By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
Last week we said that the Issur min HaTorah applies only if one uses a sign that is not logical and says I am not doing such and such because of this bad sign. An example of this would be, after a piece of bread falls out of one’s mouth and he then does not proceed to do another action because of it. If he just thinks this, it would not be an issur.
The above differentiation can explain how Eliezer, the servant of Avraham, could rely on his sign that the girl he met belonged to Yitzchok. The Chareidim in siman peh daled, seif nun alef explains that when Eliezer greeted Rivkah, he asked her for her details including whose daughter are you etc. He therefore did not rely on the nichush; he did some further investigation and saw that she was fit to be the wife of Yitzchok.
The above differentiation is not according to Tosfos in Bava Metziya where the Gemara in daf chof zayin, amud bais says that a purse or a wallet should not be lent out as it brings bad luck since you are giving away your good fortune. Tosfos asks whether this would fall under the category of nichush. The Toras Chaim then differentiates between two scenarios. If he says I am not lending it to you because of bad luck, it is forbidden; whereas if he does not explain it, but just does not lend it, then it would not be forbidden.
Many more questions in relation to this arise. Some of them include: why is it that some people only makes wedding during the first part of the month? Why do we say Mazel tov?
The Ran in Chullin daf chof says that if one uses a sign that makes sense which the whole world uses; for example when a person says, “Today it looks like it is going to rain, let us do indoor activities,” it would not fall under the category of nachash.
The Rambam and Raavad argue whether one is allowed to make a condition that he will only do something if something else will happen. The Rambam says that would be forbidden and the Ravad says that it is permissible.
The Gemara in Chullin brings many instances where Amoraim would rely on simanim like when Reb Yochanan would ask a child a posuk. The Rishonim explain that the Amoraim did not rely on it completely, but used it as support. The Gemara says building a house, getting married or having a child is not a nachash but rather a siman. The Rambam explains that one can say in hindsight that it worked out well because I had the good siman of getting married or the like.
The Maharsha explains the Gemara in Horiyus, daf yud bais by syaing that if one uses a siman in a positive way it would be permissible.
This would explain why some people only get married in the beginning to mid-month when the moon is still getting larger as making a siman tov is allowed. Some have the minhag of saying “VeYiten Lecha” on Motzei Shabbos as a precursor for having a successful financial week.
The Radvaz explains that these are not nichush, but rather a siman to strengthen one’s mazel. That is the reason we wish someone mazel tov when he has a simcha. We are strengthening the person’s good mazel. However, if a person is going through a difficult time, it would not be permitted to say better luck next time. We need to remember that Klal Yisroel is above mazel. Tefillah puts us in a position that luck does not affect us. That is why we were zocheh that Bilaam could not curse us; because we were above all these nachashim and superstition. We believe that Hashem runs this world and relying on nachashim and constillations is a shailoh of being Kofer B’Ikkar.
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