Eruvin 32 Halachic compromises for the greater good

Eruvin 32 Halachic compromises for the greater good

One of the greatest challenges facing Rabbis, educators, and religious outreach groups in our times is treading the line between the tolerant and open approach needed to bring and keep people close to Torah, and avoiding or limiting halachik compromises at the same time.

For example, many traditional shuls are based on the idea that the service inside is run on Orthodox lines but many people drive to shul on shabbos- Is a Rabbi permitted or supposed to encourage people to come to shul knowing full well that they will drive?

One of the greatest tools in the “kiruv” toolkit is sharing the incredible shabbos meal experience with those less observant, hereby drawing them closer themselves (in addition to the mitzva of הכנסת אורחים  [hospitality] , אהבת שלום בין אדם לחבירו , and so much more.)

Is it right to invite non-observant guests for shabbos meals for the above reasons, even if one knows that they will drive?

Sometimes, the Rabbi, educator, or kiruv worker is faced himself with the “need” to make halachik compromises of his own for the greater spiritual good of others- this is very common when it comes to being present in places where the standards of modesty are not in keeping with those of a place where he is normally permitted or encouraged to be present, or in interfaith or multi-denominational environments.

In come congregations, compromises might need to be made regarding the height or even presence of a partition between men and women, in order to encourage people to come.

Often, spiritual duties might require one to move one’s family to a small community with limited religious infrastructure, in order to bring spiritual life to that community.

There are many who take the approach that one’s own spirituality and halachik obligations always come first, and that compromising on those for the sake of someone else’s spirituality is not acceptable.

They might also take a stringent approach regarding encouraging others to do something in the long-term interests of their spiritual development, if it involves their desecrating shabbos or other commandments in order to do so, even if they are not shabbos observant in any case.

Others take a more “long-term” approach, stretching or even violating certain laws for the greater good of their own or other’s long-term spiritual survival, or to prevent them or others from an even worse prohibition.

Neither approach is straight-forward, and the correct Torah approach to this can probably be found in a spectrum between these two extremes, depending very much on the circumstances, and of course, how certain primary sources are to be interpreted- A great understanding of the relevant sources, and a lot of יראת שמים  (fear of heaven) are required to be able to make such decisions.

A discussion on our daf forms one of the most important Talmudic sources on the subject.

The case discussed is where a חבר (learned person) tells an עם הארץ   (ignorant person ) to fill up a basket of produce for himself from his farm.

The question is whether it may be assumed that the person first separated the required tithes, thus making it unnecessary to separate them before eating, or not.

Rebbe and his father, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, disagree on this.

Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel is of the view that we should not assume that tithes have been separated.

That is because there is a rabbinical decree against separating tithes in one place for produce in another, and we should thus not suspect the חבר  of having done so.

Rebbe counters that seeing as the עם הארץ  eating untithed produce is a far more stringent, biblical prohibition, we should assume that the חבר  compromised on the rabbinical requirement and separated tithes from a  distance after he gave permission to the עם הארץ  to collect the produce.

The Gemara seems to understand that according to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, it is forbidden to transgress a less severe prohibition in order to prevent someone else from transgressing a more serious prohibition.

In contrast, Rebbe seems to hold that it is permitted to transgress a less severe prohibition in order to prevent someone else from transgressing a more serious one.

Rebbe was so confident in his ruling, that he said that his view seemed more logical than his father’s. Although it seems obvious that he felt that way (otherwise he would not have disagreed with him,) it is possible that Rebbe was making this statement using his authority as sealer of the Mishna, indicating that his approach is the final word.

To what extent this is a general rule, as opposed to a more limited concession, requires serious analysis.

As Tosfos points out, it is clear that this cannot be the case under all circumstances.

We know this from a famous case (Shabbos 4a) where the Gemara discussed someone who unknowingly placed unbaked bread in the oven on shabbos.

One suggestion briefly entertained there was that someone else could be permitted to remove it before it becomes baked to the point that the first person will have desecrated shabbos.

