Can I Live Dangerously? -Episode 29
Rav Avi: Hi, welcome to Responsa Radio, where you ask and we answer questions of Jewish law in modern times. I'm Rabbi Avi Killip, speaking with Rabbi Ethan Tucker, Rosh Yeshiva at Mechon Hadar, a center for higher Jewish learning based in New York City. Hello!
Rav Eitan: Hi Avi, how are you?
Rav Avi: I'm great, how are you?
Rav Eitan: Doing great.
Rav Avi: "How much danger am I allowed to put myself in? Can I go skydiving, which is relatively low-risk, but certainly dangerous? How about base jumping? Mountain climbing, climbing Mount Everest? I am mostly thinking about extreme sports, but this question could be extended beyond that as well to smoking cigarettes, eating unhealthily, and the like." So we have a big question here. How much danger are we allowed to put ourselves in?
Rav Eitan: This person's a lot more adventurous than I! So, I'll have to, I don't know if I can empathetically answer the Mount Everest piece, but we'll try to engage it. You know, it's interesting, a passage in the Talmud Yerushalmi in a different context which reports the view that Rabbi Yehuda forbade ever going on a boat trip in the Mediterranean. I just think that's interesting. It's, like, a surprising position, but it indicates, seems pretty clear, he thought that was dangerous. He's like, what do you need to go on a boat trip out on the Mediterranean? You go up the coast if you need to go for business, you shouldn't be going that way at all.
So I think that's probably an outlier -- I mean, we know it's an outlier, there's a lot of famous rabbis in the Talmud who went on plenty of boat trips. But this is a well-established question of things that you see happening in your broader environment, and do Jews just sort of follow what happens out there in that broader world, or are they supposed to sort of, like, hang back in terms of this?
Rav Avi: Well, I'll admit I don't usually picture the sages as extreme sports participants.
Rav Eitan: Yes, I think that is fair! I think that is fair. Let's go to the root question. I think there's a root question behind all of this, which the questioner is presuming, which we shouldn't take for granted, which is are you allowed to hurt yourself? Forget about doing something that's high-risk; can I actually just hurt myself? Is that permissible? If it's permissible to hurt yourself, presumably it's certainly permitted to put yourself at risk. The Mishnah seems pretty clearly to say no. In Bava Kama it says someone who injures themselves, even though they're not allowed to, they're exempt. Af al pi she'eino rashai, patur. What does that mean? Meaning, they don't have to pay themselves damages, this is a part of the Mishnah that's dealing with compensating people for torts, for injuring them in one way or another. But it's that phrase, af al pi she'eino rashai, don't think that just because there's no one to pay when you hurt yourself, that means it's allowed. You're not allowed to do that.
But what's interesting is the Talmud on that Mishnah actually seems to entertain an opposing view. Adam rashai lechabel b'atzmo, that there actually is a view, at least a constructed view, that imagines that not everyone agreed on that, and I would say in fact everyone has to admit that there are certain forms of asceticism that have a long pedigree, right? Fasting, other forms of self-denial -- these things hurt yourself, right? The Talmud Yerushalmi talks about a sage who fasted for so many days, his teeth turned black. Okay? We're talking about major self-affliction here. And everyone sort of has to acknowledge that that level of self-affliction at least seems to have some space. But the consensus does emerge in the wake of the Mishnah that it is not permitted to hurt yourself for no meaningful religious reason, or for no critical life activity.
One other element in this came across when thinking about this question, Rabbi Dov Lior, who's a contemporary Israeli rabbi, he's actually addressing a sort of contentious question of is it permissible to live in dangerous parts of Eretz Yisrael, parts over the Green Line, isolated settlements, all sorts of things. And in the course of making what's obviously a very political argument there, he says did anyone ever suggest that it was forbidden for a woman to agree to get pregnant because it injured her body or put her life at risk or any number of things? You say of course not, right, we're always making some decision about certain activities seem to be just part of the non-negotiable fabric of life, and civilization, and we recognize they may have some sort of pain that they involve the human body in, but that doesn't shut down our discussion. So, that's a sort of, I'd say, overall outline here: you're not allowed to hurt yourself, except when there's some overriding issue.
Rav Avi: I think that it does sound like there's something different here between saying you're not allowed to hurt yourself and you're not allowed to try to hurt yourself, that when you're fasting you know that for that many days, at least, you know that that's going to hurt yourself, which feels different than the other two examples, either of pregnancy or of living in a dangerous place, where your goal is not to hurt yourself. Your goal is to do something else, that falls into the question of risk. You may hurt yourself and maybe even likely hurt yourself, but that's different than saying I will go out for the sake of trying to put myself in danger.
Rav Eitan: Yeah, that's a nice distinction. I think maybe that's a helpful way of saying when you're in that situation of I am going to hurt myself, the consensus clearly comes to a place of saying that's not allowed. Now, what does that come from? So, that view really is born out by an interesting reading of a verse in the Torah which says venishmartem meod l'nafshotechem. The plain sense of that phrase is guard yourselves very well, in the context of not succumbing to idolatry, not forgetting the commands at Sinai, not forgetting the moment of the revelation. You gotta kind of guard your souls, almost, in a very literal way. But it's taken to mean v'nishmartem meod l'nafshotechem, guard your life, right? That there's a kind of almost religious, Biblical command to take actions that will make sure to preserve your own life.
