one's ancestors was changed within such a timeframe that the old minhagim should still be remembered?

My great-grandfather "converted" from a Galizianer chassid to a Jekke sometime during his childhood, resulting in my family following mainly jekkisch customs. Would it be advisable to adopt Galizianer minhagim in deference to my yichus?

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You are going to have to change your name to Noach mi Galizia. – Gershon Gold Dec 26 '13 at 21:03
Did he "adopt" those minhagim or did he move to a local where that was the minhag hamakom? – Yirmeyahu Dec 26 '13 at 21:04
@Yirmeyahu, He moved as a very young child (about 5 years) to Germany from Lemberg (Lviv), so presumably, he grew up following Minhag Rheinus or Minhag Östreich. Also, in Frankfurt at least, the minhagim were considered minhag hamakom However, some things, such as his tefillin are larger than customary German tefillin (about 3.5 cm), yet he waited 3 hours, pronounced his chaulam and davened Minhag Frankfurt for most of his life. His son was from Frankfurt and lived there until just before the war. – Noach mi Frankfurt Dec 27 '13 at 1:45
@Gershon, I err on the side of Frankfurt, as my background is more academic and less chassidische – Noach mi Frankfurt Dec 27 '13 at 1:45
There's a Teshuva of igros moshe on Nussach, though Chassidim obviously argue. – Shmuel Brin May 29 at 17:39

3 Answers 3

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My mother's father was born in Dinov. When he was 14 years old he went to stay with his wealthy cousins in Cologne. At that point he adopted Yekishe Minhagim and kept them his entire life. My uncle and his children have maintained these Minhagim after asking his Rosh Yeshiva.

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Do you think you can edit in who his rosh y'shiva is? – msh210 Dec 27 '13 at 4:34
@msh210: I am pretty certain it was the Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva, however my uncle is not alive and I am not able to verify. – Gershon Gold Dec 29 '13 at 14:47

Probably not necessary; if you really feel that the chassidish practice speaks more to you and you want to switch, talk to a rabbi.

Some of this will involve whether you believe the old customs or new ones are more accurate, by the way.

Look, 500 years ago, each place had its own customs, and when you moved to a new place you generally picked up the practice of the local population. So if everyone in Frankfurt did this 200 years ago, and your great-grandfather permanently moved there from Galicia, he would be expected to say "now I'm a Frankfurt Jew" and switch over to Frankfurt customs. And that's fine. Things have gotten more interesting recently, as people move around more often and things are more multicultural.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein's father converted from chassidish to generic Volozhin "Litvish" yeshivish (that was one of the terms of a shidduch suggested to him with a very respectable young lady!), which his son basically upheld. (Okay his father even skipped "Barchuni leShalom" every Friday night, Rav Moshe didn't go quite that far.)

Similarly, Rav Moshe wasn't so warm-and-fuzzy about ancestral Ashkenazim davening nusach Sefard, and he allowed any Chassidish fellow who so chose to switch his siddur to generic Ashkenaz if he wanted to. Rav Moshe felt that nusach Ashkenaz was our tradition as we received it -- yes it may have evolved, but unlike nusach Sefard we have no indication that some actively/intentionally made changes to the siddur. So I'd assume the same would apply to a minhag Ashkenaz siddur.

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That's a very idealized view of nusach ashkenaz. – Double AA Dec 26 '13 at 21:13
@DoubleAA, the point is that we don't know that someone said "my tradition was this, but I will now go and change it to that." – Shalom Dec 26 '13 at 21:51
Except we do for a bunch of smaller stuff. Do you say ותבדילנו or ותבדל in Shmoneh Esrei on Saturday nights? – Double AA Dec 26 '13 at 21:52
@Shalom, Thanks. The Chassidisch/Sefardisch usages really don't speak to me the same as a good Ashkenazi davening, and I wouldn't feel comfortable davening shacharit without a tallit, or wearing tefillin Sefard. I actually only really made sure to recognise which usages I followed this year, as the only fromm schul near me growing up was a Chaba"d (whole different ballgame). – Noach mi Frankfurt Dec 27 '13 at 1:52

This is going to sound extremely controversial, however I feel that it must be said.

