Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Rav Schachter’s Bright-Line Rule On Halachic Innovation

Rav Schachter begins with trenchant criticism of those who write teshuvos when they are not qualified to do so. Not everyone who has learned in yeshiva, or even in kollel, or received semicha, he says, is authorized to write responsa. To be considered the gemara’s magia le’hora’ah / one who has attained the stature and background necessary to pasken new questions, a candidate’s learning need be balanced. People who lean excessively to the side of kula, or to the side of chumrah, cannot properly write teshuvos.

This is the real intent of the gemara. When our souls are filled with enthusiasm to draw closer to Hashem and we hit upon activities that we think will best express our love for Him, we need to pause. Any such activity needs to be scrutinized by “recognized gedolei Torah.” They are the embodiment of the zikeinim that the gemara references in Shabbos. Without their approval, any such activity may be devoid of any real meaning.

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