Manipulation of Da’as Torah

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    Is it possible for people to manipulate gedolim to deliver psak that is more favorable to them or their group over other people or groups? Is every psak delivered without bias?

    Reb Eliezer

    Reb Moshe ztz’l forbade to translate his teshuvos. Psak is dependent on tne circumstances invoved.

    efshar azoi

    is it possible that Hashem protects them from manipulation?

    The little I know

    Any Rov can only pasken the shailoh asked. It is a task to ask a shailoh correctly. I have encountered countless situations in which a particular psak was questioned, and it turns out that the there was information that was either distorted, withheld, or misunderstood. The ideal Rov recognizes the role of the one inquiring, and persists in verifying details in order to deliver the most emesdige psak. In reality, even the greatest can be duped.

    I have personal knowledge of a shailoh that elicited a serious psak from Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT”L. The question posed contained seriously erroneous information, and there were huge stakes. (I cannot say more without providing identifying details and causing huge embarrassment to several people.)

    Rav Moshe forbade the rav who lied to him from ever contacting him again. There are other ways to manipulate Daas Torah. It’s a huge chilul Hashem, and is a disgrace to all of Klal Yisroel.

    ☕️coffee addict

    Reb eliezer,

    Do you have a מקור for that


    Obviously its “possible” although hopefully doesn’t happen with any frequency. Many of these “gadolim” are elderly, hard-of-hearing, may not be fluent in English (in most photos they have one of their gaaboirm whispering in their ear) etc. All of these factors give rise to the risk of questions not being fully heard and understood, or the subject matter may be highly technical to a “lay person” (even though a gadol, not all are experts in highly complex technology, medical or business issues). We have to assume that when uncertain, they ask for more information, for the question to be repeated or clarified or referred to another rav more expert in the subject matter. But we have to assume that someone intent on getting a certain answer may occasionally be able to frame their question or withhold crucial information to get a desired outcome.

    Reb Eliezer

    I heard it of a talmid of Rav Moshe ztz’l.


    Coffee Addict: Igros Moshe YD 3:91


    Beyond direct manipulation, responsa consists of answers to our questions, so WYAISWYG (what you ask is what you get).

    I learned this accidently: my Teacher gave a class on Jewish business ethics and, inter alia, commented that responsa in Poland was full of ethical questions, but gradually ethical questions disapparede and only questions of pots & pans kashrus remained.

    I commented after the class: “so it is _your_ fault” [ i.e. Rabbis’ fault that ethics is not discussed enough], and got immediate response:
    ” No, it is _your_ fault” [ that is, you people should be asking better questions, then we will be answering them!]

    So, any time you post on YWN, think that it might influence what the poskim of this generation will be writing about [and poskim of next generation will be learning]


    @Reb Eliezer, even the written answers in the last tekufah of Reb Moshe ZTL are highly suspect.

    Avi K

    Once someone who was writing a halacha book on tefillin for baalei battim asked Rav Eliahsiv if something (I don’t remember what) is a chatzitza. When RE responded that it is not he argued the point. finally RE said “If you want to be machmir be machmir”. The person wrote that RE said that it is good to be machmir.

    Someone once asked Rav Mordechai Eliahu about organizing a vacation trip to chutz laAretz. RME said that it is not allowed. He advertised that the trip was with the advice of RME.

    Reb Eliezer

    Maybe, we can interpret on this, lo sosifu and lo sigru mimenu, don’t add to the psak and don’t take away. Don’t include and don’t exclude more than intented.


    Poskim can rule differently on the same exact question just based on who or why a person is asking.
    For example, if a posik is familiar with a certain serious & responsible Avreich, then he is going to give him a different ruling than if the question is being asked by a person that is clearly trying to just “have ammo to win an argument with his wife”.
    That’s 1 issue with assuming ANY psak is “One size fits all”.


    @efshar azoi …for years, there have already been false Psak fliers, posters & news articles. I had friends investigate some of these alleged psaks & when they asked various Poskim & Rabbis, it was clear that a person should not trust a Psak unless they are receiving it straight from a knowledgeable Posik who has true Yirat Shamayim.

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