- Hilchos Niddah, Responsa Literature and More

Notes on Responsa Literature

The following articles have been drawn largely from the shiurim of R. Aharon Rakeffet Rothkoff, given between 1993 and 2011 and which are available on-line at  Rav R.R. has provided approximately 1400 hours of lecture on response literature, history and the philosophy of the Rav.  He has not reviewed any of the material here and any errors are entirely my own.  In those infrequent instances in which I have made my own comments, I have tried to indicate so, but, again, I’m certain that I have done an inadequate job of that.

Biographical information has generally been drawn from the Bar-Ilan Responsa CD.

All of that said, as I have stated regarding topics I have covered during some of my public speeches at Kenesseth Israel Congregation in Minneapolis, I believe that an understanding of the history of the evolution of halacha and of the halachic process are an important part of understanding the place of psak in contemporary Modern Orthodoxy and of thus understanding what “Modern Orthodoxy” is and in particular differentiate the role of psak in the Modern Orthodox context from that in the Orthopraxic/Conservative context.


Authority and Decisionmaking

(1)          Different types of Meforshim on the Talmud
(2)          Different types of Sifrei P’sak
(3)          Early appearance of Responsa literature
(4)     Acceptance of the Shulchan Aruch
(5)     The meaning of הסכימו עליהם כל ישראל
(6)     Types of Questions
(7)     Types of Answers
(8)     Two methodological approaches
(9)     Transition and Compilation

(1)    Two types of decision making – "פסק" and "תשובה"- I
(2)    Two types of decision making – "פסק" and "תשובה"- II
(3)    Two types of decision making – "פסק" and "תשובה"- III
(4)    Two types of decision making – "פסק" and "תשובה"- IV
(5)    Earlier and Later Authority
(6)    Another view
(7)    Rav Moshe on Authority
(8)    Meiri
(9)    More on Authority
(10)  Qualifications for decision making
(11)  Many opinions

Takana, Gezairah, Minhag

Historical Context

(1)          Definitions
(2)          Gezairah today
(3)     Minhag Annuling Halacha - I
(4)     Minhag Annuling Halacha - II
(5)     Minhag determined by public practice
(6)     There are limits
(7)     Cases of doubt
(8)     Cases of doubt – an application

(1)   The Long Knife
(2)   Daughters of Prophets


Marriage and הפקעת קידושין

Marriage and הפקעת קידושין - Responsa

(1)     הפקעת קידושין - I
(2)     הפקעת קידושין – II
(3)     הפקעת קידושין – III
(4)     Erusin
(5)     The Marriage Ceremony – Geonic Period
(6)     The Marriage Ceremony – Rishonic
(7)     The Marriage Ceremony – Rashi

(1)     Egypt 16th Century – Mahari BeRab
(2)     Egypt 16th Century – Radbaz I
(3)     Egypt 16th Century – Radbaz II
(4)     Turkey 16th Century – Maharashdam – status of witnesses
(5)     Salonika 16th Century – Divrei Rivot – witnesses and courts
(6)     Maharashdam - another case
(7)     R. Yosef Karo on הפקעת קידושין
(8)     The Rama on הפקעת קידושין



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