Ask the Rabbi

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • Sfirat Ha'omer Customs

Adopted wrong custom- do you change?


Rabbi Moshe Leib Halberstadt

Iyyar 20, 5770
Shalom Rabbis Growing up I was in one of these "traditional" but not observant Orthodox homes that exist in South Africa. When I became a Chozer B’teshuvah I stopped shaving in the Omer- but since I struggled enough with just keeping the count correct I decided to not shave from Pesach to Lag B’Omer without first checking what the standard community Minhag was. That was 18 years ago... Over the intervening time and immersing myself more fully in the community etc, I find myself following the minority custom of observing this section as one of mourning rather than from Rosh Chodesh Iyar until three days before Shavuot. Probably what has really highlighted this for me was the fact that my maternal grandfather studied in Kelm Yeshivah and undoubtedly followed the standard Litvak custom from Rosh Chodesh Iyar. I do not know what the custom in my father’s family is (and my father has no knowledge of what custom’ his grand parents who came from Lithuania followed) - but since they were also Litvak’s I would suspect also from Rosh Chodesh Iyar. So my question is- do I change customs to the prevailing one in the community (and probably the one of my grandparents), or do I stay with the custom I took on for myself? Thank You
Both customs are considered one custom which forbids 33 days. Nowadays that most places have a large variety of customs from all around the world, there is no fear of “Lo Titgodedu” (do not form competing parties who follow different customs - Deuteronomy 14, 1. Yevamot 13b), and each person is entitled to change his custom in this matter from year to year. In your case, you can definitely return to the custom of your ancestors who most likely kept the days of mourning from Rosh Chodesh Iyar until the first day of the Three Days of Restriction. [אגרות משה או"ח א סימן קנט ואו"ח ב סימן צה].
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