I'm looking for examples (especially Achronim or later) where a Rabbi gives a ruling and then later on admits (possibly in a separate psak) that the original ruling was mistaken.

Note that I'm not looking for places where someone else points out a problem with the original ruling, only for cases where the original author explicitly admits he was wrong.

Edit: As Double AA points out, Makkot 5b is a good example from the Gemara where R' Yehuda ben Tabbai is rebuked and admits his mistake.

  • There are many dapim of gemara in Masekhet Horayot dedicated to errors by the Great Sanhedrin, Kohen Gadol and Nasi
    – mbloch
    May 9 '18 at 13:51
  • 1
    This happens nowadays when new information comes to light, e.g., see here for examples re smoking: "These contemporary authorities include Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l, the Tzitz Eliezer zt”l, Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul zt”l, and Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l, who, contrary to their earlier psakim, in their later rulings all came out strongly against smoking."
    – mbloch
    May 9 '18 at 13:55
  • 2
    Not that many dapim in Horayot ;) Also, I don't think there is any mention of a specific case where this actually happened.
    – Nic
    May 9 '18 at 14:16
  • 1
    Does admitting your mistake after it is pointed out by others count? See Makkot 5b.
    – Double AA
    May 9 '18 at 14:18
  • Regarding smoking, does any one of those source actually explicitly say that they were initially mistaken?
    – Nic
    May 9 '18 at 14:19

The first instance is in the Torah itself (Leviticus 10:16):

טז וְאֵ֣ת ׀ שְׂעִ֣יר הַֽחַטָּ֗את דָּרֹ֥שׁ דָּרַ֛שׁ מֹשֶׁ֖ה וְהִנֵּ֣ה שֹׂרָ֑ף וַ֠יִּקְצֹף עַל־אֶלְעָזָ֤ר וְעַל־אִֽיתָמָר֙ בְּנֵ֣י אַֽהֲרֹ֔ן הַנּֽוֹתָרִ֖ם לֵאמֹֽר׃ יז מַדּ֗וּעַ לֹֽא־אֲכַלְתֶּ֤ם אֶת־הַֽחַטָּאת֙ בִּמְק֣וֹם הַקֹּ֔דֶשׁ כִּ֛י קֹ֥דֶשׁ קָֽדָשִׁ֖ים הִ֑וא וְאֹתָ֣הּ ׀ נָתַ֣ן לָכֶ֗ם לָשֵׂאת֙ אֶת־עֲוֺ֣ן הָֽעֵדָ֔ה לְכַפֵּ֥ר עֲלֵיהֶ֖ם לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָֽה׃ יח הֵ֚ן לֹֽא־הוּבָ֣א אֶת־דָּמָ֔הּ אֶל־הַקֹּ֖דֶשׁ פְּנִ֑ימָה אָכ֨וֹל תֹּֽאכְל֥וּ אֹתָ֛הּ בַּקֹּ֖דֶשׁ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוֵּֽיתִי׃ יט וַיְדַבֵּ֨ר אַֽהֲרֹ֜ן אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה הֵ֣ן הַ֠יּוֹם הִקְרִ֨יבוּ אֶת־חַטָּאתָ֤ם וְאֶת־עֹֽלָתָם֙ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה וַתִּקְרֶ֥אנָה אֹתִ֖י כָּאֵ֑לֶּה וְאָכַ֤לְתִּי חַטָּאת֙ הַיּ֔וֹם הַיִּיטַ֖ב בְּעֵינֵ֥י יְהוָֽה׃ כ וַיִּשְׁמַ֣ע מֹשֶׁ֔ה וַיִּיטַ֖ב בְּעֵינָֽיו׃

Then Moses inquired about the goat of sin offering, and it had already been burned! He was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons, and said, “Why did you not eat the sin offering in the sacred area? For it is most holy, and He has given it to you to remove the guilt of the community and to make expiation for them before the LORD.

Since its blood was not brought inside the sanctuary, you should certainly have eaten it in the sanctuary, as I commanded.”

And Aaron spoke to Moses, “See, this day they brought their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD, and such things have befallen me! Had I eaten sin offering today, would the LORD have approved?”

And when Moses heard this, he approved.