When the Baal Shem Tov founded Hasidism, besides for the change in ideology, there were no changes in minhagim. Although it is unclear, it seems that it was Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezeritch who changed the nussach.

At that time, Orthodox Jews in Poland would follow Minhag Polin, in Germany would follow Minhag Ashkenaz, in Lithuania would follow Minhag Lita, in Hungary would follow Minhag Ungaria (although there were slight differences between the north and south), in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Latvia would follow Minhad Reisin, etc.

There is a halochah of Minhag Avoseinu BeYodeinu. When the minhagim were changed by the Chasidim, this was completely against this halochah. However, I do not want to be misunderstood as implying that the Chasidic Rebbes made a mistake. The Chasidic Rebbes obviously knew this halochah but thought that the Nusach of the Arizal was the original Nusach for all Jews in Europe (excluding Spain, Catalonia, Gibraltar and Turkey).

This, of course, had great historical evidence because the Arizal had written out a detailed list of corrections on the Sefardi siddur and gave them to his Sefardi student, Rabbi Chaim Vital, who lived from 1542 to 1620. Rabbi Chaim Vital was given these corrections because there was a huge dilemma amongst Sefardi Jews. After the 1492 expulsion from Spain, the Jews of Spain, who followed Minhag Sefarad, and the Jews of Catalonia, who followed Minhag Catalonia, were mixed together. Fast forward to the time of the Arizal and Rabbi Chaim Vital and you can see that the descendants of the survivors of the expulsion (who remained Jewish) had little or no idea what minhag they are meant to be following, i.e. they did not know whether their ancestors were Sefardim or Catalonim. Therefore, the Arizal wrote these corrections and gave them to Rabbi Chaim Vital, in order for the Sephardi/Cataloni Jews to follow a mash-up of both minhagim.

These corrections were what that the Chasidic Rebbes based their brand new nussach on. The nussach that the Arizal followed. Of course, it is common knowledge that the Arizal was a yekke who would daven in the local Yekkish shul in Tzefas on Shabbos and Yom Tov in order to say Yotzros, as was his mingaim. Of course, the Arizal specifically says that anyone who deviated from their father's nusach of tefillah, their tefillos would not be accepted in heaven. And of course, these corrections were only made for the extreme circumstance of the time - for those Sefardim/Catalonim who didn't know their fathers' nusach of tefillah.

Therefore, it makes perfect and logical sense for the Chasidic Rebbes to change the centuries old minhagim of Europe to the nusach that the Arizal made for the Sefardim and Catalonim.

With all of this in mind, you should definately change your yekkish minhagim that date back to the Rishonim to the Galitzianer Chasidic minhagim that were intended by the Arizal to be used by Sefardim and Catalonim.

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Do you know that the Ba'al Shem Tov's siddur is extant? This answer is long on assertions and short on evidence. – Yishai May 29 at 14:27
@Yishai, Graetz asserts that the common change in nusach was not until the Maggid of Mezricz, whom he also asserts really created the modern rebbe-centred chassidus, rather than the Besh"t, whom he views significantly more sympathetically. – Noach mi Frankfurt May 29 at 14:37
Joshua, I was always under the impression that the Ari followed the minhagim of his (Sephardi) mother's family rather than his father's. Considering that he based his siddur (and kavanot) on Nusach Sepharad, rather than his ancestral Ashkenaz, that particular assertion seems to hold little weight to me. – Noach mi Frankfurt May 29 at 14:39
@NoachmiFrankfurt, If the answer has sources or evidence, those should be added in. – Yishai May 29 at 14:53
@Yishai agreed, thats why I haven't up voted yet. – Noach mi Frankfurt May 29 at 16:32

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