Questions about theoretical issues about psak and general halacha concepts

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6
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0answers
101 views

Does halakha count primates as “almost human”?

I have read that the although the halakha requires koah gever (human strength/exertion) for pouring water over hands for n'ttilath yadhayim but it says explicitly in the Mishna that a qof (monkey) may ...
8
votes
1answer
94 views

Is a mishna or a baraysa more authoritative?

Often, an opinion in a baraysa (by which I mean to include tosefta and any other non-mishna text of tanaim's halachic statements) and an opinion in a mishna differ on a matter of law. Is there any ...
3
votes
3answers
97 views

Which opinion of the Rambam is followed, the Mishneh Torah or the Responsum?

If there is a contradiction between something the Rambam wrote in the Mishneh Torah and his responsum letters, which is considered his final ruling? Is there a general rule or is it a case by case?
0
votes
0answers
168 views

Nespresso Machine Tevilas Keili alternatives

I recently acquired a new Nespresso coffee machine that will most probably be damaged if immersed. (The warranty will be void if immersed). Are there any alternatives to Tevila? I've heard you can ...
3
votes
1answer
132 views

Who needs a fence around their roof?

I recently called an exterminator to remove a hornets' nest in a tree overhanging my roof. Since my roof is slanted, with no direct access to it, and it starts at about 9 feet off the ground and peaks ...
3
votes
2answers
151 views

Who Commanded Us, and For What?

Whenever a Jew performs an activity that is mandated by the Torah, s/he recites the blessing that acknowledges God, "אשר קדשנו במצוותיו" (who sanctified us with his commandments), and who commanded us ...
-5
votes
2answers
131 views

Can there be an early 'Tzes HaChochavim' due to an eclipse?

When the sun is fully eclipsed the sky darkens and the stars appears as if it was night. Obviously, when this happens in the middle of the day, and the process of the moon slowly moving to occlude ...
4
votes
0answers
84 views

What constitutes a “Hesped” (eulogy)?

There are certain dates throughout the year when one may not give a "Hesped" (eulogy) because of a certain level of happiness associated with those dates. However, I've attended funerals conducted on ...
3
votes
1answer
95 views

concept of Breira unknown to the Tana'im?

Breira is the concept that a choice can be made in the future that will retroactively determine the state of something in the the present (assuming I understood and articulated it correctly). There is ...
1
vote
2answers
194 views

Basis of Shulchan Aruch's ruling about tefilin on Chol HaMoed

A local Orthodox rabbi told me that while most of the decisions in the Shulchan Aruch were based on taking the majority of the Rambam, Rosh and Rif (all of whom he claimed supported laying tefilin on ...
5
votes
1answer
88 views

What is considered a Safek?

I've been learning all these laws about Sekefot-doubts, but I'm coming up shy on a basic point. What is considered a Safek? Example:if there are 100 pieces of lettuce and I check all of them and only ...
5
votes
0answers
143 views

Why allowed on Yom Tov?

According to the Torah, melacha isn't permitted on Yom Tov days except for what is needed for food. I read that certain laws, like carrying, don't apply on these days because they are loosened for ...
1
vote
0answers
53 views

Nature of rabbinic and biblical prohibitions and their subcategories

While learning Mishna, I frequently come across distinctions between different levels of prohibitions, as well as allusions to sub-categories within those prohibitions. So, for example, there are ...
2
votes
1answer
59 views

Appointing women as representatives of the congregation

There is a principle recorded in the Mishna, Rosh haShana 3:8, to the effect that a person can only vicariously exempt others from their responsibilities if he shares the same responsibilities that ...
2
votes
1answer
43 views

Can one use terumah to light a stove?

In Pesachim 23a, the gemara (in the name of Rav Papa) derives from Numbers 18:27 that the prohibition of terumah to non-priests only applies to eating and drinking, but not to other forms of ...
4
votes
1answer
81 views

Responsibility to government law

When a particular non-Jewish law is inconvenient, and no harm seems to be done to anyone by ignoring (breaking) it... is one required still to keep it? If so, or if not, why? This question ...
8
votes
2answers
159 views

Why was a bat kol able to settle the dispute between Battei Hillel and Shammai?

