Are we required to use the Hebrew pronunciation of our minhag in tefilah and for brachot? What is the source for this?

I'm of Yekke Ashkenazi background but as a baal teshuva learnt Hebrew with a modern Israeli pronunciation. I recently studied an online Aish course on brachot which said that we must use the pronunciation of our minhag.

I've been trying to relearn brachot and tefilah with an Ashkenazi pronunciation but of course this is easier said than done, particularly with words and brachot I've been saying for years now, and at the moment I'm saying some brachot with one pronunciation and some with the other. Is this worse?

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    They are pretty clearly making up this requirement. There are no classical sources on the matter because no one ever thought to actively change the way everyone around them pronounced Hebrew. The whole town obviously spoke the same way and that was it. Only in the last ~150 years would anyone have even thought to discuss this. – Double AA Oct 13 '16 at 1:15
  • A colleague of mine was in a similar situation as yours where he was Ashkenaz but went to a Modern Orthodox school where they taught pronunciation like Modern Hebrew. Upon asking Rav Herschel Shachter from YU, he was told to switch, so I'm not so sure as to say that there are no sources if a Posek told him to do such. – TrustMeI'mARabbi Oct 13 '16 at 1:18
  • @PloniAlmoni Did he tell him to switch to "American Ashkenazi" or German Ashkenazi or Polish or Russian or etc.? The notion that there is only one Ashkenazi to switch to is a joke. In Poland for instance, ר was pronounced as a trill, unlike how Americans do it. Are all those American Ashkenazim who are descended from Poles wrong? – Double AA Oct 13 '16 at 2:29
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    @PloniAlmoni I'll note also that being required to switch from modern Hebrew to an Ashkenazi variant doesn't answer the OP's question (which was "Are we required to use the Hebrew pronunciation of our minhag?") if the basis for requiring a switch was that modern Hebrew isn't a valid form of Hebrew at all. – Double AA Oct 13 '16 at 2:51
  • In Israel most yekes adopted the majoritary pronunciati on, those who are in orthodox milieu adooted the pseudo litay Israeli pronounciation, the dati leumi, the modern Israeli, if learn with chassidish, the pseudo polish Israeli... Nothing is really genuine in accents – kouty Oct 13 '16 at 19:57

AFAIK, for most Brachos, any Hebrew is fine. For specific Torah readings that are M'Doraisa (e.g. Parshas Zachor), hearing it in anything other than "the correct" pronunciation would raise questions as to whether you are Yotze. (My Rav gave a speech on this a few years back - I have to ask him for the source.)

As for no one mentioning it - from what I understand, having never learned it myself) the Yosef Ometz (written by Rabbi Yosef Yosspe Hahn Norlingen [1570-1637], Av Beis Din and Rosh Yeshiva in Frankfurt) has a whole section dedicated to the proper pronunciation of Hebrew, with proofs, and how the Eastern European pronunciation is entirely wrong and is Halachically problematic.

Also, refer to Rav Hamburger and Shorshei Minhagei Ashkenaz - he has several chapters on this.

That is slightly more than 150 years ago. :)

  • Did the Yosef Ometz discuss an obligation to use the Hebrew pronounciation of your father? Certainly there are old sources that discuss whether or not certain variants are correct. That's not what we're discussing. In fact it's the exact opposite. If someone argues for a specific variant that means they don't think everyone's father's way is equally fine. – Double AA Dec 25 '17 at 0:36

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