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PSA your local Rav is probably not a "posek"
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amother




Khaki


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 3:49 am
This is a spin-off from the 1hr Mikvah thread.

Let me preface this op by saying

1. I'm not really qualified to write it
2. I'm coming from a place where I think that it is important to represent Hashem's Torah as TRULY as possible
3. I understand that "lo bashamayim hi" means that we as a people can make mistakes with halacha and that is ok and the "mistake becomes the halacha" and that is how Hashem wants it
4. I'm happy for you to correct me if I misrepresent something (but please try to do it nicely)

Bearing that in mind-

It is really important that we remember that most local rabbis do not have the power to write halacha. What do I mean by this? The vast majority of questions that are asked of local rabbis are questions to which there is already a known answer. These rabbis can and must find this answer (sometimes they must chose from different opinions), and convey it to you. This then becomes the halacha for YOU. But the power to be a Posek is not given over to every man that goes by the name "rabbi".

And further, to give them that power is often to pull a person away from the truth of Hashem's Torah.

With regard to time- we know the zmanei tefila, chametz and so on from.the gemara. Then we get timings that have been defined much later, like the definition of achilat prat has been defined in more modern times as various times including 9 minutes (Chatam Sofer) and 4 minutes (Kaf haChaim) (and there are other opinions). Previously, that timeframe was just called "achilat prat".

On the other hand, there simply is NO SHIUR of time that a woman must bath for in order to prepare for Mikvah. To say that there is is to misrepresent the Torah. She has to be clean. She has to soften scabs. She does not have to look at a clock, rather she should look at her body to see if it is ready.

Your average Rav cannot simply write this into halacha. To do so is to add to the Torah and to add to the original addition of Chava when she said not to touch the tree.

While some very important rabbonim had the power to define achilat prat, not every local shul rabbi had this power. Same with prep times for Mikvah. They have NOT been defined by any internationally recognized poskim. In fact there is no "halachic term" like achilat prat that can be defined in relation to required bath time Mikvah prep. Even the recommended "hour" if all prep is done after shkiah has always been an approximation and a recommendation. There is nothing to define, and even if there was, it is not definable by putting out a simple pamphlet about Mikvah. Such a term (if it existed) would need to be defined as part of a (likely series of) responsa. That is how the halacha supposed to evolve. The reason there is no time and no term to define is because the aim is a CLEAN BODY, however long that takes (but without becoming ocd about it). To make it an issue of time is to miss the whole point.

Particularly coming out of Parshat Shmini where we learn of Nadav and Avihu I felt very strongly that this point needed to be made.

OP of the other thread I don't want you to feel "bashed" by this thread. Of course you are saying what you have learned. But I feel that you are mistaken, and that is part of why you are having difficulties, and I want you to feel better.

(and I Don't want to sound patronizing, but I don't think I'm doing such a great job. Perhaps some of you ladies can help.me out).
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amother




Ivory


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 3:55 am
I think that today's right wing religious world doesn't trust the individual as it once did. (There's a spin-off there...)

So it isn't enough to tell someone to act with seichel, or to do what her mother did. People want precise measurements (skirt 4 inches below the knee) and time frames (30 minutes in the tub) because they can't be trusted to rely on common sense.
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amother




Khaki


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 3:59 am
See I see that lack.of trust as a huge part of the whole problem. And you are right, it goes into lots of (every?) area of halacha.
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amother




Khaki


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 6:06 am
Continuing to think about this- it is the same way that there is no halacha to "clean your fridge for Pesach for 30 minutes". You clean it till it's clean. If you get ocd about it and take 7 hours to clean it one year, your LOR might advise you to spend "about half an hour" the next year. And that number may change to 30 minutes and be passed around to many people. But this does not mean that suddenly there is a halacha to clean the fridge for 30 minutes for Pesach and you need a timer and if you only do 24 you should keep scrubbing your perfectly clean fridge for another 6 minutes or ANYTHING like that. The rav was advising you, not giving a universal Psak. You clean it til it's clean. Same with Mikvah. And as the other poster pointed out many other areas as well.
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imasoftov









  


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 6:49 am
Khaki, how would you advise someone who is not themselves a rabbi to decide if they should take whatever question they happen to have to their local rabbi or to a posek? How would the person with a question know if theirs is one "to which there is already a known answer"?
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salt









  


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 7:03 am
imasoftov wrote:
Khaki, how would you advise someone who is not themselves a rabbi to decide if they should take whatever question they happen to have to their local rabbi or to a posek? How would the person with a question know if theirs is one "to which there is already a known answer"?


