[Avodah] psak/feeling

Zvi Lampel zvilampel at gmail.com
Fri Apr 12 09:37:36 PDT 2024

> On Wed, Apr 10, 2024 at 05:53:19AM +0300, Joel Rich via Avodah wrote:
> > I recently heard R Asher Weiss say a poseik shouldn't have any
> > "feeling" about the answer to a question but rather look at sources and
> see
> > where they take him. This seems different from R YBS in
> > community-covenant-commitment "my inquiry consisted only in translating a
> > vague intuitive feeling into fixed terms of halachic discursive
> thinking".

 From R. Micha Berger:

> > The Chavatzeles haSharon quotes a chain of acharonim who hold that a
> > poseiq generally knows where the pesaq is going to be, and then reasons
> > his way to it. More recently, the Minchas Yitzcha says similarly.
> > RAW says he never understood it. Rather, the poseiq should ignore that
> > feeling and try to find Amito shel Torah without bias.

Is "generally" modifying "a poseik" or "knows"? IOW, Generally, poskim know
the pesak without initially knowing the precise sources that indicate it?
Or, All poskim know the general pesak, but consult the sources to get it

>and then reasons his way to it.

What is his lashon for this?

> > As I recently commented on the AI discussion, I was under the impression
> > that the process of pesaq not only includes ideas you can articulate, but
> > also attitudes and tendencies that can't be put into words. As I said, I
> > think this is why Chazal requires shimush rabbanim as a pre-requisite for
> > hora'ah. Because there are things you can only learn by osmosis.
> > And those go into that immediate feeling of where the pesaq ought to be.

In other words, the initial, gut-feeling or "hunch" is itself not a product
of whim, but of one's exposure to "attitudes and tendencies" gained through
shimush. I would add that a poseik's hunch comes from the overall sense he
gained from the many texts. When presented with a shayla, an answer comes
to his mind and he wonders, "Why am I thinking that?", and finds the
sources that formed his hunch.

But then, it seems to me that to prevent pesak from being a sham, one must
be open to reappraisal if perusal of the relevant sources indicates a
different pesak. Just as, regarding what was initially thought to be
what one thought his shimush taught him,

> > ... you [the poseik?] have to be honest enough when the logic of the
> sefarim forces [you]
> > the poseiq to conclude your  feeling comes from somewhere else, [and]
> that it [the initial impression]
> > just doesn't work. But ... a major part of being a TC is becoming
> > the kind of person who has the right hunches.

...and also has the integrity to accept that his initial sense was
incorrect: --Eilu devarim shechazru Beis Hillel l'horos k'divrei Beis
Shammai..." (Edyos 1:12),

This approach reconciles RAW with the Minchas Yitchak and the acharonim
listed by Chavatzeles haSharon.

The quote from R. YBS, "my inquiry consisted only in translating a vague
intuitive feeling into fixed terms of halachic discursive thinking" needs

What does "my inquiry consisted in" mean? It seems the issue this thread is
raising is taking it to mean "my purpose in looking into the sources." Was
he indeed speaking about how the pesak he taught originated (and saying he
only consulted the sources to cherry-pick those that defended his hunch)?
Or perhaps he meant he only consulted them to find the correct technical
terminology to use to express the pesak he arrived at without bias?

Zvi Lampel
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