Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: When Actions That May Engender Unintended Consequences Are Not Permitted

Another chidush (to me) from the 2011 CCK Yarchei Kallah.

There is a general principle that actions which may incur unintended consequences (eino miskavein) that are not inevitable (not a p'sik reisha) are permitted on Shabbos.  The classic example (as has been mentioned) is dragging a light bench across hard packed soil.  Dragging the bench in that case is "mutar l'chatchila"; there is no need to even try to avoid the dragging by getting someone to help you carry the bench.

On the other hand, one is not allowed to put a kettle of cold water on a fire to take the chill off, because if left too long the heat would be enough to bring the water to "yad soledes bo" (hot enough to be considered cooking on Shabbos).  R' Zucker asked: why should this be forbidden?  After all, my only intent is to warm the water (which is permitted, even l'chatchila) and it is not inevitable that I will forget to take it off on time to prevent it from coming to yad soledes bo.  At first glance this would seem to be a classic case of a davar sh'eino miskavein that is not a p'sik reisha and should be mutar l'chatchila (sorry for sounding a bit yeshivisha shprachish).

R' Zucker answered that you can only call something an unintended consequence when there are multiple consequences.  When I drag the bench, two things happens: (1) the bench is moved, and (2) a furrow is possibly created.  In that case I have a right to choose which of the (multiple) consequences I intended.  In the case of the kettle. however, I did not end up with both lukewarm and hot water; I got either lukewarm or hot water.  When there is only one consequence, I cannot say I intended a different consequence than what ended up actually happening.  In the case of only one consequence, we are forbidden to even start the activity even of it would be possible to avoid coming to an issur.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…