From what I understand:

  • Early halachic compilations (throughout the Geonim period) sourced directly from Talmud Bavli
  • Talmud Bavli often sources opinions by actions and text in the Torah, and oral Halacha passed down from Moses
  • Later Halachic compilations (Shulchan Aruch), sources from earlier halachic sources
  • The Mishnah Brurah is a halachic commentary on Shulchan Aruch

Is everything written in later Halacha either Rabbinic/Torah prohibitions (whether written or oral), where it isn't qualified with "someone who is a G-d fearing man..." and the like? Or does it include customs as well? How can we know which is which when reading halachic sources?

As an example, there are cases discussing "new" phenomena such as hat-wearing discussed here, where the Mishnah Brurah clearly states a "must" that does not seem to be a Rabbinic/Torah prohibition.

  • 3
    Hat wearing is not new. Black hat wearing might be, although not as new as some think. The case you point out is actually based on a passuk of Vehachen Likras Elokecha, that requires one to dress accordingly when addressing G-D. Since hat wearing was the way to address honorable people (kings etc.) in the olden days, it would be required for praying as well. Today that it is no longer the case (in many places) it would no longer be required which is why many suffice with things more acceptable in todays culture. Usually something that is a minhag will say "vinohagin" or something like that
    – Chatzkel
    Jul 30, 2021 at 16:18
  • I see, thank you for the background. So generally speaking, if there isn't a qualifier hinting something is a minhag or beyond the law, it is (at least the author's understanding) or a Rabbinic/Torah prohibition? There seems to be a middle ground of Daat Yehudis which seems more stringent than "normal" minhag (certain aspects of Tzniut as an example) - but I am not sure how these are discussed in Halachic sources
    – Elie
    Jul 30, 2021 at 16:32
  • 1
    That's what i always understood, although I never saw anyone that actually spells it out. Btw, the basis of tzniyus is rooted in das yehudis and derived from inferences in the Torah (see kesubas 72a for example) but the specifics are based on local custom of what is usually covered by the people in that region. So it's a custom that has ramifications in halacha beyond the custom
    – Chatzkel
    Jul 30, 2021 at 16:40
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/86014/1570 Aug 1, 2021 at 1:46


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