Shabbat Parashat Vayechi| 5766
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - Saving Some From Sin and Causing Others a Greater Sin - Part III - From Amud Hay’mini, siman 3
[We have seen that when one violates a transgression without knowledge or fault (a case of oness) he is not considered to be committing an aveira. Despite this, one who sees him doing so is required to inform him so that he can stop, under normal circumstances. We now need to explain that paradox and relate the matter back to our original question: when one becomes aware on Shabbat that an eiruv is down, should he inform others, when the assumption is that some will stop carrying and others will continue in violation of a rabbinic law.]
It is true that when one commits an aveira without knowledge or fault, he is not considered to be sinning personally. However, one is still expected to inform him because, normally, doing so is a favor for him, as we will explain. The gemara (Kiddushin 39b) says: “One who sits and does not commit an aveira receives reward as if he did a mitzva.” The gemara explains that this is when the opportunity to sin came his way, and he avoided it. Although one who sins as an oness is not considered to have sinned, he is also not considered to have avoided sin. Therefore, one should normally inform the inadvertent sinner so that he can be rewarded for stopping the transgression. Even when the inadvertent transgression is rabbinic, the same logic dictates to inform him, as he will be rewarded for refraining from rabbinic sin as well. However, in a case like that of a kohen sleeping under one roof with a rabbinic-level impure object, where it is unnatural to wake him, one does not wake him up (Shach, YD 372:3). When he awakens, it is normal and expected to inform him. [In the case of mitasek, it may not be necessary to inform someone what he is doing. That matter and the question of whether carrying with the erroneous assumption that an eiruv is functional is a case of mitasek arebeyond our present scope.]
It is a favor to inform someone that he is doing something wrong only if we can expect him to refrain from the aveira in response. If one expects him to continue the aveira after being informed, then, on the contrary, informing him is a transgression of lifnei iver lo titen michshol (not putting a stumbling block before another). The information creates a situation where the person is likely to sin, which is wrong to do.
Let us now return to the case of the fallen eiruv. Everyone has a right to assume that the eiruv is functional, at least when it is checked before Shabbat. If so, if the eiruv is down, the violation is one of oness. Therefore, there is no need to save people from sin, just an opportunity to enable them to actively refrain from sin, with its accompanying reward. However, at the same time, one will cause others to sin out of the temptation and pressure of the new situation, and in regard to them, informing is placing a stumbling block. In a case where the unintentional violators are somewhat to blame for not being aware we might follow the Tashbetz’s approach of seeing if more people would gain or lose by informing them. However, in our case, there is no full obligation to prevent them from sin, since they are oness and not culpable at all. Therefore, it is not reasonable to do a favor of enabling even the majority to refrain from sib, at the price of causing an actual violation of those who will continue to carry. Not only is inactivity normally preferable when one has to choose between what is good for one and bad for another, but actively informing is actually a violation of lifnei iver.
Practically speaking, it is still preferable to inform privately those who one knows will refrain from carrying. One just needs to ensure that this can be done in a way that does not give the impression that there are two segments of the population, those who are scrupulous in their mitzva observance and those who are lax. “And the wise one has eyes in his head.”
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