Questions tagged [halacha-theory]

Questions about theoretical issues about psak and general halacha concepts

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73 votes
12 answers
12k 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)...
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35 votes
6 answers
7k 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! (...
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28 votes
3 answers
5k 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, ...
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25 votes
24 answers
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 ...
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25 votes
8 answers
728 views

Is one allowed to kill false witnesses to his own capital crime?

Reuven and Shimon conspire to execute Levi in Beis Din (court) for killing Yehuda by their testimony. There were no Eidei Hazama (counter-witnesses) who will expose Reuven and Shimon to be liable to ...
23 votes
5 answers
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 ...
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23 votes
4 answers
4k 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. ...
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20 votes
3 answers
952 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 ...
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19 votes
5 answers
909 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 ...
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19 votes
2 answers
3k 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 ...
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19 votes
2 answers
304 views

Can a "brain controlled" prosthetic be used on Shabbat?

New prosthetics are controlled by brain waves which seem to make the prosthetic an extension of the body in an "organic" way, in that we control all of our own limbs through the same brain waves and ...
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18 votes
5 answers
2k views

Why do men or boys have to cover their hair, but not unmarried women?

Whatever the reasons for covering hair (e.g. fear of heaven), they seem to equally apply to men and women. So why don't unmarried women have to cover their hair?
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18 votes
4 answers
1k 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 Translated: Do ...
16 votes
4 answers
1k 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 ...
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16 votes
4 answers
2k views

Ship of Theseus in Halacha

How would Halacha deal with the Ship of Theseus thought experiment? For example, if one made a neder (vow) not to have any hana'ah (benefit) from a certain ship and over time every single piece of ...
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16 votes
3 answers
1k 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 ...
16 votes
3 answers
939 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 ...
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15 votes
2 answers
644 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 ...
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15 votes
4 answers
815 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 ...
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15 votes
2 answers
545 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 ...
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15 votes
3 answers
885 views

How was the Shaalos Utshuvos Min Hashamayim allowed to do what he did?

The Shut Min Hashamayim was written by a Rishon in the time of Tosfos. He used to ask questions from Shamayim (Heaven) in a Sheilas Chalom (Dream Question) and write the answers down. Many of those ...
14 votes
3 answers
1k 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 ...
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14 votes
7 answers
2k 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 ...
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14 votes
3 answers
281 views

What if you undo a shabbat melacha?

If you plant a seed shortly before the end of shabbat (zoraya) and then un-bury it after shabbat, or you put an uncooked food into an oven and then take it out within seconds without it having baked (...
14 votes
3 answers
453 views

At what point do we reject a minhag?

I was learning the halachos of berachos on things that are ground up, and it seemed pretty clear to me that the blessing on chocolate should be ha'etz. I found discussion in some more contemporary ...
14 votes
1 answer
361 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 ...
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14 votes
1 answer
326 views

Can I trust a random internet user?

Does the halacha of עד אחד נאמן באיסורין (a single witness is trusted in matters of prohibition) apply to a random internet users? If someone presents themselves as being a practicing Jew, can I take ...
13 votes
3 answers
2k 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 ...
13 votes
2 answers
3k views

What does "prohibited l’chatchila" mean?

To me the phrase prohibited l’chatchila seems a bit confusing. Can someone explain what this means in plain and simple english? (context: someone says "action X is prohibited l’chatchila")
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13 votes
4 answers
3k 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? ...
13 votes
4 answers
2k 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 ...
13 votes
3 answers
1k 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 ...
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13 votes
1 answer
1k views

What if the Kohen Gadol accidentally kills someone?

An ordinary person who accidentally kills someone has to go to an Ir Miklat (city of refuge) until the Kohen Gadol dies. But what if it's the Kohen Gadol himself who accidentally kills? He would ...
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13 votes
4 answers
751 views

How could Rav be disproved?

Frequently, when the Gemara tries to disprove Rav from a Mishna, it answers that he's considered a Tanna and can argue on a Mishna. But there's this case in Berachos 37a, where Rav and Shmuel both ...
13 votes
3 answers
809 views

Why does the authorship of the Zohar matter?

I've seen and heard a lot of controversy about the authorship of the Zohar, but it isn't quite clear to me that it matters. The nearest theory I can come up with is that if the Zohar is by Rashbi, ...
13 votes
4 answers
2k views

Why is a woman allowed to get pregnant?

This should be taken as a bit of a light hearted question (but not a Purim Torah by any means, I am looking for a real analysis), inspired by a discussion in chat. Why is a woman allowed to get ...
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13 votes
1 answer
328 views

What is the hallachic definition of randomness?

A new Shabbat-friendly technology, KosherSwitch, uses randomly timed light pulses to create various safeks, so that flipping the switch does not hallachically count as switching the light on, even in ...
13 votes
1 answer
451 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? ...
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13 votes
2 answers
479 views

Source of opinion that Talmud Yerushalmi was corrupted by Karaites

In the entry for Talmud Bavli/Yerushalmi in Chida's Shem Hagedolim Hashalem (c.1800, the older versions do not have this paragraph), he references a theory from maskilim of his time that the Rabbis ...
13 votes
1 answer
125 views

The process of the evaluation of the Sages' wisdom when electing for the Sanhedrin?

Mishnah Sanhedrin 4,4: "ושלש שורות של תלמידי חכמים יושבין לפניהם כל אחד ואחד מכיר את מקומו" Three rows of the Sages sit before [the Sanhedrin of 71], every one of them knows his place ...
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13 votes
1 answer
210 views

How to determine common practice for halachos that are impacted by it

Certain halachic issues are informed or even determined by the social standards of the (non-Jewish) society in which one lives. Examples include what falls under the prohibition of cross-dressing (see ...
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12 votes
3 answers
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 ...
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12 votes
3 answers
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 ...
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12 votes
2 answers
358 views

Why are most mitzvas impossible to keep?

Nowadays, one can only keep so many Mitzvos (271). That is less than half of the commandments of the Torah. I don't know if there is any statistic regarding how many Psukim discuss currently relevant ...
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12 votes
3 answers
290 views

Regurgitating Living Forbidden Species

The endurance artist David Blaine is covered in this video showing the technique where one could learn to swallow certain live animals. And, at will, regurgitate the live animal (for example, a frog). ...
12 votes
5 answers
222 views

Why can't we distribute mitzvah obligations around the community?

How do we know from the Torah that it would not be sufficient just to have some people doing davening, others doing negel vasser, others doing tzitzit, others doing hachnosas kallah, others doing ...
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12 votes
3 answers
343 views

How would the 'split the baby in half' situation be resolved according to halacha?

In 1 Kings 3:16-27 there is a story of two prostitutes who appear before King Shlomo, each having a newborn baby. One of the babies died and there was a dispute as to which one. There were no ...
12 votes
3 answers
377 views

Were Tefillin worn in the Midbar?

Were Tefillin worn in the Midbar (40 years of wandering) before the Jews entered Israel? If so what Parshiot were in those Tefillin? According to those who say Moses wrote Deuteronomy at the end of ...
12 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
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12 votes
1 answer
899 views

Safek (doubt) in Halachah - How unsure does one have to be?

If someone is unsure if he recited Tal UMatar, one has to repeat the Shemoneh 'Esreh (it's slightly more complicated, but let's keep it simple). If one is unsure if he remembered to Bentch (recite ...
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