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Q1 Posted - 01 January 2001 23:24
MODERATOR'S NOTE: The following is a reprint of a question in the Life / Other / Lubavitch forum. It refers to the Sefer HaChinuch on the Mitzvah of Lo Sikom - you may not take revenge - where he says that since any damage anyone does to you is anyway decreed by Hashem, so why would you want to take revenge on the person, since whatever he did to you wwas supposed to happen anyway. A similar statement is found in the Chovos Halevovos. ___________________________________________

If nobody disagrees w/ the sefer hachinuch and Ibn Ezra you mentioned above how would you explain the Ohr Hachaim in Breishis 37:21?
My understanding was that he was arguing with this idea.

MODERATOR Posted - 03 January 2001 3:14
First let’s tell everyone what you’re talking about.

In Parshas Vayeshev, when Reuven saves Yosef from his brothers who wanted to kill him by lowering him into the pit, the Ohr HaChaim Hakodosh asks what kind of salvation was the pit – it was full of deadly snakes and scorpions, so lowering Yosef into there meant certain death anyway.

He answers that snakes and scorpions only kill someone when Hashem tells them to, so if Yosef is lowered into the pit he will only die if it is G-d’s will, and since Yosef was a total Tzadik, Reuven knew that is would live. But if would be left to the mercies of his brothers, he could be killed even against G-d’s will, since humans are baalei bechirah and they can kill even against the will of G-d.

Q1’s question is, this seems to be at odds with the Sefer HaChinuch which says there is no reason for a person to want revenge against anyone, since whatever the other person did to you was anyway decreed by G-d.

It’s a good question. A lot of people think that the Ohr HaChaim argues with the Sefer HaChinuch. But it doesn’t have to be so.

First, the Chofetz Chaim (al HaTorah Mishpatim) proves from the Gemora that even if someone hurts you, it is still Min HaShamayim.

The Gemora is talking about the fact that the Torah gives a doctor permission to heal. “V rapoh yerapeh” the posuk says. Explains the Gemora; You might have thought that since G-d decreed a person be ill, it would be forbidden to heal him since you are contradicting Hashem’s decree.

But, the Chofetz Chaim points out, the posuk of verapoh yerapeh is referring in context to a person who is injured by being hit by another person.

You therefore see, says the Chofetz Chaim, that even when one person hits another person it is a divine decree.

The Chovos HaLevovos also mentions that when one person harms another it can only be by divine decree.

Rav Chaim Volozhen (Ruach Chaim) also explains along these lines the Mishna in Pirkei Avos, “He saw a skull floating on the water. He said to it: Because you killed someone were you killed – and the person who killed you will be killed nonetheless”.

On the other hand, the Ohr HaChaim who says that a person can harm another even against the will of Hashem and that’s why Reuven was helping Yosef by lowering him into the pit, is really a Zohar, on the spot. The Ohr HaChaim does not quote it, but it’s there.

The Metzudas Dovid in Daniel (3:26) similarly asks why Channia Mishael and Azaryah didn’t simply jump out of the fiery furnace when they had a chance. Even though they would have had to fight Nevuchadnetzar, still, by staying the fire they were as good as dead anyway so why not chance jumping out and fighting? He says that the fire is not a Baal bechirah and only burns when Hashem decrees. Nevuchadnetzar, on the other hand, is a Baal bechirah and could kill them even against Hashem’s wishes. The same idea as the Zohar and the Ohr HaChaim.

There are numerous other sources with this idea as well, particularly in the Chassidishe Seforim.

There doesn’t have to be any disagreement. For sure, Hashem can, and sometimes does protect people even from Baalei Bechirah, like when Moshe Rabbeinu’s neck turned to stone. Or on Chanukah, Rabim b’Yad m’atim.

So here’s the question: If Hashem decides to protect Yosef form the brothers Yosef will be protected; if he decides to let the brothers kill him, he will die. So what’s that different than the snakes and scorpions?

The answer is that Hashem’s decision to protect or not protect people is not random, but follows certain rules. Hashem takes into consideration the person’s merits, zechus avos, other zechusim, and various different factors then decides what to do.

At times, there are circumstances that upset the balance. Like for instance a Makom Sakanah, where Hashem will not afford a person his otherwise warranted level of protection.

Or the Halachah that prohibits us to walk on a bridge together with a Rasha. If Hashem decides to punish the Rasha, by collapsing the bridge, we will c”v be in danger.

But let’s try to understand this. If Hashem wants to innocent person to live he will live; if he wants him to die he will die, so why should the fate of the Rasha accidentally affect the life of the Tzadik because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time?

The answer is of course Hashem can save him, but just like there is such a thing as a natural Makom Sakanha where there is a specially strict system of life and death, so too there are situations, such as being on a bridge with a Rasha, that are similarly dangerous such that Hashem uses a more strict system to determine whether a person lives or dies.

