I was curious if there were examples or instances where one generation of Rabbis established an interpretation of the law which was followed accordingly, only to have another generation of Rabbis lawfully reverse the previous decision entirely.

  • 2
    Are you asking about rabbinic decrees, or rabbinic interpretation of biblical laws? The question seems to be more about the latter, the tag indicates the former, and the recently posted answer also only addresses the former. – Alex Nov 4 '18 at 1:21
  • This happens all the time. But you need to differentiate between laws and regulationsת and frequently it looks very confusing (and I guess there's no way to tell them apart). In theory, all regulations are accepted on the condition to be observed as long as needed. On the other hand, if a ruling was reversed you can be sure a-posteriori it was just a regulation (תקנה). – Al Berko Nov 4 '18 at 11:03
  • Maurice's is a great example of such a תקנה, not a LAW. – Al Berko Nov 4 '18 at 11:03
  • Shemen nochri.. – kouty Nov 4 '18 at 11:35

In Berachot 23a the Sanhedrin ruled that tefillin must not be brought in a bathroom. So people would leave them outside. But they frequently got stolen. So the Sanhedrin reversed its ruling.


Tevilas Ezra is one that comes to mind.



Avoda Zara 35b says:

ואלו דברים של עובדי כוכבים אסורין ואין איסורן איסור הנאה חלב שחלבו עובד כוכבים ואין ישראל רואהו והפת והשמן שלהן. רבי ובית דינו התירו השמן
there was a Decree not to drink/eat milk that a Goy milked without being seen by a Jew, and not to eat Bread and oil of the Goyim. Rebbi (Rabbi Yehuda Nesia see Rashi) and his Beis din permitted the oil made by a Goy (even though it was initially forbidden to eat).

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