Anything about JUDAISM
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MODERATOR Posted - 20 July 2005 20:49
A lost post retrieved:

[a reader claimed that the Rambam says that there is no such thing as paskening hashkafa. he wanted to somehow extrapolate from there that a person can pick and choose whatever shitah he wants and follow it, as long as it, regardless of preponderance of authority, majority, understandability, compellingness etc. "Except," the reader added , "for the 13 ikarim".]

The Rambam says no such thing. You are mistakenly referring to the Rambam in Sanhedrin where he says regarding a disagreement in chazal about certain fact about the 10 shevatim, that we do not pasken thigns that have no halachic difference, but are merely a disagreement regarding knowing what happened.
This does not mean we do not pasken hashkafa quesiotns - of course we do. The 13 Ikarim are hashkafa questions I noticed that you wrote "except for the 13 ikarim", but the Rambam in sanedrin makes no such exception. If the rambam means what you say he does, then there could be no psak on the 13 ikarim, at least not on the one that is subject to dispute in the Gemora, i.e. the coming of Moshiach.
Yet the rambam does pasken that someone who does not believe in the coming of moshiach is an apikores, even though someone who does so is merely holding like a legitimate talmudic sage. Ergo: Even if you have a source that agrees with you, if the Halchah is not like that source, your relying on it does not protect you from being an Apikores.
The Rambam is talking about paskening something that is an equal doubt. There are no proofs one way or the other, no preponderance of authority one way or the other. Nomally, in such a case, that we would "pasken" what to do, because, well, you have to know whether to make the bracha or not, or whether to say the tefilah, or whatever the shailah is. Maybe youll go lechumrah or maybe lekulah, depending if its derabonon or doraisah and many other factors. But we need acourse of action to take - and so we pasken.
In Agada, we do not need any course of action; we can simply say "its a machlokes" - we can indeed remain with a safek. So the Rambam says we dont pasken such sailos.
But if there is reaosn to hold like one side over the other of course we will - such as if one side has proofs agaisnt it or the greater authorities hold a certina way, or whatever.
And that is what the Maharitz Chayus says in Yevamos. The exact opposite of whoever told it to you. He doe snot say we do not pasken agadita, on the contrary - he asks why Tosfos says "kayma lan" on an agadita which si subject to machlokes in the gemora since there is no difference to us ( and so we shouod just say we dont know whos right). His answer is that since the Targum seems to say one way over the other, it would be proper for us to hold like that side, since we have proof fomr authority that that side is correct.
So when we do not have reaosn to hold like one side over the other we do not determine a "course of action" ( = pasken) the way we would have to in halachah; but where we have reaosn to hold like one side (a different type of "psak") then we do.

There is a simple proof from the Gemora, which I heard name of both Rav Hutner and Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, that we pasken hashkafa: "nimnu vegamru - noach lo shelo nivrah". "They coutned and ruled" according to the majority - noach lo shelo nivrah, a purely hashkafic, non-halachic issue, ruled due to the majority count.

Also, there are meforshim that explain that the Rambam to be referring specifically to the type of agada he is talking about in context, where the quesiton is about somethign that will happen in the future. Since thenfuture is not fixed, depending on various factors, the future can still unfold either way, so it would make no sense to pasken one way or the other.

MODERATOR Posted - 28 January 2007 21:17
I have just confirmed the source of that proof cited above, that we "pasken" haskofo the same as Halachah. It was indeed Rav Hutner. It is quoted by his son-in-law, Rav Yoason David, in his "Kuntres Shavuos" He quotes the proof from "numnu vegamru" as I described it above, and then adds:

"Thus, Psak Halachah also applies to an issue of Deos, i.e. what we refer to as "Hilchos Deos V'Chovos Halevovos". For the difference [between Halachah and Agada] is only regarding the method and means of fulfilling them - for the "obligations of the limbs" are done with your hands, and "hilchos deos" are done with the understanding of the mind of those who accept the Torah ... This foundation in its entirely, the Rosh Yeshiva ZTL instilled in us very much, regarding the fundamentals of Hilchos Deos and Chovos Halevovos." (p.34)

yaavetz Posted - 06 November 2008 10:51
R' Moderator, how do we know when there is a machalokes in hashkafa, who to pasken like? Is there like a Shulchan Aruch of hashkafa and Aggada?
MODERATOR Posted - 06 November 2008 11:24
First, Hashkafa is not Agada. Two totally different things. Agada is Torah information that does not result in any obligation on our part - such as for example, the fact that a Baal Teshuva is higher than a Tzadik. We are obligated to do teshuva and to be a tzadik - no new obligation is included in this.