So no matter what, a person’s fate is in the hands of Hashem. It’s just that there are certain circumstances that even if a person would normally be given life, under those circumstances, his Zechusim would not be enough to save him.

So it’s the same thing with Baalei Bechirah vs. non-Baalei Bechirah. The system Hashem uses to determine life and death based on a person’s merits was designed for non-Baalei Bechirah situations. When a Baal bechirah is involved, it’s like being on a bridge with a Rasha, or a simple Makom Sakanah and the usual system of what kind of zechusim you need to live is no longer applicable. Of course Hashem can save you, but its harder to be saved from baalei Bechirah just like its harder to be allowed to live when walking in a makom Sakanah.

So there need not be a Machlokes here. The Ohr HaChaim, the Zohar, the Metzudas, and all the other seforim that say a Baal bechirah can over ride Hashem’s plan only need to mean that they can invalidate Hashem’s usual method of running the world the way a Makom Sakanah can. So it’s true that a baal bechirah can kill someone even if he doesn’t deserve to be killed, the same way that walking on a bridge can kill someone who otherwise would not deserve to be killed. But just as the collapsed bridge and the death of all who are on it is totally Hashem’s doing, so too death at the hands of a Baal bechirah is totally Hashem’s doing. You would need a greater level of zechusim, even greater than what you would normally need for a miracle, to be saved from a Baal Bechirah. And your usual zechusim would not help. The usual manner of the way the world runs would not apply. Instead, there would be a stricter system.

So Reuven did help Yosef by putting him into the pit, because against snakes and scorpions, because Yosef’s zechusim as a perfect Tzadik would certainly spare him from snakes, but when dealing with baalei bechirah, Hashem doesn’t necessarily save even someone with perfect zechusim; Chananiah Mishael and Azariah were smart for facing the fire instead of Nevuchadnetzar for the same reason.

Q1 Posted - 05 January 2001 21:33
What bothers me about your answer is that it seems to imply that when we are dealing with Baalei Bechirah that for hashem's rotzon to be in effect completely you need all things being equal and this is never the case for eg we ride cars a dangerous activity so if you get hurt riding a car can we say this was not really hashems will because you distorted the balance,Or if someone hurts you or insults you its because you were near a disturbed person? there are so many variables.

I also remember learning in Navi a while ago taht Dovid (or shlomo?) where someone was insulting him and he told his people not to punish him because this was what hashem wanted. In R Elchonon Wasserman's sefer (p54) where he wants to say that no matter what happens to you was decreed by hashem on RH you dont even have the ability to commit suicide unless hashem decreed that you should die. This I think certainly goes against the Ohr Hachaim.

When the Ibn Ezrah says we shouldnt be jealous because other people are seperate planets who we shouldnt look at they have nothing to do with us because its impossible that we should have what they have and when the Chinuch says
revenge is wrong because because this is what hashem wants according to your answer this shouldnt be a sufficient reason because maybe the balance got messed up.

There also seems to be a contradiction in the OHR HACHAIM HAKODESH himself because in Breishis 44:16 by Binyomin being punished he brings the idea you did from Sanhedrin that tzadikim get taken down with the wicked but in 42:21 by Reuven he doesnt say there is punishment by association which is why Yosef's brothers had to assume their sin was not listening to yosef's cries as opposed to their obvious greater sins which Reuven was not part of.

If you know of any seforim that mention the Ohr Hachaim's opinion at length I would be interested in seeing them.

HZ Posted - 08 January 2001 2:16
My understanding is that the Ohr Hachaim says that a baal bechirah can kill somebody who is not chayev misah where as an animal cannot. The person still only dies at Hashems will. The question becomes then why the Ohr Hachaim says Reuvein saved Yosef's life. The moderator answered that. I just want to add: It seems he would have lived in any case for that was Hashem's will. Its just that now Reuvein saved him.
MODERATOR Posted - 08 January 2001 3:27

Just a reminder, the Ohr HaChaim is merely duplicating the Zohar ad loc, so let's refer to this as the Zohar's opinion.

It's not a question of "upsetting the balance." It's a question of Hashem shifting His level of method of judgement from the mode that He usually uses to one that is more strict when Baalei bechirah are invovled.

Nobody questions the fact that when someone kills himself it is G-d that decided, allowed, and caused the perosn to be successful. Had G-d not wanted the guy to kill Himself, he owuldn't have been able to, since he needed G-d's help to do it.

However, also, nobody diagrees that G-d dies nto want this guy to kill himself, since He said Thou shalt not kill!

So which is it? Does G-d want this guy to be killed or not?

The answer is that for sure G-d would have preferred that this guy not kill Himself. In that sense we say G-d did nto want this guy to kill Himself.

