Shabbat Parashat Vayigash| 5766
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Saving Some From Sin and Causing Others a Greater Sin - Part II - From Amud Hay’mini, siman 37
[Last time we began discussing the question of informing a community on Shabbat that their eiruv fell, saving some from a rabbinic prohibition and causing others to violate it purposely. We cited the Netivot, who said that unintentional violation of a rabbinic law is not an act of transgression and requires no atonement. We also saw other opinions that require a person to act to prevent his friend from such an action. We suggested that a distinction exists between a case where there is an oness (a lower level of blame and culpability) rather than just shogeg (unintentional but with some fault). Specifically in the case of oness, one might not need to prevent his friend from sinning unintentionally.]
Another distinction, which we should introduce, is that of omer mutar, one who believes that the forbidden action that he performs is actually permitted. In such a case, Rava (Makkot 7b, accepted by Rambam, Rotzeiach 5:4) says that, while it is not considered like one who sins b’meizid (intentional transgression), it is karov l’meizid (close to intentional). Certainly, the Netivot agrees that in such a case, even if the transgression is rabbinic, it is considered an act of transgression that requires atonement. For this reason, the Nachalat Tzvi [cited last week] said that a bystander is required to prevent the transgression if he can. He, after all, was discussing a phenomenon where women would eat right until nightfall on the eve of Yom Kippur, while their husbands finished eating earlier. Even though they did not admit that their actions were wrong, they had a reasonable feeling that they were. In such a case, there is no question that it is best to stop the transgression, if it is possible to do so.
The distinction between the levels of fault in an unintentional transgression explains an apparent contradiction in the Rama. The Rama (Yoreh Deah 303:1) brings the Rosh’s opinion that if one sees someone unintentionally wearing a garment made with shaatnez in a public area so that removing it would cause him great embarrassment, he can wait until the person returns home before telling him, because of the importance of human dignity. He introduces this halacha with the phrase, “there are those who say.” In another place (YD 372:1) he says that if one sees a kohen sleeping without clothes and it turns out that there is a corpse under the same roof, he should wake the kohen and call him outside without telling why, so that he can dress himself first and not be forced to rush out undressed. Here the Rama brings this approach as if no one argues. Why is there a difference in the Rama’s level of confidence in the two cases on the question if one should allow his friend to inadvertently violate Torah laws rather than cause him disgrace? One can demonstrate from the contexts of the two sources that the former case involves a violator who could have known, had he been careful, that a forbidden situation was involved. He is thus referred to as having the lower level excuse of shogeg. In the case of the kohen, he had no reason to expect that he would end up under one roof with a corpse, and in his case of oness (higher level of excuse) all agree that one should not compromise the dignity of the kohen who is sinning unintentionally.
However, we apparently see from this Rama that even when one commits a sin unintentionally and even in an oness, we are required to inform him to stop, just that we can wait to do so if informing him immediately will put him in an embarrassing situation. The explanation appears to be as follows. When one does an aveira in a case of oness, it is not considered that he, the person, is sinning. However, the action is still considered an act of aveira. In such a case, if it is appropriate to inform him of the situation, then there is an obligation to prevent him from performing the sin[, as we will explain next time].
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