Tag Archives: ocd

What is the Role of “Baal Habatim” in Psak?

Last year I devoted my series on the methodology of psak to the issues that poskim deal with when making decisions. This year, I want to explore the role of the “baal habatim” in psak – the balance between authority and autonomy, how one picks poskim, why one is bound to psak, when one can poskan for himself, and other related issues. Anyone who has ideas, please leave them in the comments.

To begin with (here), I outlined five models of psak which highlight the balance of power between poskim and the laity, using mostly teshuvot that I have dealt with in previous shiurim: Continue reading What is the Role of “Baal Habatim” in Psak?


Mental Illness in Halacha and Rav Asher Weiss on OCD

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