I often feel that it’s hard to adhere to all of our parents’ chumros/minhagim. Can my husband and I decide as to which chumros/minhagim we will keep in our family? (At one point or another our parents also added to/discontinued their parents’ chumros/minhagim).
As Pesach is approaching, I’m left to wonder so many things. Regarding Pesach minhagim – it’s not like there’s one “family tradition”. My parents are divorced; while living with my father we were strict in some areas and lenient in others; after the divorce we would spend Pesach at my maternal grandparents who did everything the opposite of what my father held. So I ended up choosing the leniencies of each side. My husband’s side as well, has different customs/minhagim between his father’s and mother’s families – so they usually follow the rules of the family they eat by.
So, can my husband and I decide which minhagim/chumros to keep and which not to? I feel very restricted by all the chumros.
There is no concrete obligation for a person to follow his “family customs”.
The basic obligation, with respect to customs, is to follow the customs of a person’s place. Today, “places” are generally defined by a person’s origins: Somebody who is descended from Poland will follow customs of Poland, and somebody from Iraq, Iraqi customs.
However, after the war (WWII) there was a great “mixing” of peoples, and customs began to become more fluid. Many people from Germany do not follow the strict “German custom” for matters of pronunciation, nusach, piyuttim etc.Likewise, many descended from Poland have adopted some Lithuanian customs, and vice versa.
Another cause for the “melting pot” of customs is the baal teshuvah movement; baalei teshuva generally adopt whichever customs they desire, and different halachic authorities have expressed different views concerning the issue.
Certainly, if your parents and extended family “picked and chose” customs, this won’t obligate you, and you are free to choose differently. For example, if a person’s father decided to refrain from eating “matzah shruya” this won’t obligate his children. However, you should be consistent in matters of custom, and not take the different leniencies of various communities and put them all together.
Moreover, some stringencies are based on actual custom, and others are just personal stringencies that do not involve actual custom in a halachic sense. You are welcome to ask again concerning specific matters.
Note that for some stringencies that you are accustomed to, hataras nedarim might be required.