Reading the teshuvot of Rav Asher Weiss is amazingly thrilling and comforting. The breadth of his knowledge, the strength of his arguments, his common sense, and his deep sensitivity shine through, making it clear that our generation has at least one amazing posek who will help us navigate the halachic issues that arise for many years to come. I spent a recent shiur (here) analyzing his teshuva in the second volume (#134) written to a Talmid Chacham with OCD. I used this shiur to explore how Halacha has come to recognize mental illness.
Classically, Halacha only recognized mental illness is very limited circumstances. For example, when psychological issues affected one’s physical well-being, we allowed breaking Shabbat to calm them down. This is the basis for all the things we are allowed to do for a woman giving birth to bring her yishuv hadaat. Similarly, Halacha has a category of shoteh, of someone who is simply not culpable because they are deemed legally insane. However, it is hard to find indications of poskim dealing with mental illnesses per se.
Yet, especially in the Charedi world, one sees a total acceptance of this, especially when it comes to OCD. Continue reading Mental Illness in Halacha and Rav Asher Weiss on OCD