Many times Rabbonim will not take the time to speak to someone in learning or answer a question unless it is a "practical" question. This to me seems to be a new phenomenon but in Eretz Yisrael it is quite common (from experience.)

My question is is it muter to pose a question to a Rav as a "real" question even though it's not and the only reason I'm asking is to solicit a response for the sake of my learning. Is this a problem of genivas das? Perhaps the Rav will think since he has Siyata Dishmaya by every psak that he also has in this case and use again the same psak in an actual case (even though this case wasn't real.)

An additional question. If one is concerned (based on previous cases and that other Talmidei Chachamim feel this to be the situation) that perhaps a Rav is not paskening correctly and is being "machshil" the rabim with his psakim is one allowed to "test" the Rav by a asking a fake question to ascertain if he is paskening properly?

Please provide any sources in the above mentioned cases either way.

  • 6
    errm...since when do we allow lying to anyone, let alone a Rav?
    – Double AA
    Jan 29, 2013 at 21:55
  • @DoubleAA Well perhaps the person could simply ask the question without first saying whether it's l'maseh or not. If the rov would ask "is this l'maseh?" then seemingly he would have to say so.
    – Yehoshua
    Jan 29, 2013 at 21:59
  • 3
    reminds me of an old story -- a talmid brought his wife's bedikah to get a psak on if she was niddah or not. he waited on a very long line as the rav, always looking down to avoid seeing to whom he was speaking, simply said "tamei" or "tahor" when a cloth was presented. The talmid presented it..."tahor" said the rav. The talmid was convinced this was wrong based on his studies. So he got to the back of the line and waited again to get to the front. After an hour, he did, and put the cloth down. The rav angrily said "I told you already...tahor!"
    – rosends
    Jan 29, 2013 at 22:36
  • Bad timing for this question, no?
    – Yehuda
    Jan 29, 2013 at 22:53
  • 2
    As far as your second question, see the gemara in Shabbos (108a) where Karna tested Rav to see if he was really a scholar. Rav realized that it was a test, and he therefore cursed Karna (see Rashi, s.v. תיפוק).
    – Fred
    Jan 30, 2013 at 3:31

2 Answers 2


Dr. Abraham S. Abraham (author of Nishmat Avraham) said that he met with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach weekly. If he had no practical questions to ask, he'd make some up. So he asked on medical specialties other than his own or the like. It is possible that he made it clear that he didn't only ask questions l'maseh for him, but this may be a possible source. (I heard this in a lecture, so I have no source beyond who was speaking).

  • It's nice he wanted a kesher to the rav, but I don't believe this answers the question.
    – JNF
    Mar 12, 2013 at 7:37

It's a bad idea to ask a rav a fake halachic question.

There are many reasons for this.

  1. Halachic questions need to be based on all the facts in the given situation. When you create a fake question, you also create fake surrounding facts which can alter the psak. Your fake details may not ever actually exist in reality, even though in theory you think it's possible.
  2. There is a strong and terrible risk that if you spread this question and answer around, then people will start behaving based on the fake question. Which means they will start behaving on something which is completely false. Their lives don't match the situation in the fake question you asked, and you may not be aware of which detail in your question caused the Rabbi to rule a certain direction.
  3. Deception is not the way of Torah. Respect the Rabbi you are asking questions of. If they refuse to answer fake questions, then don't push them!
  4. Often times the emotional state of a person is taken into account when they ask a question. By asking a fake question, your present fake emotions which will alter the psak and you therefore really don't learn anything.
  • If they refuse to answer a fake question, don't push!?!? It says in Avos, התורה נקנית במ"ח דברים ואלו הן...בשמוש חכמים Rashi says there on the words "Shimush Chachamim", שדוחק ונכנס בכל מקום לשמוע דבריהן ולשמשן...Rashi is saying to push!
    – Yehoshua
    Mar 12, 2013 at 10:10

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