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I was told that a secular Jew can choose his wife's minhag to follow after marriage since minhag avot does not apply.I haven't seen a source for this and was hoping for supporting references.

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  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first question. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Apr 25 at 3:16
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    Also, in case of a practical ruling, a rabbi must be consulted.
    – N.T.
    Apr 25 at 3:53
  • Note also that minhag avot might well apply - these secular Jews' grandparents, or their parents, were very likely observant
    – mbloch
    Apr 25 at 5:48
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    Minhag avot applies to three generations back? What is the cutoff?
    – IB_CS
    Apr 25 at 11:49
  • If minhag avot doesn't apply, what is the normal rule? If it is "choose anything you like", then what's stopping one from choosing one's wife's? If it's to choose something specific, then why would one be able to make one's wife's an exception? If the former, the question falls away, if the latter, imo the question should bring the normal rule. It would then fall on us to explain how that's different to any other case of someone wanting to adopt one's wife's minhag, in which case the question could still fall away (see Shalom's comment below about Rabbi Feinstein's father)
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Apr 26 at 14:01

1 Answer 1

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According to the Beit Yitzchak 39:page 519, quoting the opinion of Harav Hershel Schachter, a baal teshuva who marries into a religious family should follow his father-in-law's minhagim.

This is of course just one opinion and a rabbi should be consulted before putting it into practice.

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    By that line of the reasoning, the same would apply for just about any "mixed" marriage: the side with an active family custom prevails, just as 200 years ago, an Ashkenazi who permanently moved to Yemen was supposed to take on Yemeni customs, and a Yemeni permanently moving to Krakow was supposed to take on theirs. When Rabbi Moshe Feinstein had written to follow the husband's customs, he clearly stated he was talking about a ceteris paribus case of where they both live in New York and have a solid community of their own.
    – Shalom
    Apr 25 at 7:32
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    ("Follow the husband's customs" isn't ironclad, by the way -- Rabbi Moshe Feinstein's own father switched from Chassidish to Litvish in order to marry his mother, whose family was more prominent. This is recorded in the short biography prefacing Igros Moshe volume 8.)
    – Shalom
    Apr 25 at 7:34

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