Monthly Archives: March 2015

Chumrot: When are they Good, When are they Bad?

I have been very behind on summaries, but perhaps now that we approach bein hazemanim I will have more time. Appropriately, as Pesach is around the corner, I will summarize my shiur on the nature of Chumra (available here). As the goal of this year has been to analyze the place of the laity in psak, one topic that needed to be tackled was chumrot- when it is a good idea to initiate a practice that is not mandated by Halacha? When is it neutral? Negative? What is the nature of chumrot? We have dealt with different aspects of chumra before, so here I focused on a very specific discussion. The Yerushalmi (Berachot 2:9) says that anyone who does something they are not obligated in is called a hedyot, a fool. This is quoted by many poskim in varying contexts. Yet, there are contexts where we say hamachmir tavo alav beracha – that one who is stringent is blessed.

Continue reading Chumrot: When are they Good, When are they Bad?

More on the Parameters of Rov

A few weeks ago (here), I raised some questions about the applicability of the principle of acharei rabim lehatot – does it apply outside of Beit Din contexts, outside of halachic issues altogether (our previous example being medical issues), does it apply when there is no formal vote, does it apply when opposed to the rov is a small set of experts, etc? A few sources I found weigh in on these issues, though with some combinations I had not seen before.

The Rosh was asked whether a minority segment of the community can opt out of certain decisions the community made by majority vote. He answers that they cannot because “in all issues where the community agrees, we follow the majority.” Continue reading More on the Parameters of Rov

Pirsumei Nisa as a State of Being

Pirsumei Nisa, the publicizing of the miracles God did for us, stands as the central value of Purim. Classically Keriat HaMegillah, the reading of the Megillah, is understood to be the prime instrument by which we broadcast God’s kindness that permeates the Purim story, albeit covertly. The Gemara invokes this notion to explain why reading the Megillah should take precedence over other mitzvot.1 While there are many other mitzvot hayom, the Megillah seems to take center stage, at least when it comes to ensuring our message reaches our audience. However, properly understood, this principle will be seen to manifest itself in a far more fundamental way. Continue reading Pirsumei Nisa as a State of Being