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From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Subject: Who Makes Halacha---Authority vs Breadth Of Knowledge There has been alot of discussion recently on Rishonim and Achoronim and there has also been discussion on who can make what halachas and who can override them I have nothing against authority...but authority (being a rishon vs an achoron) is ONLY ONE COMPONENT of making halachah. BREADTH and DEPTH of knowledge are a strong component also. So --as the examples given--if the Vilna Gaon did disagree with Rishonim We RESPECT HIM because of the Gaon's great BREADTH and DEPTH of knowledge. Don't get me wrong...I am not trying to override anyone...but I would like to see Mail Jewish DISCUSS and GIVE CRITERIA for HOW WE RECOGNIZE Breadth and Depth of knowledge. After giving these criteria we can BEGIN to discuss when and how an achoron can disagree with a rishon. As an example of what I mean by "CRITERIA to RECOGNIZE Breadth and DEpth `" of knowledge consider the following fields (where criteria do exist): * Doctorates..one must pass oral and written exams and do original research * Accountants..one must pass a series of exams showing basic knowledge in dealing with day to day situations * Actuaries...one must pass a series of exams showing ability of mass recall as well as the ability to synthesis solutions to new situations * Computer scientists...I know Novelle has a series of I think 8 courses showing proficiency in various matters So how about Halachah? Where does being a Rabbi fall on this list? True Rabbinical students must learn alot but DO WE TEST THEM? Do they have exams similar to accounting exams? To actuarial exams? Do we require original research on some matter (like Doctorates)? I am suggesting that maybe we SHOULD have such criteria. At any rate I strongly urge ALL mj writers to participate in a discussion on HOW WE RECOGNIZE someone like the GAON as a genius. Independent of your view on Psak I think this an important issue Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA rhendel @ mcs drexel edu