Volume 44 Number 68
                    Produced: Wed Sep  8 21:47:21 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Following the minhagim of the husband
         [Chana Luntz]
Halachic parasitism
         [Binyomin Segal]


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Sun, 5 Sep 2004 01:01:43 +0100
Subject: Following the minhagim of the husband

Eli Turkel writes:

>Chana has given a long and clear explanation of the issues of a married 
>woman keeping her husband's customs. Nevertheless, I feel she is 
>pushing RMF and ROY to far in a woman changing her customs.

>Yavetz has a teshuva about women saying she-hechitanu on lighting
>candles on yomtov. He personally is against it and she should listen to
>the beracha during kiddush. He then concludes that his own wife does
>make a beracha and he does not stop her because of shalom bayit.  It is
>obvious that his wife followed the customs of her own mother and that
>was prefectly acceptable.

But this would not seem to be a case of conflict of the minhag of the
husband versus minhag of the wife, but rather of the husband through his
learning reaching a conclusion different from the prevailing minhag -
far more similar to the cases I cited from Rav Ovadiah regarding T'nuva,
shmita and badatz hechsherim - and closest of all to the discussion that
started all this off, the husband deciding that he is not comfortable
with the eruv his wife uses.

>In most homes in Eastern Europe the woman was in charge of the kitchen 
>and followed her mother's customs. No one insisted that she really ask 
>her mother-in-law about every detail. Only large scale problems like 
>kitniyot did the husband's custom prevail or whenever the husband 
>insisted.  For most other matters it was more minhag than din.

I tend to agree with this - I thought I made this point that the way
that Rav Ovadiah and Rav Moshe seem to pasken does not seem to match the
way most couples who deal with this issue manage it.  I gave the example
of a Sephardi-Ashkenazi marriage because the distinctions are much more
clear cut, and far more far reaching, and hence much more difficult to
master even if one were to try, but I agree the same issues arise and
arose within different communities in Eastern Europe, and I also agree
that this is almost certainly not how such couples dealt with the

But... the problem still remains that we have two fairly clear cut
teshuvas from what I think most people would agree were and are among
the leading poskim of this and the last generation, who explain the
halachic framework surrounding the concept of the woman following the
husbands minhagim in terms of a movement of place by the wife without
the intention to return. All I was saying follows from the framework
articulated by these poskim.

Certainly one could reject the framework suggested by these poskim.  One
poster on this list certainly seemed to do so, stating that it all had
to do with shalom bayis - although there was no explanation, if the
whole question is shalom bayis, why there should be any definitive
minhag for the woman to follow the man, shalom bayis should just as
logically work the other way (as you demonstrated above from the Yavetz)
depending on who felt most strongly about an issue.  And it seems not so
simple, at least to me, to out of hand reject the position of two of the
leading poskim of the generation, without any reasoned halachic argument
(of the kind that Rav Henkin provides) and without any demonstrating and
linkage to the sources (not that there are not sources on sholom bayis,
starting even from the blotting out of HaShem's name in the sotah
ceremony - but there are clearly parameters to what is and what is not
required in the name of sholom bayis, none of which have been
articulated here, or in any articles on the topic of husband versus wife
minhagim of which I am aware).

On the other hand Rav Henkin articulates a different halachic framework, 
based on the concept of neder.  One that explains the bias towards the 
husband, fits in with a certain concept of what minhag is today as 
articulated by the Chatam Sofer, and also, it seems to me, matches much 
more closely what actually happens in reality - and the areas where 
couples do and don't shift.  That is why I said that I personally found 
it more compelling.

>Even in the past women married between German and Litvishe and 
>Chassidic families and I am sure all the women continued praying in 
>their old way.

This though is an interesting assumption.  One of the things that seems 
to jump out of the literature from Eastern Europe is that many of the 
women did not know how to daven, and did not seem to daven any kind of 
nusach on a regular basis (despite the halacha seeming rather clearly to 
require them to do so).  I suspect any switch was a lot easier precisely 
because of this.

>This was especially true since most women never went to shul outside of 
>Yamim Noraim and an occasional yomtov.

