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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Mattos, Bamidbar 30:16: Causing Others to Sin. And The Converse; A Salute to Lubavitch PR

וְאִם-הָפֵר יָפֵר אֹתָם אַחֲרֵי שָׁמְעוֹ וְנָשָׂא אֶת-עֲו‍ֹנָהּ
And if he will erase/revoke her oath after hearing it, he will bear her sin.
The Sifri, brought by Rashi, explains that a husband has the right to revoke his wife's oaths, but only if he does not validate them first.  Once he validated her oath, any subsequent revocation is ineffective, and the oath stands.  The passuk is talking about the following case:  A husband had, unbeknownst to his wife, validated her oath.  He later told her that he revokes her oath.  Trusting her husband, she blithely transgressed her oath.  In this case, the husband bears the sin of transgressing an oath.  Rashi's words (from the Sifrei) are
אחרי שמעו: אחרי ששמע וקיים, שאמר אפשי בו, וחזר והפר לה אפילו בו ביום
After having heard them: After he heard and upheld [them], by saying,“I approve of it” and then he (spuriously and duplicitously) retracted and revoked it, even on that very day. 

ונשא את עונה: הוא נכנס תחתיה. למדנו מכאן שהגורם תקלה לחבירו הוא נכנס תחתיו לכל עונשין
He shall bear her iniquity: He takes her place. We learn from here that if someone causes his fellow to stumble, he bears his punishments in his place. 

We are familiar with the halacha of Lifnei Iveir, that we are not to place a stumbling block in the path of a person, that we are fobidden to enable a person to commit an aveira. Our passuk, however, is no mere reiteration of Lifnei Iveir. The consequence of Lifnei Iveir is that the transgressor of Lifnei Iveir is punished for his transgression.  (He doesn’t get actual malkos for Lifnei Iveir, because it’s too general of a prohibition, but he is guilty of a malkos-level sin—it’s a chiyuv malkos without actual malkos.) The consequence of our passuk is that the villain- in addition to the chiyuv malkos- gets whatever the innocent person would have gotten had he/she done the sin intentionally.   Here, where the punishment of transgressing an oath is far more serious than that of a regular biblical prohibition, the husband suffers the extremely serious punishment of transgressing an oath.  If you're machshil a person on a lav, you have two lavim: Lifnei Iver and the lav the other was oiver.  A person that's machshil on chayvei krisos gets the lav of Lifnei Iver and is also chayav kareis.

Why is this law stated specifically in the context of the laws of oaths?  If this is a universal rule, it should have been stated generically, as was Lifnei Iveir- a michshol, any stumbling block.  What is the connection to nedarim?

The first thing that comes to mind is the unique status the husband has here.  While in dinim of issur and hetter a solitary witness is trusted, this only true where the doubt is whether an object is muttar or assur.  But if is'chazik issura, where the issur existed and the question is whether the issur had been removed, a solitary witness is not trusted.  Why, then, can the wife trust her husband?  Why doesn't he need proof that he had not validated her neder before he was meifir?  After all, it was ischazik issura!  And don't tell me that when he is meifir it's retroactive, because first of all, that doesn't take off the ischazik right now, and secondly, only the Rambam holds that it's retroactive by a husband's hafara.  The answer is that it is Beyado: he had, at one point, the power in his hands to validate or revoke the neder.  Beyado gives him greater legal credibility, like by niddah. 

But more than that:  The fact that the Torah gives him the right to revoke not only implies that his word can be trusted.  The Torah is specifically telling the wife that she should trust him.

So, it seems to me that the Sifrei's rule has limited application.  Merely trusting an eid echad does not necessarily transfer liability from actor to inducer.  If the eid echad is lying, then the actor was wrong in trusting him, and it is a shogeg.  The inducer would transgress lifnei iver and nothing more.  Only here, where the Torah explicitly says that the wife should trust her husband, would the punishment for her acts be transferred to her husband.  This is even stronger than two witnesses (see Noda Be'Yehuda YD II 96); here, the Torah gives him ba'alus and ne'emanus on her nedarim and says she should trust him when he says he was meifir.

