If someone can trace their ancestry to a place that had a mix of Hassidic and non-Hassidic Jews, and has no one particular custom, which Nusach should they daven?

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    A person should daven the nusach of their community or father.
    – ezra
    Nov 13, 2023 at 21:38
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    @ezra, although R' Moshe and the Steipler both hold that it's permissible to do teshuvah from chassidic back to non-chassidic Ashkenaz Nov 13, 2023 at 22:31
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    @NoachMiFrankfurt Seems to me a no-brainer. After all, what did OP’s ancestors daven pre-1750? Definitely not Sfard.
    – ezra
    Nov 14, 2023 at 15:39

1 Answer 1


Obviously, someone should talk to a rabbi about their particular situation; if there's a particular community or practice that particularly speaks to them, that's worth something. But for theory's sake ... I will point out that Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt"l was not a big fan of Nusach Sefard, and basically gave license for any Ashkenazi to switch over to "Nusach Ashkenaz." I think it's pretty simple that if someone who knew their family was Hassidic is allowed to switch over to Nusach Ashkenaz should they so choose, then certainly someone who's not certain what they were can do so! He writes in Igros Moshe OC2:24:

On the matter of your father being from a family of Hassidim who pray with the text that they call Nusach Sfard, however as your father lives in a place where they pray Nusach Ashkenaz, and you learned in your youth to pray Ashkenaz ... and your father didn’t want to confuse you ... and now that you’ve grown, you are unsure whether you are obligated to go back to praying with Nusach Sfard, as your father does; or are you obligated to continue praying with Nusach Ashkenaz as has become your habit. It is known that all the people of Poland, Hungary, and Russia -- other than some distant places like the Caucuses ... are Ashkenazi Jews, even the Hassidim. Until the principle of Hassidism spread, they all prayed N. Ashkenaz, however later the Hassidic leaders began to instruct to pray with a different text, with some changes. Therefore it is not a “change in custom” that you began praying N.A., even though your father plus 2,3 generations began praying with the new text -- contrarywise! They changed the custom of their ancestors, and that of our mighty rabbis the sages of France and Germany. No clear reason is known how they allowed to change the fixed text ...

Regardless -- we don’t contest those who changed, as they certainly had a reason that authorized it. But if one wants to go back and pray N.A., which is the text of our ancestors and teachers, he is certainly allowed, as he is returning to his original status.

This is basically what Rabbi Feinstein's father himself did -- the Feinsteins had been Koidanov Chasidim (not too far from Minsk), but a shidduch was proposed with a significant, non-Hassidic family. The agreement was that young Dovid would go study at the Volozhin yeshiva -- the "mother lode" of non-Hassidism -- and switch everything over. This stuff happened. A lot.

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