It seems  that we were not dealing with loaves of bread baked in baking pans, but a pita-style bread that was placed directly on the oven floor or rack.

As a result, removing the bread from the oven (רדית הפת) was considered a skilled activity rabbinically forbidden on shabbos.

The Gemara unequivocally rejected that suggestion, taking for granted that אין אומרים לאדם חטא כדי שיזכה חברו – we do not tell someone to sin in order that his friend should get merit.

In both cases, we are discussing transgressing a rabbinical prohibition in order to save someone else from transgressing a biblical one, yet in our case, Rebbe disagrees with his father and permits it, while in the case in Shabbos, there is no dissent and it is clearly forbidden.

In truth, there are many other places where halachik compromises seem to be permitted for greater objectives,  among them:

1.       Even though freeing a Canaanite slave was forbidden, it was permitted  (or more narrowly interpreted) under certain circumstances to allow him to fulfill the great mitzva of פרו ורבו (Gittin 41b)  or to allow him to make a minyan (Brachos 47b.)

2.       Greeting one’s neighbor with Hashem’s name was permitted (Brachos 54a) based on the verse עת לעשות לה’ הפרו תורותיך   (it is a time to act for Hashem, go against his Torah (Tehillim 119/126).)  The value of making Hashem’s name a vessel of peace seems to have overridden the concern of saying his name in vain or alternatively, redefined it as not being in vain.

3.       The sons of Shaul was put to death for their role in the starvation of the Givonim, in order to avoid a Chillul Hashem( Yevamos 79a- (“מוטב שיעקר אות אחת מן התורה ואל יתחלל שם שמים בפרהסיא”

4.       One of the sources (albeit rejected as the primary source) for permitting the desecration of Shabbos to save a life  (Yoma 85b)  is in order to allow him to keep many more shabbosim in the future (חלל עליו שבת אחת כדי שישמור שבתות הרבה ) – it is possible that this applies not only to preventing physical danger to life, but also preventing  a life-time of non-observance of shabbos, a discussion that comes up in various halachik discussions on the subject.

In our two cases, the Baalei Tosfos offer two ways of reconciliation:

1.       The fundamental difference between the two cases is that in our case, the חבר  is the one who initially put the other person in danger of sinning- as such, he is permitted to transgress a lesser prohibition in order to fix up what he did.  According to this approach, there is no general permission to transgress a lighter prohibition to save someone else from a more serious one, except in a case where one is guilty of causing him to perform that more severe prohibition.

2.       Based on various other sugyas, Tosfos takes issue with the former explanation, and takes a different approach. Here, the general rule is that one is permitted to transgress a lighter prohibition to prevent someone else transgressing a more serious one, except in a case where that person was negligent in the first place, like in the case where he put something into the oven at a time that even he knew was very close to shabbos.

These two approaches obviously have huge ramifications for our discussion in general, and whichever approach is accepted, it will be important to define clear criteria for what is considered a light or severe transgression. This could be based on various factors, among them

1.       Whether it is biblical or rabbinical

2.       The severity of the punishment

3.       Whether it harms someone else or not

4.       How many people are affected

5.       Whether each prohibition is relatively short- term or long-term

6.       How many prohibitions are entailed

There is so much more to discuss, but hopefully this serves a reasonable introduction to what is a very complex and important issue.

These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.

Simplified Model for excellent affordable Yeshiva High School

This is a draft model for an affordable  private Yeshiva School, which can be integrated into existing school structures, or the basis for building new ones.

It has been designed by me with input from people currently in the education and financial space, but it obviously only an estimate and will need to be adapted to the realities of each school and community.

Specifications:

I. every group of 20 learners  needs 2.5 hours a day of frontal learning from  a real time teacher ( either online or offline) for kodesh and another 2.5 for secular studies and the balance can be done by very cheap existing online resources such as  yuTorah,mishnarun, master maths, kahn academy etc, as well as in chavrutot/self-study groups,coordinated  by the teachers and menahel

2. each teacher teaches 5 hours a day in person and/or online and spends another 3 hours  a day on prep and marking,  using online resources, testing, and marking methods to reduce the workload and maximize efficiency.

