Questions about theoretical issues about psak and general halacha concepts

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13
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3answers
196 views

At what point do we reject a minhag?

I was learning the halachos of berachos on things that are ground up, and it seemed pretty clear to me that the blessing on chocolate should be ha'etz. I found discussion in some more contemporary ...
1
vote
1answer
74 views

Rambam, Maaseh Merchava and Maaseh Bereishis

The Rambam writes in Hilchos Yisodei HaTorah at the end of Chapter 2: ב,טז [יא] דברים אלו שאמרנו בעניין זה בשני פרקים אלו, כמו טיפה מן הים הן ממה שצריך לבאר בעניין זה. וביאור כל העיקרים שבשני ...
5
votes
1answer
284 views

What defines an Almana?

I was learning with a Rabbi today and we came across the following question. An Almana, widow, is not allowed to be married to a Kohen Gadol (see Mishna Yevamos 9:2). However, what defines a widow? ...
3
votes
1answer
37 views

sefarim on psak halacha

What seforim discuss how psak is formulated and the history behind it? The history of the Mechaber and later achronim as well as the origin of machlokes which, in a way, started an idea of mediating ...
10
votes
0answers
70 views

How to determine common practice for halachos that are impacted by it

Certain halachic issues are informed or even determined by the social standards of the (non-Jewish) society in which one lives. Examples include what falls under the prohibition of cross-dressing (see ...
2
votes
3answers
289 views

Doesn't the wide use of Sheitels among Orthodox Jewish women prove that hair no longer retains the erotic status that it once had?

In reading scores of halakhic material on the subject of kisui rosh le-nashim throughout the ages, I have found that there are essentially two views as to the nature of the obligation for a woman to ...
1
vote
0answers
42 views

D’oraita Sources for Halacha

We often see that the author of a p'sak maintains that a ruling is d’oraita even in cases when there is no link to any of the 613 mitzvot listed by Rambam, etc. Must every halacha ruled as a d’oraita ...
3
votes
2answers
158 views

Schrödinger's cat and yibbum

Over Shabbos, the Shalosh Seudos discussion turned to the Monty Hall problem, which confused a lot of people [and which (#Humblebrag) I was able to clear up for them in under 30 seconds ;)]. Then, ...
3
votes
2answers
58 views

Can חומרה and קולה ever be interchangeable?

I have heard of the duality of חומרה and קולה. For some people a particular application of halacha is considered a חומרה and to others a קולה. This ideology seems to only apply on an individual basis. ...
2
votes
3answers
72 views

Does a wicked king of legitimate lineage have the full status of a king?

Does a wicked king - let's say he violates the "Big 3" - have any Halachic authority as a king? I am referring specifically to those laws which the king is theoretically entitled to enact, and which ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

Why are Shabbat loopholes a good thing?

I'm not Jewish but do know that strict observance of religious laws is important in Judaism. I recently visited one of our suppliers in Israel and the hotel and office block had sabbath elevators. ...
3
votes
3answers
171 views

Can a person decide the Halacha (pasken) for him\herself?

Request for sources: Assuming one does not have semicha, (ordination) but is learned: Can one decide the Halacha for him\herself (after analyzing the issue and investigating the sources), or is one ...
5
votes
1answer
50 views

Medicines v. Spices on Shabbos

Medicines are forbidden on shabbos for the non-critically ill because in the old days, they had to be ground with a pestle beforehand. Must not spices also be ground? How come spices are not also ...
1
vote
1answer
41 views

How does Tum'ah (“Ritual Impurity”) work?

What are the mechanics by which Tum'ah works? How does one detect it, or diagnose someone as Tamei? Certain materials can contract and transfer Tum'ah. Why do these material do so, but others ...
1
vote
1answer
89 views

Authenticity of Halacha l'Moshe MiSinai

How do we know that a Halacha which is claimed to have been given to Moshe at Sinai actually was? Especially in cases where it seems to contradict the Written Torah given at Sinai? A Halacha ...
-4
votes
4answers
182 views

Why does Halacha not follow the simple reading of the Biblical text?