The Rambam in 10 Kilayim 1 says that a person who dresses another in a garment that contains Shatnez gets Malkos; not because of lifnei iveir, which is too broad a lahv, but for the actual lahv of Shatnez.  The Nosei Keilim say that the Rambam learned Lo silbash=Lo salbish where the wearer is shogeg.  But the Oneg Yomtov YD 96 says that the Rambam is basing his rule on the concept of Shliach lidvar aveira.  The Oneg Yomtov then deals with issues of "vechi zeh chotei ve'zeh mischayeiv," from Kiddushin 43, and the Shach in CM 348:6 that paskens not like Tosfos Bava Kamma 79 who holds that by a shliach shogeg, yeish shliach lidvar aveira.) But with our derech in the Sifrei, we can say that the Rambam was working with the Chiddush of Nedarim; where you are the cause of the aveira beshogeg- not just that you were machshil, you were mamash the cause, like the difference between grama and garmi, although this is not really a garmi- you take the place of the victim.  The Torah told the woman she should trust her husband; if he is machshil her, he is being malbish her the kilayim, and he stands in her place.  (This is not only mine.  I've seen it in several achronim, though I think I might be saying it a little better.)

With this, we understand why this halacha was stated in the parsha of Nedarim.  The parsha of Nedarim teaches us a continuum of liability.  Where the husband revoked the wife's neder, and she didn't know that the neder was no longer operative, and she transgressed what she thought was a live neder, the Torah says "ve'Hashem yislach lah," that she needs slicha for doing what she thought was assur, even if it actually was muttar.  On the other end of the spectrum, if a woman was tricked into thinking that what she was doing was muttar, but it was actually assur, she is considered blameless and her husband bears the sin as if he had done it be'meizid.

I just saw the Chasam Sofer on the parsha, who, I am happy to say, makes several of my points.  He begins by saying that if this is a general rule, why is it stated davka in the parsha of nedarim.  He answers with the Rambam that the Ran brings in Nedarim 15a (wrongly cited as 14 in my Chasam Sofer).  The Ran DH Halcha Asura brings the Rambam in 10 Nedarim 12 that if Reuven assers his object to Shimon, and then Reuven gives the object to Shimon to eat, Reuven is over Bal Yacheil.  The Ran, and everyone else, argues with the Rambam (See Kli Chemda, this week's parsha, toward the end of the first #8, p. 259, DH Ubechidusheinu).  But the point is that according to the Rambam, the noder is over on Bal Yacheil even if he gave the food to the mudar and the mudar ate it.  And, he says, from the fact that a husband can be sho'el on his hakama, we see that hakama is a kind of neder, as if , in a manner of speaking, the husband made his wife's neder.  So, he says, since the husband who is me'kayeim is called the noder, if he gives it to her to eat, he's over on ba'al yachel.  Strangely, though, the Chasam Sofer ends by saying that this would be true even if she knew he was mekayeim.  If that's true, then he's not saying pshat in the Sifrei, because the Sifrei is talking about a case where the wife didn't know he was mekayeim.

And, thank you Eli, I looked at the Kli Chemda #5 (p 276) on this passuk.  1.  He brings the Ramban here that there are two chiddushim in the Sifrei: A. that the woman is not only pattur, she's not even a shogeges: She's like an anusa.  B. That the husband is like a person who made a neder and transgressed it.  2. He brings the Rambam in Kilayim that I brought above, and another Rambam that a person that is metamei an unwitting Kohen is chayav malkos for his tumah.  3. He is mechavein to the Oneg Yomtov (he didn't see the Oneg Yomtov, obviously) about Shliach lidvar aveira, and 4. ends up saying that the Rambam's rule applies to all aveiros that are inherently sins, as opposed to sins that have a component of intent.  You have to see it inside.

So, Chaim B argued that to so drastically limit Rashi/Sifrei to specific cases undermines the whole point of the mussar haskeil.  I agree with Chaim, and I say that pashut pshat in Rashi is that this is a broad concept.  After all, the lashon is "hagorem takala lechaveiro," not "hamadir" lechaveiro. .  How broad, though, is debatable.  Even in Rashi, certainly in the Rambam, this is not a yesod in kol hatorah kulah.

Having spoken about the result of causing others to sin, here's a video from Lubavitch Cape Town.  Their work is to bring people to Yiddishkeit.  My father zatzal told me that after World War II, many Jews were trapped in the Soviet Union.  If a person needed a bris millah, or kosher meat, or a kesuva, there was one option, and only one: find a Lubavitcher.   As far as the Aguda, Mizrachi, Satmar, and Hebrew Union College were involved, you would remain an Arel eating neveilos in the house with a woman you weren't married to.  I am not criticizing those groups, chalila.  Organizational Groups are only representatives of the many individuals, and they were busy surviving and building a foundation of Torah life after the war.  But the fact remains that Lubavitch took on both jobs and handled them well.  Only Lubavitch.  Whether you like their theology or not, you have to salute their unquenchable enthusiasm and mesirus nefesh, and the myriad chasadim they have done for so many abandoned Jews.  It seems to me that if you kill an animal because of takala vekalon, then kal vachomer you're chayav to be makir tov for such gemillus chasadim.