However, after the guy used his free will to decide to kill himself, G-d now willingly and proactively decrees that this guy's decision should become reality. Nobody forced G-d to do this. In this sense we say G-d wanted the guy to get killed. It's two different definitions of "want". Look at it this way:

G-d willingly makes this guy to kill himself now that the guy decided to do it. But G-d would have preferred that the guy not make that decision.

When we drive a car it is nto considered a Sakanha since Shomer Pesayim Hashem, but if we jump off a roof, or drive wildly, then yes, we upset the balance and G-d now responds to our wildness by shifting His method of dealing in the world and now deals with you stricter.

The only thing that disturbes the balance is bechirah. if a person is disturbed and cannot control his actions it is not a Bechirah decision.

Many Seforim talk abotu the Ohr HaChaim.

The Be'er Mayim Chaim in Chayei Sarah on the posuk V'ekod V'eshtachaveh explains with this principle that even though Hashem arranges shiduchim, a person with his bechirah can reject his proper zivug.

The Divrei Yoel in Ekev explains with this priciple that even Hashem does not give a perso a Nizayon more than he can handle, however, a Baal Bechirah can, meaning that a Baal bechirah who tries to influence you to do an aveirah may present you with a Nisayon stronger than that which Hashem would have given you, that is, a Nisayon too hard for you to handle. This is why it is so important to avoid bad influences, much more than other Nisyonos.

Rabbi Mattisyahu Solomon shlita, the mashgiach of Lakewood, in his Matnas Chaim (Vol. I, "Ais lischok") writes that it always bothered him that the Tur writes that Shabbos HaGodol is called by that name because the Jews miraculously got away with shechting the Egyptian god as a Korban Pesach). He asks, why is this miracle any more impressive than all the miracles that the Jews had in Egypt when they were spared from the Makos for instance?

According to this Zohar, Rabbi Solomon's questions disappears, since all the other miracles invovled the Jews being saved from animals and other non-Baalei Bechirah. The fact that the jews were saved from the Egyptians who were Baalei Bechirah is a much greater miracle.

I had an idea that this Zohar is the meaning of the posuk in Mishle (17:12) "Better to encounter a bear bereaved of its cubs than to meet a fool in his foolishness".

A fool is a Baal bechirah, and can harm oyu worse than a crazy bear, who, no matter how bad a mood he is in, is not a Baal bechirah and only listens to Hashem.

There are countless places where this Zohar and the OhrHaChaim is discussed. If you are looking for a specific angle on it, let me know and I'll see if I can point you somewhere.

Q1 Posted - 08 January 2001 5:36
Ohr hachaim 44:17 writes the reason Yehuda approached (Vayegash) yosef when he demanded binyamin alone remain a slave is because he realized now that hashem was not punishing them for sins because Binyamin was not a part of them, rather, it was because yosef was a Baal Bechira and (like you said) able to do things that would punish them for things they were not punishible for from hashem. This is why yehuda got angry.
My point before was how are we to know if anything that happens to us should be happening to us or is it a "built in loophole" in what the ratzon hashem is due to a baal bechira effecting it. Reuven and Yehuda were able to distinguish when it was because of din they were punished and when it was a baal bechira intervening. We are not therefore my question was how can we be content with everything that happens a la Ibn Ezra and sefer hachinuch if there are so many variables effecting it. Therefore I dont think they agree with Ohr hachaim.

MODERATOR Posted - 08 January 2001 5:45
The ibn Ezra was talking about being jealous of a person's fortunes. that does not come thourgh Bechirah but rather thorugh Gezeirah. Only right vs. wrong comes through Bechirah.

The Sefer HaChinuch says that you should not be angry at someone for doing something to you because Hashem caused it. This is true even if the damage came through a Bechirah-lopphole as you call it, since even in such a case, Hashem clearly acted to make the bechirah-choice come true. if someone shoots someone else, even though it does not show the usual mode of Mishpat, but the point of the chinuch is, if Hashem allwoed the gun to shoot, and the bullet to reach its target, etc. etc., why be angry at the shooter? Hashem Himself contributed to the shooting.

The Sefer haChinuch was talking about whether you should be angry at someone; the Ohr HaCham is talking about whether the normal indications of guilt and innocence are in effect.

The answer is no, the usual scales of guilt and innocence are not in effect, but you should still not be angry at the person, since Hashem did make him be successful.

In other words, if someone shoots someone else, the victim may not be as guilty as he normally would have to be in order to sustain such damage through a non-Baal bechirah, but despite his not being so guilty, Hashem still was invovled in his being shot.

