Shabbat Parashat Va'eira 5764
Va'eira | | 1/8/2004
The late and sainted Rav Yosef Dov Soloveichik often remarked that Moshe was simultaneously the greatest prophet, had the status of a king and served as Kohen Gadol. Yet, we never call him by any other title than Rabbenu, our Teacher. Moshe was the first and forever our greatest Rabbi.
In several areas of halacha, there is an exemption from full responsibility in the case of g’rama. G’rama is the causing of an outcome (usually detrimental) in an indirect manner. By melacha on Shabbat, the lack of sufficient connection between the one who does the causing and the outcome lowers the level of such a form of chillul Shabbat to a minimum. G’rama on Shabbat is permitted in cases of great need, such as a significant loss of money. So too, if one damages someone else in a manner of g’rama, he is exempt from payment.
May one charge a price to donate tissue or a limb from his body? We have a rule (Bechorot 29a) that mitzvot which a person is required to do for his friend must be done free of charge. Therefore, even one who toils greatly in order to return an object to his counterpart may not get paid for his efforts. The only exception is that he may take money in cases that the mitzva took him away from a money-making activity, in which case he can take “schar batala” (Bava Metzia 30b). For this reason, one cannot take money for doing a life-saving action, as it is categorized as returning one’s body to himself, which is included in the mitzva to return lost items (Sanhedrin 73a).
This edition of Hemdat Yamim is
A weekly divrei Torah leaflet: A Glimpse at the Parasha, Ask the Rabbi, From the writings of Harav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, zt”l, Pninat Mishpat (Jewish Monetary Law).