When the Ramo writes and "so is the custom (vchain nohagin)" do we understand that to mean that this is his ruling regarding the law or that he is not giving his opinion about the law but is just saying we have a minhag to be strict (or lenient)?

From Yora Daiya 265.2, it seams that minhag means law.

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    I don't think there is a general rule. See his responsum #35 for instance – Double AA Nov 7 '14 at 5:57
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    I think that the idiom is "this is the normal way people behave" rather than the word custom – sabbahillel Nov 8 '14 at 23:24

See the the hakdama of the Pri Migadim to Yoreh De'ah in the section titled Klalim BiHoraas Issur ViHeter, #7 'You will see that the Rav z'l (the Ramma) writes asset times vihachi nahog, it implies that he is writing this to say this is how one should act from now on. And when he writes vichein haminhag or vichein nohagin this too has particulars. For sometimes the minhag is only in Krakow, or in that galil(?) and sometimes he means the entire medina, country'.

It is apparent from here that the language you quoted vichein nohagin is not halachicaly binding on other communities who have not accepted them. As opposed to Vihachi Nahog which is a direct command from the 'Rabbi of all the Galus who was accepted upon us to rule in accordance with' as stated in the Pri Migadim in the previous , paragraph, #6.

  • I don't see how this answers the question. Customs can be halachically binding but not law. – Double AA Nov 24 '14 at 18:47
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    @Double i think the intentions of the question to clarify when the word minhag is used to codify as halachicaly binding vs relating a practice was clear and addressed by this answer. – user6591 Nov 24 '14 at 19:04
  • @DoubleAA what is the difference between halachically binding and law? (the law is what makes it halachically binding) (there is a separate idea of "ikar hadin" (the essence of the law)) – hazoriz Nov 24 '14 at 19:40
  • @Double the use of the word 'law' in the question may be throwing you off. Perhaps he should have said halachicaly binding, but again, his intentions were clear. This is all besides the fact that halachicly binding and law and accepted practice and many other words we can use are not so clearly defined in the lexicon of halacha as we all know. This is probably the single most confusing idea in Judaism, causing separation between people who would otherwise call themselves brothers in Judaism who now call themselves Chasidish, Modern Orthodox or Yeshivish, or anything else. – user6591 Nov 24 '14 at 19:57
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    @Double when R'#3 quotes R'#1 & R'#2 and decides to rule with R'#2, he can say the halacha is like R'#2 or he can say one must be noheg like R'#2. Any 'minhag' is also only based on an opinion like the Magen Avraham points out, otherwise it is a minhag shel shtus. As such for any Rabbi to choose to word 'rule' or 'the law is' or 'hachi nahog' is symantecs bi'alma. Its only in hind sight when there is a practice already accepted that it matters whether we call it ikur din or minhag. – user6591 Nov 24 '14 at 22:33

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