Eiruvin 13b recounts an argument between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. The argument grew very heated until a bat kol intervened and stated the famous line elu v'elu divrei elohim chayim ("These and ...
2
votes
2answers
470 views

Yalkut Yosef or Mishneh Torah for a Sephardic Jew?

My Hebrew is rusty and my knowledge of all the halachot is equally rusty. I want to take on a new project to complete either one of those compilations. For someone coming from a Sephardic heritage, ...
2
votes
0answers
84 views

How does one 'learn' how to paskin?

When a person goes through smicha (in order to become a Rabbi) they learn (at least) the laws of kashrus. Depending on the program this can include more or less amounts of information (more or less ...
3
votes
1answer
147 views

Halacha and danger to life

Suppose there is an halachically prescribed, commonly-practiced action, which has been demonstrated scientifically to lead to death of the action's object and/or subject with a certain low probability ...
3
votes
2answers
93 views

Halachah: What's the difference between this site and looking up a question in a book?

Per our oft-cited FAQ, and our frequent use of the disclaimer to consult one's own rabbi in matters of practical Halachah, we do not, as a matter of policy, accept questions, or provide answers, ...
-6
votes
2answers
274 views

Is it possible for a Reform Jew to break halacha or violate a mitzva? [closed]

Is it possible for a Reform Jew to violate a mitzva in the Torah or break halacha, like breaking shabbos by doing melacha ('labor')? After all, from what I understand, Reform Jews don't believe in a ...
4
votes
1answer
146 views

What is the source of Chazaka?

There are many halachic chazakas. Most of them are halachic assumptions, such as: Keeping things the way they always were - Either financial (Chezkas Marei Kama) or religious (Chezkas Tahara, ...
5
votes
2answers
189 views

Reliance on non-Jews for removing bugs

In discussing washing salted meat according to Halachah, there is a lengthy discussion about whether and when we can rely on a non-Jew who claims to have done it. The Tur (Y"D 69:10) says that there ...
1
vote
3answers
248 views

Why aren't we Mahmir (stringent) with just Mikvah when ruling leniently on a technicality in Niddah cases?

I know from experience and some introductory study of the laws of Niddah that rabbis typically try to find leniencies wherever possible in issues of family purity. In many instances, a Posek will rely ...
5
votes
1answer
189 views

Flying on Shabbos

Would I be able to get on a direct flight that leaves Friday afternoon and lands on Motzei Shabbos? How would this be different from getting on a boat before Shabbos and getting off the boat at your ...
7
votes
1answer
181 views

Why is the Shulchan Aruch definitive?

Why do we (almost all Jews) consider the Shulchan Arukh, not written until the 16th century, to be the final word on halakha? Our halakha is derived from Torah Shebikhtav and She'be'al Peh. SA ...
2
votes
3answers
194 views

Keeping up with “local” standards of modesty and dress - of religious Jews, or of society at large

In dealing with issues relating to Tzeni'uth (modesty) and clothing, a lot depends on "local" standards of dress. For example, the RaMBa"M (here) explains that in places where women do not normally go ...
9
votes
1answer
299 views

What constitutes a shinui?

I was recently taught the concept of a shinui to be "something done in a way that is unusual compared to the norm in one's area of residence", with respect to the permissibility of actions done on ...
1
vote
1answer
85 views

Subjectivity in Halacha

I'm learning the Sugya of pas haba'ah b'kisnin. This seems like an extraordinary area of Halacha, because the beracha on this type of food is entirely subjective, based on what others would be koveah ...
7
votes
0answers
76 views

How do you weigh authority in halacha?

Are there any hard and fast rules as to how to assign relative importance of one authority over another in formulating a psak halacha? For example if the Rambam and the Rashba argue over a specific ...
2
votes
0answers
37 views

Why is it the halocho (law) that persuading others to give is greater than giving?

Chazal say, "Gadol hame’aseh yosair min ha’oseh," "the one causing others to give tzedakah is greater than the person giving the tzedakah" (Bava Basra 9a). The Shulchan Oruch YD 249 (5) brings this ...
7
votes
3answers
465 views

Was Rambam affected by Islam?

Was Rambam's philosophy affected in any way by Islamic culture or religion? If so, could that influence have influenced his interpretation of halacha? This question is inspired by an ongoing ...
2
votes
0answers
113 views

What are the parameters of 'minhag yisrael'?