3. Every 120 learners needs a menahel/principle to oversee the curriculum,support  manage the teachers and online material, train teachers for the new environment, oversee the ethos of the institution, and look after the holistic needs of the learners

4. Every 600 learners should have a Rosh Yeshiva/Head of School who is a major Talmid Chacham with a strong secular and administrative background.

His task is to be the “glue” of the entire operation, a role-model for all students, give weekly talks/classes to different groups of students, support and supervise menahalim/principals.

5. Every two principles/menahalim or 240 learners have a secretary/P.A./administrator/book-keeper assigned to them – this task will include ensuring all fees have been paid and referring the hopefully small minority who cannot afford these reduced fees to community organizations for scholarships. All payments and book-keeping to be done online and automated.

6. every 240 learners have a sports coach AND a social worker/councillor assigned to them.

7. Schools use existing campuses that are already mainly owned and paid-off by the schools or by the community. Costs are limited to maintenance of existing facilities, and any additional building or renovations are covered by private donations.

An online version of this model will exclude most of  this component of the expenses but still have the benefit of real-time “Zoom-style” instruction by real Rebbeim and teachers, in an interactive peer-based online environment.

Proposed Costs: 

1.  a Rebbe/teacher earns a cost to company package of $7500 per month in the U.S. or R30,000 per month in South Africa.

At one Rebbe/teacher assigned to every 20 learners, This comes to $375 per learner in the U.S. and R1500 per learner in South Africa.

2. A principal/menahel is needed for every 120 learners  and earns $15,000 per month  in the U.S. or R50,000 per month in South Africa.

This comes to $125 per learner in the U.S. and R417 per learner in South Africa/

3. A Rosh Yeshiva/Head of School is required for every 600 learners and earns $25,000 per month in the U.S. or R100000 per month in South Africa .  This superstar needs to be a Talmid  Chacham with a good secular education, long succesful track record in education, and majors  in finance plus either  management science, actuary, operations research , computer  science or similar .

This comes to $42 per learner in the U.S. and R167 per learner in South Africa/

4. A secretary/P.A/book-keeper  will be needed for every two heads (240 learners)  at $4000  per month in the U.S. and R20,000 per month in S.A.

This comes to $17 per learner in the U.S. and R83 per learner in South Africa/

5.   a sports coach is needed for every 240 students at $5000 per month (U.S.) or R25,000 per month (S.A.)

This comes to $21 per learner in the U.S. and R104 per learner in South Africa/

6.a social worker/councillor will be needed for every 240 learners  at $7500 per month ( U.S) or R30,000 per month (S.A.)

This comes to $32 per learner in the U.S. and R125 per learner in South Africa/

7. Miscellaneous costs: Campus maintenance, stationary, internet, accounting fees etc ( i have guessed this and more input is needed)- $10000 per month ( U.S.) or R40000 per month ( S.A. ) based on 240 learners  

This comes to $42 per learner in the U.S. and R167 per learner in South Africa

Total monthly costs per learner: $654 (in the U.S.) or R 2563 (in S.A.) 

Shabbos 105 and 106 מקלקל, anger management, and discipling the family.


