Everyone here at judaism.stackexchange.com has their own favorite seforim to quote when answering a halachic question. Let's put together a compendium of information about the different sources we like to quote, that way it's easy to find out who wrote each of these seforim, and which communities hold by them.


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It looks like you're asking for an organized list. It'd be useful if you'd make it very clear what information you want in the list, and how it should be organized. –  Isaac Moses Jun 2 '11 at 14:25
Move to meta? This seems to be a question that is meant to serve as a reference that people can refer to when using the site. –  msh210 Jun 2 '11 at 14:42
@Isaac: I'm not entirely sure what should be here yet. Ideally, I'd like some kind of resource that helps people sort out who they should hold by when they see a question like this, with several answers that disagree with each other cited in the name of different poskim. –  Chanoch Jun 2 '11 at 14:46
@msh210: That's right that it's supposed to be a reference, but since it covers basically jewish content (as opposed to site policy), I think it should stay here. It should become community wiki at some point, when it's accumulated enough information, so feel free to make it reach that tipping point by fleshing out the question body to better specify what we'd like to see here. –  Chanoch Jun 2 '11 at 14:48
@Chanoch re "that helps people sort out who they should hold by": But people should really not rely on answers on this site for practical matters: this site is for academic purposes, or to help people bring practical questions to their rabbis. No offense intended, but if the purpose of this list is to help people decide whom to rely on practically, then I don't think it's a good idea. –  msh210 Jun 2 '11 at 14:51
@msh210: The way I see it, people will be using this site to ask practical questions, no matter how much we try to hedge against it, and this is a way of keeping people from holding by answers that aren't applicable to their edah, for example so that Ashkenazi ba'alei teshuva can see that Halacha Berurah and the Ben Ish Hai are not people they're supposed to hold by. It also helps in a general sense to acquaint people with the halachic literature as a whole. –  Chanoch Jun 2 '11 at 14:58
@Chanoch I suspect that the effect this list would have on the behavior of someone using this site for self-pesak will be marginal. On the other hand, whenever someone quotes an authority, it is useful if they link to a description of that authority, so readers can see who they're reading. I think those links are the important part, and they need not be to content on this site. The existence of this question will mainly help people who want to linkify authorities whose descriptions aren't written up well elsewhere. Perhaps we'd be better served with a series of "Who was ___?" Qs as needed. –  Isaac Moses Jun 2 '11 at 15:37
I'd be much happier with a list of commonly referred-to books (halachic or otherwise, such as Rashi on chumash) and explanations. On meta. One designed for halachic reference I'm really not happy with. @IsaacMoses may be right that the effect will be marginal, but I'm wary of small steps in the wrong direction. –  msh210 Jun 2 '11 at 15:41
@msh210 What I meant was that the salutory effect - helping people who'd self-pasken anyway make sounder decisions - would be marginal. I agree with you that the existence of such a resource, explicitly presented thus, sets a poor precedent in favor of self-pesak. –  Isaac Moses Jun 2 '11 at 15:44
@msh210: I think that any reference list like this, so long as it's useful on it's own to talk about jewish content, belongs on the main site, not on meta. –  Chanoch Jun 2 '11 at 15:54
@Chanoch: Here's what I recommend (and will probably ultimately implement if you don't): Replace this question with something like "What is the Halacha Berurah?," Then ask in meta for a handy list of links to definitions of authorities that people tend to quote. Create a community-wiki answer to that question and add a link to this H"B content as the first entry. (Nice writeup, by the way.) And please don't include anything like "this is for self-pesak" in the meta question. –  Isaac Moses Jun 2 '11 at 15:55
@Chanoch re "I think that any reference list like this, so long as it's useful on it's own to talk about jewish content, belongs on the main": Depends what its purpose is. We already have judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/347 and similar questions, but the purpose of this question seems to be to list books that are used as references in answers on Judaism.SE — so it belongs on meta. MHO. –  msh210 Jun 2 '11 at 16:03
I like this idea. Sometimes it is helpful to know when and where a mechaber sefer lived (especially the lesser known ones). This really gives us context as to where the author is coming from. Also, I think this discussion belongs on meta, but if we do have a page with this information, it belings here (maybe something similar to an FAQ page) –  Menachem Jun 14 '11 at 3:41

1 Answer 1

Halacha Berurah

Halacha Berurah is sefer of halacha l'maaseh written written in the order of the Shulchan Aruch. The sefer is written by R' David Yosef, the son of R' Ovadia Yosef. It is a work in progress. As of 2011 it is 11 volumes long and covers Shulchan Aruch Orach Hayyim thru hilchot berachot.

Sefer Halacha Berurah presents halacha l'maaseh for Sepharadim, particularly for followers of R' Ovadia Yosef.

The sefer consists of 5 parts: at the top of the page one can find the text of the Shulchan Aruch. Then the section named Halacha Berurah tells you what the halacha l'maaseh is in a readable, standalone fashion (i.e. unlike the Mishnah Berurah, Halacha Berurah is not written in the form of footnotes on the Shulchan Aruch, so there's no need to read the Shulchan Aruch to get context). Two sets of footnotes discuss the sources of the halachah: Birur Halacha analyzes earlier halachic works, and Shaar HaTziyun provides lists of sources for particular points in Halacha Berurah and Birur Halacha without analysis. The last part of the sefer is She'elot u'Tshuvot Otzerot Yosef, which provides a longer, more detailed analysis of certain halachic issues as answers to she'elot.

Sefer Halacha Berurah often mentions the minhagim of the Ashkenazim for comparison, and when it does, it discusses the source of their practices as well. (Even when the section named Halacha Berurah does not mention the Ashkenazi practice at all, it can often be found in the Birur Halachah and/or Shaar HaTziyun.)

Volumes of Halachah Berurah are published in a Kitzur Shulchan Aruch format as well. The first (and only) volume of this Kitzur Shulchan Aruch covers first six volumes of Halacha Berurah. This volume includes the text of the Shulchan Aruch, and the text of the Halacha Berurah section, with nikudot added, but with no changes to the content, so it is suitable for anyone who was learning Halacha Berurah but ignoring the footnotes. It is likely that second volume of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch will appear in the next couple of years when a couple more volumes of Halacha Berurah have been published.


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