Helping a Non-Believer

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By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld

The posuk in Vayikra, Perek Yud Tes, posuk yud daled says that one may not place a stumbling block in front of an “iveir,” a blind man. This prohibition includes giving bad advice or helping a person do an aveira, which brings us to the following question. Is it permissible to print invitations for a wedding of non-Shomer Shabbos Jews? In addition, may one help out in any way at a wedding that is done not according to Jewish law?

In the halacha of lifnei iveir there is a concept that one will only be liable if the object is “trei avri denahara” (on the other side of the river). If the object of the aveira is accessible and the person trying to do the aveira could easily get the object via a goy, then the Yid would not be chayav. However, in a case where the person could only do the aveira because another Yid helped him, then that Yid would be oveir on lifnei iveir.

In the case where there is another Yid who could help him out and probably will do so, would it be considered lifnei iveir for a Yid to help? This is a machlokesbetween the Pnei Moshe and the Mishna LeMelech. The Mishne Lemelech says it is a problem of lifnei iveir since the sinner would not be able to do the aveira without the help of a Yid, whereas the Pnei Moshe holds there is no problem of lifnei iveir as long as the sinner has more than one option available.

Most Achronim pasken like the Mishna LeMelech; however, the Pnei Moshe may be relied upon in a case where there is a tzorech, especially in this case where the issur will take place at a later date. Printing invitations is not a maaseh aveirah and therefore according to the Magen Avaham in siman kuf samech tes, seif koton vov, this would not be a problem of lifnei iveir.

The only problem at hand would be the problem of mesayeia (helping), an issur MideRabbonon. The Meiri says that there is no issur of mesayeia, it is just not a proper thing to do. The Shach argues and says that according to all Rishonim there is an issur mesayea but one could be metzaref all other shitos to be meikil in a place of great need. The Shach and Dogul Meirvava also say that the issur of helping a baal aveira is only in the case that he does not know any better. If the person who is doing the aveirah knows that it is ossur then there would be no issur of mesayeia. In any case where the mesayeia comes before the actual aveira one would not have the problem of the issur of mesayeia even according to those who hold there is an issur of messayeia. This was the psak of Rav Elyashiv zt”l.

In the event that one is placed in a difficult circumstance like mentioned above, in order to keep the peace one may be somech to be meikil. Hopefully the person who is oveir will come to his senses and do teshuva.

Do you have a topic or discussion you want to read about? Please send comments or questions to hymanbsdhevens@gmail.com or berachsteinfeldscorner@gmail.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. Lifee Aniyus Daati, the concept that there’s no Issur of Misayeiah, when the Siyuah comes before the Ma’aseh Aveira, was not a chiddush of Rav Elyashiv ZTL. It was actually included in a Teshuva of the Netziv many years prior. In Sha’alos V’Teshuvos Meishiv Davar, Cheilek Beis, Siman 31/32 the Netziv paskens that a Jewish butcher is allowed to sell treif meat to a not yet frum Jewish person. He explains that there’s no Issur of Lifnei Iver, because the treif meat is available for purchase from others. He also explains that there’s no Issur of Misayeiah, because the sale takes place prior to the Ma’aseh Aveira, which would be the achilah of the treif meat. Misayeiah is only an issue at the exact time of the Ma’aseh Aveira.

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