And again in the Mishna (Gitin 4:5):

מִי שֶׁחֶצְיוֹ עֶבֶד וְחֶצְיוֹ בֶן חוֹרִין, עוֹבֵד אֶת רַבּוֹ יוֹם אֶחָד וְאֶת עַצְמוֹ יוֹם אֶחָד, דִּבְרֵי בֵית הִלֵּל. אָמְרוּ לָהֶם בֵּית שַׁמַּאי, תִּקַּנְתֶּם אֶת רַבּוֹ, וְאֶת עַצְמוֹ לֹא תִקַּנְתֶּם. לִשָּׂא שִׁפְחָה אִי אֶפְשָׁר, שֶׁכְּבָר חֶצְיוֹ בֶן חוֹרִין. בַּת חוֹרִין אִי אֶפְשָׁר, שֶׁכְּבָר חֶצְיוֹ עָבֶד. יִבָּטֵל, וַהֲלֹא לֹא נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם אֶלָּא לִפְרִיָּה וְלִרְבִיָּה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה מה) לֹא תֹהוּ בְרָאָהּ, לָשֶׁבֶת יְצָרָהּ. אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי תִקּוּן הָעוֹלָם, כּוֹפִין אֶת רַבּוֹ וְעוֹשֶׂה אוֹתוֹ בֶן חוֹרִין, וְכוֹתֵב שְׁטָר עַל חֲצִי דָמָיו. וְחָזְרוּ בֵית הִלֵּל לְהוֹרוֹת כְּדִבְרֵי בֵית שַׁמָּאי:

One who is half slave and half free-man, serves his master one day and [works for] himself one day. These are the words of Beit Hillel. Beit Shammai said to them: "You have repaired [the situation] for his master, but for himself you have not repaired it. To marry a maidservant is impossible [i.e., forbidden], for he is half-free. [To marry] a free-woman is impossible, for he is half-slave. And was not the world created for the sake of reproduction, as it says (Isaiah 45:18) "Not for emptiness did He create it, but for settlement He formed it." Rather, due to Tikkun HaOlam, we force his master and he makes him a free-man, and [the slave] writes a document [of debt] for half his value. Beit Hillel retracted and ruled in accordance with the words of Beit Shammai.

And again in the Talmud (Makkot 8a et al.):

הדר אמר רבא לאו מילתא היא דאמרי

Rava then said: That which I said is nothing.

Rabbis admitting they made mistakes has always been around, and there are many more examples.

  • Sorry, I just changed the question to ask for "late" (achronim) examples. Otherwise, this is a good answer.
    – Nic
    May 9 '18 at 14:28
  • @Nic You aren't allowed to change a question once it has an upvoted answer judaism.meta.stackexchange.com/a/1231/759 In this case, this answer was first upvoted 28 seconds after the question was edited, so the edit should be allowed to stand. (That said, perhaps a further edit to save this good answer would be the nice thing to do, such as "I'm looking for examples, especially late ones, of...".)
    – Double AA
    May 9 '18 at 14:34
  • @Nic I'm not the best equipped to give late examples, but I'll leave the answer up if it's useful anyway
    – b a
    May 9 '18 at 14:35
  • @DoubleAA yeah, I did not see the answer when I edited the question. I'll make a further edit.
    – Nic
    May 9 '18 at 14:37
  • 1
    To add to the case of Beis Hillel, Eduyos 1:12-14 notes several such examples, of which this is just one.
    – DonielF
    May 9 '18 at 19:22

החזון איש (סנהדרין, בליקוטים סי' נד) חשש לפסול ספר תורה שנכתב בכתב ספרדי, בגלל שמנהג הספרדים לכתוב את האות צ', י' הפוכה דבוקה אל פני האות, כדעת האר"י ז"ל. אך בשו"ת מנחת יצחק (חלק ד סימן מז) כתב שאף החזון איש חזר בו אחר שראה בתשובת החתם סופר (חלק יורה דעה סימן רסו) להכשיר בזה.

The Chazon Ish originaly ruled (Sanhedrin Likutim 54) that the a Sefer Torah written with the Sephardi (velish)style of the letter צ is pasul (invalid), but The Minchas Yitzchak ((4:47) writes that after seeing the ruling of the Chasam Sofer (YD 266) the Chazon Ish retracted this ruling and validated the Sephardi writing.

  • 1
    The Hebrew text in your answer seems to be copied from here. I noticed that a few of your answers quoted other websites without attribution, so maybe you could edit them to indicate which part of the answer is your own and where the copied part came from.
    – b a
    May 14 '18 at 12:33

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