Wednesday, December 06, 2006

lifnei iveir on issurei derabbanan

The gemara (Avodah Zara 22) quotes R’ Shimon ben Elazar that a field should not be rented to a kusi because the kusi will work the field on Chol haMoed, and since the field is known to the public as belonging to a Jew, there is a potential issur of maris ayin. The gemara writes that there is an additional potential issur of lifnei iveir not mentioned by RSb”A, assuming the kusi is a true ger. According to Tosfos, the issur of doing work on chol hamoed is an issur derabbanan, and from this gemara we can conclude that lifnei iveir applies even to causing a person to violate issurei derabbanan. Ramban, however, writes that there is no issur of lifnei iveir on issurei derabbanan, and concludes from this gemara that the issur of working on chol hamoed is an issur d’oraysa.
The Minchas Chinuch (232) questions why lifnei iveir, which applies even to mundane matters like giving bad business advice, should not apply to causing someone to violate an issur derabbanan. Perhaps one can distinguish between bad advice or issurei Torah which are inherently detrimental, and issurei derabbanan, which are prohibited because they are an act of rebellion against the authority of Chazal – if done inadvertently, no rebellion against Chazal’s authority has occurred, and no issur has been caused. The dispute between Tosfos and Ramban may revolve around this very point – is an issur derabbanan done b’shogeg defined as a ma’aseh issur or not?
To be fair, I made two other assumptions here: 1) lifnei iveir only applies when the person being led astray acts b’shogeg, but if he/she intentionally chooses to act in a manner she/she knows is wrong or intentionally follows what she/she knows is bad advice, there is no lifnei iveir (violating a derabbanan b'meizid would be an act of rebellion and my hesber fails); 2) lifnei iveir must lead to a ma’seh issur; an attempt to lead someone astray which fails because it is not acted upon or no issur occurs is not technically a violation. Both points are raised by various achronim.
One could possibly explain the machlokes Tosfos and Ramban as relating to how to understand lifnei iveir – is it a broad overarching prohibition, or is it a way of extending each issur on an individual level. If the latter is the case, perhaps extending issurei derabbanan amounts to a gezeirah l’gezeirah type of situation. This approach leaves the M.C.’s question unanswered.


  1. Anonymous2:52 PM

    I find the first approach you mentioned interesting (shgogei issurei d'rabonon), but, as you said, it has its limitations. Do you know of anyone who takes the issur gavra/cheftza discussion related to d’rabonons (as mentioned in the Nesivos, Meshech Chochma, etc. that you’re alluding to) all the way through to shogeig? That is to say, if you have someone unknowingly violate a d’rabonon for you, then no one has violated anything? I agree with you that it’s the logical conclusion of their position, but when I asked a very knowledgeable Rebbi of mine about it, he smiled and didn’t answer me. Do you have any concrete sources?

    I always viewed the question of lifnei iver on d’rabonon’s as a broader issue: Can the chachomim "tap into" issurei d'oraysa. In other words, when the Rabbis prohibited an action, could they/did they attach it to the existing laws of the Torah? When approached in this manner, there is much material to help reach a conclusion. For example, if someone pasuls a kohen m'drabonon, where they over an issur d'orayso of "lo sa'ana brai'acha"? On the one hand, a lie was told in B"D. On the other hand, the Torah does not recognize this as a lie. There are many, many other examples of this type of situation. It even seems to be a machlokes tana'im (R. Meir and R. Yehuda) in Sukka 23a. So, in our situation, the question would be, “did the Torah recognize this action as a michshol”? On the one hand, the Torah does not recognize this as a prohibition, on the other hand, it shouldn’t be any worse than giving someone bad advice. This, I think, is the position of the Minchas Chinuch.

    Another suggestion could be that there is lifnei iver on d'rabonon's - on a d'rabonon level. (According to you, though, there is no such thing as “a d’rabonon level”. Sorry for bringing it up.)

  2. >>>That is to say, if you have someone unknowingly violate a d’rabonon for you, then no one has violated anything?

    I don't understand - why is it worse if somebody else does it b'shogeg than if you do it yourself b'shogeg, which as you allude to, some understand the Nesivos to be saying is not a ma'aseh aveira?

    >>>On the one hand, the Torah does not recognize this as a prohibition,

    Are you tying this into the old issue of whether dinim derabbanan have a chalos d'oraysa? But as you wrote, it is no better than bad advice, so why the chiluk?

    >>>Another suggestion could be that there is lifnei iver on d'rabonon's - on a d'rabonon level.

    See the Minchas Chinuch (you own a copy, right? : )

    Let me ask you this (I haven't thought it through myself yet): if you hold 'yesh shliach l'dvar aveira' where the shaliach is shogeg (ritva in kiddushin - you cannot apply 'divrei harav v'divrei hatalmid divrei mi shomi'in where the shliach is not aware that he is doing a ma'aseh issur), and the m'shaliach should be chayav, what would be the din if the act is an aveira derabbanan? Do you say that it is not a ma'aseh aveira for the shliach and therefore even the meshalaich is patur, or since the meshalaiach knew it was an issur he is chayav?