Agreed - and the shul they went to after they married was their father's
shul (which according to your assumption would follow the nusach that
they were davening at home) or their husband's shul (where according to
your assumption they would neither know the nusach, and it would be at
variance from what they usually davened)?  My impression was that after
marriage in general they went to their husband's shul for Yamim Noraim
and the occasional yomtov, - and as to how they followed, that is
anybody's guess.  The more they davened at home and the more wedded they
were to the nusach they learnt in their father's house, the more
difficult that last would be.  My husband will tell you that, despite
him having become very conversant with Ashkenazi davening (he had to,
that is all there was for the four years he was at Cambridge), kol
nidrei is not kol nidrei to him done Askenazi style, and the one time he
could never bear to be at an Ashkenazi shul is for the Yamim Noraim.
And that was after spending four years of three times a day in an
Ashkenazi minyan.  For a woman who only goes to shul for the Yamim
Noraim and yomtov and the rest of the time davens at home with a
different nusach, that change would seem to be incredibly difficult.

> I have little doubt that in customs related to Mikvah that all women 
>learned from their mothers and did not ask the husband or mother-in-law 
>for their local customs.

Somebody told me once that Rav Ovadiah said that for mikvah related
questions the husband has no minhag, and hence the woman follows her
mother's minhag, but I have searched and searched for this and never
found it, so I am not sure if it is a myth or not (along with the many
"Rav Moshe says" and the mythical "it says in the gemora").

I am also not totally sure you are right, in the sense that, what I do 
in the mikvah is largely dependent on the minhag of the mikvah and 
mikvah ladies.  I don't know what they would do if I fronted up and 
tried to tell them that Rav Ovadiah holds that one should say the brocha 
over the tevila  in the room adjacent to the mikvah, while still wrapped 
in a robe, because the mikvah has the din of a bathhouse, because it has 
warm water (and that this is true according to Rav Ovadiah for 
Ashkenazim as well.  Oh, not only that, the new Golders Green mikvah has 
toilets in the preparatory rooms, as well as baths, so I doubt Rav 
Ovadiah would let you say the brocha there either, so I think you are 
probably completely scuppered brochawise according to him.)

And the fact that the new Golders Green mikvah has the most ridiculous 
policy regarding when you can first do tevila - which I can do 
absolutely nothing about it, whatever my minhag - when I say ridiculous 
- item: everybody, even the most machmir [strict] agreed that on motzei 
shiva aser b'tamuz [the night of the fast of the 17th of Tammuz], the 
fast went out at 10:17pm here in London.  But the Golders Green mikvah 
would not let anybody toyvel until 10.32pm - ie 15 minutes after 
everybody else was breaking their fast, because the computer had so 
decreed.  I personally think that is absolutely appalling - and that 
delaying the time of tevila beyond everybody's definition of night is 
not only completely unnecessary, but does not help shalom bayis at its 
most basic level even on a regular night, and is downright cruel on the 
night after a fast.  I did try and suggest to the person taking in the 
money at the new mikvah that their new "super tznius" rules (by which 
women going out don't meet women going in") might actually lead to one 
being makil on a Rema in Shulchan Aruch (regarding making sure that the 
first person you meet when coming out of the mikvah is a frum person), 
but I only got a bemused response.  Today, at any rate, mikvah is very 
much a communal thing, and it depends on who has the money to build the 
mikvah, and who then poskens for it, and since here in London it is the 
Ashkenazim, the Sephardi minhagim and everything else but what is 
decided upon by the Rav of the mikvah are likely to go by the wayside in 
most respects, regardless of the origin of the woman.

>Even in terms of moving to a new community I am sure that most people 
>kept their old customs for private matters. Rosh states clearly that 
>when he moved to Spain from Germany that he kept most ashkenazi customs 
>because he felt that there were better than the local Spanish customs. 
>Rav Kook states that an ashkenazi moving to Israel should continue to 
>daven in the ashkenazi accent of his ancestors.

