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Thread: Lifnei Iver

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    tWebber
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    Lifnei Iver

    There were many "good" scriptural passages in the New Testament about this subject of "Lifnei Iver" -

    "As Romans 14:13 says, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.”

    1 Corinthians 8:

    9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
    Lifnei Iver: The Prohibition against Entrapment

    The Torah (Vaykira 19:14) prohibits placing a stumbling block in front of a blind person. This prohibition is commonly known as lifnei iver (before a blind person). Talmudic and post-Talmudic literature presents numerous applications to this prohibition. In this issue, we will discuss some of those applications and how they relate to practical life.

    The Nature of the Prohibition

    The Midrash, Sifra, Kedoshim no. 2, applies the prohibition of lifnei iver to giving improper advice to someone who is "blind" on that matter. One example that the Midrash provides is advising someone that a certain woman is permitted to marry a kohen when in reality she is not. Another example that the Midrash provides is telling someone to travel early in the morning knowing that he will be attacked by bandits.

    The Gemara, Avodah Zarah 6b, applies the prohibition of lifnei iver to a case of enabling someone else to violate a transgression. The Gemara's example is providing a cup a wine to a nazir (someone who has taken an oath prohibiting him from drinking wine). The Gemara states that the biblical prohibition of lifnei iver is only violated if one provides the wine in a situation where the nazir has no other reasonable means of attaining wine. If he has other means of attaining the wine, there is no biblical violation of lifnei iver. Tosfaot, ad loc., s.v Minayin, add that one only violates lifnei iver in a case similar to providing a cup of wine, where the assumption is that he is going to drink it, or in a case where the individual states explicitly what he is going to do with the item. However, if a Jew asks someone for something that can be used for a transgression or for something permissible, there is no prohibition to give it to him and suspect that he will violate the transgression.

    The Midrash and the Gemara provide two different methods of violating lifnei iver by causing someone to commit a transgression. In the Midrash's case, the "blind person" ends up violating a transgression because he was misinformed about the transgression. In the Gemara's case, the "blind person" violates a transgression knowingly, but only with the help of another. http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/_lec...shiurId=733139
    Last edited by Marta; 03-04-2016 at 07:06 AM.

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    tWebber Faber's Avatar
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    It seems to me that Rambam identified with the Midrash, but applied Devarim 22:8 to any action (or inaction) leading to a transgression.

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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faber View Post
    It seems to me that Rambam identified with the Midrash, but applied Devarim 22:8 to any action (or inaction) leading to a transgression.
    This statement is exactly what I saying in some of my post, "While midrashic texts and statements can appear illogical and random when taken out of context, they are in fact the products of a holistic system guided primarily by middot (rules of exegesis) within a range of favored genres."

    When the law is taken out of context or misinterpreted it can be the equivalency to the story of Eli the priest and Chana when he disarranges the 12 stones or misinterprets them. There are so many entries in the Torah that deal with certain aspects of human life that you would have to the wisdom and understanding from God to the law otherwise one would make it very weak. Given an example - for instance: This is a classic example of having the power of 'Urim' but not the power of 'Tumim'. A person can sometimes be blinded. Whether it is for reasons of personal motive or out of fear of people or for any other reason. For some reason, Shaul HaMelech misinterpreted the 'Urim'. He looked at the words of the Torah and said, 'This is what HaShem means; this is what HaShem wants' - - and yet was completely wrong. http://www.torah.org/learning/ravfra.../tetzaveh.html


    There is a famous Gemara about the High Priest Eli, who misread the letters of the Urim v'Tumim regarding Chana. Eli read the letters appearing on the Breastplate to be Shin-Cof-Reish-Hay (Shikorah -- drunken one) when in fact the correct reading was Cof-Shin-Reish-Hay (Kesheira -- worthy one). At that precise moment, Eli lacked the power of 'Tumim'.

    Example of: The Urim and Thummim (Heb. אוּרִים וְתֻמִּים) was a priestly device for obtaining oracles. On the high priest's ephod (an apron-like garment) lay a breastpiece (חֹשֶׁן) – a pouch inlaid with 12 precious stones engraved with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel – that held the Urim and Thummim (Ex. 28:15–30; Lev. 8:8). By means of the Urim, the priest inquired of YHWH on behalf of the ruler (Num. 27:21; cf. Yoma 7:5, "only for the king, the high court, or someone serving a need of the community"); they were one of the three legitimate means of obtaining oracles in early Israel (Urim, dreams, prophets; I Sam. 28:6). Owing to the oracular character of the Urim, the breastpiece is called "the breastpiece of decision" (חֹשֶׁן הַמִּשְׁפָּט). (The concept evokes "the Tablets of Destiny" in Babylonian mythology – the symbol of supreme authority that lay on the breast of the chief god; Pritchard, Texts, 63, 67, 111.) The right to work this oracle was reserved for the levitical priests (Deut. 33:8)

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    tWebber
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    Abraham is another good example. Abraham approaches God and says he will never have a son Bereishit - Genesis - Chapter 15: 2-5. However, how does Abraham know that he will never have an offspring of his own? Is Abraham viewing the circumstances around him plus doesn't he misreads the stars about his future. Sarah then says in Chapter 16, "so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Right after God tells him in line 5, "5And He took him outside, and He said, "Please look heavenward and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So will be your seed."

    Misinterpreting God's authority or what He says to us about the future is a common path for all us (even for prophets) - I don't think there hasn't been anyone who looked at the circumstances around them and hasn't fallen. 'This is what HaShem means; this is what HaShem wants' - - and yet was completely wrong." (to re-quote the same statement). -----even for the future, we must wait, "For the vision is yet for the appointed time, And it declareth of the end, and doth not lie; Though it tarry, wait for it; Because it will surely come, it will not delay.'

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    tWebber
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    I think 1 Corinthians 8: *really nails this*

    9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

    “Sin” For Me

    II. Stumbling Block

    The Sages interpreted broadly the Torah (Lev. 19:2) prohibition against placing a stumbling block before the blind (lifnei iveir). In halakhah, it includes encouraging someone to sin (Avodah Zarah 6b). Our current concern is how to define sin: is it something that I, the potential placer of the stumbling block, consider a sin or what the potential stumbler considers a sin?

    Conceptual Talmudists argue that a debate exists regarding the nature of this prohibition. Some believe that there exists a general prohibition against causing others to sin. Others, however, hold that this law extends other prohibitions; just like you may not commit that sin, you also may not cause others to commit the sin. This dichotomy is used to explain a number of halakhic debates, such as whether lifnei iveir applies when the potential sinner fails to commit the sin and whether one must be martyred rather than causing someone to commit one of the three cardinal sins (see R. Dovid Gottlieb, Ateres Ya’akov, ch. 7; R. Moshe Tendler, “Iyunim Be-Din Lifnei Iveir” in R. Nissan Alpert, R. Aharon Kahn, R. Hershel Schachter eds., Yevul Ha-Yovelos).
    Perhaps our question hinges on this debate, as well. If livnei iveir is a general prohibition against causing others to sin then it should not apply when the act does not constitute a sin for them. But if it is an extension of specific prohibitions, forbidding not only your commission of the act but of causing others too as well, then it would apply as long as the act is forbidden to you.

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