Can "we" expand upon or interpret Torah?
Choosing between competing values or "mitzvot."
Townsman: He's right and he is right, how can they both be right?
Tevye: You know, you are also right!
(ד) וְלָמָּה מַזְכִּירִין אֶת דִּבְרֵי שַׁמַּאי וְהִלֵּל לְבַטָּלָה, לְלַמֵּד לַדּוֹרוֹת הַבָּאִים שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא אָדָם עוֹמֵד עַל דְּבָרָיו, שֶׁהֲרֵי אֲבוֹת הָעוֹלָם לֹא עָמְדוּ עַל דִּבְרֵיהֶם:
(4) And why do they record the opinions of Shammai and Hillel for naught? To teach the following generations that a man should not [always] persist in his opinion, for behold, the fathers of the world did not persist in their opinion.
The appearance of impropriety, even where there is no transgression, must be taken into account when choosing how to observe Jewish law.
Where there is doubt as to the facts, leniency is allowed for the sake of a person's well-being; such as the "widow" of a man who is missing.
What about minority opinions?
The Mishnayot in Eduyot 1:5–6 teach us the following:
5. And why do they [the Masters of the Mishna] record the opinion of the individual against that of the majority, whereas the halakha [ruling] may only be according to the opinion of the majority? That, if a court approves the opinion of the individual, it may rely upon him…
6. R. Yehudah said: If so, why do they record the opinion of the individual against that of the majority when it does not prevail? That, if one shall say [i.e., at a later date], "I have received such a tradition," another may answer, "You did not hear it [except] as the opinion of such a one.”
In the Tosefta (Eduyot 1:4), we read:
The halakha is always in accordance with the opinion (divrei) of the majority; the opinion of the individual, as opposed to that of the majority, is only cited to be rejected. R. Yehudah says: The opinion of the individual, as opposed to that of the majority, is cited lest there be an hour of need, and they can rely upon it. The Rabbis said: The opinion of the individual, as opposed to that of the majority, is cited so that when one says “it is pure” and the other says “it is impure,” this says “it is impure in accordance with the view of R. Eliezer,” they reply to him, “the ruling is in accordance with the tradition of R. Eliezer.”
The Mishnah rules that the minority view can be used by a more senior beit din, while the Tosefta says that it can be used to make changes in the law when there is an hour of need.
To determine the application of halachah, we might turn to an authoritative figure for counsel or resolution.
Making decisions about the application of law can only be made by an individual who is a Torah scholar. This begs the question, who is a Torah scholar?