More about Getting Started

From Halachipedia
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
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Important Announcements

Feel free to add whatever you know and others will fill in the gaps but there's three simple things to keep in mind:

  1. Please be careful when contributing to halachipedia, since people may be relying on it for halacha. To ensure accuracy, all work will be reviewed to make sure it is correct and has sources.
  2. In terms of content, please stick to pure halacha. This site is not intended for Divrei Torah on the Parsha, Lumdus, or Hashkafa and certainly this is not a forum about hot topics in Judaism.
  3. Lastly, as the content is only as strong as its references, please try to source all information.

B'ezrat Hashem we will be able to create an accurate and useful resource for the average Jewish American who has access to the internet.

How to research a topic

  1. For Halachipedia it's the priority is to learn the bottom line halacha from prominent sources. Pracitcally, one can go about this several ways.
  2. One way is to read an English Halacha Book (like those put out by Artscoll and Feldheim), then summarize the most important points of each chapter, and then to find either in the footnotes or in the back of the book the source for each halacha. (If there's no way of finding the source one can just quote that English book one is reading).
  3. Another way is to intensely learn the entire sugya from the gemara, rishonim, tur, bet yosef, shulchan aruch, Magen avraham, taz, pri megadim, and other important sources and then to write the bottom line halachas. In the sources one would be highly encouraged to summarize the breakdown of the sugya and how it developed from the gemara to the bottom line.

Writing the sources

  1. A tremendous amount of the credibility of the halachas come from the sources. The stronger the sources the better the page. It's usually good to have a number of sources but it's fine to have minimal sources as long as they are quality sources.
  2. The best sources are the most accepted and famous halachic books. For example, Shulchan Aruch, Rama, Mishna Brurah, Igrot Moshe, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata, Yalkut Yosef, and VeZot HaBracha are classical great sources. However, it's not limited to that.
  3. It should go without saying that it must be a legitimate (Orthodox) posek.
  4. For writing the source of a halacha it's better to have the Mishna Brurah than the Mishna Torah (even though it's impossible to compare the Chafetz Chaim to the Rambam) simply because halacha follows the later opinions and contemporary poskim.
  5. What about an oral source? For now Halachipedia's policy is not to accept oral rulings of a posek by word of mouth unless it is documented in a book, published website, or the oral ruling can be found in a shuir that's online. However, we will not accept a user's word that a certain posek said something because there's too much room for error and other issues.
  6. If you don't have access to Seforim don't worry, there's plenty of free seforim online b"h. Here's a listing of a few:

Ashkenazic versus Sephardic

Halachipedia is meant to serve both Ashkenazim and Sephardim and anyone else too. Ideally every halacha should include sources that reflect the Sephardic and Ashkenazic opinions. However, for now one should just put up what one is able to and if one only wants to learn Mishna Brurah do that and someone else will complement that with a sephardic opinion and so too visa versa.

Halachipedia is not a posek

  1. The purpose of Halachipedia is certainly not to arbitrate between the leading contemporary poskim or pick one over the other. Rather any legitimate Orthodox accepted posek that can be sourced should be put on Halachipedia. If there's two opinions one should definitely include both opinions.
  2. In the case where there's a number of opinions, usually one should just write some say this and some say that. However, it's preferable to find a later sefer or posek that weighs the opinions.
    1. For example if Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata and Rav Moshe argue about using a Keli Shelishi then it's preferable to find a third book like Rabbi Ribiat's 39 Melachos (pg 660) who quotes the Rav Moshe as anonymous accepted opinion (meaning he writes that if one didn't make it before shabbos one can make it in a keli shelishi on shabbos) but adds the Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata as "some say" (some hold that one should not do it even if one didn't make it before shabbos).
    2. The most important thing is to be honest, have yirat shamayim, and do it Leshem Shamayim. For more information see About Halachipedia.

How to edit Halachipedia

Wiki coding is relatively simple to learn and use, but it's not always so intuitive, and so it would be a good idea to first read some very brief help guides before adding content.

Step 1: Create a New Page

  • Unlike most websites whereby you create a new page and subsequently connect the new page to the main site via a link, in a wiki you first have to create the link and then the page. When you create the link, it will be to a blank page. Then when you click on this blank page, it will give you the option of adding content, so that it’s no longer blank.
  • Therefore, the first thing to do is decide where your halachik article would belong within our topical categories as displayed on the left sidebar.
    • For instance, “The Laws of Shema” would fall within the “Prayer” category.
  • Next, you need to create the link. To do this, click the edit tab towards the top of the page. From here you’ll see a large editable text box with all sorts of strange looking coding symbols. Find where you should add your link and surround the title with double brackets
  • A red link means that it's an empty page, which you can then click on and add content

Step 2: Adding Content

  • To make a simple page, there are really only a few codes you should know
  1. Subtopics have == before and after ==
  2. Bullet points use the asterisk sign *
  3. Numbers use the pound sign #
  4. References require two things:
    1. Each individual reference needs <ref> before and </ref> afterwards
    2. And, at the very bottom of the page, you must include: ==Notes== <references/>

Here's an example:

According to scientists, the Sun is pretty big.<ref>E. Miller, The Sun, (New York: Academic Press, 2005), 23-5.</ref>
The Moon, however, is not so big.<ref>R. Smith, "Size of the Moon", Scientific American, 46 (April 1978): 44-6.</ref>


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