Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

URL: www.scjfaq.org/faq/04-01.html
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< Sect. 3 TOC Q4.2 >

Question 4.1:
What is "Halacha?" How is it determined?

Answer:

Halacha means "Way" or "Path". Halacha is the application of the Law (Torah) to everyday living.

The traditional viewpoint is that Halacha should be decided by those who are most knowledgable in all aspects of Jewish law. Since the Halacha of each generation is decided by its greatest Torah scholars, and the Torah doesn't change, there is usually little change in the Halacha from one generation to the next. The development of Halacha is most evident when new situations arise for which rulings must be made, such as the destruction of the Temple, the development of electricity, and the increasing complexity of modern food processing technology.

Since the non-traditional viewpoint is that the the Torah itself was written by people, both the interpretation of the Law and its application are re-evaluated in each generation, using the interpretations of the past to serve primarily as non-binding guidance in how to continue this process.

Both viewpoints encourages all Jews to study halacha, and apply it to their daily lives in order that they be brought closer to G-d.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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