Do not be discouraged by the breadth and length of Halacha
- Even though Halacha can be enormous, it's important not to lose sight of the goal. A person must be familiar with the basic laws that are relevant every day, for example brachot, prayer, and Shabbat. If one does not know the basics in these areas it is impossible to endeavor to keep halacha by merely watching others or guessing based on instinct. It is highly advisable to find a simple book that outlines Halacha (or this website) and set-up a schedule of study to allow one to study on a regular basis. (See the introduction to volume 3 of Mishna Brurah).
Your question may not be the same as the general Halacha
- The purpose of this website is definitely not a replacement for asking questions to your local rabbi. The website is supposed to provide the English-speaking Jewish community with summaries of relevant halachot. Clearly, the site does not always provide answers to your specific question and for that it is important to either learn the halachot properly from the sources or to ask you local rabbi. Often, a single differentiating factor may apply in your case that can change the halacha from permitted to forbidden or vice-versa.
- There are a plethora of Halachot that have major disputes between the contemporary authorities. It is crucial to note that it is not the place of this site to arbitrate between two major poskim or gedolei hador. Therefore, in the event of dispute it is important to either consult your local rabbi, or to choose one opinion and consistently follow that opinion. It is certainly improper to simply choose to be lenient or stringent in every dispute because of lack of knowledge. Rather, one must appoint for oneself and one's family a rabbi, whether it is a local one or a book that one can consult and adhere without fail. (See Pirkei Avot 1:6 where Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Parcha says one should appoint for oneself a Rabbi).
- If a certain halacha only has one opinion in a case where there are a number of other dissenting opinions, that's usually unintentional. We do not intentionally leave out the opinion of legitimate Orthodox halachic opinions and we welcome the addition of all different opinions and minhagim. As the project grows, it is very possible and likely that certain halachot will be one-sided until someone adds the dissenting opinions. If you are aware of another opinion, not displayed on this site, please add it or let us know. Additionally, for simplicity we encourage summarizing the groups of opinions in the top halachic summaries. However, the details and the nuances in each opinion may and should be presented below in the footnotes.
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (1838 – 1933), known popularly as The Chofetz Chaim from his book on the laws of Lashon Hara, was an influential Lithuanian Rabbi, author of the Mishna Brurah as well as the Beur Halacha which is in more detail and the Shaar Hatziyun which quotes sources