This, and also, how would you advise someone to decide if they should take their question to their local rabbi, or use common sense?
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amother




Khaki


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 7:30 am
They are great questions. I'm thinking about how to answer.
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imasinger









  


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 7:34 am
My DH says that a local rav should know when to ask someone more knowledgeable, and also what to ask to better understand the person posing the shaila.

That responsibility may not be on the person consulting their local rav.

That being said, it's very common for people to have more than one rav -- not to go opinion shopping, but to go to an expert in a certain area. My mentor said that TH is one of those areas where you will get more accurate information from the top poskim.
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amother




Khaki


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 8:35 am
imasoftov wrote:
Khaki, how would you advise someone who is not themselves a rabbi to decide if they should take whatever question they happen to have to their local rabbi or to a posek? How would the person with a question know if theirs is one "to which there is already a known answer"?


A few ideas.

Is the question one that has been asked many many times before?
Is it a question about a new area of technology or medicine
Is it a matter if life and death?
Are you comfortable with the psak?
Are you getting feedback from the world at large that the psak is out of step with the rest of your community?
Does it just feel wrong?
Is it causing a problem for you in another area of halacha, particularly one ben Adam lchavero?

It is not just about who you ask but how you ask and what to do with the answer .

The rabbi says minutes. You ask- Rabbi is that an exact time or a guideline? Are there other opinions? Whose opinion is it?

I stopped asking local rabbonim most questions because they could not tell me where they got their psak from. Or they would tell me that they had asked someone overseas. Whereas when I took the trouble to call the Israeli rabbi I knew well, he would say things like "interesting. That's a dispute between the riff and the ran". Or that's a machlochet between the ramban and Rambam". And go on to explain the dispute, and tell me what to do. And he was able to say things like "it's not the best idea, but it is really going to cause a problem with (some other person) you definitely have on whom to rely ."

It's a complicated matter.
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momnaturally









  


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 8:56 am
There are 2 things
1. A personal Rav that knows you well.
2 . A Posek that can rule in halacha.
Sometimes you may be privileged to have one person that is both. But usually it's not the case. Since many details in halacha can vary based on circumstances as well as the right wording to use to that specific person varies according to the person it's important to have a Rov that knows you ! The main criteria for a personal Rov is being in touch, you can communicate with them well and they know what they know and what they don't know. They should know when they need to call a Posek for you.
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imasoftov









  


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 9:21 am
amother wrote:
A few ideas.

Is the question one that has been asked many many times before?
Is it a question about a new area of technology or medicine
Is it a matter if life and death?
Are you comfortable with the psak?
Are you getting feedback from the world at large that the psak is out of step with the rest of your community?
Does it just feel wrong?
Is it causing a problem for you in another area of halacha, particularly one ben Adam lchavero?

It is not just about who you ask but how you ask and what to do with the answer .

The rabbi says minutes. You ask- Rabbi is that an exact time or a guideline? Are there other opinions? Whose opinion is it?

I stopped asking local rabbonim most questions because they could not tell me where they got their psak from. Or they would tell me that they had asked someone overseas. Whereas when I took the trouble to call the Israeli rabbi I knew well, he would say things like "interesting. That's a dispute between the riff and the ran". Or that's a machlochet between the ramban and Rambam". And go on to explain the dispute, and tell me what to do. And he was able to say things like "it's not the best idea, but it is really going to cause a problem with (some other person) you definitely have on whom to rely ."

It's a complicated matter.

How would the average person find out if the question has been asked before? Or are you suggesting they ask the rabbi that?

Or let's say it's a new technology, but the rabbi doesn't see it as a new question, what you're asking about uses electricity, and it doesn't matter than there weren't food replicators until now, but according to your rabbi it's no different than any other electrical appliance?

