I have noticed that there are a few popular printings of the Mishna B'rura that come with footnote references to the Chazon Ish on each halacha where the two disagree (example).

I have also noticed a couple popular editions of the Aruch Hashulchan in which there are footnote references to the Mishna B'rura (example) where the two of them disagree.

  1. What is the motivation behind these footnotings? Is the implication that the primary author's opinion is overruled by the footnoted one and therefore should not be considered on its own without the help of the other posek?

  2. Why doesn't someone just cut out the middle man and print an Aruch Hashulchan with the Chazon Ish?

NOTE: I would be happy to hear that my cynicism is misplaced. This discussion seems to support it though.

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    I'm hoping they'll put out a Mishna Berurah with Piskei Aruch HaShulchan! ;-) – Yahu Jan 2 '11 at 9:00
  • And then there's the Kitzur with the Mishna Brura as footnotes, even though the Mishna Berura quotes the Kitzur when he feels it's significant. – Danny Schoemann Nov 25 '14 at 7:59
  • @WAF, your links are dead – Noach MiFrankfurt Feb 13 '15 at 1:58
  • Seems too broad, and mostly off topic. The question of why a particular printer chooses to print some particular edition, is about Jews; not Judaism. – mevaqesh Nov 30 '17 at 1:45
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    @NoachMiFrankfurt Thanks. Revived! – WAF Apr 1 '19 at 14:29

I always assumed the motivation was to provide information from a diversity of posekim, when they differ on something, so that readers will be aware that there are varying opinions/traditions.

An extreme version of this is an edition of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch compiled by R' Mordechai Eliyahu that includes glosses with the opinions of the Mishna Berura and the Shulchan Aruch Harav as well as his own opinions according to Sefaradi traditions. In this excellent essay, a school principal mentions how his school uses it for Halacha class specifically so that they can be aware of the diversity of traditions out there.

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    The linked edition of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (is very impressive and) seems to be an attempt to present "the full range" of opinions, as an encyclopedic reference. I can intuitively understand it more than the examples I cited, each of which provides exactly two opinions that do not seem to cover too "wide a range" in terms of p'sak. – WAF Dec 31 '10 at 19:40
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    I see the distinction. – Isaac Moses Dec 31 '10 at 19:43
  • BTW: That first link (edition) has gone bad. :-( – Danny Schoemann Nov 25 '14 at 8:03
  • @DannySchoemann Thanks for the alert! It's fixed. – Isaac Moses Nov 25 '14 at 13:42

Speaking only of the various printings of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, the reason why it is usually printed with footnotes is because those footnotes are intended to tell us about other poskim we usually hold like (in preference to the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch).

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch is so prevalant because it's a convenient summary of a lot of halacha (fits in one volume, if you buy an English translation, you don't need to buy a new bookshelf to hold it, it covers important basics in Yoreh Deah, Even HaEzer, and Choshen Mishpat, and it doesn't have the complicated format that a Mishnah Berurah does). However, since the general public holds like the Mishnah Berurah instead, the footnotes are there to tell people how the Mishnah Berurah holds. Similarly, the new ArtScroll translation covers the opinions of modern poskim like R' Moshe Feinstein (who the general American public holds like). Similarly, in Israeli printings of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, you can find an appendix written by the Chazon Ish about halachot that apply only to Eretz Yisrael.

(I do think that R' Mordechai Eliyahu's version of the Kitzur with footnotes from Ben Ish Chai has a different purpose. Since Sepharadim are very easily able to get their hands on a copy of the Ben Ish Chai, and it's not too much larger in Hebrew or English than the Kitzur is, there doesn't really seem to be a need to print the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch simply to make a comprehensive modern sefer of halacha avaialable. In this case, I think the point really is to be able to learn the psak of different poskim/eidot comparatively.)

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    You're right about why people use the kitzur a lot. Though I wouldn't say "the general public holds like the Mishna Berurah". The Mishna Berurah has been widely accepted as the mehalech for b'nei yeshiva (particularly Lithuanian). The general public should be inquiring from their Rav who should be competent in psak, and not just be able to look things up in the Mishna Berurah. (This point was underscored above by Mekubal.) A Rav that I used to consult with told me that the closest a person can get to proper psak just by reading a sefer is Chaye/Chochmas Adam. – YDK Jan 2 '11 at 21:10
  • Chanoch, that wasn't a critique on your point per say. I'm sure you didn't mean it in the same way as my interpretation, but it gave me a convenient place to make the point! – YDK Jan 2 '11 at 21:12
  • I certainly agree with your point there. – Chanoch Jan 2 '11 at 22:14
  • he says quotes ca hahaim a lot, not only ben ish hai – Avraham May 5 '11 at 12:52
  • @Avraham - you mean caF hahaim? – Adam Mosheh Apr 26 '12 at 18:54

WAF, with lack of time in the day for 3 halacha sedarim. Most will learn a sefer which is in line with their Yeshiva's path (commonly MB nowadays) or the Aruch haShulchan which provides good background and chidushim. However, they would like to know if there are dissenting opinions among the other big Halachic rulers. A quick footnote allows for that.

