6

There are certain things which are prohibited because of danger, many of which are listed here. A good number of them are confirmed by modern science to not cause any (physical) harm (ex. meat and fish, leaving peeled garlic overnight).

I can understand the two extreme approaches:

  • Since it's because of a potential danger, if it can be confirmed that there's no danger, then there's no problem with eating it.
  • Once Chazal instituted not to eat these foods, then even if the apparent reason is proven false, we still uphold the original prohibition; perhaps there's a different reason they didn't reveal, and even if not, it's not in our authority to overturn decrees of Chazal.

To me, the Shulchan Aruch seems to follow the former approach, as while many Rishonim pasken like the Gemara not to leave peeled garlic uncovered, the Shulchan Aruch doesn't seem to hold that it's an issue (more on that here). Likewise, he paskens that in areas where snakes aren't common, there's no issue of leaving drinks uncovered (YD 116:1). He does list many other things, such as eating meat and fish together, as being dangerous (ibid. §2), but that wasn't known in his time to be otherwise.

What I don't understand is the middle approach – among those which are no longer considered dangerous, some of them are forbidden, and some of them are permitted. This seems hypocritical: at the same time that they insist Gilui is fine since snakes aren't around, they refuse to eat meat with fish. (Admittedly, just my saying that is itself hypocritical.)

What is the logic behind this approach? Is it just blind reading from the Shulchan Aruch, without any thought as to the reason behind the Halachos, or is there an actual reason behind this approach?

(I discuss food in this post only because it seems to come up the most often; the same discussion would apply to, say, walking alone at night in a safe neighborhood.)

  • 1
    Why is it hypocritical to think some things Chazal enacted formal restrictions about and some were just recommendations? – Double AA Mar 25 at 21:27
  • Why must someone observing a prohibition be doing so out of concerns of danger/enactment and not just residually as an arbitrary Minhag? – Double AA Mar 25 at 21:28
  • @DoubleAA Re your first comment: where would one get that from? In neither the Gemara nor the Poskim does there seem to be any indication to that effect. Re your second comment: I'm assuming that since these were enacted because of the potential danger that that would be why one is doing so. However, if it can be demonstrated that this is indeed observed as an arbitrary minhag rather than the actual halacha, that would pose some tremendous nafka minah's. – DonielF Mar 25 at 21:30
  • We're just listing different possible approaches here. You asked what other ones there are that aren't hypocritical. No one can prove any of them since the Gemara never says which are which. Go CYLOR for Psak. (Blind reading of the ShA is a real option for some people by the way, though you dismissed it.) – Double AA Mar 25 at 21:35
  • This is a wonderful question showing the lack of actual reasoning in Halachic decisions. Practically all items on the list are accepted without "proof", just "Emunas Chachomim". As no Posek is required to reveal his considerations it becomes a big mess - some are traditional (Minhag) some are scientific (Raqmbam's Deos), some are totally imaginary, oh, and some are Kabbalic (Tumah etc that Rambam declined and Mechaber returned for example). – Al Berko Mar 25 at 21:49

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .