We are stretching in ahavas yisrael together to create
z’chusim for Klal Yisrael in these urgent times.
Last week’s stretch of the week was: Give someone a well meaning compliment without any other motivation than to perform the mitzva of loving another Jew.
Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.
Do Not Place a Stumbling Block Before the Blind
Lifnei Iver Lo Sitain Michshol
ולפני עור לא תתן מכשל -- “Do not place a stumbling block before the blind” (Vayikra 19:14). In addition to the plain meaning of these words, this passuk teaches us that we may not do anything to cause another person to sin. It is even forbidden to make it easier for him to sin. Children should be trained in this mitzva from a young age. It is important to instill in them, mainly by example, a feeling of genuine caring for other Jews. As they grow up, that concern for others will expand to include a hope for their fellow’s spiritual success. As a result, they will do whatever they can to help others grow in their Yiddishkeit and certainly will not take action that might cause someone else to make a mistake. (Mishpetei Hashalom 11:1, 33)
Classic examples of Lifnei Iver cited in the Gemara are not handing a nazir a cup of wine and not giving eiver-min-hachai (meat from a live animal) to a non-Jew, if they would not otherwise have had access to these items that are forbidden to them. In both of these cases though, we are not forcing them to sin; we are making the opportunity more readily available and are therefore responsible for causing them to stumble.
Although the primary issur of Lifnei Iver applies only when the offender would not have been able to violate the issur without our help, we are still forbidden to help him even in a case where he can violate the issur on his own. We derive this from
the mitzva of לא תהיה אחרי רבים לרעת -- “Do not follow after the multitude to do evil” (Shemos 23:2), which the Shaarei Teshuvah explains to mean that we may not assist a sinner in any way.
If we see someone doing a prohibited act, such as tending his garden on
Shabbos, we are not allowed to wish him success in his endeavor, even if we are
doing so simply as an expected gesture of politeness. (Mishpetei HaShalom 11:8-9, 13)
(Excerpts from The Code of Jewish Conduct by Rabbi Yitzchok Silver)
Story: (based on a true story)
I am the type of person who gives into pressure easily. I’ve been working on
creating boundaries for myself nearly all of my adult life, yet haven’t developed
enough inner strength to combat peer pressure when it mounts. Pleasing others
takes priority over my self-restraint. One avenue I feel particularly challenged in is
with my shidduchim and the difficulty in deciding how much to discuss with my
friends. I’ve always been taught that this is one of the areas of life one should not
converse freely with even with the best of friends. Intellectually, I understand this;
yet, emotionally, I can’t seem to pass the test. When I do have a date, my friends
will call and ask for all the details and not just the nice pleasant ones but the
uncomfortable information that is really nobody else’s business.
One day, I returned from a shidduch and my friend Bina phoned. As usual, she
inquired how it went. I told her it was okay and tried to end the conversation
there. Bina is the type of friend who wants to know everything. I try to stay clear of
her, but somehow she has a way of preying on weaker people like me to extract
information that really should be left alone. Her technique is to push and push until
I feel I have no choice but to give her the information she desires so she’ll leave me alone. I know this is wrong on my part but I feel stuck. She knew that I was going on a third date with this person and recently caught wind that many girls had refused to go out with him after the third date for some particular reason. I had just become aware of this during my third date with him as well. I felt very
uncomfortable knowing this piece of information yet knew it was my obligation to
keep it quiet. I also knew that building a home based on trust and respect was a
pillar in laying a foundation for a bayis ne’eman. Bina heard there was something
fishy about this young man and instantly pried and pressured me to divulge the
information. I feel extremely uncomfortable right now because after trying and
trying to keep quiet and explaining to her that I had no right to share this
information, I gave in. I feel so upset with myself now and know there was a
breach of trust but felt so pressured by her persistence in trying to convince me
that she could help me with my decision whether to continue seeing him or to call it off. There is no end to this story yet. I feel as though HaShem sent me a test to see if I could learn once and for all to keep my mouth closed but because of this friend I keep failing. I do know that I am fully responsible for my own behavior but having a friend like Bina makes it all the more difficult for me. I do try to steer clear of her but for various reasons it’s not always possible given my certain set of circumstances.
If I had one message to share it would be to have a consciousness of who you are associating with and how your behavior will affect them. Some are born with internal strength and are not tempted to give in to others opinions and influences. However, there are others like myself who struggle with the need to apply courage even with the best of friends. In my heart I know that I am accountable to HaShem and to Him only. I believe I have been sent friends like Bina in order to help me gain strength and prove to myself that I can do what is right despite what they may try to sway me to do. I feel we must take responsibility of the effects we may have on others. Our negative influence may just be the tipping point that actually encourages them to make that mistake they know they shouldn’t.
Discussion Question Options:
How much responsibility should we take for others spiritual well being?
Is it fair to say “Everybody should take responsibility for themselves despite what I do?”
What are some examples of spiritual stumbling blocks that we should be cautious of?
Stretch of the Week:
Assign one person to remind you to stop when you’re about to say something you shouldn’t. This will help you not place a “spiritual stumbling block” before others so they won’t end up hearing lashon hora. Tell yourself you will do this as a z’chus for someone this week to help keep you motivated.