Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Can the actions of a צדיק cause a mishap to occur?

The gemara in Kesubos 28b seems to say no. The gemara there is discussing testimony which allows a person to eat Teruma. The gemara brings a story with R' Elazar where he states that he gave testimony that allowed an עבד כנעני to be mistaken for a כהן. The gemara asks from the famous story in Chullin (7a-b) with R' Pinchas ben Yair that if Hashem doesn't let the animal of a צדיק cause a mishap קל וחומר a צדיק himself won't cause a mishap. Therefore the gemara corrects the story that the beis din was going to pasken that he was a כהן but didn't actually do so. We see from here that this principle applies in general to צדיקים.

However, Tosafos in a number of places in shas (Shabbos 12b, Gittin 7a and more) disagrees. Tosafos is bothered by a number of cases where we see that צדיקים did cause mishaps by their actions (for example in Shabbos 12b, R' Yishmael learned by the light of a candle and tilted the candle and violated an issur d'oraysa). Therefore R' Tam posits that this principle only applies to matters of food. Hashem will not cause the a צדיק to eat or violate an issur relating to food. However, this principle does not apply to other areas. R' Tam is therefore forced to change the girsa of the gemara in Kesubos and take out the line which refers to the principle. The Netziv suggests that the reason that this principle only applies to food is that non-kosher food is metamtem es halev.

The Ritva in Shabbos disagrees with R' Tam and answers the case in Shabbos by saying that R' Yishmael was punished for vioating the gezera d'rabbanan and the Ritva rejects R' Tam and claims that this principle applies in all cases.

In summary, there is a machlokes rishonim whether the principle that the actions of a צדיק do not cause a mishap applies to all cases and all kinds of mishaps or just to food related aveiras.


Anonymous said...

The nukada hamachlokes might be regarding an issue other than whether or not a tzaddik can cause a mishap or not.

See the Ritva to the beginning of the second perek of Nederim (around the Nemukei Yosef) where he takes the position that aside from nederim, issurei Torah are all issurei gavra - that issurei cheftza do not exist. This means that neveila is not intrinsically prohibited, merely a person is withheld by the Torah from eating it. If, however, such as via an erroneous psak, he eats it b'oifen heter (since the psak he was given matired it), he is over no issur. The clear inference would be that timtum halev, according to the Ritva, isn't the natural consequence of eating a prohibited food, rather from eating it b'issur.

How does this impact the machlokes here? Rabbeinu Tam understands that the principle of a tzaddik never causing a mishap relates only to food (the Netziv explaining that this is duw to timtum halev). Of course, the case in question is when the tzaddik gives an erroneous psak. In such a case, the Ritva wouldn't have a mishap since the eved canaani would have eaten teruma b'heter and timtum halev, according to the Ritva, exists only when eating b'issur.

Of course, the Ritva must view some sort of mishap in that case, too. He cannot, however, because of his position on timtum halev, make it a consequence of food. Therefore, the Ritva has not mechanism for limited the principle to food and must explain it in a way that applies to all cases.

bluke said...

Interesting point. I posted about this very point (timtum halev when doing aveiros b'shogeg) a while back Is non-kosher food objectively harmful?, take a look hopefuly you will find it interesting.

Y.W. Editor said...

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YW Editor.