Questions about theoretical issues about psak and general halacha concepts

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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 ...
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52 views

Losing concentration in the middle of the first blessing of Shemoneh Esrei

First, a little background information: According to halakhah, there are two types of berakhoth: "long" and "short." "Long" *berakhoth" are those that have a pethihah ("opening", i.e. "Barukh Atah ...
6
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109 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 ...
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58 views

Is a psik reisha d'lo nicha or d'lo echpat judged against a communal standard?

If I perform an action on Shabbos which will cause a secondary (forbidden) action, the secondary action is assessed as to whether it is desirable, detrimental or neutral (as per Difference between ...
5
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76 views

Is becoming a “Talmid HaRambam” limited to the Rambam?

This answer explains (very nicely) the justification and practice of those who consider themselves followers of the Rambam, as opposed to any other opinion. In the cited responsa of the Beis Yosef, ...
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95 views

What defines a “בהמה” (also “חיה”)?

As discussed in *Dag* (דָג) in kashrus halacha, *Tzomeach* (צוֹמֵחַ) in kashrus halacha, and *Of* (עוֹף) in kashrus halacha, there are different rules used to determine the kashrus status of ...
5
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155 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 ...
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97 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 ...
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90 views

Is there a chazakah (halachic presumption) that an Eruv is down after a blizzard?

I remember, I was once at shul Friday night, and it was just starting to snow and it was predicted to be a huge blizzard. The Rabbi got up and announced that tomorrow people should work under the ...
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52 views

Determining Normative Halacha

I don't really understand the process for establishing what "the halacha" is in a particular case. I know that there are rules in the talmud to decide whom the halacha follows when there are ...
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64 views

Why are “Chiddushei” seforim rarely cited in the Nosi Keilim?

I noticed that when quoting Rishonim, Beis Yosef/Nosei Keilim tend to focus on Poskim (Rif (and main commentary)/Rosh/Rambam, Mordechai, Teruma, Rabbeinu Yerucham, etc.) and responsa. Very rarely do ...
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43 views

Was the Mishna Brurah meant to be learned straight?

Disclaimer - I do not intend to dispute common practices in Klal Yisroel, nor do I intend to criticize the incredible work of an incredible Talmid Chacham. The current practice in a considerable ...
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77 views

Descrating one Shabbat for many

The Talmud states that one may violate the Shabbat to save a life, because it's worth violating one Shabbat to let someone keep many in the future. Does this principle apply in other cases? For ...
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70 views

Is the blood of a non-Kosher animal forbidden because of וכל דם לא תאכלו

Inspired by a recent chat discussion related to this question. Does the prohibition of וכל דם לא תאכלו - not eating blood - apply to non-Kosher animals? The Rambam writes: ודבר מפורש בתורה שאינו ...
4
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86 views

Pouring honey into a hot beverage

Can pouring honey into a hot beverage, such as tea, create a Kashruth concern? In particular, if you pour honey into hot tea with milk, can you later use the same bottle of honey to add honey to a ...
4
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97 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 ...
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285 views

Why is wine poured by a non-Jew forbidden?

The S"A 125:1 (YD) states that a non-Jew pouring non-Mevushal wine makes (at least) that wine unfit, but other than citing earlier authorities (maybe, I can't figure that part out) he doesn't give a ...
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44 views

Is lighting a new flame on Yom Tov a Biblical or Rabbinic prohibition?

Is lighting a completely new fire on Yom Tov a Biblical or a Rabbinic prohibition? Please cite your sources.
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115 views

Ratio between gentile vs jewish persons for jews to consider

I am interested to know, according to written law, if there is something like a ratio or relativization to consider between people of the tribe and gentiles that a Jew is bound to. Is there's such a ...
3
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29 views

Half-Hallel in commemoration of the fallen Egyptians

There seem to be two separate explanations as to why we only say a "half" hallel on the intermediate and final days of Pesach. According to one opinion (as attributed to the Shibolet Haleket here) it ...
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91 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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50 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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132 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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42 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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47 views

Placing Tefillin on the floor

I've been taught since little that one can't place a pair of Tefillins on the floor, and that one must carefully avoid not dropping them. But what is considered being on the floor? For example, can I ...
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77 views

Game theory in the Tanaim

I read an article a while back (maybe over a year ago?) in the Mishpacha English Magazine (I'm pretty sure, although it may have been in the Ami) that discussed a certain machlokes Tanaim about how to ...
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27 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. ...
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40 views

End Time For Sacrificial Offerings

The verse states, in Exodus 12:10, regarding the eating of the Paschal Offering: וְלֹֽא־תוֹתִ֥ירוּ מִמֶּ֖נּוּ עַד־בֹּ֑קֶר וְהַנֹּתָ֥ר מִמֶּ֛נּוּ עַד־בֹּ֖קֶר בָּאֵ֥שׁ תִּשְׂרֹֽפוּ׃ Do not ...
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82 views

Does Rav Sa`adya Gaon hold that t'philin require one b'rakha or two?