That has a lot to do with the general principle accepted today about 
most places which is that there is no fixed minhag to that place (the 
classic case is America, where different groups of Ashkenazim and 
Sephardim arrived and set up communities relatively soon one after the 
other, so it is hard to say there was ever an established minhag 
hamakom), which is why the halacha regarding changing ones minhag when 
one moves place is generally regarded as no longer applying.  By the 
way, Rav Ovadiah disagrees with this regarding Eretz Yisroel (with the 
possible exception of Jerusalem) and holds that the minhag of Eretz 
Yisroel is to follow Maran of the Shulchan Aruch (ie not the Rema) and 
that basically Ashkenazim should really have switched (see for example 
his comments on this in the teshuva to which I previously referred you - 
he cites this as the basis for which a Sephardi woman married to an 
Ashkenazi man living in Israel can eat kitniyot at her parents place 
even if not in her new home, on the grounds that all of Eretz Yisroel 
should really be following Maran and Sephardi minhagim - a psak which 
would seem not to extend to a Sephardi woman in a similar situation 
living abroad).

Note that davening, at least for a man, is not a private matter the 
minute he takes the amud, says kaddish etc etc.  And truth be told, it 
is not that private for a woman in the context of her family either - if 
the woman only knows how to bench in her nusach or pronounce shema in 
her accent - either she backs out from teaching the kids, or you run the 
risk that the kids will end up with her nusach and/or accent as well.

>Hence, in regard to private minhagim I think people moving to a new 
>community kept their old customs.

I don't think that is true historically (the Rosh is an interesting 
exception) but rather the opposite, Sephardim moving to Lita for example 
adopted Lithuanian customs and davening modes (in the same way that my 
husband did and had to do in Cambridge, because that is all there was, 
the only reason he did not abandon his original nusach for good was 
because he and everybody else knew that Cambridge was a short term 
thing, and he had the intention to return to his original place.  If he 
had settled permanently in Cambridge, almost certainly he would have had 
to shift to davening nusach Ashkenaz, because he would have been 
functioning in a community that only had one minyan, and only had one 
posek, and given that he was not functioning on the level of the Rosh, 
that meant he had no real choice but to switch).

Chana Luntz


From: <bsegal@...> (Binyomin Segal)
Date: Sun, 05 Sep 2004 5 00:12:13
Subject: Re: Halachic parasitism

On Tue, 31 Aug 2004 06:11:22 -0400 (EDT), Steven White wrote:
> As I am beginning to see things come together here, I am inclined to
> agree with Chana Luntz and Binyomin that the situation is not
> necessarily one of "parasitism."  But try as I do "ladon l'chol adam
> l'kaf z'chut" (give everyone the benefit of the doubt), I must come to
> the conclusion that frequently it _is_ "parasitism" in reality, as Meir
> Shinnar argues.  And what leads me to this conclusion is the ignored
> case of the tallis bag dropped into the stroller.
> ...
> But a tallis in a bag in a stroller demands some kind of a
> priori decision that someone will carry the tallis (or at least the
> bag).
> ...
> In the case of tallis there is no reason
> for her to carry it.  The only explanations are that (a) she offers to
> help out of kindness, or (b) he asks her to help.
> In my view, someone who is being "true to his sense of the sources" in
> not using an eruv is being inconsistent in case (b).  Additionally, he
> ought not rely on (a), absent some unexpected outside tircha (weather,
> etc.).  And that is why I believe that the situation described here is
> so often "parasitic" in reality, even though in theory it need not be.

First off, I tend to agree with Steven that there are occasions where
the situation is inappropriate. So now, the disagreement is just one of
degree. I might argue, as Steve himself does, that there is an
obligation of giving the benefit of the doubt. But from this post it
seems there is still some area of theoretical disagreement.

In an earlier post I discussed at length why "amira l'yehudi" is NOT a
halachik problem. Part of the right to be "true to his sense of the
sources" also requires that a person accept the established halacha. So
while I must not carry, my spouse and children may carry.

Further, while I might accept that Steve is correct if this is the first
time, a spousal relationship has history. And that history means we come
to accept certain favors the other does as "normal". If the first time
they were returning home on a hot summer day he was wearing his tallis,
and she offered to put it in the stroller - how many times must this
happen before that is the normal procedure?



End of Volume 44 Issue 68