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Preface: Assume I am not an ordained Rabbi.

Suppose I'm having lunch with my friend and he asks me "do I have to say a bracha on this dessert?" or "when's the last time I could daven mincha today?" or "am I allowed to carry this back home?" (on Shabbos).

Whatever the case may be, am I allowed to answer him? Or should I just grin and say "CYLOR"?


Highly related: Why is it necessary to ask a Rabbi?

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Yes, and CYLOR ironically applies to this question too! –  yydl Sep 23 '11 at 22:00
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IMO, it shouldn't make a difference whether you are an ordained rabbi or not: meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/312/… –  Adam Mosheh May 15 '12 at 19:25
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6 Answers

You are allowed to answer and should answer, so long it is a question you can answer.

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A source for this answer would make it more valuable. –  msh210 Sep 25 '11 at 2:46
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Common sense does not need a source. –  Gershon Gold Sep 26 '11 at 11:41
    
The answer does make a good deal of sense, but what makes sense to me is not always correct: I'm not imbued with such a quantity (or do I mean quality) of daas tora. –  msh210 Sep 26 '11 at 14:53
    
@msh210 - Yes, you are imbued with some daat tora. Anyone who learns is. But that doesn't mean you have enough of it to answer a question. –  Adam Mosheh May 15 '12 at 19:00
    
@msh210 This doesn't make that much sense. What about the prohibition of more halacha bifnei rabbo which applies if you are within 3 parsa of your rabbo? –  Double AA Oct 7 '13 at 4:22
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Its only considered a psak if it's a new case that requires original analysis. If you are just reciting a halachik fact, it is not a psak halacha. It does not require a posek and the person can still go and ask someone else. (I heard a similar statement b'shem R' Hershel Schachter).

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Well by me saying what it means, I'm giving a psak that the cases are analogous, no? –  yydl Sep 25 '11 at 4:03
    
A source for this answer would make it more valuable. –  msh210 Sep 25 '11 at 16:12
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I added a citation. @yydl, most desserts have been discussed before, so you're just quoting a book. It's a psak if it was a new food and you rule based on your understanding of the sugya. –  Ariel K Sep 25 '11 at 21:18
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Why is it Psak to give a new analysis of a Sugya but not an analysis of whether someone else's book applies? –  Seth J Sep 26 '11 at 17:17
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@TKKocheran Ariel K is right. If someone asks what time to daven minchah, you don't need smicha to look up the time of sunset! Even when customs vary, telling someone what you do, based on your teacher(s), is fine as well. Learning from competent authorities is important, but we don't need to pretend to be idiots either. –  user1095 Jan 26 '12 at 16:43
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If he does not need to know right now then he should consult his rabbi, but your question describes (mostly) immediate cases. Assuming he's not going to call his rabbi before dessert or that he's asking the carrying question on Shabbat (so he obviously can't ask if his rabbi is not present), it seems that you have an obligation to not withhold information and thereby cause him to transgress. On the other hand, you cannot rule for him and should not try. Therefore you should say something like "I have learned halacha X and halacha Y which might bear on this" or "I learned from Source Z that..." without authoritatively answering his question. That puts the responsibility back on him but you have supplied some relevant information.

I don't have a source for this other than observed behavior: this is how people responded to me when I asked such questions, and from that I learned to respond to others the same way.

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A source for this answer would make it more valuable. –  msh210 Sep 25 '11 at 16:12
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Although there are laws requiring a "rabbi" for judgments requiring a court, most regular forbidden vs permissible areas are within the purview of any Jew (eid echad ne'eman b'issurim) There are a number of sources which show this (I'll try to expand later), as an example:

How can a man trust his wife (who has a chezkas tumah) that she knows how to become tahor if she is not a Rabbi.

The only issue would be: Is the question within the experience of this friend.

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"eid echad ne'eman..." is irrelevant here. The facts can be established by people who wouldn't count as witnesses, and the halakha requires more than just witness qualifications. –  Ze'ev Felsen Oct 28 '12 at 5:32
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There is permission for a non-rabbi to answer in the style of "maareh makom ani lach (I am a source citation for you)." If someone calls me and asks, "I have porkchops in my freezer, can I eat them?" it is not psak halacha for me to say no. I am still within the boundaries of this general permission without citing my sources.

In most cases, there are both questions of law and questions of fact which enter into what the halakha will be. However, sometimes one or the other is already obvious and known to all involved. I once asked a rabbi what bracha to make on a certain kugel. He responded "if it is noodles, say mezonot. If it is potato, say adama." That answered the question of law and not the question of fact. It was unhelpful because I knew that and wanted an answer to the question of fact. Absolutely anyone who knew the facts could have answered with the facts and it wouldn't constitute psak. If you read when sunset is in your local newspaper and use that to calcuate the tme for mincha, the newspaper isn't paskening for you.

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As long as it's not debatable you can answer. For example: q:"can I light a candle on Shabbos to look for my bottle of water that I left in my car?"a: no.

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A source for this answer would make it more valuable. –  msh210 Jan 26 '12 at 19:17
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@msh210 is there even a source other than that Pirke Avos (which some explain differently than the mainstream) that says you must ask a Rav? –  Hacham Gabriel Jan 26 '12 at 19:40
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@msh210 and where does it say "ask a rav?" It says have a Rav. –  Hacham Gabriel Jan 26 '12 at 23:48
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