Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Incurring a Small Issur to Save Another Jew From a Large Issur

Tis the season to be nervous about issurim.  We are are running around getting rid of chameitz and selling chameitz...and even sellling chameitz for Jew who might not otherwise sell their chameitz.  How does that work?  There is a general principle of "zoche adam sh'lo b'fanav" -- you are allowed to do something for another Jew even without his knowledge and it even works as long as it is a benefit for him.  For example, you want to create an eruv in your apartment building, so you can have one person acquire a portion of the eruv for each of the other Jews in the building.  It is clearly a benefit to all to have the eruv, so it works.

However, when selling another Jew's chameitz, not everything is too his benefit.  First of all, the Torah takes the chameitz away from him on Pesach, so we know with certainty that he would want you to act as his agent to sell if he understood the situation.  But he doesn't, so he didn't.  You saved him from kares, but turned him into a theif every time he eats the chameitz that he thinks is his but now belongs to the goy.  You also saved him and other Jews from eating "chameitz sh'avar alav pesach" after the holiday.  It's a good trade, on balance.

Here's a horrifying situation that uses the same principle.  Some years ago several Jewish women were captured, Rachmana Latzlan, by Arabs and forced to marry Arab husbands.  One of them had a boy and made a decision to save his soul: she had his hand tattooed with a Magen David.  She reasoned that he would not be able to find an Arab girl to marry him with that on his hand, and he would probably even be afraid to let anyone know about it.  She didn't ask anyone, of course, but he decision was correct; he may not be able to find a Jewish wife, but he won't be lost among the Arabs, either.

After discussing that case, R' Fuerst related that he bad been called in the 70s by Aish HaTorah; they had a service offering to make shiduchim among non-frum Jews; they wanted to know if they could leave the answering machine on to field calls on Shabbos.  He said, "Who said you can have such a service in the first place?  The Nodeh b'Yehuda says it is assur to make shidduchim between non-frum Jews because of lo sitein michshol lifnei iver -- you are putting them in a situation where they will be transgressing an issur kares every time they live together!"  They went back their rosh yeshiva, R' Noach Weinberg.  He, in turn, sent them back to R' Fuerst to ask R' Moshe.  R' Moshe paskened that it was mutar in our generation because if they don't marry someone Jewish, they will surely marry a goy.  Much better to transgress even an issur kares their entire life than to lose their entire soul and be swallowed up among the goyim.

Im Yirtze HaShem, such problem will only be historical anachronisms soon, and in our lifetime.

Comments

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: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…