Can I keep my parents’ customs after I get married?
Rabbanit Rachel Weinstein
She'elaA woman coming from a Yemenite background, with a very strong connection to her heritage is marrying an Ashkenazi man with almost no connection to his family customs. She is asking whether she can keep her own Yemenite customs after they wed.
Although it is widely accepted that normally a woman takes on the customs of her husband, there are opinions that allow some flexibility on this topic. In this case, since the woman has a Minhag (custom), and it can be said that the man does not, there seems to be room to allow her to keep her own family customs.
The source for the basic rule that a woman takes on her husband’s customs is in Pesachim 50a:
“In a place where it was the custom to work on the eve of Pesach until midday, work is done. In a place where the custom is not to work, work is not done. One who travels from a place where work is done to a place where work is not done or from a place where work is not done to a place where work is done, accepts the stringencies of the place he has left and the stringencies of the place he has gone to, and one must not change because of disagreement.”
There is a concept of minhag hamakom, the customs of the place where one lives. These customs are binding.
When one travels, the above Mishna states that one must take on the Chumrot, stringencies of the new place and continue keeping the stringencies of the place where you came from. Many Rishonim explain that this applies when one is planning to return to the place of origin. If one is not planning to return, one accepts the customs of their new home town.
Many Halakhic authorities suggest that when a woman enters a new home, having married her new husband, she is like the one who moved and is now bound by the new rules, Minhag Hamakom, the customs of her husband.
Reb Moshe Feinstein in Igrot Moshe (או”ח חלק א קנ:ח) relates to a couple who have different customs in their parents’ homes. Reb Moshe holds that the woman should take on the customs of her husband.
On the other hand Rav Chaim David Halevy in his book שו”ת עשה לך רב ( חלק ו סימן ל”ז) is of the opinion that a woman does not necessarily have to take on her husband’s customs. He sees the issue of Shlom Bayit as the main concern in this discussion. If a woman cleaving to the custom of her family will cause strife, she should accept her husband’s custom. If this is not the case, she is not bound by the customs of her husband.
He relates specifically to a case similar to our question, when the woman has a minhag and is very connected to it and the man is not. In a case such as this one Rav Chayim David Halevi says that it is clear that a woman should keep the customs of her family.