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I have read that Rabbi Avraham Yosef (the son of Rav Ovadiah Yosef) paskened that a Baal Teshuva in Israel should adopt the Sephardic Minhag, regardless of family history, as their immediate ancestors did not provide a Mesorah and the named Minhag is the one dominant in and traditional to the region. Does any one know of a counter-ruling on this issue? Is there an analogous ruling on appropriate BT Minhag in America?

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The named Minhag? –  Seth J Jun 4 '13 at 2:43
    
What do you mean by counter-ruling? That he should follow what his family Minhag would have been? That Sephardi isn't the dominant Minhag in Israel? That a Sephardi BT in an Ashkenazi-dominated place should go Ashkenazi? –  Seth J Jun 4 '13 at 2:46
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3 Answers

The Rabanim Yosef's psak is based on the Halacha that once an authority has been established in any region that authority becomes the "Mara D'Atra" (the regional authority). All those living in, or joining, this area are then required to follow the Halachic rulings (psak) of that authority.

The question then becomes is there a Mara D'Atra in Israel, and if so who would that be. The Rabanim Yosef chose the Beit Yosef (Rav Yosef Karo) and they have good reasons for that (beyond the shared name).

When one follows the Beit Yosef he is considered to be following the Sefardi psak. Other rabbis, Sefradi rabbis included, have given different decrees, but are still "Sefardim".

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David Perlman, hello and welcome to mi.yodeya! Thank you for the useful contribution to the question of determining minhag. Does every place have a mara d'asra and can such a term be applied across geographical bounds to include all members of some familial lineage? –  WAF Apr 21 '11 at 14:39
    
@WAF, thanks for the warm welcome. Your questions are very interesting, even worth a post for themselves. My answer was only to introduce the term Mara D'Atra (mara d'asra). v'Idach Zil Gmor ... as they say. I am not an expert on the subject. –  David Perlman Apr 21 '11 at 19:10
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R' Dovid Cohen (in Monsey, NY), who is a particular expert in areas of halacha concerning ba'alei teshuvah, rules that a ba'al teshuva (whose parents aren't observant and therefore has no minhag avot) may choose from among the accepted minhagim. I used this psak to choose Sepharadi minhagim, but one could just as easily use this psak to choose Ashkenazi, Chassidic or Yemenite minhagim.

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Would the same ruling apply to adopting Teimani (Yemenite) minhagim? –  Lee Jun 3 '13 at 19:14
    
@Lee Fogel, why wouldn't it? –  Seth J Jun 4 '13 at 1:36
    
I assumed it would, but was hoping for verification from @Chanoch. –  Lee Jun 4 '13 at 6:52
    
It would also be interesting to know what constitutes one's parents being "not observant". For example, what if kiddush was done on Erev Shabbat, but nothing more? –  Lee Jun 4 '13 at 6:58
    
@LeeFogel, presumably it means that one is not observing Mitzvoth and not following the Minhagim of one's ancestors and/or community. One can take on new Minhagim that don't contradict one's old Minhagim; changing established Minhagim is more problematic. Hence, in this opinion (I believe), if one has no related Minhag, one is free to choose his Minhag. –  Seth J Jun 4 '13 at 15:17
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I know of a Chasidishe Rav in Antwerp that told a Baal Teshuva to adopt the Chasidishe Minhagim. I think it would be a more interesting Pesak if it came from an opposing side (A Sefardi rav saying "adopt Ashkenazi Minhag" and a Ashkenazi Rav saying "adopt Sefardi Minhag").

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a) Do you happen to know the Chasidishe Rav's argument for this? b) Agreed, that would be really cool. –  Ze'ev haKohen Apr 7 '11 at 16:25
    
My understanding was that this Baal Teshuva has joined the Chasidishe Kehila there, so I guess it was the same argument as Rabbi Avraham Yosef as it was the dominant Minhag there. –  Gershon Gold Apr 7 '11 at 17:12
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Rav Shlanger, Mashgiah of Yeshivat Porat Yosef in the Ir Ha'atikah of Jerusalem is a born Ashkenazi who keeps Sefardi minhagim. If I remeber correctly Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach ZT"L paskened that he must do so since he is a manhig of a Sefardi "Kehilla". It appears Rav SZA held that this was considered joining that Kehilah. –  Yahu Apr 7 '11 at 22:53
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