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Jan 28, 2009

Interesting Psak from Rav Aviner: Decide Yourself for Whom to Vote

Personally, I have issues with Rav Aviner, and would not normally quote him... But this is something I generally agree with him on, and he explains it very nicely, so I offer this to you.

Rav Aviner has a series of halachic decisions he videos for the website Maale. In a recent question, the petitioner asked who the rabbonim would tell him to vote for.

Rav Aviner's answer is that you have to think and decide for yourself. the rabbonim don't know any better than anybody else. Every person is considered a dayan of sorts - he has to weigh his considerations and vote for whom he thinks is the right party. A dayan has to voice his opinion, and not change it because someone told him otherwise.

To see the whole video of the psak (just a few minutes), click here..

(source: Ynet)


  1. Doesnt that compromise the whole philosophy of "Din Torah"?

  2. What? How can he say such a thing! How can he possibly imply that someone who hasn’t learned all of Ramban on Maseches Sukkah can have an opinion on security issues? How can someone who hasn’t gone through every Ran in Kidushin have anything meaningful to say about the economy?

  3. why? he is saying you are a dayan when deciding who to vote for. you are paskening for the whole country that your opinion is the Likud/Bayit Yehudi/UTJ/Meretz/Shas/Chadash/Green Leaf/Ichud Leumi whatever is the best party.

    The integrity of a dayan must be that you declare your decision as you see it, not change your mind just because someone told you to do something else.

    what does thathave to do with a din torah? The dayanim in a din torah also have to, each of them, come to a conclusion as to which side of the argument is more compelling. Then they count the votes and base don the majority opinion, the winner/loser is decided. Just like elections.

    If one dayan would say "I know you like Reuven's opinion better, but I want you to vote for Shimon anyway" - if he changed his mind base do that, the beis din would be faulty and probably invalid.

    One dayan can try to persuade the other dayanim, but at the end of the day, the dayan has to vote according to what he think sis right, not just for who someone else says to vote for.

  4. im sorry, i actually meant "Das Torah". You know, the people who ask the gedolim if their kids should play piano.

    Doesnt this compromise the whole philosophy of Da Torah. (that was my qs).

  5. ok. then yes. I would agree on that. But if you hold you are a dayan, there is no place for that version of daas torah.

    if a dayan is sitting on a case deliberating, he is not allowed to call "his rav" and ask what to do. He has to deliberate and decide.

  6. I actually heard him say the same thing on a radio show a few weeks ago.

    A caller asked whether he has an opinion on the differences between bayit hayehudi and NUP, Rav Aviner said that he has not yet had a chance to analysis their policies yet, but plans to do so over the coming weeks, and encouraged all listeners to also look at the various policies posityions.

    If I recall correctly, he said that he or other Rabbis may speak favouravbly about a speciic party, and voters can take the rabbinic opinion in consideration, but ultimately each voter must make his own informed decision.

    I was plesently surprised by this response, because I always thought of Rav Aviner as someone with strong Political opinions.

  7. Michael, Rav Aviner DOES have strong opinions. Among those opinions is that Torah requires each and every Jew to learn, to think, to use the brain that God gave him/her. Among those opinions is that not everything is a matter for a psak halacha. Among those opinions is that, even though he takes a stand and sticks to it for as long as no one convinces him otherwise; he isn't so full of himself as to say 'kiblu daati'/you must listen to me. He clearly has disagreements with some of his colleagues who has learned with since they were all young, yet they also have respect for each other as responsible individuals. I believe this is consistent with how they learned by Rav Tzvi Yehudah HaCohen Kook. It certainly is consistent with what I used to hear in presentations from Rav Aviner nearly 30 years ago. Quite a concept, eh?

    To further illustrate this, I'll share with you an incident from one of Rav Aviner's influences, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu shlita. I had gone to him (this is in the 80s, before he was Rishon L'tzion) with a question in halachah. He answered, but I questioned something about the answer. This went back and forth for a few minutes. Finally the rav says to me something to effect of 'You asked me what I think, and I am telling you. You don't have to accept it. When you get before the heavenly court, they will hold you responsible for what you do. They won't allow you to excuse yourself by saying 'I only did what the rav told me to.' If you really have reason to think this isn't correct or applicable, you have to do what you understand.'

    Remember, he was saying this to a 20 something year old guy who (then and now!) doesn't reach his shoe laces in learning! The notion of responsibility never leaves Torah.

    As Rav Neventzahl has said, we are required to use the intelligence God gave us.


    why did you go to him with your שאלה?

  9. Ari, it was common for the guys from Mercaz Harav or Machon Meir to go to him. The first time I had a question of that caliber (I was still single)I asked in the yeshiva who should I ask, and I was steered to Rav Eliyahu shlita. He lives in the neighborhood. He took questions every morning after davenning, as well as other times. I went to him a lot, for years, as did many others. With questions in safrut, he also sent me to his brother, Rav Naim Ben Eliyahu. Only once did he think it mattered that I was an Ashkenazi asking him, and he sent me to ask Rav Shaul Yisraeli ztz'l. Sefardim and Ashkenazim 'crossed the lines' all the time in our circles. The rabbanim were capable of handling it. In a mixed beit midrash, there was a very holistic approach to learning and halacha.

  10. "Personally, I have issues with Rav Aviner, and would not normally quote him... "
    why the need for the disclaimer? And who are you to have 'issues' with him anyway, how many seforim have you written recently?

  11. I issue the disclaimer because some people know my issues, and would wonder why I am quoting him...

    Just because he wrote seforim means he is great? I am not saying he is not great, but your reasoning is flawed.
    He is a big rav in his world, but even in his world he is very controversial. Many consider him unworthy of being a rav and someone who is mattir chayevei krisus. I did not go that far.

  12. First, MY disclaimer. I greatly admire Rav Aviner, who I remember back when he was the rav of Keshet. And it is irrelevant what I think of particular decisions of his.

    His stature as a talmid hacham, as well as someone who has served Am Yisrael in other important capacities, should cause us to treat him with tremendous respect, as any talmid hacham.

    Rafi, to say someone is 'matir chayavei krisus' or to label them as 'worthy' or 'unworthy' is precisely the kind of speech we are warned against. I realize you are just quoting. It takes big shoulders to bear the responsibility of a rav in general, and one who influences a large tzibur in particular.

    Personally, as long as we have nothing especially controversial right in front of us, why bring it up? It casts aspersions where none might have been thought of.

    Just my two cents.

  13. the commenter asked, and the point has been made in the comments here a few times before anyway...

    once on the topic anyway:

    for - http://aviner.org/

    against: http://aviner.net/ and http://shlomo-aviner.blogspot.com/


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