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Was it always a straightforward presumption ("davar pashut") that in general the Ashkanazim should decide Halachic questions ("pasken") in accordance with the Rema over the Machaber/Beis Yosef (when they disagree)? Or did one of the Achronim come along and say that in general the Ashkanazim would/should pasken in accordance with the Rema over the Machaber, but before that particular Achron it was not necessarily for an Ashkanazi posek to rule thus?

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I don't know how much of it are hard-and-fast rules, but quite often an Ashkenazi posek would see that the Mechaber had only considered Rif (Morocco), Rambam (Egypt), and Rosh (relocated-to-Spain), playing best-two-of-three; and that Ramah was considering Tosfos (France), Maharil (Germany), Terumas HaDeshen (Germany), so it made sense to follow that. –  Shalom Jan 21 '13 at 13:30
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Also most early achronim just paskined like the rishonim. I don't know that it is such a simple thing that Ashkenazim always paskin like the Rama. Ashkenazim paskin like current Ashkenazi poskim, who paskin similar to the previous Ashkenazi poskim, who paskin similar to the previous Ashkenazi poskim etc. all the way back to poskim before the Rama. Where is the uniqueness of the stage where the Rama is? –  Double AA Jan 21 '13 at 14:25
    
@DoubleAA The uniqueness of the Rema is the fact that it's coming together with the Shulchan Aruch (that already paskened in many matters.) I'm of the opinion and feelign that it's quite pashut to continue in the derech of the psak from before and therefore to take the shita of the Rema. However an Adom Gadol questioned this (or at least entertained the question) and said perhaps this needs to be established and referred to a Taz and Chasam Sofer (both of which need to be found.) –  Yehoshua Jan 21 '13 at 19:56
    
@Yehoshua Not sure, but maybe you're looking for this Taz (OC 10:9): ופסק הלכתא כר"פ שהוא מסקנא דגמ' כנ"ל בדעת הרמב"ם ולא כהב"י שפי' שיטה אחרת להרמב"ם.... ולפי' שזכרנו הוא מרווח מאוד והיה ראוי לפסוק הלכה כמותו וכמו שהכריע ב"י וש"ע אלא דאין לנו אלא דברי רמ"א שהכריע כרש"י והרא"ש והטור וכפי מ"ש בפירוש דבריהם. –  Fred Jan 21 '13 at 21:00
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@Yehoshua My understanding was that the Rama wrote a gloss on the Shulchan Aruch because the latter was comprehensive, well-organized, and user friendly, yet written from a generally more Sefaradi-oriented halachic standpoint. The Rama's gloss made the Shulchan Aruch more usable to Ashkenazim because his p'sak was generally more oriented to Ashkenazim; points of disagreement became readily apparent. This doesn't mean that all Ashkenazim followed the Rama all of the time, but his gloss made the ShA much more usable to Ashkenazim in general. –  Fred Jan 22 '13 at 7:42
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