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Thought for the Day: Ahavas Yisrael

I had a really interesting insight into the ma'amar Chazal "eizer k'negdo: zoche, eizer; eino zoche k'negdo" this morning on the ride in to work.  I also realized something beautiful about "yagati u'matzati".  But it has to wait.  I feel compelled to publicize footnote 80 to the second perek in Halichos Shlomo on T'fila.  I would advise anyone who has any contact whatsoever with Jews who are not frum to learn that footnote.  The halacha that references this footnote is that if one discovers that his head was not covered during davening, he need not repeat shmone esrei.  Ho hum, you say.  That's what I thought.  There are lots of goodies in those footnotes, but when I looked down and saw that footnote 80 took up an entire page and continued to the next, my inclination was to skip it.  Instead, I stayed later in bais medrash this morning to learn it and then review it; and now teach it.

The issue is what to do about offering food to a Jew who doesn't make brachos.  We all know that "mishum eivah" (to avoid hatred/anger) we give food even to Jews who don't make brachos.  Yada yada; what's the issue?  The issue is that by doing that we are being machshil our fellow Jew in eating without making a bracha.  Worse, if it is bread, we are being machshil him in eating bread with tamei hands.  Obviously, eivah beats out putting a stumbling block like that out.  The way R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach put it is: being machshil another Jew in eating without a bracha is obviously less of an offense than being machshil him in "sinas yisrael" (also an issur d'oraisa), the same way it is permitted and even meritorious for a doctor to cut off a finger to save the hand.  Did you ever think of the stakes as being that high?  I surely didn't.  Obviously you cut off a finger to save a hand... but no one would make the decision before being sure he had exhausted all possibilities of saving both.

R' Auerbach, who himself is famous for his ahavas yisrael, was very machmir on himself to avoid this pitfall.  He would try talking to the Jew in different ways to make him realize how important it was.  He recommends not bringing desserts and whatnot to a place where you will be put in a position of having to offer food to a non-frum Jew.  By the way, R' Auerbach notes that "mishum eivah" means he will feel animosity toward the Torah HaK'dosha and all those who learn and observe it.  If your friend/relative will just be angry with you, that's not a heter.  It might be uncomfortable for you, but discomfort is no heter for transgressing the Torah.  (Being machshil another Jew, even in transgressing a d'rabanan, even though he is b'shogeig, is still an issur d'oraisa for the perpetrator.)

Real ahavas yisrael does not mean avoiding uncomfortable situations.  It does mean appreciating the real gravity of transgressing the Torah and accepting uncomfortable situations to save a fellow Jew even when he doesn't appreciate it.


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