And just to give one amazing story of this that plays out reported in the name of the Tzantzer Rebbe, Rav Aryeh Leib Halberstam, who at the end of his life was ill and the doctors had prescribed a whole range of things that he had to make sure to do. And among them was that it was completely forbidden for him to eat maror at the seder, specifically, you know, what Ashkenazi ate in that context, which was horseradish, and he would have eaten a kezayit, and olive's worth of it. And they told him this would absolutely put your life at risk, you may not do it. And it's reported of him that when he got to that moment in the seder, he would pick up the maror that he was, you know, sort of ready to eat, and he would then say baruch ata hashem elokeinu melech haolam asher kidshanu v'mitzvotav vetzivanu v'nishmartem meod l'nafshotechem, who has commanded us to guard our lives, and he would then put the maror down on the table.
Now that's a very dramatic image on its own terms, but what it shows you is him kind of acting out his understanding that taking steps to guard one's life, and in particular refraining from dangerous activities, he was acting out as a fulfillment of a divine command.
Rav Avi: Is that a bracha that's anywhere else? Do other people use that?
Rav Eitan: No, it seems to be that he basically, in an ad hoc way, made it up on the spot. But the source here that quotes it emphasizes that he did it with G-d's name, like actually with the name of G-d, so he did it as a real blessing.
Rav Avi: My mind is spinning with different ways and contexts wherein we might use that bracha to be really powerful for people, but I think it would take us in a different direction, so I'll send us back into this question instead.
Rav Eitan: Alright, go, we can do a future episode on it. You know, I think the main message there is, your body is not yours. Right? Or it's not only yours, and that a religious perspective in that sense informed by this value, it can't ever be completely compatible with a libertarian ideal of well, I can do whatever I want with my body. It's a different conception of freedom. It's not freedom to do whatever I want, but it's freedom from oppression in order to maximize human dignity and G-d's presence in the world. One of the consequences of that is there might be things you want to do that you're not allowed to do to your body.
Rav Avi: So, I think one of the things I love about the way this questioner framed the question here is that they're not asking, can I put myself in danger to defend my country, or can I put myself in danger to fulfill the mitzvah of eating maror -- they're saying, can I put myself in danger to go skydiving, which you may not want to do, but they may want to do. Or can I put myself in danger to climb Mount Everest? And I think it's interesting also to then tack on the, or how about smoking cigarettes or eating unhealthily, because there are people, the adventurer people out there, who would say if I don't go skydiving, I'm not really living. And I don't know if we can say that same thing about if I don't eat this bag of potato chips, I'm not really living. Maybe some people will say yes. But these questions --
Rav Eitan: It depends which crowd you hang with.
Rav Avi: Exactly, and which kind of potato chip! But this question of can I put myself in danger not necessarily for the sake of a higher good but for the sake of a thrill or for the sake of personal enjoyment.
Rav Eitan: Yeah. So, let's come back to that. What you're leading us to is sensitivity to the fact that it's one thing to throw your life away or, you know, in Rav Halberstam's case, to eat the maror that the doctor told him not to eat, but a lot of other cases are in a grayer area. You're taking some kind of risk, and in particular, you might be taking a risk in a context where a lot of other people take that risk, and it's just sort of a normal thing that's done, and is that a factor at all for judging it? So, if one element here is venishmartem meod l'nafshotechem, this really very intense command as it's been processed over the ages to avoid activities to put your life at risk, there's another concept, which is played out in the Talmud, which goes by the code words based on a Biblical phrase, G-d guards the foolish. Shomer p'taim hashem.
And let me give you the text here where it comes up. We have to do a little bit of ancient astrology, just to kind of understand what's going on here, but the details aren't really important. It's just to kind of get the context. So, Shmuel in the Talmud in Shabbat is dealing with the question of bloodletting, right? This is before we had modern medicine, we had bloodletting. And this was a kind of regular part, for many people, of I don't know if maintaining health is the right way to put it, but it was sort of part of a bodily regime of something which they felt could strengthen the body, but was also recognized to be risky. And it's very clear that people died from this. So you find in the Talmud all kinds of discussions of when is bloodletting okay, what do you do after you bloodlet. So here Shmuel says you can only have a bloodletting on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday. Okay. Now, why is that?
Rav Avi: Yeah, I always follow that myself.
Rav Eitan: Exactly. So, the Talmud is trying to sort of figure out what's going on here, and it says, well, why not Tuesday? What's wrong with bloodletting on Tuesday? And playing with the kind of ancient cosmology of understanding the planets kind of cycling around in the zodiac and showing up in a prominent fashion at different hours of different days, okay, the Talmud says, well, we know Tuesday you can't do bloodletting because during the daylight hours on that day, Mars, which is the planet associated with violence and danger, right, in keeping with ancient Greek and Roman cosmology, passes through Gemini, which is the constellation associated with bad luck. This is a general trope that pairs things that are even in rabbinic literature and bad luck. So you've got Mars in Gemini, that's really bad news. That happens on Tuesday during the day, so I understand why that's out for bloodletting. But the Talmud says, but Mars passes through Gemini during the day on Friday as well! And Shmuel allows bloodletting on Friday. And the Talmud's answer is, since so many people do it on Friday, and are apparently fine, apparently Friday was a popular day for bloodletting, and they're not just dropping like flies, G-d protects those who foolishly ignore the risks.
