In a conversation concerning the normal sensitive halachic issues, e.g. gender roles, homosexuality, etc., I recently heard a rabbi state that they found parts of halacha and the torah unethical and immoral. Consequently they argued, it is our obligation to do something about it.

  1. Are there any circumstances when one should not follow halacha when it comes into conflict with one's sense of morality?

  2. If there is something in accepted halacha that opposes one's sense of morality, is that any evidence against its status as correct halacha?

  • 2
    You may be interested in R' Lichtenstein's discussion in the article cited and linked in this comment.
    – Fred
    Dec 2, 2015 at 2:28
  • This rabbi sounds like he's a student of Avraham Avinu (Genesis 18:25).
    – Double AA
    Dec 2, 2015 at 3:40
  • Try looking into the concepts of הוראת שעה and עת לעשות לה which indicate that the answer to 1 is yes (even if not common). Also, see, for example, the last Tosfot on Yevamot 2a (and he.wikipedia.org/wiki/…), indicating that the answer to 2 is yes (even if it is inconclusive).
    – Double AA
    Dec 2, 2015 at 4:30
  • 4
    @DoubleAA Those principles, as well as the principle of d'racheha darchei no'am mentioned in Tosafos, are built into the halachic system. Any given individual's moral sense (subject to whims and external influences as it may be) is not necessarily sufficient or qualified to determine when and how these principles apply. Regarding Avraham, HaShem essentially invited him to advocate for the people of S'dom when He consulted him.
    – Fred
    Dec 2, 2015 at 4:43
  • @Fred If you expand your definition of the term "halachic system" sufficiently broadly you can include anything you want. Kind of a boring answer though and probably not what the OP (who bothered to exert himself even a little bit writing a question) had in mind. In any meaningful sense, Horaat Shaah is breaking Halacha for a short time. In any meaningful sense, Derakheha Darkhei No'am is a principle extrinsic to the matter under discussion being used to help determine a law.
    – Double AA
    Dec 2, 2015 at 4:51

2 Answers 2


This may be a matter of semantics but, inasmuch as halacha is defined as what one should do in any given scenario, the answer to 1 is necessarily no. This isn't to say that halacha is "one size fits all". On the contrary, the nuances of each individual case are what define its unique ruling. (This is the prime motivation behind the AYLOR caveat prevalent on this site.)

With regards to 2, it depends. Were the person higiya l'horaah (has sufficient moral and legal understanding of halacha), yet the majority of the halachic authorities (e.g. the Sanhedrin) have ruled without the benefit of his unique wisdom (which he, without any hubris or naivete, understands to be so compelling as to be beyond argument), he would be remiss to supress his unique moral knowledge, whether by his own actions or by withholding his information from the halachic authorities (see e.g. the first daf of Horayos and Rishonim including Ramban and Tosfoth HaRosh; See also Rambam, Hilchoth Mamrim Ch. 1-3).

On the other hand, if his is a vaguely defined moral intuition, utterly lacking in the nuance that defines halachic reasoning, and tainted by the mores of an outside culture that condones barbarity and perverseness that are antithetical to true morality (as is suggested by the language chosen by the "rabbi" you cite), the issue is primarily with his hubris, naivete, and his understanding, not only of "morality" but perhaps of halacha as well.

  • You're answer to question 1 would be well served if you'd touch on more nuances and how the OP's question may have different answers (some even non-trivial and hence interesting) for various meanings of the word "halacha". Your current presentation is rather boring.
    – Double AA
    Dec 2, 2015 at 16:25

Morality is not decided on the whim of feelings nor is absolute morality decided by changing opinions in society. What is considered moral now was different 100 years ago and will be different in another 100 years but halacha is always moral, unlike a moral opinion which doesn't recognize Torah. With the understanding that Torah comes from Hashem, who is good and does good, it wouldn't make sense to call halacha immoral.


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