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Going to Several Rabbis for One Question

Can a person go to different Rabbanim with the same question, and choose which psak halacha he wishes to follow? Within halacha there’s a wide range of opinion. Can someone choose the more meikel opinion if he so chooses, as long its within the realm of halachic thought? Being machmir is not always better? It seems that Rabbanim from previous generations were more meikel, or tried to be more meikel.


It is permitted to ask a question to more than one rabbi, provided that one’s initial intention is not set on accepting the pesak. However, it would not be right to rely on different rabbis for different questions, searching for the lenient opinion in all matters.


The Gemara states (Niddah 20, Avodah Zarah 7) that after one rabbi given a stringent ruling, another rabbi cannot give a lenient ruling on the same question. According to some authorities (Rivash 379, Rashba, Ritva, and Nimmukei Yosef, Avodah Zarah 7a, quoting from Raavad), the reason for this is that the question has already been resolved–the piece of meat (for instance) has already become forbidden, and cannot be permitted. Others write (Ran) that the reason is the honor of the first rabbi.

According to the first rationale, the ruling only works one way: if the first rabbi prohibits, the ‘piece of meat’ is prohibited, and can no longer be permitted. However, if the first rabbi permitted the meat, another rabbi can still prohibit it. According to the second rationale, the ruling works both ways.

The Rema (Yoreh De’ah 242:31) seems to side with the second opinion, writing that even if the first rabbi was lenient, a second rabbi must not be stringent. This is also the opinion of the Aruch Hashulchan (242:62). However, many poskim side with the first rationale: see Shach (242:59), Radvaz (Vol. 1, no. 362), Avkas Rochel (213), Maharik (Shoresh 171), Rashbatz (Vol. 1, no. 66), Tahas Habayis (Vol. 1, p. 325), Sedei Chemed (ches, 76), and others.

Does the prohibition enacted by the first rabbi, which cannot be undone by the second, depend on the ruling of the rabbi, or the acceptance of the person asking the question? Many of the sources above indicate that the prohibition depends on the acceptance of the person asking the question: because he has accepted the stringent ruling his ‘piece of meat’ has become prohibited, and can no longer be permitted.

According to this, if the person asking the question has in mind that he will not necessarily accept the ruling, and will try other rabbis, it would be permitted for another rabbi to be lenient (this can be of special relevance for questions of hilchos niddah, where different rabbis can have different approaches).

However, it is not permitted to seek the most lenient opinion in each and every matter, and the Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 14a) states that one who takes on the leniencies of both Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai is a rasha (wicked). In general, one should try to find a rabbi that one resonates with, and abide by his rulings for all matters.

Of course, being machmir is not always better. I am not sure that rabbis of previous generations wree more lenient, and it depends on the individual rabbi–although within certain communities there is a certain ‘trend’ towards stringency.

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