In the Name of HASHEM, G-d Eternal
In the Name of HASHEM, G-d Eternal

The 13 Fundamental Principles Of Our Torah Tradition

With Tolerance, Respect, and Love for Jews of Other Torah Traditions

« Previous
Principle 2
Next »
Principle 4

Principle 3 – New Rabbinical Laws and Customs that Developed in the Absence of a Sanhedrin

Over 1500 years have passed without any single, nationally recognized, compulsory legal authority over the Jewish People. As times changed, it may have been desirable to consider the reasoning behind the law, and reinterpret the written sources contrary to the halakhah as it was instituted. New rabbinical decrees may have seemed necessary according to the needs of the times. However, since post-Talmudic legislation was made without the proper authority, it does not have the status of halakhah. In the absence of a Sanhedrin, new rabbinical legislation and customs do not obligate the Jewish People as a whole (except in a specific area of law that the halakhah explicitly left to follow the local custom, such as many areas of monetary law). (1)Introduction to the Mishneh Torah 32-35. So long as they do not contradict halakhah, such enactments may obligate a local community (such is the ...continue The reasoning behind the Law or “spirit of the Law” may not interfere with the practice of halakhah. (2)M.T. Hil. Gezelah we-Avedah 5:10-18(11-14)

Over the centuries, it is natural that certain traditional customs have developed and spread among the common masses of religious Jews, even though they contradict the halakhah. Since modern rabbinic rulings may not conflict with Talmudic Law, popular custom certainly has no authority to contradict the halakhah, (3)To understand the severity of this mistake, see the commentary of Seforno on Deut. 28:14. even if it is in agreement with the majority opinion of currently recognized rabbinical sages. (The majority opinion of Torah sages only rules in the context of the Sanhedrin.)

There is a widespread opinion that the above only applies to popular customs that are more lenient than the halakhah, while prevalent custom that is stricter or adds to the authentic halakhah is obligatory. We differ with this position. However, regarding customs and traditions that are more lenient than the halakhah, there can be no argument: they must not be followed. (4)M.T. Hil. Shevitath Assor 3:3

In short, without a Sanhedrin, Talmudic Law is a closed system. What the Talmudic sages decreed and recorded in the Talmudic literature is legally binding, even if the reason for the decree no longer exists. (5)M.T. Hil. Mamrim 2:2(2-3) Likewise, if they did not record any ruling on a particular case, then no ruling exists; there is no halakhah on that case.

« Previous
Principle 2
Next »
Principle 4

Notes   [ + ]

1. Introduction to the Mishneh Torah 32-35. So long as they do not contradict halakhah, such enactments may obligate a local community (such is the opinion of the Shulḥan `Arukh, and some understand the RaMBaM to maintain this as well).
2. M.T. Hil. Gezelah we-Avedah 5:10-18(11-14)
3. To understand the severity of this mistake, see the commentary of Seforno on Deut. 28:14.
4. M.T. Hil. Shevitath Assor 3:3
5. M.T. Hil. Mamrim 2:2(2-3)