Relying on a Nachash or Saying Mazel Tov – Part I

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By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld

The Gemara in Nedarim, daf lamed bais, amud alef says that whoever is a “menachesh,” a person who relies on luck and simanim, will end up being under the nachash and not under the hashgacha of Hashem.

Rashi explains this is based on the Gemara in Pesachim, daf kuf yud, amud bais that says when it comes to demons and other things like demons (Dekapid kapdi bahadei), if you are fearful of these things then these things will consume you. The Ran says that these things will end up chasing you and one will get hurt with the slightest of accidents; whereas if one goes with temimus and emunah, Hashem protects him.

The Re’eim says that when one accepts a nachash on oneself, he gives permission for the satan to hurt him as he was oveir on the fact that he should have trusted in Hashem as the passuk teaches us, “Tamim tihyeh im Hashem.”

That is how Rashi in Chumash explains that Bilaam said that the Jews deserve to be blessed, as they didn’t accept a nachash on themselves.

The Rambam in Sefer HaMitzvos says that one is forbidden to rely on a nachash min HaTorah. The Gemara in Sanhedrin, daf samech heh, amud bais explains what a nachash is. The following scenarios fit into this category: if one is eating bread and it falls out of his mouth, or if his walking stick fell, or he meets an animal that is blocking him or the like and then says, “Today is not my day.” If he would then refrain from doing certain things, he would be considered a “menachesh.”

If a person says, “Today is not my day,” because it is a certain day of the week or a certain day of the month, that would be forbidden as it is “menachesh.”

There is a halacha in Yoreh Deah, Hilchos Shechita, siman yud alef, seif daled that says one should not shecht geese in Teves or Shevat. The Kreisi U’Pleisi argues and says one should not be makpid on this as it stems from the goyim. (Maaseh Emori)

The Issur min HaTorah applies only if one uses a sign that is not logical and says I am not doing it because of this bad sign; for example, a piece of bread falling out of one’s mouth. 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 this girl 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.

This 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 as 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? We will continue this topic next week Iy”H.

Do you have a topic or discussion you want to read about? Please send comments or questions to [email protected] or [email protected].



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