Also note that there's a kallah teacher on the original thread attributing the 30 minute psak (which also is not what I was taught) to a major posek. So I don't know that you won't get the same problems talking to big rabbis, only they'll have less time to talk, and may not talk to women. My rabbis at the bottom of the food chain will discuss sources with me in person. But we may be dealing with different sorts of rabbis. Like are yours perhaps more of, let's say, kiruv workers rather than halachists?

I think that also may apply to your other points, in my world a rabbi would probably defer a life or death question to someone who specializes in medical questions (by which I don't mean someone who purports to diagnose medical conditions himself or recommends specialists), and pay attention of the other concerns in the first place.
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essie14









  


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 9:25 am
amother wrote:
Continuing to think about this- it is the same way that there is no halacha to "clean your fridge for Pesach for 30 minutes". You clean it till it's clean. If you get ocd about it and take 7 hours to clean it one year, your LOR might advise you to spend "about half an hour" the next year. And that number may change to 30 minutes and be passed around to many people. But this does not mean that suddenly there is a halacha to clean the fridge for 30 minutes for Pesach and you need a timer and if you only do 24 you should keep scrubbing your perfectly clean fridge for another 6 minutes or ANYTHING like that. The rav was advising you, not giving a universal Psak. You clean it til it's clean. Same with Mikvah. And as the other poster pointed out many other areas as well.

I love this answer, khaki.
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amother




Khaki


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 2:55 pm
imasoftov wrote:
How would the average person find out if the question has been asked before? Or are you suggesting they ask the rabbi that?

Or let's say it's a new technology, but the rabbi doesn't see it as a new question, what you're asking about uses electricity, and it doesn't matter than there weren't food replicators until now, but according to your rabbi it's no different than any other electrical appliance?

Also note that there's a kallah teacher on the original thread attributing the 30 minute psak (which also is not what I was taught) to a major posek. So I don't know that you won't get the same problems talking to big rabbis, only they'll have less time to talk, and may not talk to women. My rabbis at the bottom of the food chain will discuss sources with me in person. But we may be dealing with different sorts of rabbis. Like are yours perhaps more of, let's say, kiruv workers rather than halachists?

I think that also may apply to your other points, in my world a rabbi would probably defer a life or death question to someone who specializes in medical questions (by which I don't mean someone who purports to diagnose medical conditions himself or recommends specialists), and pay attention of the other concerns in the first place.


I think that the part of your response that I bolded is I think the most important. You say "my rabbis at the bottom of the food chain will discuss sources with me in person". So what I am saying is that if that is the case, they are NOT the bottom of the rabbinic food chain. They are the perfect type of person for asking questions. But there are many people below this on the rabbinic food chain, as you put it . And what I am saying is you need to use your seichel if you ask them questions. If an answer you get is causing you or others distress, ir may be time to go up the food chain, explain that topic have asked before, and see what happens. And then make a decision about where your direct future questions. Not because the second Rav was more lenient (he may not be) but because you see he was far more knowledgeable.
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amother




Jetblack


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 8:41 pm
OP, every single Rav I know has semichah. That means that they are qualified to pasken halacha. Full stop, end of sentence.

If a Rav is not sure about a halacha, he will either look it up or ask someone more knowledgeable.

Yes, there are certain halachos that were are basic, normative halachah. But almost every single question can have different opinions. My kids joke that if you're asked a question in Halacha, and you're not sure about the answer, you can say - there's a difference of opinion - and you're almost sure to be right!

I know my husband and my father once had a bitter argument about whether you are allowed to cut onions into the eggs on Shabbos. My father whipped out R' Simcha Bunim Cohen's sefer, my husband said he got a psak from R' Dovid Feinstein. So who's right and who's wrong? They're obviously both right, but they sure didn't see it that way at the time! So every time we went to my parent's house for Shabbos, my husband marched into the kitchen to cut the onions for the eggs HIS way...

There are so many differences of opinion on almost everything... Are you allowed to use a timer for electricity? What about cholov stam? I have had bitter arguments with women that chalav stam is absolutely treif... while we think it's totally fine. My friend does not use baby wipes on shabbos, my husband's Rav, R' Dovid Feinstein, says it's ok...

And yes, I am the op of the other thread.
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simba









  


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 10:00 pm
amother wrote:
OP, every single Rav I know has semichah. That means that they are qualified to pasken halacha. Full stop, end of sentence.
.


Smicha and Dayanus are not the same thing.
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amother




Sapphire


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 10:04 pm
I'm not an expert, but AFAIK, not every rabbi can pasken; a posek is a legal scholar who decides the Halakha in cases of law where previous authorities are inconclusive or in those situations where no halakhic precedent exists. This requires expertise and in no way minimises another rabbi's competencies.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

In my area, there is one ultimate Rav for TH questions, and all mikvehs refer shailos to him. This is just one example.
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amother




Jetblack


Post  Sun, Apr 15 2018, 10:39 pm
amother wrote:
I'm not an expert, but AFAIK, not every rabbi can pasken; a posek is a legal scholar who decides the Halakha in cases of law where previous authorities are inconclusive or in those situations where no halakhic precedent exists. This requires expertise and in no way minimises another rabbi's competencies.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

In my area, there is one ultimate Rav for TH questions, and all mikvehs refer shailos to him. This is just one example.


Every Rav who has smichah with shimush can pasken, and they have to know halacha. If there is a question that is beyond their expertise, they should definitely ask further up, presumably they do. It's exactly like the US court system, you have lower judges and then you have the Supreme Court for more complicated issues....
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amother




Honeydew


Post  Mon, Apr 16 2018, 1:11 am
amother wrote:
Every Rav who has smichah with shimush can pasken, and they have to know halacha. If there is a question that is beyond their expertise, they should definitely ask further up, presumably they do. It's exactly like the US court system, you have lower judges and then you have the Supreme Court for more complicated issues....

The Rabbonim I know have to have Dayonus + shimush to pasken. Dayanus is 2 more years after semicha, and shimush is minimum 3 months full-time with a paskening Rav.

Most Rabbis I know DON'T have that.

Just because they are referred to as the Rav doesn't mean they aren't more than a pulpit Rabbi.
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imasoftov









  


Post  Mon, Apr 16 2018, 2:57 am
amother wrote:
I think that the part of your response that I bolded is I think the most important. You say "my rabbis at the bottom of the food chain will discuss sources with me in person". So what I am saying is that if that is the case, they are NOT the bottom of the rabbinic food chain. They are the perfect type of person for asking questions. But there are many people below this on the rabbinic food chain, as you put it . And what I am saying is you need to use your seichel if you ask them questions. If an answer you get is causing you or others distress, ir may be time to go up the food chain, explain that topic have asked before, and see what happens. And then make a decision about where your direct future questions. Not because the second Rav was more lenient (he may not be) but because you see he was far more knowledgeable.

In my version of the "rabbinic food chain", those at the bottom are the ones who deal with the public. The ones above them are the ones they turn to when the question is beyond their expertise, and so on, there are probably only a few levels, and not a single person on the top level. There also may be loops, and one some parts of the chart it might not be possible to categorize everyone on a level that is an integer. It is not a ranking of rabbis by how well they interact with their public. Perhaps hierarchy of psak would have been a clearer way to express that.

Something like a business organization chart. It doesn't rank how good people are, either at interacting with customers and suppliers, or at their overall jobs, but who has authority over others.

And now back to my point - the problem may not be starting at the bottom of the chart, but with the individuals down there you know. It's wouldn't be a move up the chart to my rabbis, it's a lateral move. I don't know if it's just that the person you're dealing with isn't good at his job or it's his entire division of the "company".
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imasoftov









  


Post  Mon, Apr 16 2018, 3:13 am
amother wrote:
I know my husband and my father once had a bitter argument about whether you are allowed to cut onions into the eggs on Shabbos. My father whipped out R' Simcha Bunim Cohen's sefer, my husband said he got a psak from R' Dovid Feinstein. So who's right and who's wrong? They're obviously both right, but they sure didn't see it that way at the time! So every time we went to my parent's house for Shabbos, my husband marched into the kitchen to cut the onions for the eggs HIS way...
.
...

And yes, I am the op of the other thread.

If I'd seen this before writing my last post, instead of a business organization chart, I'd have used one from a military.
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