I have heard of the duality of חומרה and קולה. For some people a particular application of halacha is considered a חומרה and to others a קולה. This ideology seems to only apply on an individual basis. I can understand, in absolute terms (all things being equal) we can define things as being a חומרה and קולה. However, is there (perhaps 'poetic') license to use these two terms differently in individual cases.

Let me give some examples:

Some would be 'מחמיר' to only eat a certain of the 'best' hechsherim whereas others would be meikel to use less preferable hechsherim. Could one say that, due to financial difficulties of purchasing expensive good hechsherim, he is being 'מחמיר' to specifically not forgo the financial obligations he has towards supporting his family.

Another example. Some are machmir not to hold by eruvim, due to them potentially being invalid (whether this is a valid stance or not, I have lived in communities that don't hold by eruvim for exactly this reason). Could one say that he is being machmir to use the eiruv in order to improve oneg shabbat, facilitating his family going to shul, etc.

Although this may be merely poetic license I feel it highlights misconceptions that 'doing more' or 'being more restricting' falls under the category of חומרה and is more desirable. I would love to promulgate a more inclusive Judaism that doesn't castigate those for positively applying the law לחומרה (!) in the opposite sense.

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner has a number of responses in his sefarim in this sense e.g. he says that we should be מחמיר not to doubt the words of the Rabbanut HaRashit i.e. eat their kashrut, rather than be מחמיר to only eat mehadrin. He also brings heater mechira in the same way, that we should eat it and be מחמיר to support farmers and the settling of Israel rather than be מחמיר to doubt the authority of the Rabbanut HaRashit, etc.

Do any others speak about the use of חומרה and קולה in this way?

  • Why would you want to castigate people for positively applying the law in either way?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 6:21
  • @DoubleAA I don't think that people truly believe in אלו ואלו. There should be greater acceptance of opposing views. Acknowledgment would be a positive step forwards
    – bondonk
    Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 9:51
  • You're the one who's castigating those who don't carry in certain Eruvin...
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 23:20
  • @DoubleAA I don't think its in the spirit of this forum to make such comments.
    – bondonk
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 10:17
  • Applying the halacha either way should be acceptable if based on solid grounds. It is often not seen this way.
    – bondonk
    Commented Jun 16, 2014 at 10:19

2 Answers 2


Rav Chaim Brisker is famously quoted regarding his allowing people to eat on fast days when they were not feeling well (for which he had a lower standard of "not feeling well") that he was not meikel on fasting, he was machmir on Pikuach Nefesh.

  • 2
    Rev Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik is quoted on pikuach Nefesh and melacha on Shabbos in the same way. Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 2:32
  • @sabbahillel I heard it as being from his father, not him. Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 3:03
  • It could be. I may have remembered it wrong. Stories of this type often get applied to the wrong person. Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 3:04
  • @sabbahillel the two aren't mutually exclusive. But R' Y.B. would likely be from R' Moshe. Commented Jun 15, 2014 at 3:05

This is actually very common. One case thats jumps to mind was the argument surrounding gibroktz, as brought in shaarei tshuva in hilchos pesach siman 460 where one side of the argument is to be machmir and not allow matzah to get wet on pesach for fear of uncooked flour, and the other side of the argument said to be machmir about the mitzvah of oneg yom tov and to eat it, instead of dry matzah.

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