Now, what is this text getting at, right? This text is getting at there's a sort of theory -- translating it to our day, it's a kind of almost medical theory of something that if someone were coming to me and saying should I bloodlet on Friday, I would say, well, actually, the risks indicate that you shouldn't do it then. And there's a common practice where everyone's doing it, and most people are basically fine. And the question at that point essentially the Talmud is asking is, do we then vilify and forbid people from doing bloodletting on Friday, or is this like yeah, I know trans fats are bad, but everyone eats potato chips, and I can't turn a single bag of potato chips into a rabbinic or Biblical violation. That's what this category, I think, is trying to get at. Places where we might not love that people are behaving this way, but it's very hard to really shut this down as deviant given that it's just not egregious enough.
Rav Avi: I think in bringing this text, you are also underlining a reality that sometimes what we think of as fact changes, and what we define as dangerous changes. You know, when I hear you read this text, it's like it involves a practice that is, you know, the best medical technology of the time, which I now look back on and say, well, don't bloodlet ever, and an astrology that I'm also not subscribing to as powerful or that I don't check in with when I make decisions, you know, I don't say I don't fly in airplanes on Fridays because of Mars and Venus. You know, not that I even know if Mars is in the sky on Fridays. Like, this is all part of a technology, so many different levels of technology that are not active in my life when I ask myself if something is dangerous. I don't check in with any of those ideas, which I think is just a helpful reminder that what's dangerous for one person or what feels obviously a good idea or a bad idea to one person may not, in fact, register as dangerous for someone else.
Rav Eitan: Yeah. So, look -- over time, clearly things change. I think to me what's interesting about this text is from the frame of reference of this passage in the Talmud, everyone agrees Mars passing through Gemini is bad, and everyone seems to experience that as dangerous, and yet even in that context, there's a sort of, like, well, I don't know, we gotta let certain things go. And this was Rav Moshe Feinstein when he was asked about smoking back in the 1960s. This was the approach that he took: he basically said, I know, there's studies that say cancer and, you know, all other things being equal you shouldn't do it, certainly a serious Torah personality thinking about this should not start smoking.
And yet, he's unwilling to vilify all the people who smoke. Too many people smoke, right? It's basically, it's not deviant enough of a behavior that he's willing to say this is a violation of your obligation to safeguard your body. Now, I think that teshuva has not worn well with time -- this goes to your point about things shifting -- I think we can quite comfortably say that the risks of smoking have now been so firmly established that that doesn't seem like it's a G-d will protect those who are careless and those who are foolish; that seems more like someone knows this is basically gonna cause lung cancer, and any kind of regular smoking would seem to clearly be out. So, you know, if I were to sort of sum up and try to direct this towards an answer, the question really is, where are the thresholds here and what falls in what category?
Because we got a few legal principles here. One: there's some religiously significant rituals and other basic elements of life that may involve risk or self-harm that we treat as acceptable. That could be anything from a woman getting pregnant to people fasting on Yom Kippur to fasting in an optional context -- a certain amount of that we just allow. A second thing is, as a matter of principle, if you have strictly optional risky behavior which is harmful, that's forbidden. You're not allowed to just do that to yourself in that way. And then the third is, there are some commonly done actions that even though there's risk involved, they're sort of so common that we can't and won't excoriate people who choose to do them, and I think that's the category where a lot of the debates around food and food policy have fallen. Like, can you really say eating a hamburger or eating meat, you know, x amount of frequency, we're really going to actually criminalize that? The question is, how do we sort what into what category here?
Now here, I think you alluded to this already -- I think to a certain degree we can rely on scientific knowledge and general studies to kind of guide us with respect to what's harmful to the body. As I said, if you ask me, yeah, being like a regular smoker, smoking multiple cigarettes a day, that just seems out. Like, we could be sensitive to people who are addicted, trying to get off, but that's out as an activity that's permitted to begin. It's just, the danger is too clear, and there's no necessity to do it. Some tolerable level of risk, you know, you're driving a car, you're doing any number of other things, you clearly don't assume that's a problem. Mount Everest, right? I think the question with Mount Everest, if you were to ask me, I would be inclined to some combination of looking at the statistics -- I think you have a pretty high mortality rate there that might seal it, you know, alone for me -- but there's also an element of kind of looking around the society and asking is this something people consider extreme and dangerous or not, is there any purpose to it other than thrill, and even that term "extreme sports," right, I mean, extreme sports sometimes means, like, doing an Iron Man race.
But an extreme sport in the sense of, like, really, you know, deep diving without a tank and all that kind of stuff -- that feels to me, along with Mount Everest, like it might be out, you know? As I say this, I understand for some people as you pointed to, that's so exciting, that's sort of part of the reason to live. Look, at the end of the day we live in a world where people are free to do what they want to do. I think in the context of this kind of conversation we're saying look: people are going to decide to do what they want, what does Jewish tradition have to say about this? I think Jewish tradition probably is the voice telling you not necessarily to go up Mount Everest. If you make it up and you go back down and you're okay, you know, okay. I don't know that we view someone like that as a sinner retrospectively. But there is something of going into a situation like that that's just for sort of the thrill and the fulfillment, and I think does go to that question of who does own your body? Have you been entrusted in a way that yeah, demands some restrictions on your behavior?
Rav Avi: So, I've been sitting here thinking about that original bracha that you mentioned of, you know, I am commanded to take care of my body. I wonder if an interesting test would be, could you say that blessing before you do the activity? Could you say I'd put on the right parachute, I got the right gear, I got the right guide, I have the right securities in place, and I am fulfilling that, even though I'm about to go skydiving, or if you can't say that, if you can't feel good about that blessing, then maybe that's a red flag.
