Questions about theoretical issues about psak and general halacha concepts

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28
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9answers
2k views

Why is it necessary to ask a Rabbi?

In various places on this site, including the FAQ, we have the following disclaimer: Like Wikipedia, this site makes no guarantee of validity, and does not offer professional (particularly ...
17
votes
5answers
854 views

Halachic Restrictions not in the Torah, and “shall not add”

How can halachic restrictions that are not in the Torah be reconciled with the Deuteronomy 4:2 passage, which says, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

Why can't electricity be manipulated on Shabbat?

Why can't we use and change electricity on Shabbat and YomTov? By this I mean why can't we turn on and off lights...? I'v heard Rabbis say that its because you can't complete a circuit on Shabbat, ...
6
votes
6answers
631 views

Why don't we just follow the shittah of Moshe Rabeinu?

My question can apply to virtually all mitzvos where there is a disagreement in the standard way to fulfill them. If one reads the hakdama (introduction) to the Rambam's peirush mishnayos (commentary ...
7
votes
9answers
654 views

Kabala in Halacha

Which of the major authors or codifiers of halacha. . . a) refer directly to or quote from kabala in their legal discussions? b) employ conclusions based only on kabala in their legal argumentation ...
10
votes
3answers
260 views

Halachic authority of books

To what extent do books on Halachah have authority? I was taught that the Gemara was "closed" and may no longer be challenged in terms of its Halachic authority. To what extent is this authority ...
12
votes
3answers
412 views

Yerushalmi Versus Bavli in Halacha

The halacha we have today is mostly sourced in Talmud Bavli(the Babylonian Talmud),Medrash and Zohar. I would like to know what Halachot in which we rule according to the Yerushalmi (the Jerusalem ...
5
votes
3answers
461 views

Source for the prohibition against Nivul Peh (foul mouth)

What is the source for the prohibition against Nivul Peh (using foul language)? Is it Biblical? Rabbinic? "Asmachta" (based on a principle derived from the Torah but ultimately not considered a ...
14
votes
2answers
238 views

How big, and what exactly, is “Kedei Kelipah”?

{Kedei Kelipah is a term used in Kashruth for the amount of something that needs to be removed in order to allow one to treat the remnant as Kosher. (This only applies under certain conditions, which ...
12
votes
3answers
379 views

Limits to Dina Dmalchusa Dina

What are the specifications of Dina Dimalchusah? A more targeted question to answer would be: If I ripped off the label of my mattress — the label that says its removal is punishable by federal ...
14
votes
5answers
416 views

Can we argue with gedolim when we are sure that we are right?

I recently saw a teshuva by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Ohrach Chaim Volume 1 Teshuva 109, that quotes a letter from Rabbi Menashe Klein asking a question on Rabbi Moshe's psak but saying that he does not ...
12
votes
3answers
480 views

Nose Job in Halacha

Is a nose job allowed Hallachicly? Not all cosmetic surgeries, but rhinoplasty in particular, as I heard that rhinoplasty is allowed because we see by a Kohen that having an abnormally long nose is a ...
8
votes
2answers
385 views

What are the sources of Jewish law?

What are the sources for the Jewish law or "Halacha"? Is there any priority among these sources? In common practice, when a law is described, is the citation given form the main sources or derived ...
3
votes
2answers
138 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 ...
-4
votes
4answers
179 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 ...
19
votes
16answers
588 views

SE Challenge: Halachot in which rulings range from permissible to Torah violation?

Inspired by my previous question regarding heating up soup on Shabbat, I present a challenge to the Judaism StackExchange community -- List halachot which have halachic decisions ranging from ...
15
votes
1answer
488 views

What is the meaning of psak?

I have asked many people this question, and not yet got a comprehensive answer: What is psak? Like, let's say I have a certain piece of food of uncertain status. If I ask my 6 year old kid if it's ...
12
votes
1answer
238 views

What determines the sorts of cases in which one can deliberately not know the facts?

Halacha depends on the facts of a situation. Generally, when one cannot know the exact facts, he is expected to assume that they are as usual (rov), or as they were when last checked (chazaka). When ...
3
votes
5answers
249 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
300 views

Are Rabbeinu Tam's Tefillin really Rabbeinu Tam's Tefillin?

I once heard from a Sofer the shocking revelation that Rabbeinu Tam's Tefillin do not actually follow Rabbeinu Tam's opinion. Is that correct? Did I misunderstand? Are there any Soferim in our ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Who determines the kosher status of “new” foods?

Who determines the kosher status for "new" processed foods (e.g. Jell-O)? A few orthodox rabbis' approval? General consensus by the Jewish religious community? Certain kosher standards organizations? ...
7
votes
2answers
290 views

Maris Ayin when nobody knows you're Jewish

According to this answer, wearing a toupee without a kippa on top may pose a problem of maris ayin. My question is: Suppose the toupee-wearer has no distinctive Jewish features other than wearing a ...
7
votes
1answer
207 views

Should separating pull apart Challah rolls be considered a forbidden act of completion?

