Andrea Karshan's Articles, Jewish, Judaism

That Magic Word “Halakha”

By Andrea Karshan

Let me say this about that magic word “halakha”…

One thing I have found about Halakha is that many people aren’t in agreement on it. Different views on what is Halakha I am ok with. But many people aren’t. Cause everyone’s own “Halakha” is RIGHT. Let me give you an example. Go into a Jewish Facebook group and ask for a halakha on something with a source. You will get ten different “halakhas” on the same thing with sources all based on something.

Also, talk to a Lubavitcher, then an Orthodox Jew then a Modern Orthodox Jew often you will get different “halakhas.” Even between two Orthodox Jews, you will find different “halakhas.” Extend that to adding a Reform or Conservative Jew to the conversation more different “halakhas” will enter the mix. 

Now I can agree to disagree. But many people around me INSIST that ONLY they are following the Torah, they are right, EVERYONE else is wrong, and their Halakha is the ONLY Halakha. Sure they are, and sure it is. (Whatever will make them shut up.) The bottom line is in the world of a million “halakhas” we all shouldn’t put each other’s “halakhas” down. We should agree to disagree. And understand that this way works for me and that way works for you and that is OK. You DON’T have to FORCE your HALAKHA on me.


  1. Moshe Steinberg

    You should remember that your beis din will be aware of all of your attacks on the local Orthodox community. Conversion is not guaranteed, especially not for someone who has so disrespected halakha and the leaders of our community.

    You should also remember that we have been living halakha for our entire lives. You have been adapting to it for less than a year. Maybe you should learn how to be a student instead of trying to tell those with much more knowledge how you think things should be?

    1. Andrea Karshan Author

      As usual people are attacking me about my conversion. I feel like ANYTHING I do I hear threats about my conversion.Would it be different if a born Jew wrote this article? Because I am not the first to express this sentiment.

      This time you left a comment on my blog telling me the beis din would be “aware” of my attacks on the Orthodox community. While I have criticized some in the “Orthodox community”, I have also repeatedly praised others in the community. What, we can’t speak out when we see injustice? Or ONLY born Jews can do that?

      Also, I would love for someone to tell me how this blog is attacking or is disrespectful to Halakha,the Orthodox community and/or its “leaders”. I am Orthodox!

      The thoughts expressed in this blog are shared by many. I am not telling anyone how things should be. I am expressing an opinion, a certain viewpoint. You can take it or leave it. I suggest if you don’t agree with something you read on the internet that you just keep scrolling and don’t take it upon yourself to go on a personal crusade against the writer. Really, ain’t no one got time for all that nonsense.

      I want to say AGAIN that it is ridiculous that people constantly attack me because I am converting. The world is full of Jewish journalists. Love them or hate them. Some are born Jews, some are converts. Stop calling us heretics just because we write about something that you don’t agree with.

      And ironically that’s what this blog is about that you are fussing over, agreeing to disagree and not forcing yourself on others.

      Also, let me add if people think they will shut me up by threatening me with such things, they are really kidding themselves. Intimidation and threats don’t work well with me.

    2. S. Benson

      Interesting reply to the blog. There is nothing in here that is an attack on the local orthodox community. Furthermore, while a bit overstated, she is essentially correct [overstated only in the sense that there are larger areas of agreement in halacha while there are still divergences in application, e.g. the exact time that shabbos is over (42 vs 50 vs 72)].
      A person new to the halachik world, especially one who is converting, will be besieged by alternate opinions on the “real” halacha in a particular situation. Perceived mistakes will be interpreted as either ignorance or a lack of commitment when, in fact, the person may have spoken to his/her rabbi and been told to do something in a particular way given the totality of the circumstances.

  2. Israel Wahrman

    Andrea, I agree with your view on this. It is obviously the halachically correct view. 😊 If one looks at the Talmud, it is clear that there are many legitimate points of view on issues. Reshonim also disagreed on their hakachic views. And clearly, modern Poskim do not always agree. Judaism does not have a pope. Zeh Vizeh Divrei Elokim Chayim.

    1. Dovid Gelber

      There is no attack on “orthodox “judaism here. This is a factually solid point of view. The foundations of the religion don’t rest on Ashkenaz, sephardi… In fact there are times when minhag and halacha become interchangable with minhag becoming as strong as a deoraisa. Andrea accurately hits on just this idea of how halacha has a flexiility which means that dismissing others for their manner of practice is fundamentally wrong. As Israel Wahrman noted the gemara states Zeh vizeh divrei E;pkim chayim without dismissing different views as being mistakes, flaws, or any variation on wrong. If the amoraim were able to see the value in of these different strains of halacha and minhag shouldn’t we?

  3. Levi Feller

    I just want to personally thank Andrea for her wonderful work that she does with her blog and her stance on social justice issues. Keep it up, I love reading your articles!

  4. Moshe Steinberg

    Halakha is Halakha. There is no yours mine, theirs Halakha. You either follow it as interpreted by rabbinical authorities, which you are not, or you do not. If you want to do your own interpretation of Halakha, you should probably consider Reform instead of actual Judaism.

    You can cover all of the shelves you want and brag about pesah cleaning and chometz sale, but if you are not living Halakha as interpreted by those with the knowledge, you are as frum as a gentile.

    1. S. Benson

      Why do you insist on being insulting? Instead of answering her and making a cogent argument, you simply insist “halakha is halkha” and then attack her.
      Halakha doesn’t work that way. Again, as stated previously, halakha can sometimes hold many positions.

  5. Mr Steinberg , I don’t know what you are talking about . Do you have Smicha ? Judaism and especially Halakha is not black and white . My feeling is that you don’t understand how Halacha works. Plus I don’t think you understood what Andrea was trying to say . You attack her instead of answering how Halacha works and how beautiful Jewish law works

  6. amYisroel18

    This is an interesting article and for the most part you are right. There are various ways to understand halacha and sometimes there are two or more legitimate ways of doing something that are disagreed on. There are however limitations to the validity of how to properly understand halacha which you perhaps don’t seem to understand 100% my suggestion is to take some more time to study this subject further with a competent rabbi. Halacha isn’t a “magic word” but the crown of Torah and here is a short video that explains the importance of halacha

  7. Ouriel

    Without an objective, universal halakha there is no judaism. When there are multiple conflicting opinions, certainly only one view is objectively correct. When it comes to reform, they outright halakha as binding…. So they are not even apart of a halachic system.


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