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There appear to be several halachot that are based on "a majority of Israel". For example:

Mishnah Berachot 54a:

הרואה מקום שנעשו בו נסים לישראל אומר ברוך שעשה נסים לאבותינו במקום הזה

IF ONE SEES A PLACE WHERE MIRACLES HAVE BEEN WROUGHT FOR ISRAEL, HE SHOULD SAY, BLESSED BE HE WHO WROUGHT MIRACLES FOR OUR ANCESTORS IN THIS PLACE (Soncino translation, capitals in original).

The Talmud there qualifies this:

אמרי אניסא דרבים כולי עלמא מיחייבי לברוכי אניסא דיחיד איהו חייב לברוכי

The answer [is that] for a miracle done to a large body it is the duty of everyone to say a blessing, for a miracle done to an individual he alone is required to say a blessing. (Soncino translation)

Rabbeinu Yonah there defines a ניסא דרבים as a miracle that was done for all or most of Israel:

כלומר שנעשה לכל ישראל או לרובן

So let's imagine that a major miracle occurred. How would we know if it meets the threshold of "most of Israel". Are we expected to travel the entire world to figure out the Jewish population and then calculate whether the miracle occurred to > 50% of that number? Are we just supposed to assume that it was not "most of Israel" unless it is glaringly obvious (e.g. millions of Jews were together such that it is virtually impossible that this is not the majority)? Or is perhaps the threshold of "most of Israel" not exactly precise and it does not actually require a technical majority? Or perhaps it only refers to certain Jews (e.g. those living in the Land of Israel)?

Are there any sources that discuss the parameters of "most of Israel", or how we would go about determining if the threshold was reached?

Note that an answer need not address the specific case above. There are other situations where this could be relevant as well. For example, the Sefer Hachinuch writes by a bunch of mitzvot that they are applicable בזמן שרוב ישראל על אדמתן – when the majority of Israel is in its land (e.g. Mitzvah # 95).

  • 1
    Very interesting question. I recently asked a Rav something similar. The laws of Yovel/shmitta will become d'oraita when rov Israel lives in Eretz Israel. The Rambam also mentions regularly the status of non-Jews in Israel will change when this happens. I asked if the Rabbanut in Israel was thinking of this every shmitta cycle to make the right determination in due time. Apparently they do but I have yet to find more detail on who/how – mbloch Mar 10 '18 at 18:48
  • @mbloch I thought the same until I was told that not only rov have to live in Israel but every tribe has to be living in their proper portion, which won't happen until Moshiach – robev Sep 14 '18 at 4:14
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    @mbloch A source for rov and ma'aserot can be found in Rambam hilchot Shemitta and Yovel, I think. Also, the part of the sefer Yechave Da'at regarding ma'aserot discusses it. From memory, for ma'aserot to apply d'oraita, over 50% of all Jews must live in Israel while the Beit Hamikdash stands. Other than that, the requirement is rabbinic. – chacham Nisan Sep 14 '18 at 9:45
  • @AlBerko I rolled back your edit. I like the title to reference "population statistics" rather than "majority of Israel" because the underlying question is about how we are expected to gather those statistics. That the particular statistics mentioned are the majority of Israel is coincidental to the thrust of the question. And the capitals are in the original in order to distinguish between Mishnah and Gemara, and I think that should be kept. – Alex Jan 30 at 23:40
  • 1. I saw that but it is not a good practice to have the title different from the content. 2. Your question is not about statistics - it is gathered the normal way, but about the very definition of "the majority of Israel" - e.g does it include secular Jews, by the number of prominent Rabbis etc. 3. The capitals make it scream and make it ugly. – Al Berko Jan 31 at 0:04
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I do not have sources but I my Rav told me that "beged isha" for a man is dependent upon whether or not it is a norm for men to dress or do the clothing or act in question, and he said that it goes by the norms of society as a whole, not just Jewish people.

  • Can you clarify how this relates to cases which are dependent on Jewish population statistics? – Alex Mar 18 at 4:04
  • What you write is correct but it is not related to "most of Israel" (which is the topic of the question). It is enough for a certain dress to be typical in a certain region (think skirts for men in Scotland) for beged isha not to apply – mbloch Mar 18 at 4:21

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