One example of this is here, but I have seen several.

If the questioner is asking B, presuming A, could a valid answer be that A is incorrect?

3 Answers 3


Yes, but only if the asker's presumption of A actually affects B. For example, suppose someone asked:

I know kidush l'vana (said each month in the first half of the month) cannot under any circumstances be said indoors. Suppose someone cannot get outdoors for medical reasons. Can he fulfill his obligation by listening to another through an open door and saying amen?

And someone answered:

You're incorrect that it cannot be said indoors. He can look out a window at the moon and say it that way.

That's not an answer. The question was whether the homebound person can fulfill his obligation by listening to another. This answer doesn't address that.

But suppose someone asked:

I know Yom Kipur has never been Friday. Why, then, does Source X, which is always practical, discuss what happened when Yom Kipur would be Friday?

And someone answered:

Actually, Yom Kipur was Friday in year Z, before we had our fixed calendar.

That'd be a great answer. It refutes the presumption in such a way that makes the question disappear.

Moreover, consider the question you link to in your question:

I understand you can't say Tehilim at night. Can you say Tehilim between shkiah and tzeits hakochavim (ben hashmashot)? or does it have to be said before shkiah?

Suppose someone answered:

You're incorrect that you can't say T'hilim at night. The question you link to only discusses learning T'hilim at night. I've found no one who holds you can't say T'hilim at night, and Sources A, B, and C say you can do so. Therefore, you can certainly do so during ben hash'mashos.

That'd be a great answer. It not only refutes the presumption so the question disappears (as the Yom Kipur answer did): it even answers the question.

  • 1
    What do you think of Q: I know I can't have Kitniyot on Pesach. Is [plant] included? A: Actually, the Mechaber permits all Kitniyot to be eaten on Pesach. or of this answer?
    – Double AA Mod
    Sep 9, 2014 at 4:22
  • 4
    @DoubleAA, the asker clearly has a different tradition, one which the answerer knows about and is disingenuously ignoring. Disingenuousness gets my downvote. Contrast the Psalms Q I discuss here, where the asker's "tradition" (source) is linked to in the question and can be refuted (and the refutation is thorough, saying the answerer couldn't find any such rule and three sources say otherwise).
    – msh210 Mod
    Sep 9, 2014 at 5:00
  • 1
    I think the Kiddush Levana one should be an answer. The question could be seen as basically a "problem-solving" question, where the asker has suggested a possible solution. The answerer, by undermining the assumption, as provided another solution. If the question would be more like: "Can you be yotzei Kiddush Levana by answering amen, if you can't say it yourself. (For example, if you can't get outside)" then no, it wouldn't be an answer.
    – HodofHod
    Sep 9, 2014 at 21:06
  • @msh210 DoubleAA's theoretical answer could be made more genuine by pointing out normative practice. "R' Yosef Karo permits all Kitniyot, but in normative practice, only Sefardi Jews follow this ruling, unless there are other extenuating circumstances"
    – Jake
    Sep 11, 2014 at 7:12

Yes. But it is not a great answer if there are opinions that A is indeed valid.

  • At which point, it becomes a partial answer ;)
    – MTL
    Sep 8, 2014 at 18:03
  • @Shokhet, a very weak one, though, as presumably the asker is asking according to the other opinions. (I guess it'd depend on the particular question's wording.)
    – msh210 Mod
    Sep 8, 2014 at 18:04

A specific case I assume we can all agree on in which it is not an answer:

Q: Commentary A says Y. How does this fit with Z?

A: Commentary B argues with commentary A.

In this case, the question is not on the assumption of Y. It is asked in the context of the fact that A says Y. There is no value in negating the given premise of the question.

  • Really I would be happy if @msh210 would add this into his answer and I'll just delete mine (assuming he agrees to the point). Nov 17, 2014 at 20:03
  • You're allowed to edit, you know.
    – Scimonster
    Nov 17, 2014 at 20:06
  • 3
    @Scimonster I'm not going to edit someone's +7 answer with something that they have never said or indicated. Nov 17, 2014 at 20:07
  • This is not the case described by the op because the answer doesnt claim commentary A is wrong.
    – Double AA Mod
    Nov 17, 2014 at 22:34
  • @DoubleAA It attempts to invalidate A by saying it isn't accepted. If you'd rather this be a separate "question" I'm happy to do so - I only posted it because of several noted occurrences of this type of "answer" Nov 18, 2014 at 0:10
  • 1
    @YeZ If B says "A isn't right about Y because of Z" then I think that's a good answer. If B just claims something besides Y then B is not claiming anything about A.
    – Double AA Mod
    Nov 18, 2014 at 3:38
  • @YeZ re your comment that should've pinged me (but didn't): I agree with your sentiment here but am happy to leave it separate, as it's not the sort if thing I was getting at in the other answer.
    – msh210 Mod
    Nov 18, 2014 at 13:38
  • @DoubleAA even if B says "A isn't right about Y because of Z", that doesn't answer the question asked, which is "what will A say about Z." A doesn't no longer say Y because B pointed out Z. Rashi doesn't become not Rashi if the Ramban asked a kasha and said he is wrong. It would still be valid to ask what Rashi holds. Nov 18, 2014 at 19:42
  • @YeZ judaism.stackexchange.com/a/50580/759
    – Double AA Mod
    Dec 17, 2014 at 23:22

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