I went to a non-Jewish self-catering apartment and I was discussing with my friend whether we can use the utensils or not. Of course, if they are clean and used for cold there are no problems. We ...
9
votes
1answer
147 views

are bionic abilities legal for shabbos

Today the world is high in technology; many medical fields are experiencing breakthroughs in artificial limbs and what not. What are the legalities of these in Jewish law? For example, a pace maker ...
3
votes
0answers
38 views

What is a “time of kingdom's decree”

The gemara in Sanhedrin 74 talks about a time of oppression, during which even for "light mitzvot" one must die. What exactly constitutes such a time? Is it any time when the government makes a ...
4
votes
3answers
150 views

Honoring parental requests that don't benefit the parents

If one's parents ask him to do something that is not beneficial to the parents in any way whatsoever (though not harmful to the parents, the child, or anyone else, either), is he nonetheless obligated ...
4
votes
1answer
88 views

Is there a stated freedom to contract?

In the United States (and other countries), there is the notion of the freedom to contract. This is the idea that two people of sound mind have the right to enter into any contract with one another ...
2
votes
1answer
74 views

Eating new grains on the 17th vs the 18th of Nisan

The Shulhan 'Aruch (OC 489:10) states: אסור לאכול חדש אף בזמן הזה בין לחם בין קלי בין כרמל עד תחלת ליל יח בניסן ובארץ ישראל עד תחלת ליל יז בניסן "It is forbidden to eat new (grains) even ...
4
votes
2answers
113 views

When should one change one's Minhag with one's Makom (and when should one not)?

I know there are conflicting views on certain issues relating to following a local custom vs. one's family custom. However, what are the general concepts that are applied in determining the Halachah? ...
3
votes
2answers
161 views

What is so special about the 613 mitzvos?

There are arguments in the Rishonim about what the 613 mitzvos are. But even if you hold something's not part of the 613, it's still a mitzva, so what's so special if it is part of the 613?
1
vote
0answers
109 views

What is the Halachic difference if people are kosher or not?

The Ramban derives that people are kosher from the gemara in Kerisos (21a i think) That since the rabbis said that human milk is kosher using concept that anything that comes from kosher animal is ...
3
votes
5answers
259 views

Saying Rishonim or Achronim were “wrong”

People are very careful (and rightfully so) to say when they don't understand the words of the Achronim or Rishonim to not say they are/were "wrong". But rather to say "I don't understand what he ...
2
votes
0answers
55 views

What if the non-Jew who owns the chametz dies? [duplicate]

What happens if the non-Jew who the chametz was sold to on Pesach dies? If he has a will, then the chametz would be passed on to someone else, and we could try to buy it back from him. However, if ...
1
vote
1answer
97 views

Allowing the forbidden for the sake of a Mitzvah

There are a few mitzvot which are effected through the use of that which is specifically forbidden. The first two examples are of tzitzit being made from shatnez and the mei sotah being infused with ...
2
votes
0answers
99 views

Who should observe Isru Chag?

I have been trying to understand Isru Chag. While there is a source in tehillim for the words and the gemara derives a notion of extra celebration, there seems to be little about the scope of the day. ...
4
votes
3answers
254 views

How can we just make our chametz ownerless?

I'm trying to understand the "legal fiction" wherein we declare any chometz we have as ownerless like the dust of the earth. Is this halachically acceptable? How can a person declare something in his ...
4
votes
2answers
131 views

Pinchas and Halacha In Front Of One's Rabbi

The Gemara in Eiruvin 63a,b learns that one is not allowed to paskin a halachah in front of one's Rebbi. Multiple examples and details are brought. In particular, Elazar haKohen taught the soldiers ...
5
votes
0answers
87 views

Following the stringencies of different opinions

There is a tangential discussion in 'Eruvin, Daf 6b-7a about whether or not we can take the stringencies of two conflicting opinions. The Gemara seems adamant that we cannot, though there are examples ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

Can a Rishon argue on a Gaon?

On one hand, I've seen a rule from the Acharonim (I've also seen it in a Shach on Choshen Mishpat also but I can't remember where) that whatever the Gaonim say is "Divrei Kabalah" from the time of the ...