Mishnah Berurah

The writings of the "Hafetz Hayyim," Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan.

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5) Adjudication based upon the majority of most recent authoritative rulings cited.

6) The adaptation of accepted halakhic principles. For example, in the case of Torah law, one must rule stringently.

7) Former Rabbinic authorities (Rishonim) are used only when essential, as in a case in which their decision is required to render a solution to a problem not satisfactorily resolved by the Aharonim, or when cited by other commentators cited by the author.

8) Latter Rabbinical authorities are cited.

9) Dependence on a textual version of a later authority rather than the source, and siding with a primary Aharon rather than with the Shulhan Arukh.

10) The incorporation of non-halakhic materials, such as ethics.

11) Short decisive statements with minimum dialectics (pilpul).

12) Cross-referencing through the Shulhan Arukh and the commentaries.

13) The sources referred to in the text are predominately other adjudicators and Shulhan Arukh  commentators, not responsa or talmudic commentaries.

14) Not citing the entire or exact source.

The Mishnah Berurah has become the contemporary halakhic work of halakhic standards. Study groups and classes on this work abound in Orthodox synagogues and yeshivot. Contemporary decisors refer to it as a matter of course.

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Simcha Fishbane is an Associate Professor of Judaic Studies at Touro College.