Rav Eitan: Yeah. That's interesting. I mean, the way maybe I could embrace that is to the extent your comfort with saying the blessing actually made you feel good statistically about the safety of what you were doing, that resonates with me. Right? I mean, skydiving I think is a good example where that feels to me like you don't really hear about people dying that much from skydiving. Like, if you are with a trained person and you do what you need to do, it's very scary, but it's not actually that dangerous. I mean, I could be wrong on the statistics there, but my basic, you know, layperson's understanding is that that's so.
And I think yeah, nothing that we've said points to the notion that you're not allowed to do scary things, right? I mean, a roller coaster is another example of that. Sure, it's scary, you almost feel like you're gonna die at a certain moment in a really scary roller coaster, but really what's wrong with that, right? There's nothing particularly dangerous about that, as long as you don't have some kind of condition.
I want to throw in one other dimension here, which I think is a little uncomfortable, but I think it's important, I feel some obligation to say it. I think a person also has an obligation to think about how the activity will be perceived by others, particularly by those to whom they may be responsible, whether it might be parents, children, or other family members, if G-d forbid something went wrong. In other words, would a tragedy as a result of the activity we're involved in, would it be perceived as a freak accident that was just, you know, tragic? Or, would you be perceived as having done something irresponsible? And the reason I raise that is, you know, the venishmartem meod l'nafshotechem, guarding your life, is about G-d being affected by the risks that we take with our bodies, but it's important to remember other people are also affected by the risks that we take with our bodies.
And I think we have to take into account whenever we're engaging with some activity that feels like it's playing with the lines we've talked about here, what's the kind of anguish we might cause them if, G-d forbid, we play the odds of a risky situation and lose? Everyone makes decisions that they don't, you know, completely shut down based on what would happen if G-d forbid something went wrong, and yet I think that's gotta be also a piece of the calculus. If i were to say what unites this with the first piece is what I think elements of the Jewish tradition call on us to do, is not to think of ourselves as completely isolated in ourselves. We're custodians of our bodies both as a kind of image of G-d and as being part of a web of responsibility to other people as well.
Rav Avi: So what we've come to is really, when you're facing a decision like this, you weigh the risks and you weigh your responsibilities, and then the truth of the matter is we can't give a clear answer because every situation is different, and each individual's gonna have to make those determinations for themselves.
Rav Eitan: Yeah. But that there's a sort of serious religious obligation to get to a place where you could tell yourself and others a convincing story of it was totally reasonable for me to think that I would enter this situation and exit it just fine. And if you can't do that, probably you haven't been dealing with it as responsibly as you should.
Rav Avi: Great. Hope everyone is able to engage in life's thrills in a safe way, or as safe as possible.
Rav Eitan: Hear, hear!
Rav Avi: Responsa Radio is a project of the Center for Jewish Law and Values at Mechon Hadar, and is produced by Jewish Public Media, which creates, curates, and promotes excellent Jewish content. If you have a halakhic question you'd like answered on the show, email us at [email protected] You can also leave us a voicemail at (215) 297-4254.
Texts Referenced
הַתּוֹקֵעַ לַחֲבֵרוֹ, נוֹתֵן לוֹ סֶלַע. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי יוֹסֵי הַגְּלִילִי, מָנֶה. סְטָרוֹ, נוֹתֵן לוֹ מָאתַיִם זוּז. לְאַחַר יָדוֹ, נוֹתֵן לוֹ אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת זוּז. צָרַם בְּאָזְנוֹ, תָּלַשׁ בִּשְׂעָרוֹ, רָקַק וְהִגִּיעַ בּוֹ רֻקּוֹ, הֶעֱבִיר טַלִּיתוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ, פָּרַע רֹאשׁ הָאִשָּׁה בַּשּׁוּק, נוֹתֵן אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת זוּז. זֶה הַכְּלָל הַכֹּל לְפִי כְבוֹדוֹ. אָמַר רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא, אֲפִילוּ עֲנִיִּים שֶׁבְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, רוֹאִין אוֹתָם כְּאִלּוּ הֵם בְּנֵי חוֹרִין שֶׁיָּרְדוּ מִנִּכְסֵיהֶם, שֶׁהֵם בְּנֵי אַבְרָהָם, יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב. וּמַעֲשֶׂה בְּאֶחָד שֶׁפָּרַע רֹאשׁ הָאִשָּׁה בַּשּׁוּק, בָּאת לִפְנֵי רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא, וְחִיְּבוֹ לִתֵּן לָהּ אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת זוּז. אָמַר לוֹ רַבִּי, תֶּן לִי זְמַן. וְנָתַן לוֹ זְמַן. שְׁמָרָהּ עוֹמֶדֶת עַל פֶּתַח חֲצֵרָהּ וְשָׁבַר אֶת הַכַּד בְּפָנֶיהָ, וּבוֹ כְּאִסָּר שֶׁמֶן. גִּלְּתָה אֶת רֹאשָׁהּ, וְהָיְתָה מְטַפַּחַת וּמַנַּחַת יָדָהּ עַל רֹאשָׁהּ. הֶעֱמִיד עָלֶיהָ עֵדִים, וּבָא לִפְנֵי רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא. אָמַר לוֹ, רַבִּי, לָזוֹ אֲנִי נוֹתֵן אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת זוּז. אָמַר לוֹ, לֹא אָמַרְתָּ כְּלוּם. הַחוֹבֵל בְּעַצְמוֹ, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי, פָּטוּר. אֲחֵרִים שֶׁחָבְלוּ בּוֹ, חַיָּבִין. וְהַקּוֹצֵץ נְטִיעוֹתָיו, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי, פָּטוּר. אֲחֵרִים שֶׁקָּצְצוּ אֶת נְטִיעוֹתָיו, חַיָּבִים:
One who strikes another must give him a sela. Rabbi Yehuda says in the name of Rabbi Yosei HaGelili that he must give him one hundred dinars. If he slapped another on the cheek, he must give him two hundred dinars. If he slapped him on the cheek with the back of his hand, which is more degrading than a slap with the palm, he must give him four hundred dinars. If he pulled his ear, or pulled out his hair, or spat at him and his spittle reached him, or if he removed the other’s cloak from him, or if he uncovered the head of a woman in the marketplace, in all of these cases, he must give the injured party four hundred dinars. This is the principle of assessing payment for humiliation caused to another: It is all evaluated in accordance with the honor of the one who was humiliated, as the Gemara will explain. Rabbi Akiva said: Even with regard to the poor among the Jewish people, they are viewed as though they were freemen who lost their property and were impoverished. And their humiliation is calculated according to this status, as they are the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and are all of prominent lineage. The mishna relates: And an incident occurred involving one who uncovered the head of a woman in the marketplace, and the woman came before Rabbi Akiva to request that he render the assailant liable to pay for the humiliation that she suffered, and Rabbi Akiva rendered the assailant liable to give her four hundred dinars. The man said to Rabbi Akiva: My teacher, give me time to pay the penalty, and Rabbi Akiva gave him time. The man then waited for her until she was standing by the opening of her courtyard, and he broke a jug in front of her, and there was the value of about an issar of oil inside the jug. The woman then exposed her own head and she was wetting [metapaḥat] her hand in the oil, and placing her hand on her head to make use of the oil. The man set up witnesses to observe her actions, and he came before Rabbi Akiva, and he said to him: Will I give four hundred dinars to this woman for having uncovered her head? By uncovering her head for a minimal benefit, she has demonstrated that this does not cause her humiliation. Rabbi Akiva said to him: You did not say anything, i.e., this claim will not exempt you. One who injures himself, although it is not permitted for him to do so, is nevertheless exempt from any sort of penalty, but others who injured him are liable to pay him. In this case as well, the man was liable to compensate the woman for shaming her, despite the fact that she did the same to herself. Similarly, one who cuts down his own saplings, although it is not permitted for him to do so, as this violates the prohibition of: “You shall not destroy” (see Deuteronomy 20:19), is exempt from any penalty, but others who cut down his saplings are liable to pay him.
ואין אדם רשאי לחבל בעצמו והתניא יכול נשבע להרע בעצמו ולא הרע יהא פטור ת"ל (ויקרא ה, ד) להרע או להטיב מה הטבה רשות אף הרעה רשות אביא נשבע להרע בעצמו ולא הרע
§ The Gemara discusses whether it is permitted to injure oneself. And is a person not permitted to injure himself? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: One might have thought that if one takes an oath to do evil to himself and did not do evil he will be exempt from bringing an offering for having transgressed this oath. Therefore, the verse states: “Or if anyone swear clearly with his lips to do evil or to do good” (Leviticus 5:4), which teaches that just as taking an oath to do good for which one is liable is referring to an optional activity, as opposed to taking an oath to perform a mitzva, so too, taking an oath to do evil is referring to an optional activity, as opposed to taking an oath to transgress. I can therefore include within the category of one who is liable if he transgressed his oath the person who takes an oath to do evil to himself and did not do evil. It is clear from this baraita that doing evil to oneself is permitted.
ואין אדם רשאי לחבל בעצמו והתניא יכול נשבע להרע בעצמו ולא הרע יהא פטור ת"ל (ויקרא ה, ד) להרע או להטיב מה הטבה רשות אף הרעה רשות אביא נשבע להרע בעצמו ולא הרע אמר שמואל באשב בתענית דכוותה גבי הרעת אחרים להשיבם בתענית אחרים מי מותיב להו בתעניתא אין דמהדק להו באנדרונא והתניא איזהו הרעת אחרים אכה פלוני ואפצע את מוחו אלא תנאי היא דאיכא למ"ד אין אדם רשאי לחבל בעצמו ואיכא מ"ד אדם רשאי לחבל בעצמו מאן תנא דשמעת ליה דאמר אין אדם רשאי לחבל בעצמו אילימא האי תנא הוא דתניא (בראשית ט, ה) ואך את דמכם לנפשותיכם אדרש ר' אלעזר אומר מיד נפשותיכם אדרש את דמכם ודלמא קטלא שאני אלא האי תנא הוא דתניא מקרעין על המת ולא מדרכי האמורי אמר רבי אלעזר שמעתי שהמקרע על המת יותר מדאי לוקה משום בל תשחית וכ"ש גופו ודלמא בגדים שאני דפסידא דלא הדר הוא כי הא דרבי יוחנן קרי למאני מכבדותא ורב חסדא כד הוה מסגי ביני היזמי והגא מדלי להו למאניה אמר זה מעלה ארוכה וזה אינו מעלה ארוכה אלא האי תנא הוא דתניא אמר ר"א הקפר ברבי מה ת"ל (במדבר ו, יא) וכפר עליו מאשר חטא על הנפש וכי באיזה נפש חטא זה אלא שציער עצמו מן היין והלא דברים ק"ו ומה זה שלא ציער עצמו אלא מן היין נקרא חוטא המצער עצמו מכל דבר על אחת כמה וכמה:
