Question:

My Jewish boss is not religious and ordered non-kosher food from a restaurant that has kosher and non-kosher food. He  asked his religious Jewish employee to go and pick up the order in the restaurant (maris ayin is not an issue since the restaurant also contains kosher foods).

  1. May the employee pick up the non-kosher  food? Is this a concern of lifnei iver?
  2. Or perhaps facilitating  a sinner?

Answer:

It is permitted for the Jewish employee to pick up the order of non-kosher food and bring it to his employer, even though he is facilitating his employer to consume non-kosher food.

  1. Normally, when one is prohibited from performing an action, Jews who enable that to happen are in violation of lifnei iver; i.e., placing a spiritual stumbling block in front of a blind person. The one who is violating the aveiroh (the perpetrator) is considered blind to the seriousness of his actions. For example, a woman who is interested in an elective abortion, is in violation of lifnei iver when she instructs and allows her physician to abort her fetus. However, the laws of lifnei iver also have their own rules that most often would neutralize the issur of lifnei iver in your case. Only if the aveiroh (sinful action e.g., consuming non-kosher food or performing an abortion) would not be completed were it not for the assistance of the assistant is one in violation of placing a spiritual stumbling block in front of the spiritually blind. However, were the courier or assistant refuse to help, another assistant would be found to fill his or her place there cannot be a violation of lifnei iver of enabling.[1] Therefore, employees may pick up the non-kosher food from the treif restaurant since they are not indispensable. Were they to refuse, another employee would be sent. If there is at least one non-Jewish employee, there is no possibility of violating lifnei iver. Even if there is no gentile employee available, as long as there is the possibility that the person who ordered the non-kosher food and will consume it is able to fetch it, it is not considered as if the courier is enabling the violation of eating treif.
  2. Halochoh would consider that as mesaye’a, facilitating the issur, not enabling. Enabling is only when the aveiroh will not be performed without the input of the enabler. Facilitation of an aveiroh, is when one is assisting the aveiroh to happen but even without the facilitator, the aveiroh will take place. Facilitating a person to do an aveiroh is also forbidden miderabonon. The laws of facilitation of an aveiroh only require a facilitator to desist from facilitating if he has the power to influence the outcome and prevent the aveiroh from happening. If, however, there is no reasonable way to influence the one committing the violation (e.g., your boss or the physician in the case of abortion) to desist from this action, then there is no issur of mesaye’a lidvar aveiroh. In your case, I assume your boss is not religious and has no qualms about ingesting non-kosher foods. Since he is doing the aveiroh knowingly, there is no halachic requirement to avoid the facilitating his consumption of treif food.[2]

Still, a sensitive Jew is advised to refrain from bringing the non-kosher food to the Jew to consume, especially if he or she is expected to repeatedly participate. The Torah specifically marks non-kosher food as one of the distinguishing factors that separate Jew from gentile. It has been the hallmark of Jews throughout history that they have unique dietary laws and it separates Jews from gentiles and their mistaken outlook on life and values. Facilitating this behavior, especially if done often, will desensitize a person to this important value. No doubt such a desensitization can have a deleterious effect on one’s spiritual growth and stunt his or her connection to Hashem.

 

Sources:

 

[1] If, however, all other potential assistants are Jewish (to whom the mitzvoh of lifnei iver is applicable to), then it should be considered as if any one of the assistants who assists in bringing the non-kosher food (or in the abortion) is considered an enabler of the consumption of treif (or of an abortion). The reason is because it is considered halachically impossible for the abortion to take place without the assistance of the assistant since the law of lifnei iver precludes all possible assistants from assisting. However, if there is at least one gentile who might have assisted, since the gentile is not obligated in the mitzvoh of lifnei iver, there is no violation of lifnei iver for a Jew to assist in the act of issur (consumption of treif or abortion) since the aveiroh would have taken place regardless of his refusal.

ולענין איסור מסייע, נראה דאם הרופא הוא נכרי, ליכא איסור מסייע לנכרי כמו שמיקל בזה הרמ”א ביו”ד סימן קנ”א ס”א, וא”ה ס”ה סי”ד, ועמ”ב שמ”ז סק”ז, וח”ס יו”ד סי”ט הובא בפת”ש סס”ב סק”א, דה”ט דמוכרים ביצים (של עוף טמא או טריפה) לנכרי, וכ”כ בפמ”ג קסג א”א סק”ב.

ואף אם הרופא העושה ההפלה הוא יהודי יש מקום להתיר ע”פ הש”ך יו”ד קנ”א סק”ו ובנו”ב ודגו”מ שם דכשרוצה לעבור במזיד ליכא איסור מסייע, וכן דעת האג”מ בכ”ד.

[2] עיין ש”ך יו”ד קנ”א סק”ו ובדגו”מ שם ובפת”ש בשם הנו”ב. וע”ע באג”מ יו”ד ח”א סימן ע”ב, ואו”ח ח”ג סימן כ”ז, א”ה ח”ד ספ”ז.

The Shach, Noda Biyehuda and Rav Moshe Feinstein have all agreed that it is only forbidden to facilitate one to perform an aveiroh if it is possible to influence the perpetrator from performing his aveiroh. A person who does the action knowing it is an aveiroh or would not desist regardless of any exhortation to refrain from the aveiroh, is not included in the issur of mesaye’ah lidvar aveiroh.

 

One Response to “lifnei iver”

  1. Thank you for this response it was very helpful for me being that I’m in this exact situation

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