Reuven, a talmid chacham, was angry at Shimon. He therefore takes paint and writes the name of Hashem on the windshield of Reuven's car, in Hebrew, with Kavana. Shimon cannot drive his car without removing the letters. Shimon could take a razor and remove the letters without any lasting damage to the car. But it is absolutely prohibited to erase or cause the erasure of Hashem's name, pursuant to לא תעשון כן. Even indirectly causing erasure is assur, as we discussed here. So the result is that Shimon cannot drive the car, and he has to replace the windshield. Is Reuven civilly liable.
Yes, of course, Reuven's has transgressed the issur of misusing the name of Hashem, because I'm sure it falls under לא תשא את שם ה' אלוקיך לשוא, and כי לא ינקה ה' את אשר ישא את שמו לשוא, and את ה The idea is that using the name of Hashem in vain is guilty of a very serious sin. Even the lowest of the low are afraid of a false oath in the name of Hashem. And you don't have to hold that כתיבה is כדיבור to know that the issur of לשוא applies here. But I'm talking about civil liability. Shimon's inability to erase the paint that's stopping him from driving might be Shimon's problem. He chooses to not erase the Name. But Reuven can tell him, go ahead and erase it. If you don't want to, that's your problem, not mine.
Furthermore, it might be that the diminution in the value of the car is a gramma, and there is no legal recourse in cases of Grama.
In fact, Shimon could sell the car and get almost one hundred percent of its value, because the non-Jewish buyer would not hesitate to clean off the windshield. So the market value hasn't diminished at all. It is no different than stealing Chametz before Pesach and giving it back after Pesach, when it is not worth a penny, but it's called היזק שאינו ניכר, invisible damage.
We know the halacha is that if I put a lock on someone's door, and he can't get into his business, or on his house and he can't get into his house, I am only chayav by judgment by the heavenly court, but there is no civil liability that is enforceable here on Earth. Is this case the same? Does Reuven have to pay for replacing the windshield? Is it grama? Is it hezek she'eino nikkar?
Since he likes to amuse himself by saying that I am his Rav, I paskened, based in part on this teshuva from the Shoel UMeishiv, that Reuven is chayav. He asked me to put this up here and see what the oilam has to say.
Someone in Shul said that Rav Zilberstein had a similar question- some joker in Bnei Brak wrote a snide passuk in the dust on someone's car, but we don't know what the psak was.
As always, you can either write a comment or send email to me directly at eliezere
(Before you read what follows, I want to direct you to a discussion about whether the rule of אין אדם אוסר דבר שאינו שלו- that you can't create an issur on something that does not belong to you- applies to this case. When I saw this svara I lost my appetite. But every one of the the people cited in the sefer I bring was a respected posek, and I am certainly not, so I am most probably wrong. See here.)
I got the following in the mail, with a reference to RSZ's psak.
gu sent in the following comment:
I am not זוכה to understand Rav Shlomo Zalman's putative psak. This is not oser davar she'aino shelo, because a cheftza of issur is not being created, nor is any there a shinui in any cheftza belonging to someone else. This is not even hezek she'aino nikar. It is more analogous to my planting wheat in my yard, which now prevents my neighbor from planting a vineyard without putting up a fence. [Ignoring issues of הלכות שכינים].
However, this seems to qualify as גרמי as opposed to גרמא. As if I really understand the defining distinctions.
But I respectfully disagree that Shimon could sell the car to a goy, since that would automatically result in the mechikas HaShem. See Igros Moshe O"H 1, siman 4.
On further consideration, I wonder if Rav Shlomo Zalman actually meant something else. There might be an issue of being makdish davar she'aino shelo here, which means that the Shem has no kedusha. In fact, this involves the subtleties of kedusha haba b'aveira. But there may be an important distinction between the writing on a blackboard issue and the painting on a car issue, in that the writing on a board has no existence were it not for the substrate which belongs to someone else. The paint on a car, if thick enough, may have the status of an independent object once it dries, like a sculpture.
Another possible issue: it may be that leaving it there is itself a disgrace, and in such a case,, erasure might be muttar.
and this also came in, written by Rabbi Shay Schachter, Rabbi Herschel Shachter's son: