AI Paskening Halacha

Ask the Rov: Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is trained in halacha be relied upon?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah

Aside from the fact that AI is in its early stages and makes many errors, there are several reasons why AI could not replace real rabbonim.

To pasken halacha, one must know three things: (1) The halachic sources from the Gemara down to the poskim; (2) the details of the shaila; and (3) how to apply the halacha to the particular situation, the circumstance (l’chatchila, b’dievedsh’as hadchak), and the observance level of the one asking (the shoiel).

While AI can help collect information, it is limited in its ability to know and assess the questioner’s level. Even with previous technologies — phone or text — rabbonim have been reluctant to answer certain shailos without knowing the shoiel since much of a psak depends on the situation of the one asking.1 (In fact, rabbonim would often give conflicting psakim on the same shaila based on different situations.)

Much of psak is transmitted as a mesorah from rav to talmid and absorbed through shimush (internship), and each community has its own mesorah. Furthermore, when forming a psak, a rov will sometimes combine various shitos, even those not ordinarily relied upon, and a rov must be trained in the nuance of which shitos are used and which are not.2

Whenever something is assumed to be prohibited, a kosher witness (eid echad) is needed to inform us that it is kosher. Similarly, when an item is in question, we need a living rov to permit it. Even if AI will prohibit, it is wrong to prohibit unnecessarily and a leniency can sometimes result in a related scenario (chumra d’asi lidei kula).

More significantly: The Torah instructs us to bring halachic questions before the dayanim living “in your days,” as the Torah was given to am Yisroel whose Torah leaders have the power to decide halacha.3 We also find that the function of communicating the Torah’s ruling was given to Moshe Rabbeinu who transmitted the word of Hashem.4 This can only be done by a neshama in a body, not a smart computer.

When an upstanding and G-d fearing rov paskens shaila, he is given siyata dishmaya, heavenly assistance to rule correctly. The Rebbe would relate a story about the Noda Biyehuda who was challenged as a young rov, and he answered every shaila correctly except for one that was fabricated, for which he did not have siyata dishmaya.5 For this reason, shailos must be brought before a rov yerei Shomayim, not just a knowledgeable person or computer.

See Sources (open PDF)

From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash

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