Questions about theoretical issues about psak and general halacha concepts

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24
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8answers
1k 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 ...
18
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16answers
498 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 ...
17
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5answers
698 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
192 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
374 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
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5answers
365 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
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2answers
270 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 ...
12
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3answers
380 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 ...
12
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1answer
234 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 ...
11
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3answers
437 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
387 views

What does “prohibited l’chatchila” mean?

To me the phrase prohibited l’chatchila seems a bit confusing. Can someone explain what this means in plain and simple english? (context: someone says "action X is prohibited l’chatchila")
11
votes
3answers
307 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
351 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
172 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? ...
11
votes
1answer
196 views

Safek (doubt) in Halachah - How unsure does one have to be?

If someone is unsure if he recited Tal UMatar, one has to repeat the Shemoneh 'Esreh (it's slightly more complicated, but let's keep it simple). If one is unsure if he remembered to Bentch (recite ...
10
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2answers
199 views

Eating outside of a Sukkah - Negative or Positive commandment?

On Sukkoth we are required to dwell in a Sukkah, which is generally minimally defined as at least eating our meals (which in turn is generally minimally defined as grain-based products) inside the ...
10
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2answers
115 views

Why didn't the Tur discuss traditional Jewish philosophy?

Of all classical works of Halacha, only the Rambam has a section dedicated "Hilchos Deos". For example, he begins with the most fundamental Jewish belief, the belief in one G-d, that G-d is the ...
10
votes
1answer
206 views

Eilu V'Eilu - Until Where?

Many times rabbis disagree on things in both hashkafa and Halacha. Usually, even when disagreeing, they will view the others' opinion as valid, even if they themselves would not rely on it. This is ...
10
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3answers
234 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
173 views

Why is precedent set by individual rabbis, not courts?

The headline on this obituary for R' Eliyashiv ("A One Man Supreme Court") got me thinking - why do we invest so much power in precedents set by individual rabbis, as great as they may be, but not in ...
9
votes
3answers
497 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
319 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
146 views

Puk Chazi - Go and See

There is a concept from the Gemara referred to as "Puk Chazi", go and see (as I understand). What are the applications and qualifications of this idea? Does "Puk Chazi", i.e. noting what people ...
8
votes
4answers
902 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? ...
8
votes
2answers
348 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
157 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 ...
8
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2answers
113 views

Isolationism vs. Interventionism

Taking as vague definitions: isolationism: the principle that states should mind their own affairs interventionism: the principle that the state has a moral responsibility to intervene in the ...
8
votes
2answers
67 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
106 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
279 views

Following the Biur Halacha

As far as I know, the most accepted Posek around the entire non-Chassidic Ashkenazi world is the Mishna Berura (and of course the Rama). He wrote the sections to his commentary to the Code of Jewish ...
8
votes
2answers
185 views

Stipulations based on “correct” halacha vs. “לא בשמים היא”

It is my understanding that halacha is determined by individual p'sak. That is, there is no divine body of halacha which we are trying to determine with poskim issuing their p'sak based on what they ...
8
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1answer
89 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
146 views

How was the Shaalos Utshuvos Min Hashamayim allowed to do what he did?

The Shut Min Hashamayim was written by a Rishon in the time of Tosfos. He used to ask questions from Shamayim (Heaven) in a Sheilas Chalom (Dream Question) and write the answers down. Many of those ...
8
votes
1answer
270 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
113 views

How commonly used are manuscripts in psak?

How Halachically valid are recently discovered manuscripts? For example, if one found the original manuscript of the Rambam and he rules differently than the currently known text, do modern Poskim ...
7
votes
9answers
584 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
254 views

Should a Jew who doesn't believe in G-d observe the commandments?

In an earlier question, I asked if it was a commandment to believe in G-d. As with so many areas, there were differing opinions. Some of the respondents claimed that there would be no point in being ...
7
votes
2answers
96 views

What makes something “worthy of being honored”?

When a piece of meat is in a mixture that should nullify it, we don't consider it nullified if it is ראוי להתכבד, or "worthy of being honored", something you would serve to a guest. Is there some kind ...
7
votes
1answer
191 views

Is there a Statute of Limitations in Jewish Law?

From Wikipedia: A statute of limitations is an enactment in a common law legal system that sets the maximum time after an event that legal proceedings based on that event may be initiated. In ...
7
votes
2answers
188 views

Darchei Shalom in Halachah

Halachic Literature will, when relevant, promote certain permitted activities with respect to Gentiles because of "Darchei Shalom" (Ways of Peace). Do we ever find situations where activities that ...
7
votes
1answer
171 views

Zohar vs. Yerushalmi

M"B 25:42 makes it clear that we always follow Gemara over Zohar. And we similarly follow Bavli over Yerushalmi (as is clear from the Hirhurim article quoted in this related discussion). However, do ...
7
votes
1answer
137 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
101 views

Is the Haftarah a Minhag?

Is reading the Haftarah a Minhag? I know that the practice was instituted when we couldn't publicly read torah, and then it was kept. Does that make it a Minhag?
7
votes
1answer
113 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
154 views

Origin of the nine days

I just learned a gemara (taanit 30a) that seems to pretty clearly state that the mourning for tisha b'av starts the beginning of the week that tisha b'av falls out on, and ends with tisha b'av itself. ...
7
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1answer
102 views

Can there be a Minyan of lepers?

Inspired by this question. Can lepers form a Minyan, or is that an inherent contradiction in the status of a Metzora'?
7
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0answers
79 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, ...
7
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0answers
46 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
77 views

Does דבר שיש לו מתירין apply to כל דפריש‎?

Often, there's a rule that a forbidden substance (or object) that got mixed with sufficiently much (or many) permitted substance (or objects) is בטל ("nullified" is the usual translation, though I ...
6
votes
1answer
302 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 ...