I am asking this question to evoke a list of situations in which one's personal feelings, intuitions, beliefs, and/or tastes have a role in creating the halacha.

I can think of a few on my own. With food, it is quite frequent; according to some opinions, one makes a bracha first on the food one likes most. One may arguably omit meat or fish or other traditional foods Shabbos if (and only if) one doesn't like them. And it seems there are many issues connected with subjectivity in hilchos Shabbos v'Tom Tov, in general: איסטניס; ochel nefesh; whether, based on your personal standard of acceptability, you are allowed to improve something further; etc., etc.

Apart from food and Shabbos, it is a bit harder to find examples. Shidduchim--and the necessity of seeing a potential bride, and choosing her based at least somewhat on one's own tastes--come to mind. In this arena, one's personal יש--that which makes him himself rather than another Yid with the same status--is ascribed some sort of religious legitimacy.

There were also nedoves, freewill offerings, which we also have in tefilla today. And finally, I once read an opinion that the decision of whether to say hamapil before or after other bedtime prayers should be based on one's personal sense of what to do.

Can anyone point out other significant or interesting points of halacha where the individual judgment of a layperson determines the law? (I ask about personal rather than communal or interpersonal preference/identity. And I am asking mostly about halachos--but opinions of the greats on the importance of individuality would also be very interesting to hear.)

Bli neder, sources later

  • 1
    would this include cases where if I am mochel on my kavod someone else's behavior can be halachaically acceptable, but if I am not mochel, the behavior isn't?
    – rosends
    Mar 29, 2018 at 12:55
  • @rosends Hmm interesting but maybe not, because admitting this one would open the door to quite a lot of bein Adam l'chaveiro and that is not so much my focus...Thank you though...A freylekhn Pesach!
    – SAH
    Mar 29, 2018 at 23:16
  • A few chassidic examples: 1) Whether to put the draft of a letter to your rebbe in sheimos (only necessary if one has a hergesh): shluchim.org/clil/mailroot/images/File/afterschool/… . 2) Whom to choose as a mashpia. General examples: 3) Whether you need to be makpid on negel vasser - there is a gemara about how ruach ra today only affects those who believe in it, basically. 4) Whom to choose as a rov. 5) Which derech or minhag to choose (absent a family tradition--then not sure)
    – SAH
    Apr 24, 2018 at 17:53
  • Whether you can buy stuff for your baby while still expecting--and other concerns of ayin hara ch"v--are also, I think, in the same category as #3.
    – SAH
    Apr 24, 2018 at 17:59
  • Another insight about which I'm quite pleased: the date of Shavuos is determined by the individual Jew's opinion, or at least his behavior
    – SAH
    May 4, 2018 at 19:10

1 Answer 1


If someone is guarding a field with multiple types of produce, but is only doing it for one of the types, the other type is obligated in ma'aser and forbidden to be stolen only if the owner cares about them. The Gemara also applies this to chametz, which must be nullified if you care about them, meaning that crumbs you don't care about don't have to be nullified (Pesachim 6b).

  • Nice. And this made me think of another example: chatzitzos, which are contingently defined on how much they bother the person
    – SAH
    Mar 29, 2018 at 22:52

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