Tag Archives: lifnei iver

The Changing Parameters of Lifnei Iver

Sometimes understanding the whole picture forces a posek to radically reimagine how a Halachic concept will be applied.  Rarely have I seen a posek who did this more masterfully than Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Aurbach and his understanding of lifnei iver with non-religious Jews.  The shiur and sources are available here.

The Gemara (Chullin 107b) rules that one cannot give food to a waiter unless he knows that the waiter will wash his hands first.   Rabbenu Yonah (Brachot Perek Eilu Devarim) extends this to forbidding giving food to someone who won’t make a bracha, a position accepted lehalacha (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 163, 169). This is based on lifnei iver.  There is some discussion amoung the poskim as to whether this applies only when he will definitely not wash or make a bracha or even by safek, whether this also applies when by giving food one is mekayem a mitzvah (such as tzedakah), what happens if the person can get the food by himself, etc.  We will not get into details here.

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman (Minchat Shlomo 1:35), however, notes that there is a complicating factor that is especially pronounced in modern times.  Especially with the existence of multiple denominations, there are many people are truly love and support Torah, but are not themselves shomer Torah u-Mitzvot. Continue reading The Changing Parameters of Lifnei Iver