MODERATOR Posted - 09 January 2001 0:55
The Zohar's opinion is also used extensively by Rav Yonason Eyebushitz ZT"L, a contemporary of the Ohr HaChaim, in Yaaros Devash (I:3, I:15, II:2).
jess Posted - 26 September 2004 5:01
you brought up the idea that there isn't any reason to take revenge on someone else, because whatever they've done to you was done because G-d decreed it to be. My question is along the same lines-if G-d creates us to be exactly as we are, with the knowledge of all of the decisions we will make, then why should He punish us for those decisions? For example, why would He declare that homosexuality is an abomination and then create people who will live their lives as homosexuals? Also, if he creates someone who will murder others, then if my understanding is correct, his/her victims are meant to end their lives at that point as a part of G-d's plan, but why shouldn't they die of natural causes? Why does G-d involve someone else who will have to pay for that action? I'm not saying that I think G-d should have created everyone flawless, because I understand the idea of making mistakes and then repenting for them, but situations like these I don't understand at all - where people are immoral and never repent, etc. Please help, I've asked this question in various forms over the past couple months and its never been posted.
MODERATOR Posted - 26 September 2004 5:09
It hasnt been posted because the asnwers are already to be found all over the site.

Look at the beginning of this forum. It discusses your assaumption that:

<<if he creates someone who will murder others, then if my understanding is correct, his/her victims are meant to end their lives at that point as a part of G-d's plan, but why shouldn't they die of natural causes? >>

In short: G-d knows what we will choose, but the decisions are our free-will. Its liek Hashem looks into a crystal ball and sees the future. The fact that he knows what the person He is observing will do does not mean He made him do it.

G-d did not say being homosexual is wrong, He only said that committing acts of homosexuality is wrong. A person who is a homosexual has a very difficult Nisayon, but it is a Nisayon nonetheless, just liek all temptation in the world. G-d creates temptation because by saying no to it, we merit Olam Habah. Having the tmeptation is not a bad thing - giving in to it is. A homosexual can be as big a Tzadik - bigger, even, since his nisyonos, in this area, at least, are greater - as Moshe Rabbeinu.

As far as the murder goes, as you see at the beginning of the forum, it is the opinion of many Torah authorities that if someon gets murdered it is not part of Hashem's plan.

But even according to those who say it is part of Hashem's plan, it doesnt mean that Hashem invovled the murderer. The murderer invovled himlsef. The person would indeed have died of natural causes, but the murderer wanted to murder him and decided to murder him, and so the murtderer did. That is why he gets punished - because he independenty decided to commit the murder.

Yes, G-d knew he would decide this, but so what? That doesnt make the murderer any less evil. The decision to murder and the attmept to murder sooone is what makes somoene evil - and this murderer did all that.

mo Posted - 18 September 2005 20:44
**For example, why would He declare that homosexuality is an abomination and then create people who will live their lives as homosexuals?**

I think r. MODERATOR shouldn't give in so easy : who says that homosexuals are "created" in the first place? It's just a piece of propaganda.

eliana Posted - 25 September 2005 2:24
I understand the concept that it's harder to be saved if you place yourself in a makom sakana, or you walk under a bridge with a rasha, because those things are things you know you should not be doing. If something happens to you, you have it coming to you, becuase you placed yourself in a situation where you know you will be judged in a stricter way.
But it seems different when Hashem changes the judgement to strict judgement becuase there is a baal bechira involved. There, you didn't do anything to deserve to be judged more strictly, it's the other person who is causing the change in judgement. I don't understand how a person can be judged according to midas hadin becuase of the actions of someone else. Or is it just something we have to accept as the way Hashem runs the world?
MODERATOR Posted - 25 September 2005 2:34
It's Hashems way of running the world.
taon Posted - 27 September 2005 1:10
"satan accuses at a time of danger", meaning, whenever someone is in danger, they are judged carefully to see if they deserve that danger, even if they otherwise wouldnt yet be punished for those aveiros.
satinsword13 Posted - 27 March 2007 5:01
i dont understand something. when somebody kills himself, as we said, so Hashem helped-but only in the sense that he gave this person free choice-basically, not that Hashem helped like he did it. only in the sense of well, everything's koach comes form Hashem. but we don't say HAshem killed him.

So why, when somone hurts me, do i not be angry at him because well HAshem was involved. Really that guy wanted to, and AHshem flipped the judgement and said, "ok." but that never would've happened if he never chose? so shouldn;t i rightfully be upset at him?

the only thing i thought is that u never KNOW if i deserved this anyways and would have gotten it anyways, or if it's only becasue of tihs person, so why get angry at him, if it COULD be i wouldve gotten it anyways, but thats not what it sounds like.

do u hear my difficulty?

taon Posted - 27 March 2007 16:12
I think i do have the right to be angry,becuase he intended to do it, and if you didin't deserve it at all,it wouldn't have happened, or you wouldn'thave beeen pput in a situation where you would be judged harsher. do you understand what I'mwriting? did i understand you correctly? if not,please explain further. It is confusing at first, Iknow.
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