Often in the Talmud questions are asked which do not yield a result. These non-answers are called ‘teku’ (תיקו).

Frequently, the questions which are left with teku are those which are far-fetched.

Are there any teku questions, which, due to their unpractical nature [or otherwise] were left with teku, only to eventually pop-up in real life and be ruled on by a contemporary Rabbi?

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    It's impossible, because teku is a status on unsolvability. See sefer tokfo from the shach
    – kouty
    Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 3:14
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    I think the word "resolved" is misleading. Halachic issues are never "resolved" but "ruled", and different Rabbis rule differently (i.g. the core of a תיקו). This does not stop the following Rabbis to stick with either opinion, without "resolving" it at all.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 12:26
  • The first answer in the linked Question IS the answer to your question also: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/2030/15579. Teku does not mean the question cannot be possibly decided upon, but rather the Gemmorah lets it stand untill the future Poskim will decide.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 12:32
  • I’m not sure why all the answers are taking alternative answers from the straight-forwardness of this question.
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 12:20

3 Answers 3


It's untrue that cases left with a תיקו are primarily far-fetched and unusual ones. There are many practical cases, and they are treated by the poskim as unknowns, decided by the usual rules of doubt: safek d'oraita l'chumra, safek d'rabanan l'kula, etc.

This source (Hebrew) contains numerous examples of how the poskim dealt with תיקו cases.

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    I agree - but your answer would be improved by a few examples! Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 9:33
  • added a brief reference, but please feel free to expand :) Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 9:44
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    The is an answer to the question ‘how are teku cases handled’ if my question is unclear, I’d clarify
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 13:36
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    It is not true that teiku necessarily follow the rules of safek derabbanan lekula. Some maintain that all teikus are resolved lechumra. See Maharshal cited in 4.1 of the article you posted daf-yomi.com/DYItemDetails.aspx?itemId=26737
    – wfb
    Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 16:27
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    Also the Maharshal cited in 4.2 directly answers the question -- teikus cannot be resolved by later rabbis, unlike other questions that the Gemara leaves unresolved
    – wfb
    Commented Dec 31, 2018 at 16:31

A teku is a status of unsolvability. Nobody, i.e. nobody out of Eliahu Hanovi, can argue against this status. See the following example.

See sefer Yavin Shemua from Rabbi Shlomo Elgazi, in the last part of the book, called klalim nosafim, klal 366.

כתב הרא''ש בחולין פרק ב' (סימן ו') אמר רב פפא החליד במיעוט סימנים מהו? תיקו. העולה מדבריו שאם מצינו בגמרא בעיא דסלקא בתיקו ומצינו בתוספתא פשיטות אותה בעיא לא נאמר כי גמרא לא ידע ההיא תוספתא ונפשוט מינה הבעיא רק נאמר דררה הגמרא דאותה תוספתא אין לסמוך עליה דלא מיתניא הי רבי חייא שכ'"כ ומסתבר דכל תוספתא שלא התפשטה עד אחר סידור הגמרא לאו דסמכא היא.‏

If there is a tosefta that seems to resolve the question statuted as teku (even a teku from a question of an Amora), we cannot see the problem as solved as if the Gemara missed this tosefta. We will understand that our Gemara did not have confidence in the tosefta, and disregarded it.

There is a large issue about practical din in teku in the whole context of practical din in diverse situations of safek. In dine mamonot there is a machloket rishonim if a Baal din can argue "I think as one of the sides and won't restitue the money I taked". קים לי in talmudic language. Even following the opinion that he can do this, this is not a pshitut (solution) of the teku. The dine mamonot when the din is teku are largely addressed in sefer tokfo kohen from the Shach.

  • +1 for the work -1 for the content (net zero).
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 14:21
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    I understand, may be that the title of the question is answered by my answer. The question you answered is how to deal with the teku. About this there is a lot of littérature. The sefer tokfo kohen writes a lot and their mefarshim in the edition I linked from Hebrew books
    – kouty
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 15:47
  • Yes thank you, I’m interested in taking a look into that anyways +1
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 16:59

This question seems to be predicated on the fact that teku questions are not resolved in rabbinical codes of law. However, quite often an unresolved teku is resolved in rabbinical codes.
For a quick example see Chulin 67b with reference there to Rambam; but the are definitely myriads of other instances.

In Chavath Yair 94, there are some basic rules as to how the codes conducted themselves in resolving the unresolved.
Riff and Rambam postulate that a biblical teku is ruled strictly, and rabbinical leisurely. But there is room to rule strictly even with a rabbinical teku.

Chavath Yair 94:

תיקו פסק הרי"ף פ' במה אשה דק"ל בדאורייתא לחומרא ובדרבנן לקולא והכי ס"ל גם להרמב"ם תלמיד תלמידו וצ"ע ר"פ מפנין הנ"ל דמשמע דראוי להחמיר גם בדרבנן. וכ"פ הרא"ם בספר יראי' מצה רי"ז דצ"ט ע"א ושכ"פ ר' חננאל ונ"ל ראיה מש"ס ספ"ז דברכות [עמ"ש תשו' קצ"ב אות ס"א]:

[Further reading in Tashbetz 2:272]

Concerning a case of Talmudic teku later resolved in Responsum, there is Bava Bathra 151a resolved by Chatham Sofer, Choshen Mishpat 143, [who in turn quotes from Nodah B’Yehudah, Choshen Mishpat II, 43].

Bava Bathra 151a:

[This text is edited according to Nodah B’Yehudah, Choshen Mishpat II, 43 ,and others.]

The Talmud here is discussing what is considered property with regards to inheritance.

תפלין איקרי נכסי דתנן המקדיש נכסיו מעלין לו תפלין איבעיא להו ספר תורה מאי תיקו

Phylacteries are called property, as we learned in a mishna (Arakhin 23b): With regard to one who consecrates his property, the value of his phylacteries is assessed for him and he redeems them by paying their value to the Temple treasury. A dilemma was raised before the Sages: With regard to a Torah scroll, what is the halakha? The Gemara concludes: The dilemma shall stand unresolved.

Chatham Sofer, Choshen Mishpat 143:

[If one divides up all his property in an inheritance, including his books, but did not specify about a Sefer Torah. Is the Sefer Torah considered property and part of the books for the inheritance?]

It is considered property. It stays with the heirs.

בהא סלקינא דלהפוסקי' דטעמא דאיבעיא משום חשיבות ס"ת א"כ ה"נ הוי ספיקא וכיון דהיורשי' מוחזקי' אין להוציא מחזקתם אע"ג דהכא ס"ס ספק כמאן דמפרש טעמא משום דאסור למכור וזה לא שייך הכא ואפי' את"ל כמאן דאמר טעמא משום חשיבות הא הוי ספק תיקו בש"ס מ"מ לא מוציאי' ממון בס"ס ועוד הא כ' הב"ח בח"מ סי' צ"ז נראה דהיינו דוקא לדורות הראשונים שהי' לומדי' מס"ת יע"ש מכ"ש ס"ת כי האי דחשיב ושוה כמה מאות אדומים ומכ"ש אם הבנים האלו ת"ח הם טפי מאחריני הרי קמן כוונת הנותן שהם יעסקו בתורה בהספרים העשוים ללמוד מתוכם משא"כ ס"ת מאי אולמי דהני מהני ע"כ צריך ראי' ברורה להוציא מחזקת היורשי' לפע"ד ואחתום בברכה מרובה כנפש היקרה ונפש א"נ. פ"ב כאור בקר ליום ד' י"א ניסן קצ"ב לפ"ק. משה"ק סופר מפפד"מ:

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