Questions about theoretical issues about psak and general halacha concepts

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138 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
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2answers
143 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 ...
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5answers
251 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 ...
3
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2answers
115 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 ...
3
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2answers
157 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?
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1answer
192 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 ...
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3answers
175 views

Petur (exemption) - Does intent matter?

Does one's intent factor into one's ability to rely upon an exemption in Halachah? For example on Sukkoth, if I have no Sukkah and no intention of building a Sukkah (let's say at work, for one ...
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1answer
116 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, ...
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1answer
103 views

Why is asking a non-Jew to turn on electric lights considered amira l'nochri?

Given that practically all poskim accept R' Shlomo Zalmen's view that electricity is d'rabbanan over the Chazon ish, I would think that a Jew could simply ask a non-Jew to turn on/off lights on ...
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1answer
36 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 ...
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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. ...
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2answers
59 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
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1answer
251 views

New Moon Based on Sighting Outside of the Land of Israel

I would appreciate someone directing me to a source that states/indicates/suggests whether the visibility of the new moon outside the Land of Israel may be used to begin the Jewish month in that ...
3
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1answer
65 views

Is a father empowered to truly give ownership of something to his young child?

I know that a child's things really belong to his father (although help with a source would be appreciated). However, the same is generally true of a wife's property/income belonging to her husband, ...
3
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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 ...
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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?
3
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1answer
120 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 ...
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1answer
71 views

Pesik Resheih DeLa'Avar (inevitable consequence relating to the past)

The RaM"a (Y"D 87:6) cites an opinion that one may shouldn't stoke a flame beneath a non-Jew's pot, for fear that there's some milk and meat residue in it, and you might come to cook said milk and ...
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1answer
56 views

minhag means law? when in shulchan aruch

When the Ramo writes and "so is the custom (vchain nohagin)" do we understand that to mean that this is his ruling regarding the law or that he is not giving his opinion about the law but is just ...
3
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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 ...
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1answer
67 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?
3
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1answer
146 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 ...
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1answer
204 views

How does Kavush work?

The Halachic principle of Kavush states that leaving something in liquid for 24 hrs transfers taste, and therefore it alters the status of the thing with which it is exchanging tastes. However, ...
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1answer
113 views

Hakaras HaTov in Halachah

Hakaras HaTov (Gratitude) is a very important trait in Torah. Can the principle of Hakaras HaTov create a situation where what is otherwise prohibited becomes permitted?
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1answer
68 views

Is “pikuach nefesh” on shabbos “hutrah” or “dichuya”?

Whenever two mitzvos come into conflict with each other, and one is given precedence over the other (such as in the case of מילה on Shabbos, or any עשה דוחה לא תעשה), there is usually discussion over ...
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2answers
38 views

Why are the laws of honoring parents in Hilchos Mamrim?

The Rambam places the laws of honoring parents in Hilchos Mamrim (5th and 6th chapters). Why there? What does כיבוד אב ואם have to do with Beis Din?
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1answer
94 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 ...
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2answers
91 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, ...
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1answer
195 views

Must one go according to his/her opinion (leshitato)?

Imagine that a Halakhic Decisor (decider?) maintains a certain Halakhic position or Hashkafic belief. [I am assuming that such thing as a Hashkafic Decisor exists.] Anyway, is it imperative that s/he ...
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0answers
77 views

What to do when the Rabbi is on vacation

If a person has one Rabbi to whom they ask all of their questions, and that person is unreachable, for whatever reason, and an urgent, time-sensitive question arises, what should their course of ...
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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 ...
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99 views

makhloket poskim and hatarat nedarim

Recently, the OU decided to certify quinoa for Pesach. Formerly, the OU held by the view of Rav Yisroel Belsky that quinoa is kitniyot, or at least that Rav Belsky's view created sufficient doubt to ...
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0answers
37 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 ...
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3answers
286 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 ...
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2answers
260 views

How can we use grape juice instead of wine?

There are many rituals for which we use wine. I would think that wine means a fermented grape product, or at least a fermented fruit product. On what basis do so many people use grape juice instead of ...
2
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1answer
102 views

How do we treat a י"א in the Shulchan Aruch?

Is there a general principle for how we treat a י"א = יש אומרים (yesh omrim, "some say") cited in the Shulchan Aruch for the purposes of determining halacha? If not, are there examples of two halachos ...
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3answers
181 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 ...
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1answer
117 views

What is the source for “the custom of our forefathers is in our hands”?

Where does "minhag avoseinu byadeinu" as a halachik concept, which is commonly cited as the source for keeping two days of yom tov outside of Israel, originate from?
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1answer
143 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 ...
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2answers
101 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 ...
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1answer
55 views

Why don't we wear tefillin on Yom Tov sheni?

In Hilkhoth Tefillin 4:10, the Rambam states the basic and well-known halakhah that "...shabbathoth wi-yamim tovim enan zeman tefillin..." (Translation: "Shabbat and Yom Tov are not times for ...
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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 ...
2
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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 ...
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2answers
371 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, ...
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1answer
91 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 ...
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1answer
28 views

Why did the people have to respond twice “It is sanctified” when Sanhedrin declared Rosh Hodesh?

Ramba"m (Maimonedes) Hilchot Kid. Hachodesh 2:8 says: Afterwards - i.e., after [the witnesses'] testimony is substantiated - the head of the court declares, "It has been sanctified." And all the ...
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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 ...
2
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1answer
102 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 ...
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1answer
89 views

Does “burning” water fall under the Av Melachah of “bishul” on Shabbos?

If water that falls onto a hot plate on Shabbos immediately "burns" up and evaporates, does this fall under the Av Melachah of bishul? (The pracitical application of this I want to leave aside. ...
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2answers
255 views

Paskening from Talmud vs. Shulchan Arukh

Sometimes poskim will pasken from the Talmud (gemara) instead of the Shulchan Arukh. However, I thought that we pasken from the Shulchan Arukh and not from the Talmud. What is the proper way for ...