Thursday, June 13, 2019

Obligation of blind person in mitzvos

R Yehudah holds that a blind person is patur from mitzvos; however, R Akiva Eiger (shu"t 169) qualifies this view and says that even R Yehudah agrees that a blind person is obligated to keep lavim.  His proof: Tos (R"H 33) writes that a blind person can recite a bracha on mitzvos because even though according to R Yehudah a blind person is exempt mdoraysa from mitzvos, he still has a chiyuv mederraban to do them.  The source for the obligation to keep dinim derabbanan (and the source for reciting brachos) is the lav of lo tasur, the lav of not disobeying beis din.  If a blind person is exempt even from lavim, what would obligated him to keep a derabbanan?  How can he recite vi'tzivanu on them?  QED there is a chiyuv in lavim.

There seems to be a Yerushalmi against this view.  The Yerushalmi (13a in vilna pages, end of second perek in sota) darshens from "vne'elan mei'euney isha" that the wife of a blind person does not drink sota water.  The gemara then writes that this follows R Yehudah's view that a blind person is exempt from mitzvos.  

What the Yerushalmi seems to be saying is that since the blind person is exempt from mitzvos, even issurim, there is no problem with him living with his potential sota wife (see Korban Ha'eidah.  The Ohr Sameiach does not understand the Yerushalmi this way, but I don't understand what he is saying.)

So it could be that R Akiva Eiger's chidush is a machlokes Bavli and Yerushalmi.  (Other Achronim take issue with the proof itself.  As we've discussed before, there are reasons other thsn lo tasur that might obligate a person to keep dinim derabbanan.)


  1. Here are links to a few of the earlier posts on this site discussing alternative grounds besides "lo tasur" that might obligate a person to keep dinim derabbanan. Including the views of R. Elchonon and R. Shimon Shkopp ztz"l. Great material!

  2. though it seem strange to reach the many lavim through a back door-- through mitzvos derabbanan --as here, there is a simple sense to it: Jewish mountaintops-- both Sinai (Shemos 19:11, l'einei kol-ha'am), and har ha'Bayit (Devarim 16:16*, yei'ra'eh kol-z'churchah) --discourage the blind, >until< lo tasur** 17:8 etc., when the curious climbers become all ears...

    *including Sukkos of the seventh year, Devarim 31:10-11, lei'ra'ose

    **though Rabbi Eiger isn't saying lo tasur was the first lav applied to the blind, and that all the others then followed, one can hear echoes of the pesach sheini episode in Rav Yosef's words on Kiddushin 31a, as if he'd climbed to the Sanhedrin in Yerushalayim with a challenge, 'why should we blind be the less, without [mandatory] brachos like everyone else?', and was answered with a new mandate-- lo tasur --for those lacking sight...

    1. "all ears"

      could it be that when Am Yisrael sees thunder and shofar sounds at Shemos 20:15, it's not sight taking over the hearing, but hearing that takes over sight?