So is it allowed to change the way/minhag you wrap your Tefillin? Because I want to wrap my Tefillin on the the temani way, but I follow another tradition. Would that be any problem if I changed the way how I wrap the Shel Yad in a different way? Thanks

  • I asked a similar question switching from Nusach Ari to Nusach Ashkenaz. It wasn't a problem for Tefillah but as far as Tefillin one can't change it. I don't know why for Tefillin, CLOR. Oct 23, 2016 at 16:32
  • Are you teimani?
    – Daniel
    Oct 23, 2016 at 17:56
  • Rav Soloveitchik held one should switch from double daled of the Rosh to single knot
    – sam
    Nov 4, 2016 at 0:19

3 Answers 3


I would stay within your family custom, nothing wrong with learning it's a gift in its self. Sometimes it brings its own rewards, but remember you are who you are so respect who you and your families journey of what they have past on to you.


Rav Binyomin Shlomo Hamburger shlita said in this shiur, regarding those non-תימנים who are מקפיד to hear the תרועה תימנית:

"The Arizal says that there are י''ב שבטים and that each tribe has a different שער in שמים, and if a person davens with the נוסח of another שבט, his תפלה does not rise up. Why? If you buy a car and you get a special key for your car and you don't use your key, can you open your car? Even if you get a golden key and got it from the Queen of England, it wont open your car. You need your own key for your car. If you belong to a specific שבט, the only way for you to have your תפלה accepted is to use your particular נוסח which was given to your people, for your שבט. It's not going to help you if you if you use something else. I am going to read out a few words from Rav Chaim Vital. He says that there are many שינוים between the תפלות in the סידורים of ספרד, Catalonia (in Spain itself there were two נוסחאות or more), and מנהג אשכנז (which is the old German מנהגים which eventually became אשכנז in the rest of Europe. Says the Arizal - אמר לי מורי ז''ל (my Rebbe taught me): that we have twelve windows in heaven for the י''ב שבטים and he builds it on the פסוקים in יחזקאל and there would have been no need for twelve windows in heaven unless each שבט had its own way. כי כפי שורש ומקור נשמת השבט ההוא כך צורך להיות סדר תפלתו. The שורש הנשמה - we all have נשמות here and our נשמות cannot go on different patterns than the ones which were given to us. Our נשמה is linked with this window in שמים and it has its own way. If we start now to play around with it, all our efforts even if we daven all day long and we accept the מנהגי Gra, and מנהגי בעל שם טוב and the Arizal and Rav Chaim Vital and the Chida - we did all their חומרות - it wont help. If you belong to אשכנז or belong to ספרד or belong to Yemen, you belong to that שבט. And the Arizal says because we don't know which שבט we are from, everyone is מוחזק that where he comes from, that's his own נוסח and his שבט - one must not change. A ספרד person must not daven אשכנז and אשכנז person must not daven ספרד - there is no way out of it. And he says 'and if a person שהרוצה לקרוא מנהג ההוא and he changes it - ועתה בא לבטלו - he goes to the other one, אין תפלתו עולה למעלה.' Now, one could say that's all fine for תפלות, but we are talking about an item like תקיעות. Comes the של''ה הקדוש and he say no - this doesn't mean just תפלות - he talked about תפלות but he meant the rest of it. האריז''ל היה אומר כמו שיש דל''ת דגלים סביב המשכן - like there were four דגלים around the Mishkon - כך יש דל''ת כיתות בישראל - there are four camps in Israel. וחלוקים באיזה מנהגים - not תפלות, he says מנהגים. b ספרד, אשכנז, קאטלוניה, איטליה וכל אחד ישאר בדגלו לנהוג מנהגו - everyone needs to stick to his מנהג. Now, my question is this - if I am not a Yemenite and I'm listening to the wonderful Yemenite מסורה - will it help me? If you look at the אריז''ל and his commentators - it doesn't help me.

To answer your question: No. You should not and must not change to the Yemenite מסורה in anything if you are not a תימני.

  • How do you see from here that it isn't allowed? All I see are mystics claiming something won't be as effective in the w upper realms. If I dont believe in those realms, or do, but still want to follow a different practice, who says it isn't allowed?
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 9, 2017 at 12:54
  • If this is a paternal-genetic thing, then why does one change to the local practice if moving to a new community with no intention of returning (eg. a Spanish Jew who moved permanently to Italy would adopt the Italian practices)?
    – Double AA
    Oct 9, 2017 at 14:24
  • Do Yemenites count as Spanish, German, Catalonian or Italian? What about Tunisians?
    – Double AA
    Oct 9, 2017 at 14:26
  • 1
    @mevaqesh, but he's using mystics to prove a very rational point which goes against the mystical understanding of his mekorot (eg. שער הקלל) which is the basis for Nusach Sfard/Ar"i. Oct 9, 2017 at 14:48
  • 1
    What do you mean "work" the point is to do mitsvot. Even if you believe they have theurgic power, the main thing is still the mitsvot.
    – mevaqesh
    Oct 9, 2017 at 16:21

Yes you can change it. In fact, not only can you change it, you can change it whenever you want, over and over again.

