responsa (reh-SPOHN-suh) listen


  • n. Written decisions and legal rulings by rabbis appointed to be legal deciders.

Example Sentences

  • Since the Torah does not mention it, rabbis had to write a responsum on whether or not it was okay for a flag of Israel to be on the bima.

  • "Responsa literature has its roots in the Geonic period (8 th century), and it continues to be written to this very day. By the year 2000, over 5,600 volumes - comprising over half a million rabbinic responsa - had been published." (source)

Languages of Origin

  • Textual Hebrew
  • English
  • Latin


  • Responsum is Latin for answer, parallel to Hebrew teshuva.

    • Who Uses This

      • Religious: Jews who are engaged in religious observance and have some Jewish education
      • Religious


      • North America
      • Great Britain
      • South Africa
      • Australia / New Zealand


      • The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001).
      • Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).


  • singular responsum. Hebrew she'elot u-teshuvot (questions and answers), abbreviated as shu"t / shutim.

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