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This answer https://judaism.stackexchange.com/a/93714/13680 states the following viewpoint

[...] HKB"H does not care about the truth anymore, as long as they arrived at their conclusion sincerely and wholeheartedly. Therefore it is true to say that the Halakhah is not about the truth, it is all about engaging in Torah study - that's all that matters.

Yet we almost never see poskim say "Here is one possibility" or "This is just one of many true statements that can be made". Instead it's usually something like "This appears to be the correct way", or "This is the right interpretation [of the Torah]", or even "The other Rabbi/posek is incorrect/mistaken because of xyz, clearly this is the right approach". Sometimes this latter statement is even made in strong worded language, decrying the other opinion(s).

If halachic authorities subscribed to this Eilu v'eilu view - i.e. that it's not about finding the truth, but only about the process of sincere Torah study, and that all the outcomes of this process count as true - they wouldn't express themselves as if they were seeking some actual truth or "the Torah way" that existed 'out there' independently, or that was correct to the exclusion of others. And they certainly wouldn't become impassioned about the opinions of other authorities because they perceive them to be wrong. (There is no such thing as a 'wrong' opinion in this eilu v'eilu view, as long as it was arrived at sincerely)

So do halachic authorities in practice not believe in this form of eilu veilu?

  • Spoiler alert: the cited answer is wrong in his understanding of אלו ואלו and לא בשמים היא. – DonielF Sep 24 at 18:24
  • The question was "Do halachic authorities in practice not believe in this form of eilu veilu?" Whether that form is wrong or right is irrelevant (and ironically, on a meta level here, right and wrong may not even exist as concepts). – user9806 Sep 24 at 19:03
  • @DonielF : But since you brought up, what is the right understanding of אלו ואלו and לא בשמים היא, and how do you know that? – user9806 Sep 24 at 19:05
  • See Sefer HaChinuch §595 re לא בשמים היא and the sources here re אלו ואלו. – DonielF Sep 25 at 0:19
  • @DonielF : In that link you gave, there are as many different versions of what eilu veilu is as there are answers. If anything, it just supports (again, in a meta way) the plurality implied by eilu veilu. But certainly it seems no one knows for sure what the concept means. As for Sefer Hachinuch 595, I couldn't find anything about lo bashamayim hi here ( sefaria.org/Sefer_HaChinukh.595 ) ... Did you mean a different perek? – user9806 Sep 25 at 2:41
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I don't have an explicit source for this, but the following understanding of truth, when it comes to halacha and decision making, seems to me to be consistent with the way it was understood by Chazal:

Any one statement (statement B) can be comparably more true than another statement (statement A) by taking into account all the factors contributing to statement A, plus at least one additional factor.

For example:

Statement A: You should bring an umbrella today, because the weather forecast says it will rain.

Statement B: You should not bring an umbrella today, because although the weather forecast says it will rain today, You will not be outside at all.

Statement B is more true than statement A since it incorporates all considerations of statement A, plus an additional factor (that they are not going outside at all)

Statement C: You should still bring an umbrella today because despite the fact that you will be inside today, the roof leaks significantly.

Statement C is more true than statement B (and statement A) since it incorporates an additional factor (the leaky roof). Note that this is the case even though both statement A and Statement C have the same conclusion, statement A is still less true since it only arrived at that conclusion coincidentally. This is because truth is defined not by the conclusion, but by the web of factors contributing to the conclusion.

According to this we can understand a number of important concepts:

1) Ultimate truth exists only at infinity- as it would involve taking into account an infinite web of considerations. We may only increase the truth of our statements, but their is not necessarily an endpoint.

2) The truth of any one statement can be compared to another. This is why often you may see a posek view their opinion as more true than another, since they believe they have considered all the considerations of the other opinion and added an additional consideration, making their opinion definitively more true.

3)The concept of Eilu v'Eilu, (although some interpret it in a more benign way) stems from the inability of humans to be perfect logicians. Sometimes we have considerations that we are not able to articulate effectively. Because of this you may end up with a situation where you have two opinions each of which take into account an additional factor that the other does not. Now, if they would be able to communicate effectively with each other they would each be able to accommodate both factors and come to an agreement, but until they do that there is no clearly defined opinion that is more true than the other. As long as they were both trying to reach the highest level of truth that they could, they are equally accepted by Hashem.

  • Thank you for your answer! Eilu veilu can take many forms. The form I was asking about is one that says there is no such thing as absolute 'halachic truth' - not because it is not attainable due to lack of detail, but because it simply intrinsically doesn't exist as a concept : rather, the view states that whatever is concluded by sincere Torah study becomes "true". This also jives well with the notion of "lo bashamayim hi" and "70 faces of Torah". – user9806 Sep 23 at 22:35
  • Regarding your example - in fact, many differences of opinion are not because of a hierarchy of unknown factors, with only partial knowledge of that hierarchy available to different poskim. Rather they are just mutually exclusive opinions, probably based on differences in tradition, or logic, or some other factors. – user9806 Sep 23 at 22:36
  • @user9806 I think any mutually exclusive opinions can be understood as a hierarchy can be understood as an incomplete hierarchy. Do you have an example otherwise? – Silver Sep 24 at 14:25

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