I'm learning the Sugya of pas haba'ah b'kisnin. This seems like an extraordinary area of Halacha, because the beracha on this type of food is entirely subjective, based on what others would be koveah a seudah (what would count as a meal). Also, the Rosh says that young children and elderly people don't need to eat the same amount of food to qualify for meal as say, a middle aged man.

Does this kind of subjectivity exist in any other realm within Halacha?

  • Does that subjectivity get pulled down into halacha l'maaseh today? (I assume you're asking about today's understanding of halakha) May 29, 2013 at 17:02
  • Yes it does. There is a classic, unresolved machlokes today about how many slices of pizza is considered a seudah,or how much is considered to satisfy someone in our society. I'm asking if this flexible subjectivity exists in other areas of Halacha? May 29, 2013 at 17:59
  • A food's bracha is shehakol if eaten in an unusual manner, which would depend on how its eaten in that location.
    – Ariel K
    May 29, 2013 at 18:01
  • 1
    It would be great to include that in the original question. As it stands, it's unclear that you're talking about l'maaseh and not Talmudic halakha. May 29, 2013 at 18:02
  • The halacha is not subjective. The application of halacha is based on conditions that objectively exist but sometimes arose by subjective standards (such as preferences, attitudes, or community norms).
    – Fred
    May 29, 2013 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


Yes: a number of areas of halacha depend on what is usual in the place and time. One I can think off the top of my head is: Some pos'kim have held one can smoke cigarettes or take a hot shower on yom tov because that was shave l'chol nefesh (widely done) at those times and in those places; they would agree that such would be forbidden when smoking and showering are not shave l'chol nefesh. (See the last Beur Halacha on 511 re smoking; probably sources on showering are also on Orach Chayim 511 (though not in the Beur Halacha).)

  • People still hold smoking is shave lechol nefesh? (And I'm not talking about people who continue to smoke because they once got a heter not realizing it might not apply anymore.)
    – Double AA
    May 29, 2013 at 19:18
  • @DoubleAA "still"?
    – Yehoshua
    May 29, 2013 at 19:19
  • @Yehoshua 50 years ago it might have been, before people stopped smoking when they realized it was suicidal.
    – Double AA
    May 29, 2013 at 19:20
  • @DoubleAA !?!? Why? What country do you live?!
    – Yehoshua
    May 29, 2013 at 19:21
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    @Yehoshua If you are referring to Israel, 20.9 percent of Israelis (including Arabs) were estimated by the לשכה המרכזית לסטטיסטיקה to be smokers as of 2009. That's a large drop from the past. Are you arguing that less than 21% of the population can generate a דבר השווה לכל נפש?
    – Fred
    May 29, 2013 at 19:50

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