07 – Those Accustomed to a Different Nusach

https://ph.yhb.org.il/en/02-06-07/

Sometimes the question arises regarding how a person should practice when his father, who is a member of one ethnic group, becomes accustomed to praying in a nusach of a different ethnic group. Should he pray in the nusach in which his father currently prays or in the nusach of his father’s ethnic group? As a general rule, the obligatory minhag is that of the ethnic group and not one’s father’s individual minhag. However, when the son prefers to continue in his father’s adopted nusach, or because he finds it difficult to change, or for any other reason, he is permitted to continue praying in his father’s nusach. Since this question poses implications on other issues, it is best that one consult with his rabbi on this matter.

A similar dilemma arose among members of Chassidic families, who learned in Lithuanian yeshivot and became accustomed to praying in Nusach Ashkenaz. When they left the yeshiva, they deliberated whether to continue praying in Nusach Ashkenaz as they were taught in yeshiva, or return to praying in Nusach SephardChassidi, the minhag of their parents.

The rabbis of the Ashkenazic minhag taught that, in principle, they must continue praying in Nusach Ashkenaz, for in the past, all Ashkenazic Jews prayed in Nusach Ashkenaz, and only 200 years ago did the Chassidim change their nusach. Even though now, after such a long time, all Chassidim will not be instructed to return to pray in Nusach Ashkenaz, still, it is best that those Chassidim who already became accustomed to praying in Nusach Ashkenaz continue to pray that way, because it is their ancestors’ original nusach. However, the Chassidic rabbis insisted that they must continue in the Chassidic nusach, reasoning that since prominent Chassidic authorities have instructed those who prayed in Nusach Ashkenaz to switch to the Nusach SephardChassidi, in congruence with the writings of the Ari, all the more so, anyone born into a Chassidic family must continue praying in the Chassidic nusach.

In practice, since there are differing opinions, the person posing the question may choose how to practice. Still, it is best to consult with one’s rabbi on this matter.[7]


[7]. The position of the rabbis who pray in Nusach Ashkenaz is brought in Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim, part 2, 24, as well as in Tefillah Kehilchatah, in the name of Rav Elyashiv. Their opinion is that Nusach Ashkenaz is the nusach in which it is proper for all Ashkenazim to pray. However, Rav Elyashiv adds in the next paragraph that one who has regularly prayed in a different nusach since he was born, and it is difficult for him to change, may continue praying in the nusach to which he has become accustomed, for that is what the Chazon Ish and Rabbi Yaakov Kanievsky have taught. The opinion of the Chassidic rabbis is widely known.
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