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    This would imply that the reasons for the two s'farim I mentioned are actually quite different. The Mishna B'rura is for those learning halacha who happen to want to know if the Chazon Ish disagrees with any given p'sak. The Aruch Hashulchan is for people who learn/pasken like the Mishna B'rura but want more iyun without being misled into thinking it is authoritative. Is this correct? – WAF Dec 31 '10 at 19:43
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    The Aruch haShulchan is no less authoritative than the Mishna Berura. I was just saying that someone may have a preference what to use for their main sefer. The final p'sak should come from your Rav or be based on your shimush (professional experience) with halacha. – YDK Dec 31 '10 at 20:05
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    @YDK I understand that people should not be (and generally are not) paskening straight from the Mishna B'rura but it still seems like a version of Mishna B'rura with piskei Chazon Ish at the bottom doesn't reflect the opinions of "other big Halachic rulers". It just gives the opinion of one such ruler - the Chazon Ish. There must be a reason that specifically he is printed in that version of the Mishna B'rura. Mustn't there? – WAF Jan 2 '11 at 23:14
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    I guess marketing becomes an issue. People probably wouldn't buy a special Mishna Berura version im piskei R' Shlomo Heimen (e.g.). – YDK Jan 3 '11 at 0:22
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    Yeshivat Kisei Rachamim sells a mishnah berurah with footnotes according to the sephardic pasak of R' Matzliah Mazuz. – Chanoch Jan 3 '11 at 7:17

Another good reason is to help people who are learning for the Semikha exams, both in the Israeli Rabbinate(and quite probably other places as well) where they expect to you know what the major Mahlokets of the previous generations were, and if possible where modern posking fall out on the issue.

If you are not fluent in the all the dissenting opinions, and most especially their reasoning, it is much harder to be a competent posek. Footnotes such as these help track those differences down, instead of having to page through all of them.

Also for various reasons it is good for a Rav to know the various chumras and kulas on any given halakha in case things fall out on a b'dieved situation. I have just dealt with two such situations one dealing with a ta'anit yachid on friday, and another dealing with someone's tefillin which were needlessly declared possul l'gamrei by another sofer.


The motivation behind these footnoting IS LHAGDIL TORAH, make the Torah more expansive to give people more to talk about and more angles to come from on a single idea.

The reason someone just cut out the middle man and print an Aruch Hashulchan with the Chazon Ish is that they sometimes do things like that and it's a worthwhile project to to take on, much like they have for MISHNAH BERURAH a sefer called called KITZUR PISKIE MISHNEH BERURAH amongst the many other Likutim Seforim.

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    Are you saying that these were arbitrary pairings of גדולים, each with no more intent behind it than to increase the number of opinions on the page? – WAF Dec 31 '10 at 19:55
  • No they are 2 worthwhile 2 Halcha opinions, Why do you not question why the gemara has to go through a whole process until it gets to Halacha let it just say the Halacha because working through a Halacha is essential tpo grasp its full implication also sometimes for a Kulah you put together multiple so so kulos and you have one real halachic kulah – SimchasTorah Dec 31 '10 at 20:21
  • ST, I think WAF's point is, why choose only one dissenting Posek and point out where they disagree, and if it's to teach another view, why not print it there instead of just giving a footnote? – Seth J May 2 '11 at 16:19

As far as #2, the Chazon Ish actually quoted and adressed the Mishna Berurah extensively, therefore his hasagos and sometimes other chidushim are printed along with it. He never focused on the Aruch Hashulchan so his chidushim have no place in the Aruch Hashulchan.

Regarding #1 which was answered many times over I will add that the world has evolved who they consider the final opinion, and the addendum reflect this. As an aside, this seemingly arbitrary decision of who decides who is the posek achron seems to be related to who is doing the bulk of the learning. Therefore it seems, the Kitzur was accepted as the official halachic work back when working class, poor struggling people and their desperately poor and strained Rabbanim needed quick access to relevant halachos. After the Yeshiva movement took over the bulk of the learning and trained people to think and learn differently, the Mishna Berurah, himself a Rosh Yeshiva, and the teacher of Reb Elchonon Waserman one of the key bridges to many modern day yeshivos, took hold. His opinion is considered final by a tremendous amount of people. Therefore his halachos are tacked on to other popular works such as the Kitzur and The Aruch Hashulchan. The same idea of Final decision maker is what motivated people to put the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav on the page of the mishna berurah, for all those, chassidim mostly, who want an expansive understanding of the Shulchan Aruch from the m.b. but still want to know the opinion of their final decision maker, the Shulchan Aruch Harav. The Aruch Hashulchan's popularity seems relegated to scholars and intellectuals, people who know how to open his book and use it. So it seems unlikely he will ever be reduced to footnotes.

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