Tuesday, September 27, 2016

arur asher lo yakim -- chiddush of the Chasam Sofer

The meforshim struggle to understand what exactly “arur asher lo yakim es divrei haTorah ha’zos la’asos osam” refers to. If it is a catch all (see Rashi), then it effectively eliminates uniqueness of the other arurim. Ramban writes that the pasuk is referring to those who disobey mitzvos because they lack belief. If someone is overcome by temptation and eats a treif hamburger, that’s an issur of neveilah. If he does not believe that G-d prohibited treif hamburger, that’s “arur asher lo yakim…”  (Orthopraxy doesn't work.)  Ramban quotes another pshat from the Yerushalmi that those who have power and authority to stop others from doing aveiros must do so.

Chasam Sofer says what I think is a chiddush l’halacha. Chazal tell us that there are two aveiros which, if violated, are tantamount to rejecting the entire Torah: 1) avodah zarah; 2) shabbos. In parshas Shlach the Torah spoke about avodah zarah; here, the Torah speaks about shabbos. If a person sits in a hammock all day Saturday does not do any melacha, that’s not Shabbos, says the Chasam Sofer – that’s just being lazy. If you want to observe Shabbos, which counts as keeping kol ha’Torah, then you need “la’asos osam,” to do something to mark the day as significant. The “shamor” has to have a “zachor” that goes along with it. It’s a pretty remarkable statement – you have someone that technically did nothing wrong, but is still included in an arur. (See haKsav v’haKabbalah for a different pshat that also stresses the “la’asos osam” ending of the pasuk.)

Ramban's pshat is quoted by the M”B l’halacha, though if you are not up to Hil Y”K yet you may not have seen it. The M”B writes that there is a chiyuv tochacha to try to dissuade people from doing aveiros, including meting out punishment if necessary.  Who can do that?  Ramban writes that the “arur” of “asher lo yakim” applies to the king or his officers who have the power to be "makim" and force people to change their behavior.  An individual who has no authority and power has no obligation to coerce ba’alei aveira to get back on track.  Here too, says the M"B, coercion should be undertaken by beis din, not any individual. 

Anyway, I can't stop listening to this:


  1. The Ketzos and Nesivos in 3 are relevant as well. The Nesivos says that not only Beis Din, but also any person can force the fulfillment of mitzvos. The Ketzos argues and says that while anyone can stop others from sinning, only Beis Din can force fulfillment of Mitzvos Asei.
    Regarding the very interesting Chasam Sofer, yasher koach, and I wonder if he's going like the Gemara in Sukkah 27
    שהיה רבי אליעזר אומר: משבח אני את העצלנין שאין יוצאין מבתיהן ברגל

  2. Thanks. Is kefiya the same as tochacha? I was even surprised that the N"B assumes the geder of the arur and the geder of tochacha are identical. Is that muchrach?

    משבח אני את העצלנין is some people's motto for life.

  3. shkoiach. amazing song. I'm hooked!