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This question beautifully summarises the structure of the sefer we call Mishna Berura. It says that the Chofetz Chaim,

“wrote the sections to his commentary to the Code of Jewish Law: Mishna Berura - concise and easy to learn additional laws and customs to the Shulhan Aruch as well as explanations usually bringing earlier sages such as: Elya Raba, Magen Avraham, and Baer Hetev.

Biur Halacha - a little more in depth than the Mishna Berura where he usually sources his opinions and says why he holds like does.

Shaar HaTziyun - the sources for his words.”

(That question asked, “do the Ashkenazim that follow the M"B follow the words of the Biur Halacha as well?”).

My question is similar but different and in two parts.

It comes about from seeing the Shaar HaTziyun 47 in Simon 253 (see picture below).

  1. Why does the Author place his decision (לפענ״ד פשוט דיש לסמוך על המקילין בבעיא זו:) in the Shaar HaTziyun and not in the Mishna Berura?
  2. Is the decision equally accepted for its appearance in the Shaar HaTziyun as in the Mishna Berura? shaar hatziyun
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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – msh210
    Nov 4, 2020 at 12:16

2 Answers 2

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I'm not sure if this fully answers your question, but I saw in an English sefer on pesak (halachic rulings), The making of a halachic decision, a similar question posed to Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky. The author asked why the Mishnah Berurah sometimes puts sources in the text itself in square brackets, and sometimes relegates the source to the Sha'ar HaTziyun.

Rav Yaakov responded that when a halacha appears in the Mishnah Berurah and the source is in the Sha'ar HaTziyun, that indicates a clear halachic decision. In contrast, when a halachic decision is written in the Mishnah Berurah and its source is given there as well, the author wants the reader to be aware of this opinion, but it does not need to be strictly followed.

Rav Yaakov proceeds to explain that when the Mishnah Berurah quotes a lenient position with a source inside, and not in the Sha'ar HaTziyun, there is room to be more stringent than the approach offered by the quoted opinion. However, one can rely on the lenient opinion in a situation of necessity. Similarly, when the Mishnah Berurah cites a more stringent halachic opinion inside with its source, it is not quoted as the letter of the law, but rather as a stringency. As such there is room to follow the lenient opinion. Based on this approach, one can also resolve many apparent contradictions found in the Mishnah Berurah.

When asked how Rav Yaakov knew this, he responded:

When you learn Mishnah Berurah as much as I do, it becomes obvious.

As such, sources in the Sha'ar HaTziyun are indicative of being a final ruling.

Thanks to @mbloch for providing a summary of what the sefer says.

Rav Yaakov wrote this principle himself in a responsum, which is recorded in Emes L'Yaakov Orach Chaim 340:6 I'll copy what it says (with my own punctuation):

ובדרך כלל נוכחתי כי בכל מקום שהמ"ב מעתיק בשם איזה מחבר בפנים, ולא סתם הדין אלא שהראה מקומו בשער הציון, מוכיח שלא הסכים לגמרי לאותו הפוסק אלא שאמר הדבר בשם אומרו אבל אין דעתו נוטה כן

He writes that whenever the Mishnah Berurah writes a ruling inside, and cites the source inside (and not in the Sha'ar HaTziyun), that means he doesn't necessarily agree with that ruling. That means at least that if the source of the ruling appears in Sha'ar HaTziyun, it could indicate his agreement.

Besides this principle, we see the author sometimes editorializes in the Sha'ar HaTziyun. Even though it's not the norm, if he writes "my opinion is such and such", I would think he should be taken at face value. Why he sometimes does this might be indicative of the fact that the later volumes were composed with the assistance of the Chofetz Chaim's son (Kol Kisvei Chofetz Chaim III p. 37). I noticed later volumes contain more editorializing than earlier ones, again probably for the same reason. His son might have had a different style and preferred to put longer comments in the Sha'ar HaTziyun.

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  • Upon rereading your question I realize you might be specifically asking about this case. If so, I'll delete this answer. Your title fits more closely with my answer.
    – robev
    Nov 3, 2020 at 16:54
  • Thanks @robev, I meant the question generally; it's just this occurrence which prompted the question. Nov 3, 2020 at 17:23
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    I haven't seen either of these books inside, but I don't know if you are translating the Hebrew quoted here correcty. it seems to me to be saying that when the mishna brura puts a cite to the shaar hatziyun it means he's not necessarily agreeing with it, which is consistent with your first story.
    – Double AA
    Oct 21, 2021 at 20:07
  • @DoubleAA I'll admit it's written vaguely and I had to read it 5 times to understand what he was saying. I double checked the example he gives that I omitted (the Mishnah Berurah in seif 6 cites a Korbon Nesanel in the main text), which he says in that instance means he doesn't agree. Hence my translation. Also, this site understood it this way (which is how I found this Emes LeYaakov).
    – robev
    Oct 21, 2021 at 20:21
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In this particular case, his pesak is indeed implicitly found in Mishnah Berurah. Sha’ar HaTziyun is just making it explicit.

Rema writes that one of the conditions to permit chazara is that the pot remains in his hand. Magen Avraham writes that this means to exclude a case where he puts the pot on a bed or on a bench or pours the contents into another pot.

Mishnah Berurah quotes Magen Avraham regarding putting the pot on a bed or bench, but omits the case of pouring the contents into another pot, because he does not rule like Magen Avraham in that specific case.

All he does in Sha’ar HaTziyun is point this out explicitly, and explain why he rules this way.

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    A good reminder to everyone that learning Mishna Berurah by itself isn't enough to understand it. You have to learn the acharonim first to know what he's skipping and what he's not.
    – Double AA
    Nov 3, 2020 at 16:54
  • TTBOMK this is one of the very few place the Chafetz Chaim is not machmir to follow a ruling of the Magen Avraham
    – Joel K
    Oct 21, 2021 at 20:10

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