Background to the video:  here and here.


Chaim B. said...

>>>should have been stated generically,

But it is -- that's the point of the conclusion, "hagoreim takalah..." If this is a special din in hafaras nedarim you lose the musar haskel.

>>>Why, then, can the wife trust her husband?

Who says she is? Maybe she heard his hafarah but not the retraction.

I love the video.

B said...

Yes, that's exactly what I was aiming at. We pasken that a person that listens to Beis Din Hagadol and does chayvei krisos is chayav a korban. If he's chayav a korban, I can't believe that the Beis Din is chayav like a meizid. So the Noda Beyehuda in his teshuvos says that a person that's someich on a lying eid echad is called a shogeg, same with a Beis Din mut'eh; a lying eid is not an eid, and an erroneous psak is not a psak. But if you're somech on a Rove, you're called onus, because the Rove is a true Rove even if it didn't correctly point to the truth in this particular case. Assuming all that, why would a gorem be chayav, if the innocent party is called a shogeg? So I had to say that a husband is not just an eid echad; the Torah tells her that she should rely on him; so she's an onus, and it makes sense that he's chayav like a meizid on baal yacheil.

I know that my postulates may be wrong. I assumed that only a gorem of an onus can be chayav, but it could be that a gorem of a shogeg is also chayav.

And yes, according to me the mussar haskeil is weakened. Remember the article in Eretz Yisrael, where they asked Rav Eliashiv if Kupat Ha'ir could print untrue miracle stories about people who gave money to them, and he allegedly said it's ok, whatever encourages people to give to Kupat Ha'ir is fine? Same thing with the Sifrei.

Chaim B. said...

>>>I can't believe that the Beis Din is chayav like a meizid

Why are you jumping from goren takalah to meizid? Moral culpability does not equal deliberate intent.

B said...

First of all, the Noda Beyehuda I'm talking about is Tinyana YD 96, which, I believe, every Jewish boy and girl should know.

As for meizid, of course you're right. I was mixing Horios with the Sifrei. Of course, where the Beis Din goofed, even if they're called gorem takala, they would not be chayav like meizidim. All I meant was that if the victim was chayav as a shogeg, I don't believe you can also be mechayeiv the gorem anything at all. We have to focus on one person, and it's an either/or. Only where the victim is an ONUS can you redirect liability to the gorem.

Anonymous said...

You write: "Whether you like their theology or not, you have to salute their unquenchable enthusiasm and mesirus nefesh, and the myriad chasadim they have done for so many abandoned Jews."

You can not just hand-wave over the theology issue. Lubavitch teaches some pretty problematic things. Including:

1- Non-Jews are basically tomei animals that are capable of thought. According to the very first chapter of the Tanya, non-Jews do not have the soul that God breathed into Adam. Their souls come from k'lipois t'meiois, placing them on a lower level than those of cows, sheep or deer. They are only capable of being good when it serves their own interests.

2- The generation's rebbe, from Moshe to the last Lubavitcher rebbe, was "the substance and essence of god placed in a body". This isn't some post-messianic craziness dreamed up during a leadership vacuum, Rabbi Shneerson described his predecessor and father-in-law in those words in 1951.

3- Then of course, there is the whole messianism campaign, which also began all the way back with claims about the previous rebbe, before Rabbi Shneerson became rebbe, decades before his stroke and loss of control.

Would you give credit where due to a Mormon group that was there whenever Jews needed them, helping out -- and preaching their idolatry?

Lubachitch teaches about a dead messiah who is god himself and can also raise you into godhood. Its theology is more Mormon (and I saw one person suggest in a blog comment Buddhist) than Jewish.

micha said...

Does anyone count this pasuq among the Taryag? If not, perhaps this actually is lifnei iveir, and the pasuq here is adding the extent of the onesh, rather than a new issur.

In general, though, I'm nervous about taking statements about oneshin biydei Shamayim too literally. We don't even know what they are, not being able to imagine what existence of a soul in shamayim is like. And HQBH doesn't just judge actions, He is the bochein qelayos valeiv. Who knows what all these maamarei chazal really mean?


B said...

