Thursday, September 08, 2022

the harm in doing wrong

Rashi (21:11) explains the smichus ha'parshiyos of topics at the beginning of our parsha: if you take a yefat to'ar in battle, even if permitted, you will eventually come to hate her, and your offspring will end up being a ben sorer u'moreh.  Why should a person suffer all these horrible outcomes if what he did is permitted?  R' Bloch in Shiurei Daas explains (see post here) that the Torah's commandments function on two levels.  When a doctor tells you smoking is the wrong thing to do, that's a different "wrong" from an IRS agent telling you that it's wrong not to pay taxes.  One is a legal restriction; the other is a metziyus.  When Hashem tells you something is wrong, it's meant in both senses of the word.  To combat the yetzer ha'ra, the Torah lifted the IRS agent element of the yefat to'ar prohibition.  It's not going to cause you to be brought before beis din shel maalah and penalized.  However, the metziyus remains the metziyus.  The element of it being harmful remains in place, and you assume the consequences.

In last week's parsha we had the issur of lo tasur.  Rambam holds that issurim derabbanan fall under the lo tasur umbrella that orders us to listen to Chazal.  Ramban disagrees, and asks if this is true, why is it that sfeika d'oraysa l'chumra but sfeika derabbanan l'kula?  Every derabbanan is implicitly a safeik doraysa of lo tasur?

R' Baruch Sorotzkin uses this same yesod of the Shiurei Daas to answer that question.  The reason sfeika d'oraysa l'chumra is because even though legally you may not be doing anything wrong by taking a gamble, you still risk running into negative consequences b'metziyus.  L'mashal, even if legally you are allowed to smoke outside as opposed to inside your office building, that does not mean you are immune from cancer so long as you remain outside.  That sevara only applies when speaking about issurei d'oraysa, where what the Torah spells out as wrong is both legally wrong as well as b'metziyus wrong.  When Chazal instituted a new issur derabbanan, they did not change the metziyus; they only added legal strictures.  (Compare with R' Yosef Engel in Esvan D'Oraysa who writes that issurei d'oraysa are issurei cheftza, as opposed to issurei derabbanan that are only issurei gavra.  But Shaarei Yosher's hesber of the Rambam in I:3 and in ch 7 top of the page here.)

The Netziv uses this same sevara to explain a difficult Raavad.  If a person's life is in mortal danger, the gemara writes that where there is a choice of different issurim to violate, the rule of thumb is to choose the lesser evil.  Raavad  holds that it is better to violate Shabbos to shecht and animal and eat kosher food rather than eat treif, even though the latter is only an issur lav of malkos.  Netziv (Harchev Davar to Devarim 6:10, see the many proofs he brings) explains that food prepared on Shabbos is a legal violation; treif food is bad for you b'metziyus, like poison.  To save a person's life we can suspend legal restrictions, but b'metziyus, poison is still poison and will cause harm.  

According to this Netziv, it is meduyak why the gemara writes that beis din does not have to intervene to stop a katan from eating neveilah -- katan ocheil neveilos ain beis din metzuvim l'hafrisho.  The same is true of any issur.  Why single out neveilah for special mention?   Netziv answers that one might have thought that with respect to maachalos assuros beis din should intervene because even though a katan is legally not bound to stop eating, there is a harm b'metziyus that the katan suffers by eating treif, kah mashma lan beis din can still remain on the sidelines.

Netziv offers a similar explanation in our parsha for why there is a special command to be careful to protect the sanctity of the camp when going out to war,  כִּֽי־תֵצֵ֥א מַחֲנֶ֖ה עַל־אֹיְבֶ֑יךָ וְנִ֨שְׁמַרְתָּ֔ מִכֹּ֖ל דָּבָ֥ר רָֽע (23:10).  According to Ramban (see post here) it was permissible to eat maachalos assuros during the battles of conquest of Eretz Yisrael. Even the legal restriction against maachalos assuros was lifted, the danger of consuming what b'metziyus poses a danger remains in place.  Netziv writes:

 עוד יש טעם מה שכתב הרמב״ן כאן, באשר במחנה עלול לכל שקץ ותועבה. והוספנו לעיל שם (ו,י) הסיבה לזה, משום שהותרו מאכלות אסורות, והמה גורמים לטמטם נפש הישראלי. וכבר הזהיר הרבה לעיל (ו,יג) על זה ״השמר לך פן תשכח את ה׳ וגו׳⁠ ⁠״ וכל הענין, וכאן כפל הענין משום הוספה שהובאה כאן

With this perspective on issurim, undoing wrong and doing teshuvah is more than just a matter of spiritual rehabilitation, but encompasses restoring the damage done b'metziyus as well.

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