We are stretching in ahavas yisrael together to create z’chuyos for K’lal Yisrael in these urgent times.
Last week’s stretch of the week was: Stop yourself from doing something inconsiderate or hurtful that can cause negativity.
Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.
Taking A Deeper Look - Lesson #53
ולפני עור לא תתן מכשל
LIFNEI IVER LO SITAIN MICHSHOL
DO NOT PLACE A STUMBLING BLOCK BEFORE THE BLIND
PART 2 - Practical Applications
If a parent strikes an older, grown child, he violates the issur of lifnei iver, since the child may not be able resist the urge to defy the parent-or even to hit back or curse him-both of which are serious transgressions that would warrant a death penalty in the times of the Sanhedrin. Some say that the same applies even with a smaller child, if he is by nature the type who will defy the parent verbally or physically.
Parents should never test a child to see if he will respond in anger, even if they decide in advance that they are mochel (forgo) their kavod, unless they inform their child in advance of their m’chila. Otherwise, the child will still need kappara if he responds angrily, because as he understood, he was doing an aveira. Therefore, the parents will have violated the issur of lifnei iver.
If a person lends or borrows money with interest, then in addition to transgressing the issur of dealing with interest, he is also guilty of transgressing lifnei iver, since the borrower and the lender each play a role in causing the other to sin. All of those involved in such a transaction-the agent, the guarantors, the witnesses, without whom the loan could not have taken place, are guilty of violating lifnei iver. When a person lends out money without a shtar, a document of proof, he violates lifnei iver, even if the borrower is a talmid chacham. This is because in the absence of legal proof, it might cross the borrower’s mind, even briefly, to deny that he took the loan.
We may not give food to someone if we know he will not make a bracha before eating. The same rule applies to offering bread to someone who will not wash netilas yadayim. However, we do not have to cross-examine every person to whom we serve food; as long as the person is an observant Jew, we may assume he will make the brachos. What if we have non-Torah observant guests who will be insulted if told to make a bracha, and as a result may turn their backs completely on Torah and mitzvos? The Chazon Ish is stringent regarding this delicate issue and maintains that there is no heter to offer them food, but the Minchas Shlomo is lenient, saying that we would be permitted to “assist” the guest in violating a lighter issur if it is likely to save him from more serious violations in the long run.
(Excerpts from The Code of Jewish Conduct by Rabbi Yitzchok Silver)
Story: (based on a true story)
I was putting the last of the kids to bed when my husband finally walked in the door from work, floating on cloud nine. “I’m taking Mr. Schneider to a playoff game tomorrow night!”
I had known he was working late that night trying to get the new account, but not exactly what was involved. This was a big deal, and I understood why he was excited. When Dovid started in the business world, one of the biggest surprises for me was how central sports were. You wanted to land an account or impress a client? There were plenty of sports events in the tri-state area, and Dovid’s company had tickets to most of them, so you brought one of the company’s executives along, talked to them, watched the game, and hopefully got his business.
Dovid had not had the privilege of actually doing this; he had been too junior. If his boss gave him this role, it meant good things for him, and for our parnassa. With our third child entering the school system that fall, we really needed the money. Thankfully, though it had been a long time since Dovid had been to a game, he knew and liked sports, and was excited for this new opportunity to further his position and make connections.
So off he went to work with a nervous but bright smile on his face, and I got a quick happy call as he left for the game. But when he came home late that night, he didn’t look happy at all. Had something happened? Had he lost the account? I lightly asked, “Did our team lose?” just to break the ice.
“He bought a hotdog,” Dovid answered.
I was confused, but thankfully he continued.
“Mr. Schneider bought a hot dog from one of the vendors that walk up and down the aisles. At games, you pass your money from person to person across the seats until it gets to the vendor, and he passes the food back the same way. Sort of like when you used to get on an Israeli bus in the back with the stroller and pass your card up front. So I passed the money over without thinking, and then I passed back his non-kosher hot dog. As he was eating it, I suddenly remembered that Mr. Schneider is Jewish. He told me about his bar mitzva the day I met him when he saw my kippa.”
I began to understand. How could Dovid help Mr. Schneider buy and then eat this food? But on the other hand, this was a business contact, and accepted practice in the stadium. How could he not? He could offend the client and lose his job.
“I messed up,” he continued. “On the way home I called the rav and asked him what to do in the future if I need to pass a non-observant Jew non-kosher food, and he said, ‘Try not to, though you can do it if there’s no way out.’ I don’t want to help a Jew eat treif, but I don’t know how to avoid it. My boss wants to take me to a game in two weeks, and he’s Jewish too. And we were really hoping I could get that raise.”
We brainstormed. When I get into a handshaking issue at my job with someone who doesn’t know me, I evade. I keep my hands full, or find some other way to get out of it. So we decided that if his boss ordered, he could try to get up and take or make a call that required him to get somewhere quieter, avoiding the passing. It would work once, until he could come up with something else.
But Dovid wasn’t happy with it. He said that while he wasn’t the one handing a Jew something treif, he was just leaving the scene and allowing it to happen. There wasn’t much else he could do, though. We had decided when Dovid took the job that he needed to be a good example as a Jew. Actively refusing to pass his boss food was not going to change his boss’s eating habits, and it might make him weary of observant Jews, presumably the reason the rav had said he could pass the food if pressed. So Dovid would try to avoid actually aiding in the aveira, and we decided to invite his boss and his wife for a meal on Chanukah, the first holiday when their driving wouldn’t be a problem. That way we could show them what Judaism is about, keep ourselves free of sin, and hopefully inspire him to keep mitzvos in the future.
Discussion Question Options:
What lifnei iver situations have come up in your life? How did you deal with them?
How can we avoid hurting someone’s feelings while trying to stop him from doing an aveira?
What are some practical solutions for avoiding lifnei iver with non-observant relatives or colleague?
Stretch of the Week:
Politely veer someone away from an aveira, and if possible, provide an alternative.