Anonymous 2:05- Why blame the ba'al hatanya for something he got out of Reb Chaim Vital? And specifically, the Lubavitchers are the ones that are always quoting the Tosfos Yomtov in Avos about Chaviv Adam shenivra be'tzelem applying to gentiles (when they're criticized for their Mivtza Sheva Mitzvos Bnei No'ach). I always say you can't judge a religious group on what their books say- you have to assess their behavior. Just like the Communist constitution- a fine document it was.

As for hthe mashiach thing, when I mentioned to Reb Moshe that Lubavitchers were saying the Rebbe was the Moshiach, he answered vz'l "alevai."

Yes, I know that weird hashkafa and general weirdness runs rampant in that group, and always has. But I love them anyway, at least from a distance. Their shittos are not as distant from normative frumkeit as some shittos among the Tanaim and Amoraim were from each other.

Anonymous said...

But somehow the Vilna Gaon managed to understand the Pri Eitz Chayim differently. The Tanya's understanding of the Pri Etz Chayim isn't Rav Chayim Vital's nor the Ari Hakadosh's fault. He took a statement about the effects of idolatry and ignorance of true holiness on the soul and turned it into a statement about the make up of the non-Jew.

I also notice you skipped the whole deification of the rebbe piece, the second example on my list.

B, what I see from your response is that you care more about the rote movement of the limbs than the religion itself. What Dr. Berger called "the scandal of Orthodox Indifference."

They are much further from Jewish beliefs than "some shittos among the Tanaim and Amoraim were from each other". No tana declared his rebbe to be God Incarnate, repeating the mistake of the Golden Calf by worshiping Moses' replacement instead of G-d. How can a Jew hear these words and not shudder? How dare anyone make excuses for idolatry, just because they happen to keep kosher too?

B said...

You're right; I do tend to respect action more than allegation. I think that ideas are ephemeral and ethereal, and even to the biggest adukim ultimately ambiguous. I think people lie to themselves all the time. I think that we all knowingly and willingly defraud ourselves. But I think there's a deeper level of thought that is more honest, that that level of thought is so profound and true that it is avoided by the conscious mind, that is so demanding and clear that it blinds the eye of the conscious mind. It is that level of thought that is expressed through behavior.

So bekitzur, yes, to some extent I respect behavior more than expressions of credo. Or, more precisely, I think that behavior is the only reliable expression of credo.

B said...

Despite the superficial irony of contravening pure reason by means of logic, I do feel that way. But I have to admit that all divrei kabala make me queasy to different degrees, so I've never developed a feel for which ones cross the line between queasiness and minus. I'm not proudn of it: I'm not saying I disrespect it, Chas Veshalom. I'm not a min. I just never learned it, and to the uneducated reader, it is very disturbing.

Eli said...

Do you really mean to say that the Machshil (in cases where he is to be trusted, like here) is חייב מלקות ? What about Rambam De'ot 6:9 ? (True, Reb Elchanan, Kovetz He'arot 48:9 who uses נתפס בעון to imply יהרג ואל יעבור, but it seems he does not distinguish between נתפס and לפני עור)

However, see and his analogy from Rambam Kil'ayim.

Also, see Mizrahi (Pasuk 13) -
so maybe Nader is also one of the exceptions.

Eli said...

that's נדר, not Ralph Nader

B said...

Eli, I need pirush le'pirusho. I didn't see everything you brought down, but I did see the Rambam in Deios, which is a weak tzushtell. There is a Rambam that says befeirush that a machshil of a shogeg is ne'enash the aveira of the victim. But I don't remember where it is. And the Ibn Ezra brought in the Mizrachi is very interesting! I'll look at the rest this Shabbos bl'n. Yasher Koach.

Eli said...

what I meant to suggest is that a-priori I would have said נכנס תחתיה does not mean Chiuv Malkos etc, just like we don't take the Rambam De'ot literally to that extent.

However, I saw on Shabbos that the Kli Hemda brings up this possibility. Also, I now see there are cases where the Machshil gets Malkos (Rambam Kil'ayim, and Tumas Kohen - are these what you referred to ?), and also the Mizrahi, so maybe Nader is one of these exceptions (but I would still claim these are all exceptions, with a Limud for each, albeit the source for Rambam regarding Tumas Kohen is controversial).

BTW, Rashi brings the Sifri נכנס תחתיו לכל עונשין, but our Girsa is מוכנס תחתיה לעוון.

BTW 2, I read into the Ramban that the Hidush here is that she is not considered even Shogeg [and here we may use your Chidush and say this is because Torah gives him the authority, unlike a regular Ed Echad case], so one might as well say as far as he is considered, it's just the same as any Machshil.