The Mishna on 105b discusses the melacha of קורע (tearing).
The biblical prohibition applies to tearing something for constructive purposes, such as tearing threads in an imperfect garment to sow it up again correctly. (Tearing toilet paper might fit into this category but is a subject of its own.)
However, our Mishna tells us that if this is done out of anger, mourning for a relative, or for any destructive purpose, one is exempt, and has only transgressed a rabbinical transgression.
Our sugya debates the question of whether tearing something out of mourning or in anger is considered a constructive act or not.
Simply using our own logic, there seems to be logic on both sides – on the one hand, one is not making the torn item into anything that can be used for a constructive purpose as a result.
On the other hand, there might be a constructive result from the action itself, in that one fulfills one’s obligation to tear one’s clothes to mourn a relative, as well as one’s psychological need to grieve.
Similarly, tearing something out of anger might fulfil a constructive purpose, such as calming oneself down.
It appears from our Mishna that it is not considered constructive.
However, the Gemara brings a Beraita which is of the opinion that one is liable for such actions, indicating that they are halachically considered constructive.
The Gemara concludes that if one tears a garment for a relative that one is liable to tear for, the action is considered constructive because one has discharged his obligation by this action.
However, if one tears for a relative that one has no obligation to tear for, the action is not considered constructive, seeing as he has discharged no obligation by so doing.
The Gemara adds that the same applies to anyone that it is a mitzva, even if not an absolute obligation, to tear one’s clothes for, such as a חכם (scholar) or an איש כשר (righteous man)
How the above two are defined halachically requires further discussion of course.
The exclusion of a relative one is not obligated to tear for seems to make it clear that emotional therapeutic value is not enough to be considered a constructive act on its own, without actually fulfilling a mitzva.
However, we are still face with a contradiction between our Mishna and the Beraisa regarding tearing something in anger.
One would think that based on the law regards relatives, we have already settled the fact that tearing simply for emotional or therapeutic benefit is not considered a constructive action as far as liability on shabbos in concerned, and is still considered מקלקל.
Why then does the author of the Beraisa hold that one is indeed liable for this, in contrast to the author of the Mishna who holds that one is not?
At first, the Gemara tries to explain that this dispute is not actually based on whether it is מקלקל or not, but rather on whether one is liable for מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופא.
The Mishna which exempts someone who tears out of anger is not doing so because of מקלקל, but rather because it reflects the view of Rabbi Shimon who holds that one is exempt for מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופא , a melacha done for a constructive purpose but for one other than its usual purpose as derived from the Mishkan, the classic example being digging a hole because he wants the dust, rather than the hole itself( see Shabbos 73b.)
Here he has no need for the torn garment itself, but rather for the emotional relief or indulgence of his anger he feels from tearing it, making it classic מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופא.
According to this suggestion, The Beraisa which says that one is liable for this simply reflects the view of Rabbi Yehuda that one is liable for מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופא.
(We should note at this point that should this suggestion be accepted, we would have a סתם משנה (anonymous Mishna) that is in accordance with Rabbi Shimon, which all things being equal, would be a very strong reason for the poskim to rule like him- but that’s for another time!)
The issue with this suggestion is that it totally ignores the exemption of מקלקל, which certainly seems to apply
i. based on logical analysis
ii. based on the previous conclusion that emotional benefit is not considered a constructive purpose regarding melacha
iii. Based on the wording of the Mishna which seems to base the exemption on מקלקל explicitly. ( one would then have to say that מקלקל mentioned in the Mishna is a totally new exemption, not the reason for the previous too exemptions and others like it, which while not illegal, certainly doesn’t seem to be the simple reading of the Mishna.)