Hashkafa on the other hand simply means "point of view." We are obligated Halachicly to have certain Hashkofos. It says nowhere that Halachah is limited to things that you physically do; things that you believe are also subject to Halachic restrictions and requirements. Where the Torah says we have to think a certain way, that is the exact same thing as when the Torah says we have to act a certain way.

The Mitzvos to love and fear Hashem are examples. The 13 Ikarim are another.

And just as the obligation to love Hashem is not "Agada" neither are the other Hashkafic obligations.

As far as how to paken, I am not sure I understand the question. We pasken Hashkafa the same way as we pasken halacha. There is no shulchan aruch on hilchos loshon horah; mitzvos hateluyos ba'aretz; hilchos ahavas hashem - yet we pasken those as well. The Bais Yosef wasnt the only posek in history. (for example, the Mishna Brura in Biur Halchah 1, includes the 6 Mitzvos Temidios - all Hashkafic - based on the sefer Hachinuch, because the shuchan oruch does not cover them.)

yaavetz Posted - 28 November 2008 10:31
I'm sorry, my question was unclear.
I didn't mean to say that hashkafa and Aggadah are the same thing.
I meant that for either one, how do we know how to "pasken"?
Regarding hashkafa, for example, let's take the 13 ikrim. Not everyone agreed to these 13 ikrim (when I say not agreed, I mean that not necessarily are all of them, or only those 13, "ikrim") Such as the Sefer Ha'ikrim, and R' Chisdai Crescas and Abarbanel. How do we know that we "pasken" like the Rambam? Who said?
Regarding Aggadah, I was referring in general to something like I asked in the "Asking Questions" forum (on the "Is belief in all midrashim etc." thread"), regarding the machlokes Ramban and Abarbanel whether or not midrashim always can be interpreted in nigleh. I was assuming this falls under the category of Aggadah. [As of when I posted here, that qustion was not yet posted or answered in the other forum.] It seems from what Moderator posted there that we follow the opinion of Ramban. Once again, how do you know? Where do we find a "psak" one way over the other?
When I referred to the Shulchan Aruch, by the way, I meant like a generally accepted code of halachah, as it seems everyone follows the Shulchan Aruch. Even though it doesn't cover all halachic topics.
MODERATOR Posted - 02 December 2008 9:36
What you said about the shulchan aruch - that it is accepted in general by klall yisroel as the halachah - applies as well to the 13 ikarim of the rambam. every sefer that mentions a number of ikarim will generically say there are 13, because the psak of the rambam was accepted by klall yisroel. (for the record, there is a shelah that says the rambam's number 13 for the ikarim is supported by a medrash). the 13 ikarim are used l'halachah by everyone who applies the rules of ikarim to actual practice.

and this is not at all surprising. you mentioned the shulchan aruch, which as a rule would pasken like the rambam (and rif), and this is ebcause of the greatness of the rambam and the level of acceptance that his psak has in klall yisroel. if so, the same reasons for paskening like the rambam in hilchos tefillin would apply to paskening like the rambam in hilchos deos. if tosfos or the rosh, for example, disagreed with the rambam on this, it would be one thing, but regardless of the greatness of the abarbanel and rav chisdai and the sefer haikarim, it is not remarkable that the psak that was accepted in klall yisroel on this issue is that of the rambam.

not all the time does everyone hold like the shulchan aruch - but youre right that in general it is halachah. and that is because klall yisroel has accepted it as such. regarding the ikarim, the same klall yisroel has accepted the rambam's ikarim.

besides all that, even though there is a disagreement regarding the number of ikarim, it is likely that there is less of a machlokes in the halahcha here than it seems. it is not at all simple that the sefer haikarim or the abarbanel would disagree with the rambam regarding the heretical status of someone who didnt believe with one of his 13 ikarim. the issues may be how many are included in which ones, and also different definitions of what an "ikar" is - but it is not at all clear that there is a halachich dispute here regarding the practical differences between the shitos.

