Monday, November 23, 2015

Rachel stealing the terafim: afrushei m'siursa by a ben noach

I ended off before Shabbos with the following question: the Meshech Chochma (and the Ohr haChaim learns this way as well) explains that when Ya’akov said that whoever stole Lavan’s terafim should die, it was not just a kelala, but it was a psak din -- a ben noach is chayav misa for gezel.  If so, how could Rachel have done it?

My initial thought was that that Rachel was acting to prevent Lavan from doing an issur of avodah zarah (this assumes that terafim were an avodah zarah, but not all the meforshim accept that) and therefore she had license to do what she could l’afrushei m’isura.  What I wasn't sure about was whether there is a concept of afrushei m’isura by a ben noach.  The gemara says explicitly that that there is an issur of lifnei iveir to trip up a ben noach and cause him/her to violate an issur, but lifnei iveir only applies where you are the sole means by which the individual in question has the means to do the issur, e.g. you are the only avodah zarah salesman in town.  If the aku"m has other means of getting his idols, your selling him one is not lifnei iveir.  It would, however, pose a problem of the issur derabbanan that says you should try l'afrushei m'isura.  Shach in Y.D. 151:6 says that there is no requirement of being afrushei m'isura by an aku"m, but the Gilyon Maharasha on the spot sends you to a MG”A that disagrees.  (I don't know whether this hinges on whether the derabbanan of afrushei m'isura is an extension of lifnei iveir or a separate din.)

That being said, I’m not sure the cases are comparable.  The Shach is speaking about avoiding doing something which would enable an aku”m to do issurim, like selling him an idol.  The case of Rachel stealing the terafim is a case of her violating an issur misa to prevent another ben noach from a different issur misa.

I saw the following quoted in the name or R’ Chaim: when Ya’akov originally paskened that whoever stole the terafim was chayav misa, he assumed that one of the servants, a ben noach, was the thief.  The pasuk continues and tells us that Ya'akov got it wrong because, “V’lo yada ki Rachel ganavasam,” and Rachel has a din of a yisrael, not ben noach, and therefore there is no chiyuv misa.
Yes, saying it was an aveira lishma solves everything, but you can use that to explain away any apparent misdeed on the part of on of the Avos or Imahos.


  1. So Nimrod, having to be mekayem the mitzvas bnei Noach of mishpatim, was correct in throwing Avrohom into the kivshan ha'aish?? And had he not, Nimrod would have himself been chayav misa for not having mishpat, as were the anshei Schem?

    Perhaps the issur avoda zarah intrinsically involves destroying it even for a ben Noach, and not just for Yisroel where it is explicit.

    1. Maybe you can destroy it but not steal it

    2. Excellent chiluk. And it may be that Ya'akov assumed that the terafim were destroyed.

      Which begs the question: why didn't Rachel destroy them? Could she have thought that her actions were a kind of bittul avoda zarah?

    3. The issue of whether hezeik is included in the issur of Gezel appears to be a machlokes.
      Tur 378.
      כשם שאסור לגנוב ולגזול ממון חבירו כך אסור להזיק ממון שלו אפילו אינו נהנה
      Also, Rabbeinu Yonah in Avos 1:1.
      כתוב "לא תגזול" וכל "נזיקין בכלל אותו הלאו", והן הן התורה שהיה קבלת משה בסיני אע"פ שלא נכתבו
      Also, the Steipler in BK1 suggests that it might stem from the din of Shoftim and b'tzedek tishpot.
      the Yad Rama BB 26a;107, that the issur stems from either lifnei iveir or ve'ahavta,
      and the Rosh Teshuva 108:10 that it's from דרכיה דרכי נועם,
      and the Rashash in Kesuvos 18, and that Steipler in BK:1, and the Minchas Chinuch in the Kometz 11, who all say that it is derived from a kal vachomer from hashavas aveidah.
      According to the former, the issur of mazik is indivisible from Gezel, or falls under the umbrella of Mishpat, and so would apply to Bnei Noach. According to the latter group, it would not.

  2. If Rachel had the din of a Yisrael, how did she marry her sister's husband?

    Also, I thought that part of the reason that someone who ate gid hanashe rendered in cheilev would be chayav malkos twice was because gid hanashe was an issur hakolel, different in kind than cheilev, because it once included benei Noach. So I assumed everyone up to Har Sinai did not have a din of a Yisrael. (Not even Yisrael himself.) Which also fits deriving the steps for geirus from the preparation for Maamud Har Sinai.

    1. >>>I assumed everyone up to Har Sinai did not have a din of a Yisrael.

      First essay in the Parashas Derachim deals with these issues. TOo big a debate to summarize.