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Berachoth (4b) states conclusively that Ma'ariv is compulsory (לאפוקי ממאן דאמר ... רשות; קמ״ל דחובה). But one of the accepted premises when comparing Ma'ariv to other Tefilloth is that Ma'ariv is voluntary (although it's been universally adopted, thus giving it the force of Halachah nowadays - See ב"ח, או"ח רל"ז). Why do we Pasken against a clear conclusion in the Gemara on a matter of Halachah?

This question is part of the Daf Yomi Challenge.

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It isn't a halachic conclusion of the gemara, it is the gemara's interpretation of the aforementioned braisa. (Nor is it conclusive since there is an alternative i bais aima.) – YDK Aug 6 '12 at 6:15
The Gemara discusses this Machlokes in the end of the fourth perek IIRC. – Shmuel Brin Aug 6 '12 at 7:19
PS. The only practical (lechatchila) Nafka Mina is that we don't do chazaras hashatz by maariv. – Shmuel Brin Aug 6 '12 at 7:24
@SethJ That's not because maariv is a reshut; it's because there is no kiddush hachodesh at night. – Double AA Aug 6 '12 at 11:52
BTW, @YDK, I'm not ignoring your point. Since this is a Daf Yomi question, I think it can stand in spite of your comment. However, your comment would make the basis of a perfectly fine answer, especially combined with Shmuel's comment (which, since we're not up to the 4th Perek yet, also doesn't invalidate, but rather helps to answer, this question, IMO). – Seth J Aug 6 '12 at 16:10

While you quoted a Gemara which interprets a Braisa as saying that Maariv is mandatory, another Gemara interprets a mishna that it's optional. The Gemara Brachos 27b says that it's an argument between R' Yehoshua and R' Gamliel. Abaye says that the Halacha follows R' Gamliel (who says that it's mandatory) and Rava says that the Halacha follows R' Yehoshua (who says that it's optional).

In a case where there is an argument between Abaye and Rava the Halacha follows Rava.

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BeSikum, it's optional. – Hacham Gabriel Aug 20 '12 at 4:20
@HachamGabriel there are two nafka minas (or however you say it). One is that one doesn't do a chazaras hashatz by Maariv. Tosfos mentions another one (I don't remember what it is). It definitely isn't as wide of a heter as it seems. – Shmuel Brin Aug 20 '12 at 4:24
certainly it's not to be taken literally, but in simple words, it is optional. – Hacham Gabriel Aug 20 '12 at 13:11

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