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When the Messiah comes, will the various decisions and laws established by ChaZAL (i.e those after prophecy departed from Israel) still be in effect, or will the return of prophecy nullify the previous rulings?

EDIT: The remaining part of the question has been asked as it's own question here.

AFAIK part of the decrees during the Men of the Great Assembly was that all matters of halacha will be decided by the various known principles, and not by prophecy. I'm not sure if it was always like that and it was just being firmly stated, or if it was a new thing. Not sure if this should be it's own question, but this question assumes the latter (that before then, prophecy was accepted in the realm of halacha).

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    If you don't know if something is true, asking a question based on it seems quite silly. Why not first find out if it's true? – Double AA Feb 28 '16 at 14:38
  • That second paragraph is false. It's a verse in the Torah, not a decree by the Great Assembly. – Micha Berger Feb 28 '16 at 22:58
  • @MichaBerger could you find the exact source? It might be an asmachta, i.e when they decided to continue that way they used that pasuk – jj2 Feb 28 '16 at 23:08
  • Added to my answer. Note that this was how things were done the day Moshe died. Osniel / Yaavetz reestablished the laws forgotten during the transition in court by legal process. See aishdas.org/asp/osniel-ben-kenaz and aishdas.org/asp/legislative-authority-of-bas-qol – Micha Berger Feb 28 '16 at 23:11
  • @MichaBerger the first link there says " The Great Assembly included the last of the prophets. One couldn’t “feel for” the right answer as reliably, and halachic reasoning came to the fore." That seems to support the latter part of my post. – jj2 Feb 29 '16 at 0:02
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One of the ways one knows a prophet is false is if he attempts to overturn a halakhah on a permanent basis. (See Rambam, Yesodei haTorah 9:4, Chinukh mitvah #517.) A prophet could be told to make a one-time exception, as Eliyahu did when he offered a sacrificed on Mt Carmel. (Rambam ibid 9:3)

So, if someone were to come claiming to be Elijah, some other fellow is the mashiach, and a whole bunch of halakhah is getting changed through extralegal means, we know he's lying.

However, with the arrival of the messiah (or perhaps somewhat before or after) will be the restoration of the Sanhedrin. One high court can overturn the rulings of an earlier court. According to the Rambam (Hilkhos Mamrim ch. 2), the rules are:

1- Any Sanhedrin can overturn the legal interpretations of an earlier Sanhedrin, including derashos (laws derived by through formal hermeneutics of the Torah's text). So if they understand a Torah law or otherwise preexisting law differently, the law could change to fit their understanding.

2- A Sanhedrin that is greater in wisdom and number than an earlier court can repeal that earlier court's legislation. This speaks to undoing the creation of new law.

(In practice, I would expect a court that was not greater in wisdom and number would not be too willing to exercise the power to second-guess prior legal decisions either. But the power is theirs to wield.)

So, an ideal messianic Sanhedrin, which would be even greater in number and wisdom than Chazal's couts could indeed change much of halakhah from the way our Chazal interpreted and legislated. In regular, halachic process, ways.

Given the above: Statements like the Zohar's that after the mashiach comes we will switch from following Beis Hillel's rulings to beis Shammai's are aggadic, cannot be taken at face value. It could just be voicing an expectation of how the future Sanhedrin will rule, or even more meta... that they keep current rulings, but the new Sanhedrin would conceptually more Shamaitic in outlook. We'll see that they mean when it happens. But the Torah itself cannot change.

By the way... the source for requiring that law be created by legislative process, with any prophetic input to be ignored, is derived from the verse: "לֹא בַשָּׁמַיִם הִואֿ -- it is not in heaven." (Devarim 30:12) This is invoked in Bava Metzia 59b. Which is why, when Moshe died and 300 laws were forgotten, another 700 thrown into doubt, the rulings are not restored by prophecy. Rather, Osniel ben Kenaz reestablished them deductively, using the rules of legislation. (Yuma 80a)

  • How do you know that the future court will be greater in wisdom than the earlier generations? Is that only referring to scientific wisdom? If it is referring to Torah wisdom, we probably know a lot less than they did, especially being that they had ruach hakodesh, unless you assume that we will have that same ruach hakodesh when messiah arrives. – Emet v'Shalom Feb 28 '16 at 20:36
  • @Emetv'Shalom that's kind of the question, will ruach ha-hakodesh play a role when the Messiah comes? – jj2 Feb 28 '16 at 21:04
  • Ruach haqodesh will play no greater role in the halachic process than it did since we entered Israel. "It is not in heaven." The Sanhedrin, however, will be taught by Eliyahu. According to one opinion in the Yerushalmi, that's the primary reason for Hashem keeping him around to return -- so that we can have a generation that is closer to Sinai, picking up from the chain of ordination as it was back when we had prophecy. – Micha Berger Feb 28 '16 at 22:53
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – jj2 Feb 29 '16 at 16:43

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