Let Eliyahu decide our questions

The Talmud, when faced with a conundrum that cannot be solved, uses the phrase

יהא מונח עד שיבוא אליהו

Let the issue rest until Eliyahu HaNavi comes (back) and advises us of the Halacha

or

תשבי יתרץ קושיות ואבעיות

ֵEliyahu (HaTishbi) will answer all the questions.

The question is asked: since Moshe Rabbenu was our greatest teacher, why do we wait for Eliyahu (who never died) to answer the questions, surely we should wait for Moshe (who will be resurrected when Mashiach comes) and ask Moshe Rabbenu to Pasken/decide the Halachic conundrums.

Rav Yissacher Shlomo Teichtalהי’’ד

R’ Teichtal הי’’ד

in his celebrated אם הבנים שמחה, explains that to be a Posek, a Halachic decisor, a Rabbi needs to be immersed in the world. A Rosh Yeshivah, for example, who only interacts with the surreal world of his Yeshivah, is not equipped to be a Posek for the masses. All his answers are designed for the שומר נפש, the Yeshivah or Kollel Jew, for whom being יוצא לכל הדעות, acting according to all stringencies, is the norm. Accordingly, since Moshe has not been interacting in our world for thousands of years, he is not suited to be the Posek when the Mashiach comes. Eliyahu HaNovi, however, who did not die, and lives amongst us, so to speak, is more suitable to answer our questions.

It is also for this reason that the משנה ברורה was not considered as acceptable to normative Psak, as the ערוך השלחן. The Chafetz Chaim was considered like the Rosh Yeshivah who lived in his world, and his method of Psak certainly was biased towards accommodating as many opinions as possible. The ערוך השלחן however was also someone who interacted deeply with his community, and for whom the sight of a woman brandishing a chicken to discover whether there was an issue of Kashrus with that chicken, was not unusual. Similarly, although R’ Chaim Soloveitchik ז’ל also known as R’ Chaim Brisker

R’ Chaim Brisker ז’ל

was considered the genius of his generation in terms of learning and innovation, R’ Chaim wasn’t a Posek. When people came to R’ Chaim to ask a question, he referred them to R’ Simcha Zelig Reiger ז’ל,

R’ Simcha Zelig, Av Beis Din of Brisk

the Dayan of Brisk.  (Incidentally, R’ Hershel Jaeger once told me that some descendants of R’ Simcha Zelig live in Melbourne).

Rav Teichtal, takes this one step further. He considers it immaterial that earlier Gedolim, such as the Satmar Rav or R’ Elchanan Wasserman had a negative view of an en masse Aliya to Israel. Rav Teichtal claims that they, like Moshe Rabenu, were not there to witness the changes in the world, and so their Psak, for today, is irrelevant.

R’ Elchanan Wasserman, May God avenge his murder

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

21 thoughts on “Let Eliyahu decide our questions”

  1. Shalom can mean complete, whole as well as peace. When in Chazal there is a machlokes or something cannot be solved, it not complete and no peace(friendly, not ch v sina) between the Rabbis. Eliyahu-who is Pinchas- was given by Hashem, “es Brisi Shalom”. So naturally he is the one to do this.

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    1. Well that contradicts Talmidei Chachomim MARBIM Sholom B’oilim which implies you can have more and less and perhaps more opinions don’t detract … what we are talking about though is Emes rather than Sholom in respect of Amita Shel Torah = Psak

      Sholom is also about compromise … There are lots of nice midrashim about these two

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  2. I think Peter is correct. The same way Moshe Rabeinu wont pasken since he was a “Rosh Yeshiva”, and wasn’t in the generation so to speak. Eliyahu Hanavi also shouldn’t pasken since being “so to speak” in this generation just as much in this generation as the Satmar Rebbe ztz”l etc. Although you bring up a great hypothesis it needs a greater backing to convince me.

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          1. You sound like a meshichist. To be a Reb Simcha Zissel etc. in our generation you have to be part of it in a real tangible way.

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            1. Which Eliyahu is.
              A Meshichist believes the dead can be be Moshiach. You cannot compare this to Eliyahu about whom we are specifically told that he never died and about whom we have Mesora on certain times when he visits our houses Eric

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    1. As I said its a great hypothesis, but it needs stronger backing. The Oruch Hashulchon etc. lived in our world begashmiyus that’s why they were the poskim. Eliyahu Hanavi comes to visit us, but you can’t give that as a reason to say he is part our modern culture to such an extent that he can pasken for us.

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        1. You said “since Moshe has not been interacting in our world for thousands of years, he is not suited to be the Posek when the Mashiach comes.” I can aply that to Eliyahu notwithstanding his immortality. The same way that Yakov Ovinu loi mes, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, the Rebbe or even the gemara that says Moshe Rabeinu LO MES.

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            1. Eliyahu is here BEGASHMIYUS
              He interacts BEGASHMIYUS in a Guf.
              That’s the Mesora.

              Halacha is LO Bashayim. Hence it’s not the realm of those who are in a different plane.

              The Olom HaNefoshos is a different world!

              I thought this stuff is basic, no?

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  3. Ok, however if you want to play that card I’ll say that the gashmiyus of Elyahu is a totaly different gashmiyus of us. See Zohar, 3:15. which says the neshomo of Eliyahu was created during the Six Days of Creation. He has existed ever since as a Malach, but sometimes comes to this world in human form. (That’s why the Midrash sometimes uses the phrase “Pinchas zu Eliyahu”, even though Pinchas was born first.)
    How can you say that type of gashmiyus (pseudo-malach) could pasken for us? He is a human malach not a human! He can’t pasken like he could when he was alive.

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    1. I’m not playing cards. You can provide as many kaballistic or Zoharistic or even midrashic insights into the essence of Eliyahu as you choose, but we follow the plain understanding of Nach and that in of itself is clear. He went up as a Guf Shalem and exists as such today. Exactly how Hakadosh Baruch Hu utilises or sends Eliyahu is a matter of metaphysics. Whilst Kabollo plays an important role in many streams of Yahadus, unless it’s the rare case that Halocho is split into two equal possibilities we do not entertain Kabolo in normative Piskei Din.

      In particular, lifnei Bo yovo when Eliyahu Beguf pasken and announces Moshiach, you are telling us that he will leave his Guf upstairs and come down in some strange manifestation? You think that when Tishbi Yetaretz Kushyos V’Abbayos, he will do that davka via some bas kol emanating from his mouth?

      Au contraire! If we follow your line of thought why bother with keeping Eliyahu alive B’Guf!

      Nay, we will see and interact with people Begufom, and Eliyahu HaNovi has been chosen and is our masoretic posek at those chosen moments.

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      1. I am not saying he will leave his Guf upstairs and come down in some strange manifestation, I am saying he is a strange manifestation, called an angel. That according to this Zohar when he comes into this world he is a malach in a human body. Tishbi Yetaretz kushi Veabayos won’t be in the form of a psak of a posek from a nowerdays posek. I am not sure what it will be but I can’t believe we can equate Eliyahu with a Ma”TZ.

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        1. And I’m saying he may have a special Neshomo and task but he is a MAN was a MAN and had the Dinim of a MAN Lehalocho. There is no ape iCal Sefer Halocho for people chosen to perform roles. His role is davka Beguf which is why HaKadosh Baruch Hu took him up that way and why he will be the Metaretz

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