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Episode 18: “What is God’s Role in the Halakhic Process”

An angel appears to you and teaches you Torah. Would you rule on matters of Jewish law in accordance to the revelation you received, or according to your own human interpretation?

Rabbi Yosef Caro, author of the Shulchan Aruch, had an unequivocal position: human interpretation. How did he dare to approach Jewish law that way?

Watch this week’s episode to find out!

Two examples where R. Caro’s relationship with the Maggid in no way compromises his integrity as a halakhist.

Kaddish: R. Joseph Caro maintains that Amen be stated three times in kaddish (Shulchan Arukh, Orakh Hayim, 56:2). This, despite the insistence by the Maggid, in dialogue with R.Caro, that Amen must be recited five times (Maggid Mesharim, Amsterdam edition, page 9b).

Rosh Ha-Shanah: In the Shulchan Arukh (Orakh Hayim, 597:3), R. Caro states that if one fasts on the first day of Rosh Ha-Shanah, due to an unsettling dream, the individual must also fast on the second day of Rosh Ha-Shanah for that year. Furthermore, for all future years the individual must continue to fast on both days (ibid.). In the Maggid Mesharim it relates (ad loc., 67a.) that the maggid states that one would only need to fast on the first day of Rosh haShana but not on the second day. R. Caro refused to listen to the “halakhic advice of the maggid” following the position based on his halakhic analysis that he incorporated into his Shulchan Arukh. 


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