When Do We Learn From Eliyahu HaNavi?

Day 2 – Berachos 3

The Gemara tells a story of Rav Yosi who once went to daven in a ruin in Jerusalem as he was travelling. He met Eliyahu HaNavi who, amongst other things, told him off. From this he learned that one should not daven in a ruin, and if one is travelling and needs to daven he should say an abridged Tefila.

What is interesting here is that there is a general rule that the Torah is “לא בשמים היא”, It is not in the heavens (See Shabbos 108a in Rashi). We do not make halachos based on what we hear from heavenly voices or angels or other mystical characters such as Eliyahu Hanavi. So, why did Rav Yosi institute these Halachos after his discussion with Eliyahu?

Rav Elyashiv Zt’l explained that there is a difference as to how Eliyahu appeared; if he came and appeared as an angel, we do not learn from him. However, if he came and appeared as a human, he is like any other Talmid Chacham and we may learn from him.

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