There are many Halachot which appear to contradict explicit Biblical statements. For example, that an "Eye for an Eye" means monetary compensation. Why does Halacha not follow the simple reading of ...
4
votes
2answers
320 views

Picking fruit vs slaughtering on yom tov

We know the concept of ochel nefesh regarding yom tov. And we know that you can do melacha that is directly related to food, (like frying an egg). My question is, why is שחיטה permitted if there's ...
2
votes
1answer
147 views

Yoreh Yoreh vs. Yadin Yadin

I've heard a lot of people talking about the two different semichahs that one might receive: יורה יורה ("Yoreh Yoreh") and ידין ידין ("Yadin Yadin"). What is the difference between them? [Sourced ...
4
votes
1answer
39 views

Is “al tikri” ever used for a midrash halacha?

In maseches Rosh Hashana 13a–b, the Gemara attempts to prove that certain crops count as having grown in the year in which they achieve one-third of their total growth: מנלן כדתניא רבי יונתן בן ...
6
votes
2answers
70 views

I thought Gezeirah Shavah requires Mesorah

In Masecheth Rosh Hashanah (9b), the Gemara uses a Gezeirah Shavah from Tishrei, with the word שנה, to support the Mishnah's ruling that 'Orlah is counted from Tishrei. In response, however, the ...
1
vote
2answers
129 views

Why not dump the ashes of the para aduma into a huge body of water?

The way I understand it one of the reasons we no longer have the ashes of the para aduma to purify people is because they were used up. I'd like to know if it would have been theoretically possible ...
1
vote
2answers
265 views

Is failure to observe an impossible law absolved implicitly?

The Jewish Encyclopedia has an article about ceremonial law which says (emphasis mine): The issue between Reform and Orthodoxy hinges chiefly upon the view taken of the ceremonial law; the ...
6
votes
1answer
89 views

Redeeming maaser sheini on paper money

I know that the mishna says that maaser sheini* can only be redeemed on coins and not something else. (See this answer.) However, this was written around 2000 years ago, and the way money works has ...
2
votes
2answers
102 views

What is the religious significance of the existence of many denominations and sects?

For much of the past 2000 years, when most of contemporary Halacha was being formulated, there was only a single denomination\sect of Judaism. (Leaving aside Ashkenzi vs Sephardi, which is mostly a ...
2
votes
2answers
98 views

Hammurabi in Jewish sources

The Hammurabi code is one of the oldest preserved codes of law dating back to 1772 BCE. This is roughly the time after the flood (-2105BCE), the tower of Bavel (1765BCE) and the Patriarchs. Although ...
8
votes
1answer
186 views

In Chabad- Final Halachic Decidor

In the area of Orach Chaim, when there is no established Lubavitch Minhag, i.e. in a case which is not in the Shulchan Aruch Harav (for whatever reason), and is not discussed by any other Lubavitch ...
11
votes
4answers
265 views

Why does the authorship of the Zohar matter?

I've seen and heard a lot of controversy about the authorship of the Zohar, but it isn't quite clear to me that it matters. The nearest theory I can come up with is that if the Zohar is by Rashbi, ...
8
votes
2answers
80 views

Why does “aseh doche lo saaseh”?

There is a halachic principle that עשה דוחה לא תעשה - when a positive and negative mitzvah conflict, we obey the positive one. The Talmud learns this out of pesukim, but what is the ...
2
votes
0answers
52 views

Do any poskim recommend giving a conditional divorce?

For someone who married without a halachic pre-nuptual agreement, are there any halachic authorities who recommend giving a conditional get (bill of divorce) which stipulates that it would go into ...
5
votes
1answer
117 views

Does nullification mean something no longer exists, or just that it has no Halachic significance?

[For the record, (I believe) I know the answer, but I saw someone post the question, as stated in the subject, on social media, and I am drawing it to its logical conclusion here.] Say, for example, ...
3
votes
1answer
62 views

Law before a drashah was made

What was the law before a drasha (a law derived from the 13 middos) was made? Were all the laws given at Sinai, and only their sources derived from the Torah by Chazal, or did Chazal learn new laws ...
6
votes
1answer
67 views

What is the halachic definition of a blind person?

According to secular American law a person can be legally blind even if that person is able to see to some small extent. I'd like to know what the halachic definition of blindness is. Is it someone ...
5
votes
2answers
713 views

If Yom Kippur hypothetically fell on Sunday, would you make havdalah?

