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The LinkedIn FrumNetwork user that I recently corresponded with about the wisdom of the crowd brought up an interesting bit of conventional wisdom that she claims is at least partly apocryphal:

For instance, most people will probably "like" the answer "yes" to the question "Do you really have to shut the window if one person in the room is cold?" That's the "common wisdom", but it's simply not true. The correct answer is "sometimes yes, but sometimes not."

What's the story with this? When is such consideration mandatory?

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3 Answers 3

This is indeed conventional wisdom, though it is not a clear din in Shulchan Aruch. However, the Sefer Mishpitei HaTorah (page 324) does pasken like this, based on a din in Choshen Mishpat 155:39. The basic idea is that when people come to a public place, they are coming with the assumption that the conditions will be "normal". The definition of "normal" depends on the season. However, it is not absolute; for example, a hot day in the winter is considered like the summer. There may be other factors also. For example, in a hospital it is "normal" to have a warmer temperature.

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While in Yeshiva this question came up. The Rebbie of the class had the following answer. When in Winter, when most people would be cold, then if asked, you must close the window. In summer when most people would not, then it may remain open.

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It is said in the name of Rav Yisroel Salanter that a person's "right" to have a window opened or closed depends on whether his wishes correspond to what is normal for that season. (This is similar to AY's answer.) A friend of mine asked Rav Chaim Kanievsky about this many years ago, and he responded (IIRC) that Rav Yisroel Salanter deduced this principle from the Mishnah in Peah 4:1, which states that when poor people disagree about how peah should be distributed, a single person can override the majority if his position is "KeHalachah."

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