To roughly which year does a Jew, who does not descend from any mixed marriage, need to analyze his patrilineal ancestry to find out the minhag of your family?

Also taking into account that many Jewish families have passed through areas of very different nuschaot and minhagim.

  • I have difficulties in parsing this long sentence and understanding its meaning. Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 18:36
  • 2
    You asked almost the same questions here and here. These got closed because you should really get into contact with a Rabbi or a Rav. I would advise you to contact a Chabad-Rabbi here. Good luck!
    – Shmuel
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


500 years ago, the halacha was clear -- if you moved from Location A, a single community with one clear set of minhagim, to Location B, with its clear minhagim, and you intended to stay there, then you took on Location B's minhagim. Done.

Thus, until the past 200 years ago or so, obsessing over what your ancestors' customs had been a thousand years prior was an irrelevant distraction at best -- your customs were defined by where you were now.

The whole notion of following ancestral customs only became a thing when people moved to large places that supported multi-custom people and/or communities. Suddenly your custom became where you were from, not where you were now; because your current location says "hey pick whatever, we don't care."

So today, if someone lives in a place with five different synagogues, each with different customs: first off, if one of those synagogues is a much better fit, and someone feels its customs work for them, and they didn't grow up with any one particular strong family or personal custom otherwise -- then congratulations! You have now just landed ashore in this new location, and you should do like the locals. (If that's Chabad, fine!)

But if someone is equally okay with all of them, and wants to use ancestry to define their decision, then the above logic gives us a clear answer: the last known place with clearly-defined customs.

Two caveats:

  • Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef would probably tell you that the Ashkenazic ones were all mistaken, so "the last known place that did halacha right, i.e. the Sefardic ones."

  • Rabbi Moshe Feinstein would caveat it a bit more finely: ignore all changes that said we know we are changing our clear local minhag, and we are doing it because we think this change is better -- which is what happened when Hassidism had people changing to Nusach Sfard -- and then then take the last known place. (He didn't say "all Hassidim must switch back to Ashkenaz"; he says "any Hassid of Ashenazic ancestry who's reconsidering their practices has cart blanche to switch back to Ashkenaz.")

I hope this helps you understand the halachic theory behind why this is correct, which is why I've taken the time to answer it here.

  • There are dozens of examples of people purposefully changing ashkenazi siddurim! Usually overzealous 18th and 19th century grammarians
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 22:14
  • 1
    @DoubleAA I don't know nothing about that. :)
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 22:16
  • I'd assume the Igros felt that was small stuff around the edges vs. Nusach Sfard. Good question. You're not going to find a flawless Theory of Everything here, I admit it.
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 22:17
  • Thank you very much! It was very difficult to find someone willing to answer my question, and so I had to ask 3 similar questions (the first two were closed because they were about psak halacha). I believe that you are one of the 36 tzaddikim nestarim in this world. Commented Dec 13, 2023 at 20:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .