Questions tagged [halacha-theory]

Questions about theoretical issues about psak and general halacha concepts

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60
votes
12answers
7k views

Why is it necessary to ask a Rabbi?

In various places on this site, including the FAQ, we have the following disclaimer: Like Wikipedia, this site makes no guarantee of validity, and does not offer professional (particularly rabbinic)...
27
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3answers
4k views

Why can't electricity be manipulated on Shabbat?

Why can't we use and change electricity on Shabbat and YomTov? By this I mean why can't we turn lights on and off? I've heard Rabbis say that its because you can't complete a circuit on Shabbat, ...
11
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7answers
1k views

Why don't we just follow the shittah of Moshe Rabeinu?

My question can apply to virtually all mitzvos where there is a disagreement in the standard way to fulfill them. If one reads the hakdama (introduction) to the Rambam's peirush mishnayos (commentary ...
22
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5answers
2k views

Halachic Restrictions not in the Torah, and “shall not add”

How can halachic restrictions that are not in the Torah be reconciled with the Deuteronomy 4:2 passage, which says, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from ...
7
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4answers
1k views

Source for the prohibition against Nivul Peh (foul mouth)

What is the source for the prohibition against Nivul Peh (using foul language)? Is it Biblical? Rabbinic? "Asmachta" (based on a principle derived from the Torah but ultimately not considered a ...
15
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4answers
966 views

Limits to Dina Dmalchusa Dina

What are the specifications of Dina Dimalchusah? A more targeted question to answer would be: If I ripped off the label of my mattress — the label that says its removal is punishable by federal ...
13
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3answers
1k views

Why are people going back to paskining like the Rambam?

I have heard personally (and seen in chat) people (who are not Teimanim [for whom there is a tradition to rule like the Rambam]) ruling like the Rambam. I have heard that he has the authentic ...
25
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24answers
1k views

SE Challenge: Halachot in which rulings range from permissible to Torah violation? [closed]

Inspired by my previous question regarding heating up soup on Shabbat, I present a challenge to the Judaism StackExchange community -- List halachot which have halachic decisions ranging from ...
14
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1answer
344 views

What determines the sorts of cases in which one can deliberately not know the facts?

Halacha depends on the facts of a situation. Generally, when one cannot know the exact facts, he is expected to assume that they are as usual (rov), or as they were when last checked (chazaka). When ...
16
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3answers
727 views

Yerushalmi Versus Bavli in Halacha

The halacha we have today is mostly sourced in Talmud Bavli(the Babylonian Talmud),Medrash and Zohar. I would like to know what Halachot in which we rule according to the Yerushalmi (the Jerusalem ...
11
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2answers
469 views

What determines a Minhag?

How does a Minhag become a Minhag? More specific is it possible to enact new Minhagim in todays generation?
14
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4answers
568 views

Why was a bat kol able to settle the dispute between Battei Hillel and Shammai?

Eiruvin 13b recounts an argument between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. The argument grew very heated until a bat kol intervened and stated the famous line elu v'elu divrei elohim chayim ("These and ...
18
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3answers
778 views

When do rabbinic enactments apply if the given reason no longer does?

Often we find gezeiros d'rabbanan designed as preventative measures against more serious transgressions. However, if nowadays the reasoning behind the gezeira does not apply, it seems that sometimes ...
11
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3answers
393 views

Halachic authority of books

To what extent do books on Halachah have authority? I was taught that the Gemara was "closed" and may no longer be challenged in terms of its Halachic authority. To what extent is this authority ...
7
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2answers
341 views

Who Commanded Us, and For What?

Whenever a Jew performs an activity that is mandated by the Torah, s/he recites the blessing that acknowledges God, "אשר קדשנו במצוותיו" (who sanctified us with his commandments), and who commanded us ...
6
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4answers
309 views

Weighing mitzvot/aveirot

I apologize for the somewhat vague question; it was difficult to write. I would welcome any specific editing suggestions. What matters in the calculation of a person's righteousness? Is it: Number ...
10
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10answers
1k views

Kabala in Halacha

Which of the major authors or codifiers of halacha. . . a) refer directly to or quote from kabala in their legal discussions? b) employ conclusions based only on kabala in their legal argumentation ...
5
votes
4answers
499 views

Why does Halacha not follow the simple reading of the Biblical text?

There are many Halachot which appear to contradict explicit Biblical statements. For example, that an "Eye for an Eye" means monetary compensation. Why does Halacha not follow the simple reading of ...
8
votes
1answer
489 views

Maris Ayin when nobody knows you're Jewish

According to this answer, wearing a toupee without a kippa on top may pose a problem of maris ayin. My question is: Suppose the toupee-wearer has no distinctive Jewish features other than wearing a ...
18
votes
4answers
987 views

Why aren't Purim and Channuka considered a violation of לֹא תֹסִפוּ?

It says in Devarim 4:2: לֹא תֹסִפוּ עַל הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם וְלֹא תִגְרְעוּ מִמֶּנּוּ לִשְׁמֹר אֶת מִצְוֹת יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם ...
11
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3answers
631 views

What is the basis that allows Rabbis to create laws?

I understand that the Torah gives instructions to obey Judges for legal cases and questions, but what is the basis that Rabbis have for creating new laws, such as for celebrating Chanukah with a ...
13
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4answers
2k views

Who determines the kosher status of “new” foods?

Who determines the kosher status for "new" processed foods (e.g. Jell-O)? A few orthodox rabbis' approval? General consensus by the Jewish religious community? Certain kosher standards organizations? ...
15
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2answers
409 views

How big, and what exactly, is “Kedei Kelipah”?

{Kedei Kelipah is a term used in Kashruth for the amount of something that needs to be removed in order to allow one to treat the remnant as Kosher. (This only applies under certain conditions, which ...
9
votes
1answer
393 views

What is the level of “Divrei Kabbalah”?

There are times in the Gemara that laws are derived from Psukim in Nach. They are called "Divrei Kabbalah". What status do they have (are they considered like Torah Laws or like Rabbinic laws). For ...
6
votes
1answer
274 views

What defines a “בהמה” (also “חיה”) for the application of kosher-animal indicators?

As discussed in *Asher Bamayim* (אשר במים) in kashrus halacha, *Tzomeach* (צוֹמֵחַ) in kashrus halacha, and *Of* (עוֹף) in kashrus halacha, there are different rules used to determine the kashrus ...
15
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2answers
524 views

Are Rabbeinu Tam's Tefillin really Rabbeinu Tam's Tefillin?

I once heard from a Sofer the shocking revelation that Rabbeinu Tam's Tefillin do not actually follow Rabbeinu Tam's opinion. Is that correct? Did I misunderstand? Are there any Soferim in our ...
19
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2answers
2k views

What is the meaning of psak?

I have asked many people this question, and not yet got a comprehensive answer: What is psak? Like, let's say I have a certain piece of food of uncertain status. If I ask my 6 year old kid if it's ...
19
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5answers
743 views

Can we argue with gedolim when we are sure that we are right?

I recently saw a teshuva by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Ohrach Chaim Volume 1 Teshuva 109, that quotes a letter from Rabbi Menashe Klein asking a question on Rabbi Moshe's psak but saying that he does not ...
14
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3answers
957 views

Nose Job in Halacha

Is a nose job allowed Hallachicly? Not all cosmetic surgeries, but rhinoplasty in particular, as I heard that rhinoplasty is allowed because we see by a Kohen that having an abnormally long nose is a ...
9
votes
2answers
601 views

What are the sources of Jewish law?

What are the sources for the Jewish law or "Halacha"? Is there any priority among these sources? In common practice, when a law is described, is the citation given form the main sources or derived ...
7
votes
3answers
284 views

Why not focus on halacha in elementary education?

From the Mishna B'rura's introduction to the rules of Shabas: …But by what means can we arrive at this level: that one keeps Shabas in all its details? The advice on this is that one urge himself ...
7
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3answers
449 views

logic behind kol kavua k'mechtza al mechtze

there is a principle in halacha regarding doubts that if something is separated from a kavua (fixed place) it is treated as 50/50% chance even if the permitted is the majority. but if it is found in ...
6
votes
3answers
538 views

The concept of קם ליה בדרבה מיניה

I'm trying to understand this concept. I've Googled around and could't find any straightforward answers. I don't need too many details, just the explanation that's given in the Gemara (I understand ...
5
votes
3answers
294 views

Keeping up with “local” standards of modesty and dress - of religious Jews, or of society at large

In dealing with issues relating to Tzeni'uth (modesty) and clothing, a lot depends on "local" standards of dress. For example, the RaMBa"M (here) explains that in places where women do not normally go ...
4
votes
5answers
399 views

Saying Rishonim or Achronim were “wrong”

People are very careful (and rightfully so) to say when they don't understand the words of the Achronim or Rishonim to not say they are/were "wrong". But rather to say "I don't understand what he ...
15
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2answers
720 views

Why don't some do yibum today, l'chatchilah?

According to the Mishna (Bechorot 1:7) the reason not to perform yibum nowadays is people don't have intention l'shem mitzva when performing yibum. Firstly I would like to know if there are any other ...
7
votes
2answers
193 views

Is there a p'sak when dealing with de'os?

I was wondering if the idea of paskening applies to the de'os area of Torah. As an example there is a machlokes rishonim how to view Chazal's relationship with the science they relied on to pasken ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Hammurabi in Jewish sources

The Hammurabi code is one of the oldest preserved codes of law dating back to 1772 BCE. This is roughly the time after the flood (-2105BCE), the tower of Bavel (1765BCE) and the Patriarchs. Although ...
5
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2answers
245 views

Can a Rishon argue on a Gaon?

On one hand, I've seen a rule from the Acharonim (I've also seen it in a Shach on Choshen Mishpat also but I can't remember where) that whatever the Gaonim say is "Divrei Kabalah" from the time of the ...
35
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6answers
6k views

Does Judaism consider women inferior?

According to Orthodox Judaism, women may not be rabbis, be counted as part of a minyan, leyn from the Torah, or study the Talmud. It even says that to teach a woman Torah is to teach her obscenity!(...
21
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4answers
3k views

Why are Shabbat loopholes a good thing?

I'm not Jewish but do know that strict observance of religious laws is important in Judaism. I recently visited one of our suppliers in Israel and the hotel and office block had sabbath elevators. ...
11
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4answers
206 views

Why does “aseh doche lo saaseh”?

There is a halachic principle that עשה דוחה לא תעשה - when a positive and negative mitzvah conflict, we obey the positive one. The Talmud learns this out of pesukim, but what is the hashkafic/...
13
votes
1answer
366 views

Can one follow the Mishnah Berurah without asking a shaila?

When one has a question in halacha and finds an answer in the Mishneh Berurah (or Aruch HaShulchan, or similar work), why can he follow the answer provided? Why doesn't he need to ask his rabbi first? ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Why has the Mishnah Berurah become the Authoritative Halachik Work instead of the Aruch haShulchan?

Hirhurim just had a post about this topic, where he discussed some reasons that people should follow the aruch haShulchan. Yet in many circles, people just follow the Mishna Berura and rarely even ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

What constitutes a shinui?

I was recently taught the concept of a shinui to be "something done in a way that is unusual compared to the norm in one's area of residence", with respect to the permissibility of actions done on ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

What are the authoritative Jewish documents?

When I'm reading through answers on this site I often see users make references like - Baba Batra 75A Or Chagiga 12A I don't understand what these mean. What are the documents that Judaism ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Can a man who has undergone sex change give his wife a Get?

If a married Jewish man undergoes the hormonal and surgical procedure of sex change, and "he's become a woman". Would he still have the Halachic status of a man, at least relating to his marital ...
-5
votes
3answers
224 views

Would Israel's sibling nation do Yibbum?

If Klal Yisrael would all die, ch"v, then would Edom become obligated in Tora uMitzvot because of Yibbum? (because Jacob's/Israel's brother is Esav, Edom.) Or would chalitzah happen because no other ...
11
votes
2answers
358 views

Binding answers for Halachic questions

I recall learning that one is not allowed to "venue shop" by asking a series of rabbis for a practical halachic ruling and following the opinion you like. I was taught that one should ask and be bound ...
10
votes
5answers
363 views

Waiting Between Meat & Dairy According To The Geonim

It seems as though the Geonim - although disparate and diverse in their opinions on many issues - seem to be rather united on the understanding of the Gemara on the subject of waiting after meat ...