Thursday, September 10, 2020

when shofar can't be blown - ones, shabbos

1) The source of the below quote doesn't matter -- I am just trying to understand it:

"Again, the poskim have clearly said that if you still remain personally alarmed, you are patur – exempt – from tefillah betzibbur and you should continue to daven at home."

Mi'mah nafshach: if al pi din there is a danger, then we should all daven at home.  If al pi din there is no danger, then what is the basis for allowing someone who subjectively feels they are in danger from avoiding doing a mitzvah?   

2) Just wondering: if you daven in a shul that is allowing only 50% (or whatever % less than 100) capacity, what are the other 50% of the people supposed to do?  

3) The gemara (R"H 16) writes that if you miss doing tekiyos at the start of the year, it will bring bad things before the end of that year.  Meshech Chochma (Parshas Emor 23:24) quotes the BH"G that this gemara applies even if you miss blowing because of ones, but not if you can't blow because R"H falls on Shabbos.   

Why is ones not an exemption here, and if indeed there are no excuses, why does the same not apply for failing to blow on Shabbos?

Meshech Chochma explains that shofar is like medicine (see here, see also Ha'amek Davar at the beginning of P' Bechukosai)  -- you may have a good excuse for why you missed taking it, but bottom line is you won't be cured.  The same does not hold true for Shabbos.  The reason why shofar brings forgiveness is because shofar is a reminder of akeidas Yitzchak, of the willingness of a Jew to sacrifice l'shem shamayim.  Our willingness to give up shofar for the sake of preserving Shabbos is itself an act of sacrifice, so in effect, we achieve the end result of the mitzvah by not blowing.

The Meshech Chochma's question presupposed that there is a chiyuv to blow on Shabbos, just we can't fulfill it, like ones.   One could argue that the din derabbanan is oker the mitzvah and it is as if there is no chiyuv at all.  See  here for two other approaches that fit this line of reasoning.

Giving up a mitzvah for the sake of heath, to fulfill shmiras ha'guf and allow for future observance, seems akin to giving up shofar for the sake of shabbos, not like any other ones.  

One important point is that when things have to given up, it has to be with the right attitude. "Tachas asher lo avadita es Hashem Elokecha b'simcha u'b'tuv leivav."  It's not the "lo avadita" that is the problem so much as the fact that you were "b'simcha u'b'tuv leivav" over it.   


  1. I generally agree with your approach / outlook on this whole covid scare.

    Regarding the particular question you asked though, Rav Shachter bases that on gemara yevamos, full article here:

    I actually thought that part makes sense -- anything that a "reasonable" person perceives as a sakanah, even if another "reasonable" person does not perceive it as a sakanah, is up to the individual.

    of course, you and I may argue that the way people are acting these days is completely unreasonable. but enough people are doing it that an argument can definitely be made that they have the right to be choshesh.


    1. I have no idea how Yevamos 12 is relevant. R"M there allows the use of moch in 3 cases because of sakana; Rabbanan there is no sakana because "min ha'shamayim yirachamu." If there would be sakana, they would agree with R"M. (IG"M right at the beginning of Eh"E I:63) What does that have to do with subjective assessment of sakana?

      As for the kashe from sheiveit Levi, it could be that there was a "scientitic" sakana there, but sheiveit levi is on a level where they did not feel they needed to pay attention to that. Similar to the Avnei Nezer's question about whether someone can fast on Y"K if the doctor says it is a sakana:

      Shomer psaim = dashu bo rabim, i.e. the behavior of the masses proves the danger to be nonexistent or at least negligible enough to be ignored.

    2. See Achiezer 23:2, where he discusses that according to the rabanan, according to most rishonim its *mutar* for gimmel nashim to be mishamesh with / without a moch -- they can choose to rely on shomer pesoim or not, depending on how they personally feel. I think that is Rav Shachter's proof.

      Regarding the avnei nezer:
      1) he seems to be a daas yachid. as rav shachter pointed out, the Mishna berura in 328:6 quotes the radbaz that one who is afraid to be mechalel shabbos for pikuach nefesh is a chassid shoteh, and that seems to be the agreement of the vast majority of the poskim.
      2) part of his argument is that the doctors in his time were not so trustworthy, i wouldn't apply that to the sakana of milah which the gemara calls a sakanah. (see excellent article here:

      the lack of trustworthiness of doctors does seem to be rearing its head today though, unfortunately...

      regarding shomer psaim == dashu bo rabim, again there is what to discuss here, particularly in light of the numerous poskim who assured smoking despite the doshi bo rabim that existed at the time (rav moshe, of course, might have agreed with you)

    3. Re: the Avnei Nezer, the chasid shoteh is a normal person who chooses to ignore the need for pikuach nefesh. The Av"N is talking about someone on a higher than normal level of bitachon.
      For example, the machlokes B"Sh and B"H whether you need to prepare for Shabbos starting early in the week or can say baruch Hashem yom yom and wait until Friday afternoon to go to the supermarket. It's not that we pasken like B"Sh, it's that 99.99% of the world is not living on the level of bitachon of baruch Hashem yom yom and if you think you are you are deluding yourself.

    4. I found that R' Amital has a whole essay on this. I cant find the Rogatchover he quotes, but the diyuk is nice. The mishna in bameh madlikin talks about "ha'misyarei mipnei ha'nochrim." Why not just say "mipnei ha'nochrim?" Answer: there is no objective danger, just the person is subjectively a misyarei, and still he is patur.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. there is no danger in blowing shofar yourself, even the nutties can't argue that, so there is no ones

  4. -- "3)"

    "if you miss blowing because of ones", the Satan has not been confused "(R"H 16)"; it was he (the Satan, Din) behind whatever glitch prevented blowing in that particular year.

    but "if you can't blow because R"H falls on Shabbos", no problem; the Satan was confused once for all time when the Rabbis themselves prevented the blowing [when the Rabbis were themselves behind the "ones" through their >definite< prevention of a mitzvah for fear of a >possible*< violation of Shabbos >b'shogeg<]! the Satan >remains< confused, on every R"H Shabbos... ... ...

    *not a case of "preserving Shabbos", but of >fencing< Shabbos [day 7's sanctity might well be preserved in the absence of this fencing]