I have heard many people state that using Challah* rolls that are baked in one unit to be pulled apart might be a problem for making Leḥem** Mishneh on Shabbath. In fact, there are rolls that are sold ...
5
votes
2answers
136 views

Is there a p'sak when dealing with de'os?

I was wondering if the idea of paskening applies to the de'os area of Torah. As an example there is a machlokes rishonim how to view Chazal's relationship with the science they relied on to pasken ...
5
votes
1answer
186 views

What is the level of “Divrei Kabbalah”?

There are times in the Gemara that laws are derived from Psukim in Nach. They are called "Divrei Kabbalah". What status do they have (are they considered like Torah Laws or like Rabbinic laws). For ...
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. ...
5
votes
2answers
459 views

Why are people going back to paskining like the Rambam?

I have heard personally (and seen in chat) people (who are not Teimanim [for whom there is a tradition to rule like the Rambam]) ruling like the Rambam. I have heard that he has the authentic ...
10
votes
3answers
570 views

What are the authoritative Jewish documents?

When I'm reading through answers on this site I often see users make references like - Baba Batra 75A Or Chagiga 12A I don't understand what these mean. What are the documents that ...
9
votes
3answers
411 views

Why has the Mishnah Berurah become the Authoritative Halachik Work instead of the Aruch haShulchan?

Hirhurim just had a post about this topic, where he discussed some reasons that people should follow the aruch haShulchan. Yet in many circles, people just follow the Mishna Berura and rarely even ...
6
votes
1answer
381 views

When is a Minhag no longer a Minhag?

It can be all too easy for people to underestimate the halachic significance of minhagim (traditions/customs). While there are, as I understand it, a variety of halachic issues/differences of ...
4
votes
3answers
192 views

Why not focus on halacha in elementary education?

From the Mishna B'rura's introduction to the rules of Shabas: …But by what means can we arrive at this level: that one keeps Shabas in all its details? The advice on this is that one urge himself ...
-3
votes
3answers
152 views

Would Israel's sibling nation do Yibbum?

If Klal Yisrael would all die, ch"v, then would Edom become obligated in Tora uMitzvot because of Yibbum? (because Jacob's/Israel's brother is Esav, Edom.) Or would chalitzah happen because no other ...
12
votes
1answer
142 views

Can I trust a random internet user?

Does the halacha of עד אחד נאמן באיסורין (a single witness is trusted in matters of prohibition) apply to a random internet users? If someone presents themselves as being a practicing Jew, can I take ...
5
votes
0answers
138 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
203 views

What determines a Minhag?

How does a Minhag become a Minhag? More specific is it possible to enact new Minhagim in todays generation?
4
votes
2answers
225 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
0answers
65 views

Publisher prohibiting purchaser from sharing

Tradition articles are downloadable from the Tradition Online website, which prohibits further distribution of the materials. On each download page there is the following warning: It is strictly ...
3
votes
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 ...
2
votes
3answers
179 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 ...
2
votes
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 ...
0
votes
2answers
175 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 ...
-6
votes
2answers
222 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
398 views

When do rabbinic enactments apply if the given reason no longer does?

Often we find gezeiros d'rabbanan designed as preventative measures against more serious transgressions. However, if nowadays the reasoning behind the gezeira does not apply, it seems that sometimes ...
11
votes
1answer
194 views

Can one follow the Mishnah Berurah without asking a shaila?

When one has a question in halacha and finds an answer in the Mishneh Berurah (or Aruch HaShulchan, or similar work), why can he follow the answer provided? Why doesn't he need to ask his rabbi first? ...
10
votes
2answers
203 views

Why are most mitzvas impossible to keep?

Nowadays, one can only keep so many Mitzvos (271). That is less than half of the commandments of the Torah. I don't know if there is any statistic regarding how many Psukim discuss currently relevant ...
3
votes
2answers
112 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
158 views

What if you undo a shabbat melacha?

If you plant a seed shortly before the end of shabbat (zoraya) and then un-bury it after shabbat, or you put an uncooked food into an oven and then take it out within seconds without it having baked ...
11
votes
4answers
261 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
1answer
83 views

Is a ban on government workers wearing religious symbols a gezeirat hamalchut for which one would be obligated to give up his life?

So, i haven't heard that anyone today is making this punishable by death, but still... France has a law that prohibits government workers from wearing religious symbols on their job. This naturally ...
8
votes
1answer
311 views

Bitul BeRov - the classic case in real life

In Halachah there's a tremendously powerful concept of Bitul BeRov (nullification among the majority). It goes like this: If you have three identical pieces of meat, and you know for a fact that one ...