There's no such thing as a binding "positive" minhag. Although the idea of a positive binding minhag has taken over present day thought, it's a recent phenomena.

The first large source to deal with this issue came from the Maharashdam (Rav Shmuel deMedina of the 16th Century), a large Turkish posek who was quoted by Sephardim and Ashkenazim after him. The issue was that after the expulsion of Spanish Jews from Spain, the indigenous Turkish Jews found themselves outnumbered by the Sepharadim. Now most of the Synagogues were using Nusach Sepharadi, and the Turkish Jews wanted to know if they had to use the Sephardi Nusach of prayers (the community standard), or if they could continue to use the prayers of Nusach Turkey.

He ruled as follows:

בטורקיה נתקבל נוסח הספרדים. וקמו מערערים לומר שרוצים להתפלל כסדר מנהג אבותיהם. ז"ל שו"ת מהרשד"ם (אורח חיים סימן לה), לא מצאנו ולא ראינו שאין לשנות מנהג אבותינו כי אם בדבר שיש בו נידנוד איסור. בכי-האי-גוונא דליכא צד איסור כלל ועיקר, ולא הרחקת עבירה -- בהא פשיטא דלא שייך ביה משום "אל תטוש תורת אמך". וכן יש לדקדק מלשון הר"ן שכתב (פסחים פרק ד ד"ה ונמצינו = דף יז ע"ב בדפי הרי"ף): נמצינו למדים בתורת המנהגות שכל מנהג איסור שהוא מעיר אחת -- כל שאינו מנהג בטעות אלא שהם החמירו על עצמן לעשות סייג לתורה או לדבר שהוא מחלוקת בין חכמי ישראל ונהגו כדברי האוסר כל בני העיר, חייבין בו מן הדין, ואפילו בצינעא, עד שיעקור דירתו משם ויקבענה בעיר אחרת, עכ"ל הר"ן. ומדאמר הר"ן שכל מנהג איסור וכו', ולא קאמר שכל מנהג סתם, משמע דלא אמרינן הכי אלא בדבר איסור שנהגו במקומו הוא דאין לשנות. הא במידי דליכא צד איסור כלל -- פשיטא שאין קפידא כלל.

Summary: We have not found and we have not seen any example to block the change of your ancestral minhag. except, in minhagim which have a minud (a little bit of) prohibition in them. And he states this is not his new idea, but rather it was taught by the Ran.

In other words, the only obligatory minhagim are those that have prohibitions involved in them. In practical terms, this means that refraining from rice during Pesach would be a binding minhag that cannot be changed because you are prohibiting yourself of something. As clarified by Rabbi Dovid Fink, a noted posek in Jerusalem: The nusach of your prayers, or the method of wrapping your tefillin, etc, have no aspects of prohibition, and therefore you can change them as you please. In this case of the Turkish Jews, they were allowed to pray in Nusach Sepharad, or Nusach Turkey, whichever they wanted, whenever they wanted.

You will find that if you scour the sources before the Maharashdam you will not find anyone arguing that all minhagim are binding. Instead, all the examples of binding minhagim will be those that have to do with prohibitions. The closest thing to a “binding” minhag of another type you’ll find is one single example, which is the minhag of beating the willows on Hoashana Rabba, but this isn’t a normal minhag. Rather it was a tradition instituted by the nevi’im (prophets) and is the only one of its kind. I can find more sources regarding this, including Rabbi Benzion Chai Uzziel the former Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael. He released a Teshuva allowing people to change their Hebrew pronunciations however they wished since there's no such thing as a "positive" minhag.

  • 2
    Posted on Hoshana Rabba, of all days...
    – Double AA
    Oct 23, 2016 at 19:02
  • 1
    It's nice that you found a relevant responsum, but the claims you snuck in like "is the only one of its kind" and "The first large source to deal with this issue" and "the method of wrapping your tefillin [has] no aspects of prohibition" are still sorely lacking in support. It also of course ignores hundreds of other sources on the matter, and popular positive Minhagim like Hallel on Rosh Chodesh or candle lighting on Yom Kippur.
    – Double AA
    Nov 3, 2016 at 21:19
  • Did R Fink address tefillin particular? That's a pretty convenient coincidence.
    – Double AA
    Nov 3, 2016 at 22:18
  • 1
    @DoubleAA He does address tefillin. Watch the 3rd video, starting around the last third.
    – Aaron
    Nov 3, 2016 at 22:37

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