In my experience it is rare to see a Rosh Yeshiva or other prominent Rabbi declared to be senile and no longer working at full mental capacity. Recently such a proclamation was made about one Rosh Yeshiva however this was due to a legal situation. I think it is fair to assume that there are other Gedolim or older Roshei Yeshiva who are in a similar situation. I understand these things are not made public out of respect, but halachically I would guess that a person who no longer has all his faculties cannot be relied upon for psak. At what point can/should an assumption be made by the general public that a certain Rav is senile and can no longer be relied upon, even absent a medical diagnosis?

  • This has more repercussions where a rov is mesader kiddushin. Unless he is only there to make the b'rocho they may be invalid. – preferred May 19 '14 at 15:45
  • B'rachos (8b): כדאמר ר' יהושע בן לוי... והזהרו בזקן ששכח תלמודו מחמת אונסו. Shabbos (152a): תניא רבי ישמעאל ברבי יוסי אומר תלמידי חכמים כל זמן שמזקינין חכמה נתוספת בהם שנאמר בישישים חכמה ואורך ימים תבונה ועמי הארץ כל זמן שמזקינין טפשות נתוספת בהן. Nidah (24b): שלח לו רבי יהושע... יצתה כלת ר' חנינא לקראתו אמרה לו רבי המפלת כמין נחש מהו אמר לה אמו טהורה אמרה לו והלא משמך אמרה לי חמותי אמו טמאה ואמר לה מאיזה טעם הואיל וגלגל עינו עגול כשל אדם מתוך דבריה נזכר רבי יהושע... אמר אביי ש"מ צורבא מרבנן דאמר מילתא לימא בה טעמא דכי מדכרו ליה מדכר. – Fred May 19 '14 at 19:16
  • 1
    @preferred I thought that the effectiveness of the kiddushin was dependent on the intents of the bride and groom, the validity of the mechanism of kinyan (e.g. the ring), and the observation of the witnesses. The mesader kiddushin is there to make sure all of that is set up correctly, so lechatchila, he'd better be with it, but as long as all the essential elements managed to get into place, I don't see how the rabbi's mental state could invalidate the kiddushin, bedi'avad. – Isaac Moses May 19 '14 at 19:47
  • @fred what does this prove. That a real talmid chochom never becomes senile. – preferred May 19 '14 at 20:32
  • @Isaac Moses Of course youre right. But the gemoro says that someone who is not 'boki' in both gittin and kidushim shouldnt be having anything to do with them. A rov who is senile cannot be called 'boki'. – preferred May 19 '14 at 20:34

You must log in to answer this question.