Rabbinic responses to questions of Jewish law enrich the body of Halakhic literature.
It has to be appreciated that Respondents were not appointed by any kind of official body. A Rabbi was qualified to act as a Respondent simply because his peers looked upon him as a reliable authority. Needless to say, Respondents often differed in their decisions, so that there are to be found debates between Respondents, often conducted with vehemence: for example, on the question of whether machine manufactured matzah can be used for Passover or whether it must it be baked by hand.
Responsa have been published not only by Orthodox Rabbis but also by Conservative and Reform Rabbis whose Responsa reflect their particular philosophy.
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