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Why does a family adopt its father's minhagim, not mother's? What is the scriptural source for this (or Talmudic)?

Why does the wife take on her husbands minhagim and not vice versa? Is this obligatory? This is especially perplexing since the verse states "Do not abandon the Torah of your mother"!

  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/78750/… ? – Naftali Tzvi Apr 14 '17 at 21:21
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    Maybe it has something to do with the fact that tribal affiliation follows the father's line. – ezra Apr 14 '17 at 21:22
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    How do you know that customs follow the father? – mevaqesh Apr 14 '17 at 21:23
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    Consider asking about a wife separately. Questions should ask one question at a time. Otherwise they may be closed as you broad. – mevaqesh Apr 14 '17 at 21:27
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    I did some research, and it seems that the husbands minhag in his home is considered bining as minhag hamakom. We kno that the house is his makom and not hers since the Tora statesregarding divorce "And he will send her from his house".I guess I would have to open another question about the source for "minhag hamakom" – Naftali Tzvi Apr 16 '17 at 2:02
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A family adopts the fathers minhagim because he is the one that has a chiyuv to teach his sons Torah, and the daughter follow it until they get married. The son takes his fathers minhagim because it says in the Torah "You shall teach them to your sons." A daughter once she gets married follows the minhagim of her husbands house because in the gemara (Meseches Pesachim 50b) that once a daughter gets married it is like she left her previous place and customs and moved to a new place and received new customs to follow. The pasuk "Do not abandon the Torah of your mother," which is from Mishlei should not be translated like that. The correct translation would be to replace "Torah" with "teachings." Rashi says that the pasuk is saying not to forget how your mother taught you to love. You can look for more about following the fathers minhagim in Meseches Pesachim 50b (the fourth perek).

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  • I don't see on 50b any mention of a daughter getting married being like leaving her place. Can you quote the words for me? – Double AA Jul 22 at 19:51
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The source for following the minhagim of ones father is a Gemara Pesachim (50b):

בני ביישן נהוג דלא הוו אזלין מצור לצידון במעלי שבתא אתו בנייהו קמיה דרבי יוחנן אמרו לו אבהתין אפשר להו אנן לא אפשר לן אמר להו כבר קיבלו אבותיכם עליהם שנאמר שמע בני מוסר אביך ואל תטוש תורת אמך

"Bnei Beishan" complained to R' Yochanan that the custom their father had adopted not to go to the market on Fridays was not financially viable for them, and they wanted to scrap this custom. R' Yochanan replied 'Your fathers already accepted this custom upon themselves', ruling that they were bound to keep this custom, citing the verse 'שמע בני מוסר אביך'.

The Rivash (and many Poskim in his footsteps) opines that a minhag is binding, sourcing his claim from Pesachim 50b. He writes (§399):

ועוד שאפילו בדברים שלא קבלו עליהם בני העיר בהסכמה, אלא שנהגו כן מעצמם לעשות גדר וסייג לתורה אף הבנים חייבין לנהוג בותו גדר, כדאמרינן במסכת פסחים בני בישן נהגו וכו׳ אמר להו כבר קבלו עליהם אבותיכם וכתיב שמע בני מוסר אביך ואל תטוש תורת אמך. ואם לא היה ביד האבות לתקן על הבנים איך היו הבנים אסורין במה שנהגו בו אסור האבות מעצמם וכו׳.

However, the Pischei Teshuva Shulchan Aruch (YOD 214:5) quotes the Zichron Yosef who limits this law:

והעלה דאין הבן מחוייב להתנהג בהנהגת אביו זולת מה שהתנהג גם הבן מאז שהגדיל שהרגילוהו אבותיו ללכת בדרכיהם, ועל אופן זה מיירי נמי המחבר שכתב קבלת הרבים חלה עליהם ועל זרעם דהיינו שכבר נהגו כן יושבי עיר וזרעם והוי כנדרו גם לזרעם ולהכי חייבים לישות כתקנתם, מה שאין כן אם הבן לא התחיל להתנהג מעולם כמנהג הטוב של אביו אין הבן מחוייב להתנהג בפרישות ההוא

In other words, although there is no 'power of tradition' which obligates a son to follow the practices of his father, if the son was raised by his father and therefore [from the age of reaching adulthood] practiced his fathers customs, he would be obligated to follow them, similar to a נדר לדבר מצוה which can be caused simply by performing a good practice without the disclaimer that you do not want to make a נדר.

The Chavas Yair (§126) [and Pri Chadash (496, Dinei Minhagei Issur §7)] quotes the Rivash, and writes that it is unreasonable to say that every son must follow every stringency of his father, and proves so lengthily; he concludes that the Gemara Pesachim 50b and the Rivash are not talking about individual families, but the customs of a town, which are halachically binding even to future generations (See Shulchan Aruch 214:2 - קבלת הרבים חלה עליהם ועל זרעם).

The contemporary Poskim (Igros Moshe, Shevet Halevi [5:129, 6:59, 9:193], Minchas Yitzchok [3:144:2]) rule like the abovementioned opinion. For example, R' Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OCH 3:64) rules:

ואם מנהג מקומו היה ג״כ להקל ורק אביו נהג להחמיר אין הבן מחוייב להתנהג אלא אם כבר התנהג גם הבן בעצמו בגדלותו אף שהיה זה ממה שהגדילו אביו ולא מצד בחירת עצמו להחמיר

The Shevet Halevi (6:59) discusses Sephardic students who are enrolled in Ashkenazi yeshivos, and wanted to change certain minhagim (like nusach hatefilla). He writes:

דכל זמן שאין להם טעם מספיק ע״פ הלכה לעזוב מנהג המסור להם איכא בזה גם משום אל תטוש תורת אמיך, וכמובאר בפסחים נ ע״ב ובשו״ע יו״ד סי׳ רי״ד ס״ב קבלת הרבים חלה עליהם ואל זרעם וכו׳ אבל בדבר שקבל על עצמו שבט שלם בכלל ישראל כמו מנהגי הספרדים והכרעותיהם מפני שהם ספרדים ונמשכו אחרי רבותיהם זה כמה מאות בשנה - וכן ההכרעות האשכנזים כרמ״א שזה דבר הנמשך לדורות עולם מכמה מאות שנה בזה נראה דלא צריך דבלה משהגדיך דשורש שבטו ממילא מחייב לנהוג כאבותיו

Although he accepts the opinion of the Zichron Yosef that children are only bound to what they have practiced themselves in adulthood, this is only true of individual practices, not widespread customs for people of a certain 'tribe'.

The Divrei Malkiel (4:66, 5:81) forbids a son of generations who didn't shave their beards to begin shaving, based on the Gemara Pesachim.

  • See Kol Nidrei (Perek 75) for a succinct summary of the various opinions and sources (many more than I cited). – chortkov2 Jul 23 at 8:40
  • I don't understand your first sentence. All that shows is that Minhagim of a location are binding. Everyone in Beit Shaan had to follow the practice. – Double AA Jul 23 at 11:35
  • @DoubleAA - If you would read a little further, R' Yochanan's response was nothing to do with minhag hamakom, but because שמע בני מוסר אביך. Although there are poskim who explain that this 'קבלו אבותיכם' is only for community קבלות (as I mentioned), the simple reading of this Gemara as accepted by various poskim is that there is an obligation to follow the customs of one's father. – chortkov2 Jul 23 at 13:17
  • I completely disagree with you. The simple reading of that Gemara and that answer is you should listen to the practices of the forebearers of the community, and such is the view of most poskim. – Double AA Jul 23 at 13:21

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