The Rabbinic power to ban a practice such as blowing shofar on Shabbat is called "shev v'al ta'aseh" - "sit and don't do it." Is there any limit to the power? For instance, could they hypothetically ban shofar altogether, or is it only possible when the ban is only for a specific day but not absolute?

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    The ban on doing Maaser Behema is seemingly absolute (at least until the Temple is rebuilt; does that count as absolute?)
    – Double AA
    May 13 at 20:31
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  • Yevamos 90b brings an example of prohibiting tzitzis on a linen garment, which isn't on a specific day (though it is a specific time).
    – shmosel
    May 13 at 20:37
  • @shmosel And a specific material. It doesn't nullify the whole mitzva of tzitzit
    – Double AA
    May 13 at 20:55
  • See The Power of the Rabbis to Override Torah Law by Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman at yutorah.org/lectures/776629
    – Edward B
    May 14 at 9:29

1 Answer 1


The question would be more accurately, what power do rabbis have to override the Torah laws.

  1. When they do it passively (Yevamos)
  2. When the Torah permitted something explicitly the rabbis cant forbid it (Taz oc 588 5) (Meiri meggilla 4b (last answer) They said it regarding why chazal didn't forbid Mila on Shabbos maybe you'll carry knife 4 amos. However many reishonim give other answers to this question implying they argue on this concept.
  3. However Rabbis can't annul a mitzva entirely ( Reishonim yevamos 20b tos אי הכי Tos Yeshanim,Ritva Rashba)

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