It is a known rule that the halacha is like Beis Hillel unless explicitly stated.

The Gemara (Eiruvin 13b) says Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai argued for three years until a bas kol called out and said the halacha was like Beis Hillel. The reason is because Beis Hillel were humble and modest (נוחין ואלובין) and would present the opinion of Beis Shammai before their own.

In Pesachim 114a, it is specifically written that the halacha is like Beis Hillel (והילכתא כדברי ב''ה). The Gemara asks why it was necessary to state this. Isn't it obvious (פשיטא)? The Gemara says you may either say two things:

  1. That this mishnah was written before the bas kol spoke, and therefore found it necessary to state that the halacha was like Beis Hillel.

  2. That this mishnah was written after the bas kol spoke, but we follow like Rabbi Yehoshua who said we never follow a bas kol when deciding halacha, because "the Torah is not in Heaven" (לא בשמים היא). (See Bava Metzia 59 for the whole story there.)

If we don't pasken from a bas kol like Rabbi Yehoshua said, then why is the halacha like Beis Hillel? Can it really be because Beis Hillel had good middos and were humble and modest? And if we do follow the bas kol, why do we still follow Beis Shammai in a number of dinim?

  • I believe the Maharal explains that because BH were more humble, they were more able to arrive at the correct halacha (e.g. by sufficiently factoring Beis Shammai's reasoning into their own analysis. The Bas Kol might be considered a giluy milsa b'alma, i.e. a mere indication of a reality that is not inherently legally binding. Can you cite the laws in which we follow beis shammai. Perhaps those are cases where BH retracted.
    – Loewian
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 19:24
  • @AlBerko judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/70273/…
    – Alex
    Commented Nov 6, 2018 at 19:55
  • @Loewian If that's true, where does the bas kol come into play?
    – ezra
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 3:48
  • @AlBerko Of course. But I don't see how that affects the question. The fact is, a bas kol didn't ring out and say to follow Beis Shammai
    – ezra
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 4:04

1 Answer 1


There's an important fact about the Halachah everyone should know (The Mishnah in Avos 4,8):

"וְאַל תֹּאמַר קַבְּלוּ דַעְתִּי, שֶׁהֵן רַשָּׁאִין וְלֹא אָתָּה:"

The Halacha is not what's RULED, but what's ACCEPTED.

So the question would be not "why B"H were ruled as the Halachah" but "why B"H were accepted as the Halachah". An important distinction!

B"H has become the de-facto Halachah AFTER it became widely accepted and the Rabbis followed it, not when it was ruled. It took a couple of generations to make B"H the Halachah up to R' Yehuda's Mishnayos.

The reasons for "the Rabbis and the people" accepting B"H as the obligating Halachah are what you mentioned and some more:

  1. They were the majority
  2. They were the Nesiyim and had the political and Beis Din powers (just as R' Gamliel used his against R' Yehoshua)
  3. They ruled more (a lot of) Kulohs compared to B"S (they were more lenient)
  • 2
    I fail to see how this answers the question. Sorry.
    – ezra
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 3:49
  • You should try to incorporate the idea from your Mishnah that there is only one ‘Dan Yachidi’. And also Bartenura’s comments about this. That addresses the Bat Kol & also that both BH & BS accepted that lone Judge upon themselves . The reasons behind the decision of the lone Judge (the qualities of BH) are related to your point that the decision goes with the majority in most cases. Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 22:26

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