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Bitul Daas

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#1 danceInTheRain



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Posted 17 May 2012 - 04:24 PM

I hope I make myself clear enough becuase this question is a huge mess in my brain. If clarification is needed I will give.
so here goes:
There are two people that I respect very much in my life and both have a very diffrent perspective on daas torah and I need some help deciding who's perspective to follow
person number 1- find a Rav and follow him blindly whether you understand him or not.
person number 2- quotes Rabbi Avigdor Miller and claims that a person should never be mivatel his daas. the pasuk "viasita kichal asher yorucha" pertains only to the sanhedrin but since now a days there is no sanhedrin this does not apply and a person should be mivatel his daas only when he has no daas- when he does not know what to do, he should go and ask. every person should try to purify his own daas so that his own daas torah will grow.
according to opinion number 1 a person STILL MUST use his daas in order to find his rav. so what happens then?once he finds the rav he makes that leap of faith? so Hashem gave us our daas just so that we should find who to ask and not to see if those answers make sense??
on the other hand opinion number 2 is not fool proof either because maybe a person will think he knows and has the "daas" when really he doesnt.
I NEED to get to the bottom of this becuase this question is bothering me non stop. I go to sleep with it, wake up with it, eat with it and go to work with it.

#2 Rabbi Shapiro

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Posted 24 May 2012 - 06:58 PM

The issue that you are referring to as "bitul daas" has nothing to do with the Posuk of וְשָׁמַרְתָּ לַעֲשׂוֹת כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר יוֹרוּךָ, which, for the record, Sefer HaChinuch (496) says obligates us to obey the Gedolim of each generation.

Your issue is much simpler than that. It is an issue of common sense, not Halacha.

Let's say you're a 5th grader playing ball during recess, and you fall and dislocate your shoulder. They call Hatzolah and a doctor comes, says your shoulder is dislocated, and proceeds to try to snap it back in place.

It hurts, when someone tries to re-locate a shoulder. A lot.

So you decide not to be Mevatel your Daas. You say you don't want to let the doctor cause you this pain because first of all, doctors are not infallible and they could make mistakes. Plus, you learned in 5th grade from totally reliable sources, that pain is the body's way of telling you something is not right. In fact, you saw that in a medical book written by someone who is a much greater medical expert than this local Hatzolah doctor here. And the fact that his treatment is causing you pain indicates that his procedure is not correct.

You also know for a fact that doctors have messed people's lives up so bad that they are damaged for life, and that you read the data on malpractice insurance and you're honestly shocked at how often doctors mess up. And even when no malpractice is involved, you know they can be wrong and do damage. Plus, you heard from a friend who heard from a reliable friend that they themselves were at their doctor, and the doctor made a diagnosis, and the patient didn't believe him based on what he learned from Google, and it turned out the patient was right!

And on top of all that, did this doctor perform any tests at all on your shoulder that he can just come up with the knee-jerk reaction that took him all of 20 seconds? No X-rays, no tests, nothing. Just a shoot-from-the-hip, 20-second diagnosis that goes against everything you learned in school and against what your Sechel tells you. Should you be Mevatel Daas to this apparently careless, random stranger who knows nothing about your particular situation, did no tests, came up with his diagnosis in 20 seconds, and who is telling you something against everything you learned in school from much more reliable sources? Doctors certainly are not infallible, are they?

Now do you think your person #2 would advise the 5th grader to follow his own "Daas" against that of a professional?

Of course not. But that is because, in this case, the "Daas" of the 5th grader should tell him that the person in front of him knows much more than he does and that he should listen to what he says, even if his meager 5th grade education does not allow him to understand it. The superior skills of the doctor is part of the equation that the kid's Daas should take into consideration.

Now if this were not a 5th grader but a medical expert, he would likely disagree with the Hatzolah man if his opinion differs.

So that's "Bitul Daas." It depends on your expertise versus the one you are considering being Mevtal Daas to. And it does not mean nullifying your own thinking - it means thinking about the common sense factor of whether you should concede the argument due to the odds of the other person knowing much more about it than you do. Like the 5th grader and the doctor.

So the answer to your question is, it depends on who you are, who the Rav is, what the subject matter is and what qualifications you both have to decide on the issue. Qualifications include such things as: Knowledge (both of Torah and the Metzius), experience, analytic ability, Torah-thinking, intelligence, objectivity, intellectual honesty, and more.

So should you find a Rav and listen to whatever he says? If you can find a qualified one, then consider yourself wealthy.

I would love to have a Rav - or (L'havdil) a doctor, or a car mechanic or a lawyer or a business consultant - whose knowledge is sufficiently robust that I could follow it regardless of how things seem to me.

If Warren Buffet offered to handle my investments, I'd be happy to give him my portfolio, be Mevatel Daas to his judgement, and sleep tight. But if my next door neighbor gave me a stock tip, I'd look into it thoroughly before I invested a penny.

If I were a little kid, however, I'd probably let that adult neighbor invest my allowance, if he was trustworthy and reasonably knowledgeable. Because he would know better than me.

Bitul Daas is nothing but simple common sense, and whether to do it, in whole or in part or at all, depends on your capabilities compared to the person giving you the advice.

You may know more about yourself than the biggest Rav (or you may not), but he may be more objective than you; you may be very smart, but the other person may have much more experience; you may be ethical, but you may not know the Torah position on certain ethical matters.

So my advice to you is, find person who is qualified enough for you to be Mevatel as much of your Daas as possible to him, because it will serve you well. It is not considered a lack of independent thinking to give your portfolio to Warren Buffet to run. It is wise. So too it is not considered a lack of independent thinking to give other assets to those who can advise us on how to invest them a lot better than we can.

It would be considered a lack of thinking NOT to do it.

So the idea is not to randomly find someone and just let him make decisions for you. That would be like finding a random investor and giving him all your money to deal with. Instead, you want to find someone as skilled as you can, and then, depending on how skilled he is, give him whatever amount of your money you think would be wise, and then sleep comfortably. Of course, you want to observe and understand how the expert makes his decisions. That's how you learn.

That's Bitul Daas. And that's not any different from being a Bar Daas.