I was curious about this hypothetical situation. If Yom Kippur would fall on Sunday, Motzei Shabbat, so immediately when Shabbat ends, Yom Kippur starts. Would there be some sort of separation, בין ...
3
votes
2answers
118 views

How do you go from the Talmud to Halacha Lemaasah?

What is the process involved for figuring out the halacha of today based on something written in the Talmud? Basically, what does a modern day posek do starting from the Talmud to reach a halacha he ...
4
votes
1answer
85 views

What are the opinions that explain why Gemara is authoritative?

Rambam and R' Hai Gaon say that Gemara is authoritative because of minhag, but are there other opinions as to the reason? The one that I'm familiar with (or that I most identify with) is the reason ...
3
votes
1answer
36 views

Halachic categorization of safek dioraisa…

Is the dictum of safek dioraisa l'chumrah (and its inverse safek d'rabanan l'kulah) a principle from the Torah, or a din d'rabanan? How does this change how we react in these sefeikah situations?
4
votes
4answers
215 views

Using money on Shabbat

It is a thoroughly well-known feature of the halakha that one may not use money on Shabbat, and there are maybe a dozen questions on this website alone that seem to presuppose familiarity with that ...
2
votes
1answer
80 views

Why does the Mishna/Gemara so rarely mention the practical Halacha?

The Mishna frequently mentions different opinions. Some opinions are generally rejected Halachicly (Rabbi Elazar, Beis Shammai). Why doesn't the Mishna mention who the Halacha follows (in general). ...
1
vote
0answers
58 views

What makes something a davar charif and is there a canonical list?

This question asks if Beer is a davar charif based on the hops being bitter. I was very surprised at the premise because charif means sharp, not bitter. I also vaguely recall seeing a list of 5 items ...
2
votes
1answer
167 views

Anti-libertarian-ism in Chazal

Most of the halachos of Choshen Mishpat have to do with one person's responsibilities viz-a-viz another person's rights. However, there is at least one halacha of which I am aware where Chazal told ...
2
votes
0answers
26 views

Codifying in a variant-text based machlokes

The בית חדש in O.C. 168 writes the following: אלא דלהלכה ודאי במידי דתליא בגירסאות אזלינן לחומרא הכי והכי In something which is dependent on variant texts we are stringent in both directions. ...
9
votes
6answers
539 views

Can halacha change based on scientific research?

Shabbat 39a says: "With regard to heating food in the sun itself, everyone agreed that one is permitted to place food in the sun to heat it, as it is certainly neither fire nor a typical form of ...
-1
votes
1answer
40 views

Pekuach nefesh by causing mortal injury in a non-rodef

A beam is going to fall on top of two people. When it does so, its weight will be distributed evenly over their two heads, injuring both but not killing either. Had that weight been distributed over ...
2
votes
1answer
103 views

Is there a penalty or measure of restitution for geneivas daas?

With the crime of stealing (geneiva), the Torah is very specific about how the theif must pay as a penalty for his crime (e.g. depending on the circumstances, the thief could be liable for double the ...
3
votes
0answers
38 views

Tosefta vs. Toras Cohanim

This past Shabbos someone said over to me a particular sugia they were learning in Taharas and a maklokes Rishonim (an argument between Rishonim, medieval rabbis) in a particular analysis. One Rishon ...
3
votes
1answer
193 views

Once a Jew, always a Jew?

I keep hearing all these critical remarks from orthodox Jews about what we should and should not do. Then I hear the Rabbi from time to time give a speech where he reiterates "Once a Jew, always a ...
4
votes
1answer
84 views

Contradiction between Shulchan Aruch Harav and his siddur

When there is a contradiction between the Shulchan Aruch Harav and his siddur,which one does the poskim use?
8
votes
4answers
119 views

What is the response to Maane Ligros regarding Cholov HaCompanies

The Sefer 1מענה לאגרות (page 221) argues on R. Moshe Feinshtein's leniency allowing industrially produced milk to not be watched by a Jew during the milking. His basic argument is that the Ramo says ...
3
votes
2answers
60 views

Biblical versus rabbinic transgressions

Does the distinction between biblical versus rabbinic transgressions have implications or consequences today? In the past, the punishment for them was different I believe.
3
votes
1answer
27 views

Are enclosed modes of transportation domains?

Do the laws that pertain to domains apply the same way to enclosed modes of transportation? Eg: If one begins a meal on a high speed train in one city, but finished the meal in another city, does ...