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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.


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