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What are the differences between:

  • Rabbi Yosef Karo’s Shulchan Aruch
  • Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried’s Kitzur Shulchan Aruch
  • Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s Shulchan Aruch HaRav
  • And Aruch HaShulchan

I assumed them to be compilations of Rabbi Yosef Karo’s, if they are different in practice then which one is correct in following? How does one decide?

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  • 2
    Possible duplicate judaism.stackexchange.com/q/50867/759
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 23, 2023 at 23:05
  • @Double AA I tried looking the question up before posting it, it amazes me how you found the same question from 8 years ago haha Commented Jul 23, 2023 at 23:11
  • As for "who do we follow?" Think if it like the guidance from the American Medical Association vs. the British one vs. an EU one vs. an Australian one -- there's going to be a lot of overlap; a doctor following any of the above is certainly not a "quack"; some may offer guidance on subjects where others don't have an official opinion; generally speaking, where the doctor trained is going to guide which of those they'd follow -- but it wouldn't be surprising if an American doctor said "I've done my homework on this particular issue and feel the British guidance is better."
    – Shalom
    Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 12:21

1 Answer 1

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In the 13th or 14th century, Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher set out to compose a guide that would organize all of the laws found in the Talmud into one place for ease of access and learning. He wrote Arba’ah Turim, a work that divides Jewish law into four categories: Orach Chayim (laws pertaining to daily life), Yoreh De’ah (miscellaneous laws), Even Ha’Ezer (laws of marriage), and Choshen Mishpat (laws of finance).

Rabbi Yosef Karo wrote a running commentary on Arba’ah Turim called Beit Yosef. It is exhaustive. Rabbi Karo’s Shulchan Aruch is a condensed form of Beit Yosef and Arba’ah Turim.

In the 19th century, Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried wrote Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, which is an heavily abridged form of Shulchan Aruch, for ease of learning and quick reference.

Shulchan Aruch HaRav is an incomplete work by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the Alter Rebbe of Chabad. The Maggid of Mezritch tasked the Alter Rebbe with “composing a Shulchan Aruch for chasidim”.

Aruch HaShulchan, written by Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein in the 19th century, summarizes the contents of the Shulchan Aruch, while also drawing sources and perspective from both the works of Rambam and the Talmud Yerushalmi.

As for which one a person should follow? They don’t divert much from each other, at least not in significant ways to the average Jew. A person should follow the customs of his community, and the judgments made by the leading rabbis. As a general rule, we always follow the Shulchan Aruch.

Hope this helps.

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  • Concise and answers all the questions Commented Jul 23, 2023 at 23:10
  • “Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher set out to compose a guide that would organize all of the laws found in the Talmud” and still relevant in his day (eg no laws of sacrifices in the Tur).
    – Joel K
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 5:01
  • The three later works also incorporate rulings from the great rabbis that lived between their time and the time of Shulchan Aruch, such as Magen Avraham, Shach and Taz.
    – N.T.
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 18:30

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