It is an established principle that when in doubt regarding a Torah law we rule stringently, whereas when in doubt regarding a Rabbinic law we rule leniently. Why is this the case? Why aren't we always stringent? Why aren't we always lenient?

  • see chulin in first chapter – kouty Apr 9 '17 at 18:05
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    Are you asking for how we in the 21st century know that this is a halakhic principle, i.e. its sources in classical halakhic literature? How Hazal determined it (likely a matter of conjecture)? Why God decided it should be this way (assuming He determined it)? Why rabbis chose this (assuming it was their choice)? Something else? – mevaqesh Apr 9 '17 at 18:05
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    "Why aren't we always stringent? Why aren't we always lenient" Why should we always be stringent? Why should we always be lenient? Are you just asking why generally Torah law is more stringent than non-Torah law? – mevaqesh Apr 9 '17 at 18:06
  • @kouty Where in there? – DonielF Apr 9 '17 at 18:09
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    @DonielF Because the former is more stringent than the latter. – mevaqesh Apr 9 '17 at 18:12

First of all, there is a machlokes if Safek D'Oraisa lechumra is in fact D'Oraisa or itself a D'Rabbanan.

If its D'Oraisa, then the Torah is itself strict on such a doubt, so we may not be lenient; whereas a D'Rabbanan is subject to human rules of leeway.

If its D'rabbanan too, then we see Chazal were scared about accidentally breaking a Torah Law, but not so worried if we accidentally break a Rabbinical Law.

This seems to be because a shogeg (accidental sinner) in Torah Law, has still tainted himself with encountering the sin. So a doubt should be avoided too. But, someone who accidentally violates a Rabbinical fence or enactment, has in essence violated nothing. Alternatively, the sages were lenient about their own enactments so as not to overburden the people.

The sources are in Gemara and Poskim, but I do not have them near me now erev Pesach. I will try to edit later. But, I do remember this to be the answer talked about.

  • See the first section in Shav Shmaytsa for that machlokes. – DonielF Apr 9 '17 at 20:54
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    "This seems to be because a shogeg (accidental sinner) in Torah Law, has still tainted himself with encountering the sin" No it doesn't. That is wholly arbitrary. Even following your line of reasoning, it "seems to be because a shogeg in Torah Law has still violated whatever is wrong with Torah prohibitions. You see nothing about the nature of such prohibitions. They might be bad for society, for example. – mevaqesh Apr 9 '17 at 23:16

The Zohar Rakiah in Sefer HaMitzvos Shoresh Alef writes that chazal when they created their takanos, intentionally built into it the idea of suffik derabannan lekulah, in order to distinguish a derabannan from a doraisa.

This explanation makes sense if suffik doraisa lechumra is a doraisa (like the Rashba), because there is the intended distinction. However, the Zohar Rakiah is explaining the Rambam (although in a different context), who holds suffik doraisa lechumra is miderabannan. I think you'd have to say then that this was also part of the motivation to make suffik doraisa lechumra, because otherwise they'd both be lekulah, and there's be no distinction. Or at least, if something else motivated chazal to make suffik doraisa lechumra, this is why they didn't do the same for suffik derabannan.

  • This answer would be greatly improved if you cited the relevant piece in Shav Shmaytsa that makes the distinction you're making (the machlokes Rashba and Rambam). – DonielF Jun 19 '17 at 13:35
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    I'm not getting anything from the shev shmaytsa. The Rashba appears in Kiddushin and I think a teshuva, and the Rambam is all over the place. You want me to cite those? – robev Jun 19 '17 at 14:04

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