I recall learning that one is not allowed to "venue shop" by asking a series of rabbis for a practical halachic ruling and following the opinion you like. I was taught that one should ask and be bound by the answer he receives (in fact, in my community, the women kept a loose track of which rabbi was most understanding for which type of question and would choose a rabbi to ask based on the desired, or at least expected, outcome).

A couple of related questions develop from this:

  1. How binding are volumes of Sh"UT? If I look up a halacha in one of them, is that my "ask and answer" process or can I reject it, and read more responsa, or then ask a rabbi?

1a. Are sifrei halacha binding? If I read one code, may I then go and read another if I am looking for a particular answer?

  1. Are online chats and "ask the rabbi" emails binding?
  2. Are websites which catalogue psaks and allow the user to plug in a question and get an answer binding? (I tried the http://www.practicalhalacha.com/ site and after a very machmir answer to my question, it also said CYLOR)

Mi Yodeya takes great pains to say that issues are not paskened here and one should, for any practical question, consult a rabbi. Other websites don't make that demand and seem to say that they are valid structures for adjudicating issues so I am wondering the parameters of their authority.

A final bit of clarification -- I am asking about the theory of practical halachic rulings, not FOR a halachic rulling. I don't think.

  • 1
    I recommend that you change your policy on thought before Descartes denies your existence and the better yeshivot deny you admission. // What websites say that they are valid structures for adjudicating issues?
    – Isaac Moses
    Feb 3, 2015 at 14:12
  • Thanks for linking to practicalhalacha.com . It occupies an interesting point on the public-Halacha-teaching spectrum, explicitly putting itself forward as a source for pesak with R' Heinemann's authority in cases where one's own rabbi is unavailable or inadequate, but also disclaiming at the bottom that it's "no substitute" for consulting one's own rabbi.
    – Isaac Moses
    Feb 3, 2015 at 14:22
  • 3
    very related judaism.stackexchange.com/a/29148/759
    – Double AA
    Feb 3, 2015 at 14:27
  • @IsaacMoses There are websites which allow people to submit questions and get answers from a particular rabbi -- no followup, no investigation. I don't wish to list names but such a thing exists.
    – rosends
    Feb 3, 2015 at 22:47

2 Answers 2


The early authorities state that one may not bring a chicken to a Rabbi, hear it is treif, and then go to another Rabbi and ask again. The authorities debate if this applies to theoretical questions, or only to a specific object. (I.e. is it an issur gavra or an issur cheftza?) They are only debating the case of a questioner asking a specific question to a specific Rabbi - not a curious Jew looking something up in a Sefer. Learning books of Halacha is not considered receiving an authoritative Halachik ruling, due to the complexities inherent in every real life case that are not covered by a sefer.

Volumes of Shu"T and sifrei Halachah are sources of information, not rulings automatically binding on the reader. This includes PracticalHalacha.com, which is essentially a searchable eBook. Every reputable English Halachah sefer or newsletter I have seen has an "Ask your LOR" disclaimer. You are more than allowed - you are encouraged to ask your own LOR after perusing these sources of information. An educated questioner is more efficient and more effective at asking a halachik question.

As far as a real Ask The Rabbi website, where you ask a question by email to a real Rabbi who then responds in kind - I presume that would be the same as asking a Rabbi by phone or face-to-face. You are initiating a question to which the Rabbi responds. I don't see a reason to differentiate between the mediums of communication used.

  • The second paragraph is certainly relevant but doesn't provide an actual answer to the question asked. That's what the third and fourth paragraphs do. (The first paragraph is repeating the question's first paragraph, essentially.) But the third and fourth paragraphs here simply take information known to the question asker (how paper and online sources work) and claim that the rule against multiple asking does or does not apply to them. That is, this answer basically takes the two options (allowed/disallowed) in the question and assigns them to various cases, without [cont'd]
    – msh210
    Feb 3, 2015 at 21:31
  • [cont'd] any real explanation of why each answer should apply to each case, and without any evidence. Perhaps you can flesh out in the answer why you think using one e-book after another, or a rabbi after an e-book, or whatever, is allowed?
    – msh210
    Feb 3, 2015 at 21:33
  • @msh210 Why do you think that you would not be allowed to use one book after another, or ask a Rabbi after reading a book? The whole process of learning consists of learning a variety of opinions, and asking a teacher to clarify further.(I don't think the permissibility of picking a ruling from a book that lists several opinions is being discussed here.)
    – LN6595
    Feb 3, 2015 at 21:39
  • 1
    Question 1 in the question post, above, was just that: "How binding are volumes of Sh"UT? If I look up a halacha in one of them, is that my 'ask and answer' process or can I reject it, and read more responsa, or then ask a rabbi?" I'd expect an answer post to have an argument or evidence in it (not just in the comments beneath it) supporting a claim that it's permitted, not just the claim. Otherwise, it provides no more information for the reader than the question did, beyond the fact that Random User X agrees with one side of the question over the other.
    – msh210
    Feb 3, 2015 at 21:42
  • @msh210 The function of the first paragraph was to give a source to the assertions in the second. I hope I clarified the structure of the post to answer your question in your fist comment and in the last one. Otherwise, please feel free to edit the post so it says what it's meant to say.
    – LN6595
    Feb 3, 2015 at 22:03

It's ok to venue shop, but you got to be machmir by deoraisas and makil by derbanans as per Avoda Zora daf zayin. This whole ask once and close your ears for life thing that has started up lately is just a by product of the recent break down in halachic process.

  • I would like to up vote, but cannot yet. Could you rephrase your answer to sound more nuanced and less bloggy?
    – LN6595
    Aug 7, 2015 at 1:34
  • "You got to be [...] makil by derabanans" Interesting; can you source this?
    – SAH
    Sep 19, 2017 at 21:40
  • 3
    This is very dangerous plan. Within a few days you'll almost certain find yourself unable to do just about anything on Shabbat, wearing dozens of pairs of Tefillin daily, and a gluten-free lettuce-free vegan.
    – Double AA
    Aug 28, 2018 at 20:43
  • Source is clearly in original answer. To double a, I don't think you have a good grasp over how much of halacha is derabanan. Also obviously the obligation to be machmir only applies to opinions that originate from legitimate sources and only to questions that have not been settled since the age of the amoraim Dec 12, 2018 at 2:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .