From my searches, the Tanach does not have the term Psak or Posek in it. Many questions here related to questions on psak quote the Rambam, but those sections refer to Horyaot, or Divrei Halacha, or Shalot V'T'shuvot.

When did the term Posek and Psak start to get used? Why did the language change?

For example, there is the collection of Midrashim known as Psikata Rabahti. But these are statements of agadatah not halacha and are not rulings.

Then, later in the Rambam, he makes a refernce to a "Psak Din", made by a "Baalai dinin". Which is closer to the way the term is used today, but not exactly the same still, especially since it's referring to an actual court:

י [ח] שָׁאַל אֶחָד מִבַּעֲלֵי דִּינִין לִכְתֹּב לוֹ פְּסַק דִּין, כּוֹתְבִין לוֹ כָּךְ--בָּא פְּלוֹנִי לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁלִּפְלוֹנִי עִם פְּלוֹנִי בַּעַל דִּינוֹ, שֶׁטְּעָנוֹ בְּכָּךְ, וְיָצָא זַכָּאי, אוֹ חַיָּב; וְנוֹתְנִין לוֹ. וְאֵין מַזְכִּירִין שֵׁם הַמְּזַכִּין וְלֹא שֵׁם הַמְּחַיְּבִין, אֵלָא בֵּית דִּינוֹ שֶׁלִּפְלוֹנִי, מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם נִזְכָּה פְּלוֹנִי.

**This is not a question about etymology.

  • 3
    I think פסק comes from stopping like גמר as in גמר דין. The original root is להורות (ie הוראה, תורה, הורו, מורה). Consider Horayot 2a שלא נגמרה הוראה
    – Double AA
    Nov 2, 2015 at 16:11
  • 1
    I'm not asking about the etymology of the word, but the history of its usage. Does that make sense?
    – avi
    Nov 2, 2015 at 16:19
  • Related article: daattorah.blogspot.com/2015/03/… Apparently, the concept of a "posek" is alluded in the Gemarah.
    – DanF
    Nov 2, 2015 at 19:42
  • @DanF Notice how it doesn't use the word psak in the Talmud at all...
    – avi
    Nov 2, 2015 at 20:43
  • @avi Good point. I didn't focus on that w/ respect to your question. I know you're not seeking etymology, but DoubleAA's comment certainly does fit in with regard to what the rav accomplishes. I'll see what else I might find. This is a bit challenging! Your Psikta Rabbati mentioning may offer some insights to this definition, perhaps.
    – DanF
    Nov 2, 2015 at 20:48

1 Answer 1


Some Geonim use "psak din" already. "Posek" is essentially a modern term I think -- requires breakdown of the beit din system etc. Initially it seems to mean "disbursal of the law" in the same way that you're poseq your fruit in the Mishna.

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