Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is a "competent posek" competent in all areas?

Cross-posted on DovBear

HSM recently posted on her blog about a problem between a lying mother and adult daughter. The subject matter is not relevant here, but suffice it to say that I agree with Hadassah and many of the commenters.

What I wanted to examine is the statement by several of the commenters that the daughter should bring her issue to a “competent posek”. This attitude is very common in the frum community, but I think it’s misplaced. Is it really the best thing to speak to a rav about the problem with her mother? Wouldn’t it make much more sense to ask a family counselor or psychologist? What makes a rav qualified to answer questions like this? He didn’t get training in dealing with such problems. He leaned gemara and shulchan aruch.

I would go to my rav for a question about whether a pot needs kashering. That’s his area of expertise. If I was having problems with a family member, I would ask advice from a therapist or family counselor. What’s behind the impulse to ask a rav about absolutely everything? I have a feeling that a lot of really bad decisions are being made because of this misplaced confidence in rabbanim.

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