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Upgrading to a Nicer Pair of Tefillin

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Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Av 24, 5774
Question
I am unsure what Minhag of Tefillin to purchase. I received my first pair from Chabad 9 years ago and it was a mix of minhagim. The batim are Ashkenaz, the parshiyot are Ha’Ari, and the straps wrap outwardly. I am looking to purchase a new and much nicer pair, but I have received too many conflicting answers as to what minhag to buy. Chabad says Ha’Ari, the local Modern Orthodox Rabbis say Ashkenazi Beit Yosef, and I do not know what to do. Can you please advise?
Answer
ב"ה Shalom As I have said in a previous answer, the general rule is that a person must follow the custom of his parents. The Pasuk says "Do not abandon the 'torah' of your mother" (Mishle 1:8) which the Talmud explains that one should not change the nusach of his ancestors. (Yerushalmi Eruvin chapter 3). Sometimes people grow up with a custom different than that of their father and only after they get used to it they happen to find out that it was not their father's custom. In such cases, a Rabbi should be consulted how to continue. It seems that in the case you are describing that the father's custom is unknown. It is for these type of cases, that it says in Pirkei Avot that you must choose a Rav to whom you direct your questions. Both customs you describe are holy and you perform the mitzvah of Tefillin. You should not feel missing out because you do things one way and others do the same mitzvah another way. As much as we Rabbis on the internet would like to help you "virtually", we cannot replace a real flesh and blood Rabbi who you can meet, call, and go to his shiur. Don't misunderstand. We will continue to answer your questions and we appreciate the confidence you place in us and the "zechut" you give us by allowing us to teach you torah. Also, even on this site, sometimes one Rabbi will answer you and other times another Rabbi will answer with perhaps a different perspective. The choice here is not between, Chabad or modern orthodox. The modern orthodox Rabbis told you simply the Askenazi custom. So find the Rabbi who you feel close to who will help you make your decision which custom to follow, and be consistent. Al the best
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