The Gemara rejects this suggestion based on the fact that Rabbi Yehuda himself does not disagree with the exemption of מקלקל, which clearly seems to apply here.
It then suggests that perhaps the Beraisa that says one is liable for tearing something out of anger actually holds that tearing out of anger is constructive, in that it appeases his יצר (inclination).
This is a full 180 degree turn in which the Gemara acknowledges that at least according to the Beraisa, emotional therapeutic benefit might actually be considered constructive regarding melacha (it is possible to learn that even our Mishna would acknowledge that but exempts it due to מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופא , but once we have found an acceptable way to reconcile the two views without reference to this debate, particularly as the Mishna does seem to given the reason for the exemption as מקלקל, it seems more likely that the Mishna would disagree simply on the point as to whether emotional benefit is constructive, and holds that it is not, which is reflected by the fact that its exempts one who tears out of mourning as well.)
The Gemara doesn’t seem so bothered by the suggestion that emotional benefit might be considered constructive in general ( to the point that we would then need to explain the difference between the emotional benefit of indulging or discharging one’s anger which one is liable for and that of fulfilling one’s need to grieve which is exempt even according to the Beraisa in the absence of a mitzva.)
Yet it rejects that suggestion that tearing out of anger might be constructive flat out for a different reason- indulging one’s anger is NEVER constructive .
It brings the very strong statement of Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri that a person who tears or breaks something out of anger is considered like one who has worshipped idols -The way of the יצר הרע (evil inclination) is first to make you indulge your anger by destroying something and then to make you do other sins.
Rav Avin goes further and interprets the verse “לא יהיה בך אל זר “ (“there shall not be in you a strange god” -Tehillim 81/10) as referring to the evil inclination within everyone.
Indulging one’s evil inclination in the hope that it will go away afterwards is not viewed as a constructive action, rather as a catastrophic form of מקלקל.
This concept in also seen regarding the inclination for sexual relations.
The Gemara (Sanhedrin 107a) relates how David heMelech requested a test from Hashem, so he could also be regarded on par with the אבות (the three forefathers), and mentioned in the first blessing of the עמידה (silent standing prayer.)
It relates that Hashem agreed to this, and even warned him that the test would involve a woman.
David haMelech though that he would indulge his sexual drive in a permitted way that day by sleeping with all his wives, so by the time the test came, it would be worn out.
However, this was of no help. And he failed the test of Batsheva miserably.
The Gemara explains that he forgot the simply rule that אבר קטן יש באדם משביעו רעב
מרעיבו צמא ( a man has a small organ, if he starves it, it is satisfied, but if he indulges it, it is hungry.)
Hence engaging in too much sexual indulgence, even in a permitted way, is not constructive at all, and rather than getting tired of it eventually, simply leads to a person being addicted and chronically obsessed with it.
Now to return to our sugya- so under what circumstances could tearing something in anger be considered constructive and liable, as per the ruling of the Beraita?
The Gemara concludes with something that could seem very shocking in our modern, liberal world: performing certain actions that appear to be out of anger in order to instill fear in the members of one’s household, not out of uncontrolled anger indulgence, are indeed constructive and one would be liable for them on shabbos.
The Gemara gives some examples, but we will have to leave that to further discussion- please don’t copy any of those actions without getting suitable practical rabbinic AND legal advice!
(p.s. Another unresolved issue regarding מקלקל is seeing that injuring a person is basically always destructive (as well as being a prohibition outright,) how could one ever be liable for wounding a person on shabbos, something we know from various places that one is certainly liable for? The discussion on 106a resolved around this.
Our long-standing discussion about whether a שבות דשבות על ידי ישראל is permitted or not might also find some precedent in our Mishna, as it does indeed seem to be a case of both מלאכה שאינה צריכה לגופא and מקלקל, which according to Rabbi Shimon should actually be a שבות דשבות! Lots to say on this, but its late…)
These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.

