Rav Asher Weiss on Hefsed

In the past (here and here) we have discussed the role of monetary loss in psak.  We noted that there were many poskim who claimed that this category is defined highly formally, such as those who claim that the loss has to be in one item.   We noted there that the underlying principle sometimes motivates the insitution of certain laws and in other cases is a factor in psak, a justification to rely on kulot (or not be machmir on chumrot as the case may be).

In the second volume of Shut Minchat Asher #50, which I am now going through, he notes that even within the context of hefsed as a factor in psak, there are two kinds of usages.  Sometimes, Chazal institituted that in certain circumstances laws are limited to cases where there is no significant monetary loss.  In these cases, it makes sense to apply formal rules.  He assumes that this is how the phrase is used when used by Chazal.  However, when poskim use the phrase, they are using it more colloquially, using to explain the impetus for them searching for and relying on positions they might have not normally relied on.  This is the issue we focused on there.  [R. Asher notes that in the Shut Beit Shlomo Yoreh Deah 186 this distinction is also suggested.  Neither Bar Ilan nor Hebrewbooks has a copy, but for those of you with access to Otzar HaChochmah, it is there.]

This is a helpful distinction.  As I mentioned in my last post, I think the same thing happen with lo nitnah Torah lemalachei hasharet.  In Chazal, it is only found in very specific cases.  However, Chazal’s use of it indicated a direction that poskim should go in.  They then expand on it, building on the intuition behind it, rather than the formal principle.  I assume there are other cases where we could see this two levels present, but od chazon lamoed.  

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