§ The Gemara discusses whether it is permitted to injure oneself. And is a person not permitted to injure himself? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: One might have thought that if one takes an oath to do evil to himself and did not do evil he will be exempt from bringing an offering for having transgressed this oath. Therefore, the verse states: “Or if anyone swear clearly with his lips to do evil or to do good” (Leviticus 5:4), which teaches that just as taking an oath to do good for which one is liable is referring to an optional activity, as opposed to taking an oath to perform a mitzva, so too, taking an oath to do evil is referring to an optional activity, as opposed to taking an oath to transgress. I can therefore include within the category of one who is liable if he transgressed his oath the person who takes an oath to do evil to himself and did not do evil. It is clear from this baraita that doing evil to oneself is permitted. The Gemara answers: Shmuel says: The ruling of the baraita is not referring to one who takes an oath to injure himself but is stated with regard to one who takes an oath stating: I will sit in observance of a fast, which it is permitted to do. Earlier in this same baraita, it states that one who takes an oath to do evil to others is not liable for violating his oath if he does not do evil, as it is prohibited to do evil to others. If the baraita is referring to one who takes an oath to fast, then in the corresponding situation in the context of doing evil to others, the baraita must also then be referring to one who takes an oath to have others sit in observance of a fast. The Gemara asks: Can one compel others to sit in observance of a fast? The Gemara answers: Yes; it is possible, as by preventing others from accessing food he can impose a fast on them, e.g., in a situation where he confined them in a room. The Gemara questions the assertion that this is the case of the baraita: But isn’t it taught in a baraita: What is considered taking an oath to do evil to others? It is considered such if one takes an oath stating: I will strike so-and-so and I will injure his brain. Accordingly, in the corresponding situation of doing evil to oneself it is necessary to explain that the baraita is referring to causing injury as well, and the inference that this is permitted remains. Rather, it must be that this is a dispute between tanna’im, as there is a tanna who says that it is not permitted for a person to injure himself, and there is a tanna who says that it is permitted for a person to injure himself. The Gemara asks: Who is the tanna that you heard that says: It is not permitted for a person to injure himself? If we say that it is this tanna, as it is taught in a baraita: The verse states: “And surely your blood of your souls will I require” (Genesis 9:5), and Rabbi Elazar says: From the hand of your souls, i.e., from yourself, will I require your blood, meaning one is liable even for taking his own life, that is not a correct inference. But perhaps killing is different. While Rabbi Elazar holds that it is prohibited to take one’s own life, it cannot be inferred from here that he holds that one is liable for injuring himself. The Gemara suggests: Rather, it is the opinion of this tanna, as it is taught in a baraita: One may rend garments in anguish over one who died, and it is not considered of the ways of the Amorites, but a Jewish custom. Rabbi Elazar says: I heard that one who rends his garments excessively over one who died is flogged for having transgressed the prohibition of: Do not destroy (see Deuteronomy 20:19). The Gemara suggests: And all the more so it is the case that according to Rabbi Elazar one who injures his body in anguish transgresses this prohibition. The Gemara rejects this suggestion: But perhaps garments are different, in that tearing them is a loss that is irreversible, like that practice of Rabbi Yoḥanan, who would refer to his garments as: My honor, and like that practice of Rav Ḥisda, who, when he would walk among thorns and shrubs, would raise his clothing despite the fact that his skin would get scratched by the thorns. He said in explanation of his actions: This flesh will heal if scratched, but that garment will not heal if torn. Similarly, perhaps it is prohibited to rend one’s garments, but it is permitted to injure oneself. Rather, it is this tanna, as it is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Elazar HaKappar the Distinguished said: What is the meaning when the verse states with regard to a nazirite: “And he shall atone for him for sinning by the soul” (Numbers 6:11)? And with which soul did this person sin by becoming a nazirite? Rather, in that he afflicted himself by abstaining from wine he is considered to have sinned with his own soul, and he must bring a sin-offering for the naziriteship itself, for causing his body to suffer. And are these matters not inferred a fortiori: And just as this person who afflicted himself by abstaining only from wine is nevertheless called a sinner, one who afflicts himself by abstaining from everything, through fasting or other acts of mortification, all the more so is he described as a sinner? Consequently, Rabbi Elazar HaKappar holds that one may not harm himself in any manner.

שו"ת יד אפרים סימן יד

כן בתשו' הואיל משה (סימן ט"ז) מביא שמרן הגה"ק מצאנז בעל דברי חיים (ר' חיים ב"ר אריה ליב הלברשטם, האדמו"ר מצאנז), לעת זקנתו היה חולה ולפי פקודת הרופאים, אסור היה לו לאכול הכזית מרור בליל הסדר, לקח הצדיק כזית מרור לידו וברך בשם ומלכות: אשר קדשנו במצותיו וציונו ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותיכם והחזיר את המרור על השולחן.

שֹׁמֵ֣ר פְּתָאיִ֣ם יְהֹוָ֑ה דַּ֝לֹּתִ֗י וְלִ֣י יְהוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃
The LORD protects the simple; I was brought low and He saved me.
וְאָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל: פּוּרְסָא דִדְמָא — חַד בְּשַׁבְּתָא, אַרְבָּעָה, וּמַעֲלֵי שַׁבְּתָא, אֲבָל שֵׁנִי וַחֲמִישִׁי — לָא. דְּאָמַר מָר: מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ זְכוּת אָבוֹת יַקִּיז דָּם בְּשֵׁנִי וּבַחֲמִישִׁי, שֶׁבֵּית דִּין שֶׁל מַעְלָה וְשֶׁל מַטָּה שָׁוִין כְּאֶחָד. בִּתְלָתָא בְּשַׁבְּתָא מַאי טַעְמָא לָא? מִשּׁוּם דְּקָיְימָא לֵיהּ מַאְדִּים בְּזָוֵוי. מַעֲלֵי שַׁבְּתָא נָמֵי קָיְימָא בְּזָוֵוי! כֵּיוָן דְּדָשׁוּ בֵּיהּ רַבִּים — ״שׁוֹמֵר פְּתָאִים ה׳״.
And Shmuel said: The times for bloodletting are the first day of the week, the fourth day of the week and Shabbat eve. However, on the second and the fifth days of the week, no, one should not let blood, as the Master said: Only one who has the merit of his ancestors and relies on it should let blood on the second and on the fifth days of the week, as the court on High, in the heavens, and the court below are equal. The courts in the cities convene on Mondays and Thursdays, as does the heavenly court. Letting blood on a day of judgment is dangerous. If one is judged unfavorably all his blood could flow out. The Gemara explains: On the third day of the week, what is the reason that one does not let blood? It is because the planet Mars is dominant during the even hours. Since it is a planet of blood, and the even hours are a bad omen, that combination gives cause for concern. The Gemara asks: On Shabbat eve, Mars also dominates during the even hours. The Gemara answers: Since the multitudes have already become accustomed to letting blood on Shabbat eve, the verse: “The Lord protects the simple-hearted” (Psalms 116:6) applies in this case.
תָּנוּ רַבָּנָן, מִפְּנֵי שְׁלֹשָׁה דְּבָרִים אֵין נִכְנָסִין לְחוּרְבָּה: מִפְּנֵי חֲשָׁד, מִפְּנֵי הַמַּפּוֹלֶת, וּמִפְּנֵי הַמַּזִּיקִין. ״מִפְּנֵי חֲשָׁד״, וְתִיפּוֹק לֵיהּ ״מִשּׁוּם מַפּוֹלֶת״?
The Sages taught, for three reasons one may not enter a ruin: Because of suspicion of prostitution, because the ruin is liable to collapse, and because of demons. Three separate reasons seem extraneous, so the Gemara asks: Why was the reason because of suspicion necessary? Let this halakha be derived because of collapse.
ועד כאן דברתי מצד יושר ההנהגה שראוי לאדם להרחיק מזה ועכשיו אני אומר אפילו איסורא איכא שהרי כל העוסקים בזה צריכין להכנס ביערות ולהכניס עצמם בסכנות גדולות במקום גדודי חיות ורחמנא אמר ונשמרתם מאוד לנפשותיכם, ומי לנו גדול ואומן בקי בצידה יותר מעשו שהכתוב העיד עליו ויהי עשו איש יודע ציד וכו' ופוק חזי מה אמר הוא על עצמו הנה אנכי הולך למות וגו' ואין מקרא יוצא מידי פשוטו שהיינו שהוא מסתכן בכל יום בין גדודי חיות וכן פירשו הרמב"ן, ומעתה איך יכניס עצמו איש יהודי למקום גדודי חיות רעות ואף גם בזה מי שהוא עני ועושה זו למחייתו לזה התורה התירה כמו כל סוחרי ימים מעבר לים שכל מה שהוא לצורך מחייתו ופרנסתו אין ברירה והתורה אמרה ואליו הוא נושא את נפשו ואמרו רז"ל מפני מה זה עלה בכבש ונתלה באילן ומסר עצמו למיתה לא על שכרו כו', אבל מי שאין עיקר כוונתו למחייתו ומתאות לבו הוא הולך אל מקום גדודי חיות ומכניס עצמו בסכנה הרי זה עובר על ונשמרתם מאוד כו'. וז"ל הרמב"ם בפ' י"ב מהל' רוצח ושמירת נפש הלכה וי"ו וכן אסור לאדם לעבור תחת קיר נטוי כו' וכן כל כיוצא באלו ושאר הסכנות אסור לעבור במקומן: ומעתה אני אומר שיש בדבר זה איסור וגם סכנה, ועוד בו שלישיה שעכ"פ מזכירין עונותיו שאין זה פחות מקיר נטוי ואולי לזה כיונו חכמי המשנה במסכת ברכות פ"ד משנה ד' ר"י אומר המהלך במקום סכנה מתפלל תפלה קצרה ואומר הושע השם את עמך כו' בכל פרשת העבור כו' ואמרו שם בגמרא דף כ"ט ע"ב מאי פרשת העבור אמר רב חסדא אמר מר עוקבא אפילו בשעה שאתה מתמלא עליהם עברה כו' איכא דאמרי כו' אפילו בשעה שהם עוברים על דברי תורה כו' ע"ש. ולדרכנו יובן דזה המהלך במקום סכנה הוא עובר על דברי תורה דכתיב ונשמרתם מאוד לנפשותיכם וגם מזכירין עונותיו וממילא הקב"ה מתמלא עליו עברה דאילו בשאר איסור שאדם עושה לא בשביל עבירה זו יתמלא הקב"ה עברה עליו אבל זה שגורם להזכיר כל עונותיו הקב"ה מלא עליו עברה. והנה במי שמוכרח לזה מחמת פרנסתו הורו לו חכמינו ז"ל תפלה שיתפלל על עצמו אבל מי שעושה כן בשאט נפש איך תקובל תפלתו, ולכן יש בדבר זה מדה מגונה דהיינו אכזריות וגם איסורא וסכנתא וגם הזכרת עונותיו.