I see in the Sidur HaRasa"g that he makes a seemingly strange comment about the b'rakha(oth) of t'philin. He states: התפילין כשמהדקים של היד על היד ושל ראש על הראש צריך לברך אקבמ"ו להניח תפילין ...
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98 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 ...
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43 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 ...
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136 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 ...
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120 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. ...
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158 views

How did the modern day Beis Hora'ah phenomenon develop?

Here in Eretz Yisrael, we find Batei Hora'ah in many cities - places where a moreh hora'ah sits either during special times or perhaps the whole day or different rabbonim throughout the day answering ...
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39 views

How much weight must we give the Council of Sages opinions

As I understand it, there is no hierarchy within Judaism, per se. In fact, following a controversial decision by Rav Elyashev, he mentioned to a friend of mine that his rulings really only apply to ...
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34 views

Implication of uncertain letters in the Torah

I learned that there are a number of uncertain letters in the written Torah This article lists 12 (counts vary). (1) Bereishit 4:13 "Mineso" (E&T w/o Vav) (2) Bereishit 7:11 "Ma'ayanos ...
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149 views

Are there Published Legal Defenses Resolving Objections Against Rabbinic Authority?

Are there Rabbinic "apologetic or polemic works" that focus only on the rational validity, and logical objections raised by other Jews1 -- against: (1.) the Rabbinate's authority in Judaism over other ...
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103 views

Understanding how halacha & mitzvot are derived

Since this isn't getting a lot of traction maybe I should approach the question differently. I know that mitzvot can be divided into two basic categories, d'rabbanan and d'oriata. Of the mitzvot ...
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106 views

Netilat yadayim without a keli?

It is known that the Sefer Halakhoth Gedholoth codifies that since only the descendants of Aharon HaKohen were strictly commanded regarding netilath yadhayim with a keli, it is therefore enough for a ...
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22 views

Why does a hefsek make a person not yotzei?

There are situations where my fulfillment of an obligation depends on there being no interruption between the bracha and the action it covers (like between washing and making motzi) and there are ...
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50 views

Why do the laws of kevod seforim apply to physical seforim but not digital?

I may have some trouble asking this question. I understand that the laws of kavod seforim (respecting holy texts; i.e., not bringing a book of Torah into the bathroom) do not apply to tapes, etc. ...
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33 views

“Jewish Philosophy” defined by halacha

I have heard the idea that the halacha (and the boundaries it creates) provide the basic premises with which our worldview and basic (philosophical/conceptual) understanding of the Torah is created. ...
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42 views

Psak halacha from a havah amina in the Gemara

The Gemara will often begin a sugya with an initial understanding (havah aminah) of a mishnah or halacha and as the Gemara continues will change until it reaches the maskanah. Often, the maskana will ...
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23 views

Halachically, is one person ever bound by the intent of another?

In masechet shevuot, 41b, the gemara discusses a case of a loan as follows (h/t dafyomi.co.il) Levi lent Yehudah, and told him 'repay me in front of two witnesses who learn Halachah. Yehudah ...
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58 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 ...
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55 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 ...
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126 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 ...
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124 views

Extrapolating from individual responsa to form a general psak halacha

R' Tsvi Heber of the Kashruth Council of Canada writes: Is it permitted to order whole fruit[34] or drink water in a non-kosher restaurant? If not, can one enter a non-kosher restaurant to use ...
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32 views

What prayers are obligatory on a daily basis? What prayers are obligatory on Shabbat? And who decides what's actually obligatory?

When you go through a siddur you see lots of prayers, but never a mention of what's actually obligatory. Having seen the Rambam siddur, it seems like we have a looooot more prayers now, but are they ...
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41 views

why is Birkat Hamazon said after eating just a small piece of bread?

Berakhot 21a:8-9: Whence is it that Grace after meals is ordained by the Torah? As it is said, "And thou shalt eat and be satisfied and bless the Lord thy God" (Deut. viii. 10). The verse ...