(but again, the shelah said the number 13 is the correct one for ikarim, since there is a medrash that indicates so)

MODERATOR Posted - 02 December 2008 9:40
the same applies to the medrash-kabalha issue. after kabalah was revealed, it was accepted all over klall yisroel by all authorities to the point where it is absolutely assur to not accept it anymore. that being the case there is no more reason to assume that a medrash MUST have a nigleh explanation. why should it?
yaavetz Posted - 04 December 2008 9:22
Thank you, Moderator.
I understand that our psak follows the acceptance of klal yisrael to that shitah. But now that klal yisrael accepts a certain psakim, how do I know which shitos are accepted and which are not? I want to know which psak it is that klal yisrael currently follows. Where do I look?
For general halachic issues, usaually I can look in the shulchan aruch and mishna brurah and various accepted seforim for different subjects, and I can trust that this is probably the generally accepted view.
However, when it comes to hashkafa, I become confused. Where do I look when I know there are conflicting shitos and I want to know the accepted one? The Maharal? The Shelah (like you mentioned)? There are many hashkafa seforim from rishonim and acharonim, so who do I follow as a general rule?
MODERATOR Posted - 04 December 2008 10:35
You need to plug yourself into the Mesorah of Klal Yisroel. There you will find guidance on what are "accepted" sources both of Halachha and Hashkafa. Because when you say "accepted" halachah seforim, you mean accepted by our Mesorah. The same criterion is needed regarding Hashkafa.

In general, nowadays Klall Yisroel (at least the Ashkenazim) are either Talmidim of the GRA or the Baal Shem Tov. Those two Mesorahs have been taken on (i.e. "accepted") by our Gedolim throughout the past few centuries to the exclusion of many other Hashkafic approaches. Those seforim and those approaches created by - or accepted by - those great Tzadikim and their Talmidim are safe bets for Halachah L'Maaseh when it comes to Halachos that you fulfill with your mind.

More specifically, you should filter your "Mesorah" and limit it to consist of those who are qualified to hand it over. Meaning, Torah scholars. Just because someone is a chosid, or a litvak, doesnt mean his hashkofos are in sync with reality.

You also want to filter out those who (even by their own admission) have broken with the Mesorah and gone on to create their own newfangled ideas, (usually because they believed that the Mesoah "would not work" in "modern society"), based on what they think "history has proven" or some such idea. We use the Torah to tell us what to do - not what we think we "see" ourselves (besides, history cannot prove anything since it has not finished articulating its opinion yet. It is only useful for demonstrating the truth of a Torah principle).

You also want to filter out those whose Hashkofos were influenced by secular values. The Goyim are not our Gedolim and their value system is not pat of the Mesorah. The rule of thumb is: If it wasnt given on Har Sinai, you dont want to follow it. So if someone's hashkofos are clearly influenced by the teachings of Nationalism, or Feminism, or Communism, or various other values that are alien to our Torah, filter them out as well.

Choose the greatest Gedolim - and part of that means the greatest Talmidei chachamim - who follow the tradition of their Rebbeim who follow the tradition of their Rebbeim who follow the tradition of theirs, et cetera.

(It should be noted that there are two different vetting processes described here: One to give you a "halachah kebasrai" perspective, the other to make sure your perspective is a Jewish one. If I am telling you that the chain of Mesorah in Ashkenaz Jewry has accpeted, in general, those two approaches, it does not mean there was anything wrong with the other at the time - it just is a matter of how we - for lack of a better term, "pasken". But the other criteria - scholarship, piety, and exclusivity - is designed to keep you way from ideas that are simply wrong)

So if you want to know what that boils down to, you will end up accepting your Hashkofo from the greatest Gedolei Yisroel. I am assuming you are not chasidish, and so what the above formula will tell you is you cant go wrong with the hashkofos of the chofetz chaim, chazon ish, brisker rav, rav ahron kotler, rav shach, etc.


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