When is Shabbos?

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By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld

The Torah commands us to keep the Shabbos in Parshas Vayikra, Perek Yud Tes, pesukim lamed and lamed alef. In addition, we are told not to utilize the services of the “oivois” and “yidoinim.” The Gemara in Sanhedrin in daf samech heh, amud bais explains that oivois and yidoinim were people who practiced kishuf (sorcery). They would bring up the soul of a departed person either by putting a bone between two joints or by an elbow. They would then question the soul. The Gemara adds that this sorcery would not work on Shabbos; it would only be successful during the week.

The Sefer Chassidim in ois taf taf taf resh nun discusses a scenario where a person is stuck in a desert and lost track of the days of the week. He therefore doesn’t know which day is ShabbosHalacha dictates that he needs to work every day in order for him to have food to eat and then keep one day as Shabbos. If there happens to be a person in a stranded group who is an oiv or yidoini, may this person be asked to try to bring up a deceased person and thereby clarifying that it is not Shabbos if he is successful? If he will not be successful they will know that that day is Shabbos and won’t have a safek anymore. This could be a way for him to avoid being mechallel Shabbos.

The Sefer Chassidim initially wanted to compare this to a snake that has bread in its mouth. Would you be allowed to use a charm to get it out? The SeferChassidim says that these two cases of a snake charmer and an oiv veyidoini are not comparable since we are dealing with the person himself regarding the snake charmer; it is only a question whether you may pay the person if he performed it on his own. In the case of oiv veyidoini we are dealing with a person doing something prohibited on behalf of the Yid. This would fall under the category of “lifnei iveir.” One may not cause someone else to sin for him. One would therefore not be allowed to find out if it is Shabbos by asking an oiv or yidoini. The Avnei Shoham says that this is clear from the proximity of these two pesukim; one must keep Shabbos and right away the Torah tells us in the next posuk not to utilize an oiv or yidoini

Why is this not considered “pikuach nefesh”? In a case of pikuach nefesh we look for the aveira that is kal (less harsh) rather than an aveira that is chamur(harsher.) Lifnei iveir is just a lav, whereas chillul Shabbos is chayav s’kilah (stoning.)

One answer could be that the Sefer Chassidim held like the Chinuch that oiv and yidoini is avoda zora. In addition, the Sefer Chassidim holds like the Baal Hamaorthat the din of “yehoreig v’al yaavor” (rather be killed than do the aveirah) applies even in a case of lifnei iveir for avoda zora. One therefore may not say that lifnei iveir is kal because it falls under the category of “yeihoreig v’al yaavor.”

The following tirutz may be given as well. It is true that in a case of pikuach nefesh we try to find the less harsh aveirah. What if a person will definitely commit an aveirah that is kal (less harsh) or there is a safek whether he will commit an aveirah that is more chamur (harsh), which should he choose? The Machne Chaim says he should choose the chamur aveirah since it is only a safek and there is a chance that he might get out of the desert before the end of the week and thereby maybe not be mechallel Shabbos. Conversely, he will definitely do an aveirah by asking the oiv and yidoini. The Sefer Chassidim therefore paskened that he should not ask the oivand yidoini. There are other shittos regarding this question, however this is not the forum for them.

From this discussion we can see how much the Torah despises avoda zora and those who try to force a change of nature. We need to rely on Hashem, and only Hashem.

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



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