Collective punishment and mutual responsibilty-Parshas Nitzavim/Vayeilech

“הנסתרות לה’ אלקינו והנגלות לנו ולבנינו עד עולם ”

“Hidden things are for Hashem, our G-d; and the revealed things, are for us and our children forever”

The Torah has already told us that we are all responsible for one another, and that when one see’s someone doing something wrong, he is obligated to rebuke him, gently, in a way that he will want to listen.

If one fails to do so, or does so in a way that makes him more rebellious or shames him unnecessarily, one shares some responsibility for his wrong-doing. (Vayikra/Leviticus 19/17 and commentaries there-on )

In the parsha we just read, Hashem warns us once again that people who forsake the ways of Hashem can bring collective destruction upon all of us. (Devarim/Deuteronomy 29/17-27)

After the Torah tells us that the result of people who betray Hashem’s covenant can be catastrophic for all of us, people might feel that if we all responsible for each-other’s numerous  failings most of which we are  unaware of, then there is no hope for any of us , G-d forbid.

To this- the answer is clear:

We are NOT responsible for things that we have no way of knowing about, or things that we have tried to correct and failed- “Hidden things are for Hashem, our God.”

However, failure to protest constructively against wrongs and  injustice , once one is aware of it, is the moral  equivalence of participation in it – “The revealed things are for us and our children forever…”

Standing up for whats right vs responsible speach

There has been much debate in the community about Jews attacking one another in public.

It is truly disturbing that this is happening so much and being exploited by our enemies.

However, just like crooks and child abusers love to hide behind “loshon horoh” and rogue Rabbis love to hide behind “kavod Talmid Chochom” to avoid justice, those who are hurting their own people from within love to hide behind “Jewish unity” to keep their public image and support.

and just like the Halacha is clear that the laws of loshon horo do not apply when there is risk to someone else involved, and the laws of honouring a Talmid Chochom are pushed aside when that Talmid chochom is involved in public abominable behavior, so too, it is clear that when someone publically betrays his own people, he is to be shamed in public.

Our prophets never held back from publically rebuking the people when they were out of line.
some of them were persecuted or even killed for it, but who did history show to be right?

When my father attacked Jews who didn’t do enough to fight Apartheid from the pulpit, he was told not to make Jews look bad in public- who did history vindicate?

yet we must proceed with great caution and great יראת שמים and balance everything we do very carefully.

In the era of social media, very little is private anymore.
Everyone has to be careful what they post or even say or do in front of others, and know that it could be shared, screen-shot, and quoted everywhere.

It is a fine-line I tread with great trepidation, and ask my friends to hold my hand when I waver.

As Chazal warned us so long ago  וכל מעשיך בספר נכתבים
“and all your deeds are being written in  a book”
(Avos 2/1)

To influence others positively , you need to fear G-d.

To influence others positively , you need to fear G-d.

ואמר רבי חלבו אמר רב הונא: כל אדם שיש בו יראת שמים – דבריו נשמעין, שנאמר: סוף דבר הכל נשמע את האלהים ירא וגו’.

“and Rabbi Helbo said in the name of Rav Huna: Any man who has fear of heaven- his words will be heard, as it says [Kohelet 12] “at the end of the matter, everything will be heard, Fear G-d…”

(Brachos 6a)

 

Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook זצ”ל once sent one of his students to convince the government not to destroy a Jewish settlement. He came back unsuccessful.

Rabbi Kook admonished his student, telling him that he must lack fear of heaven, as the Talmud clearly says that someone who has real fear of heaven will be able to convince people to do the right thing.

[Heard from Rabbi David Samson]

Whether one agrees with Rav Zvi Yehuda or not on the matter discussed , the message is clear.

If we want people to listen to us, we need to believe. We need to be genuine.

If people don’t listen to me even when I am right , I obviously have only myself to blame.

The Chofetz Chaim and Apartheid

“All human beings are God’s children”

The Ponovizer Rov, Rav Kahanaman zt’l used to visit South Africa a lot as he had relatives there and the Jewish community there has mainly Lithuanian roots.

He once visited the Chofetz Chaim zt’l after one of these visits, and the Chofetz Chaim asked him about how the black people in south Africa were doing and that he had heard they were being persecuted.

Rav Kahanaman asked the Chofetz Chaim what his interest was in south african affairs.

The Chofetz Chaim replied that they are also G-d’s people and he needs to be concerned about their welfare.
(heard from Rabbi Abraham Tanzer שליטא , Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva College of South Africa)

Science and Torah- age of the universe?

Scientists just admitted that they got the age of the earth wrong by 60 million years! because of  few crystals found in South Africa nd Australia. and we supposed to take science seriously as a real challenge to our G-d given Torah? I’m all for reconciling Torah and science wherever possible, but give me a break!

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/06/14/newser-earth-60-million-years-older/10518499/

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