Thus far I have addressed the aspect of proper behavior, [contending] that man ought to distance himself from this. Now I say that it is even forbidden, for anyone who engages in this must enter the forests and place themselves in great danger, in places of packs of wild animals. And the Merciful One said: “Take great care of yourselves” (Deut. 4:15). And who was a greater and more expert hunter than Esau, about who Scripture attests: “Esau was a skillful hunter…” (Genesis 25:27). Yet look at what he said about himself: “I am about to die…” (ibid. 32). And no Scripture departs from its plain meaning, which is that he endangers himself each day among packs of wild beasts. So explains Nachmanides. So then how can a Jewish man insert himself into a place of packs of wild and vicious beasts? Yet even here, if one who poor and does so for sustenance, the Torah permitted it, like any maritime trader crosses the sea—for with regard to anything that is for the needs of one’s sustenance and livelihood, there is no choice. The Torah has said [about the wages of a day laborer]: “His life depends on it” (Deuteronomy 24:15). And the sages said (Bava Metzia 112a): “Why did this person ascend a ramp, dangle from a tree, and place himself at risk of death? Is it not for his wages?” But one whose main intention is not for sustenance, rather, he does to the place of packs of wild animals due to his heart’s appetite, and endangers himself, violates “Take great care of yourselves.” This is the formulation of Maimonides in Laws of Murderers and Preservation of Life 12:6: It is also forbidden for one to pass under a collapsing wall… and so too anything akin to this and other dangers—it is forbidden to pass through their place. Based on this, I now say that this entails a prohibition, as well as endangerment, and a third thing—that it causes his sins to be invoked—for this is no worse than [passing under] a collapsing wall [which, according to the Talmud, causes ones sins to be invoked before God]. Perhaps this is the intent of the Sages of the Mishna in m. Berakhot 4:4: “Rabbi Joshua says: One who passes through a dangerous place recites a short prayer and says: ‘Save, O Lord, Your people…in every time of crisis’ (‘ibur’).” And the Talmud (Berakhot 29b) asks: “What does ‘time of crisis’ mean? R. Hisda said in the name of Mar Ukva: ‘Even when You are filled with anger (evra) against them’… Some say… ‘Even when they transgress (ovrin) the words of the Torah.” According to our approach, we can understand this. One who walks in a dangerous place transgresses the words of the Torah, which states, “Take great care of yourselves.” It also causes his sins to be invoked, and consequently the Almighty is filled with anger at him—whereas any other transgression that one may do will not cause the Almighty to be filled with anger against him. But one who causes the invocation of all his transgressions is subject to the Almighty’s anger. Therefore, our Sages instructed one who must do so for his livelihood to recite this prayer for himself. But how can the prayers of one who does so in such an abhorrent manner be accepted? Thus, this activity includes a repugnant character trait, that is, cruelty, as well as a prohibition, endangerment, and the invocation of one’s sins.
תנא המשמש מטתו ליום תשעים כאילו שופך דמים מנא ידע אלא אמר אביי משמש והולך (תהלים קטז, ו) ושומר פתאים ה'
The Sages taught in a baraita: With regard to one who engages in intercourse with his wife on the ninetieth day of her pregnancy, it is as though he spills her blood. The Gemara asks: How does one know that it is the ninetieth day of her pregnancy? Rather, Abaye says: One should go ahead and engage in intercourse with his wife even if it might be the ninetieth day, and rely on God to prevent any ensuing harm, as the verse states: “The Lord preserves the simple” (Psalms 116:6).
וְאָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק שְׁלֹשָׁה דְּבָרִים מַזְכִּירִין עֲוֹנוֹתָיו שֶׁל אָדָם אֵלּוּ הֵן קִיר נָטוּי וְעִיּוּן תְּפִלָּה וּמוֹסֵר דִּין עַל חֲבֵירוֹ דְּאָמַר רַבִּי אָבִין כָּל הַמּוֹסֵר דִּין עַל חֲבֵירוֹ הוּא נֶעֱנָשׁ תְּחִלָּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַתֹּאמֶר שָׂרַי אֶל אַבְרָם חֲמָסִי עָלֶיךָ וּכְתִיב וַיָּבֹא אַבְרָהָם לִסְפּוֹד לְשָׂרָה וְלִבְכּוֹתָהּ
And Rabbi Yitzḥak said: Three matters evoke a person’s sins, and they are: Endangering oneself by sitting next to an inclined wall that is about to collapse; expecting prayer to be accepted, as that leads to an assessment of one’s status and merit; and passing a case against another to Heaven, for Rabbi Avin said: Anyone who passes a case against another to God is punished first. Praying for God to pass judgment on another causes one’s own deeds to be examined and compared with the deeds of the other, as it is stated: “And Sarai said to Abram: My anger be upon you; I have given my maid into your bosom, and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes; let the Lord judge between me and you” (Genesis 16:5), and it is written afterward: “And Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her” (Genesis 23:2). Sarah called upon Heaven to pass judgment between her and her husband, and therefore she was punished and died first.
וְגַבְרֵי הֵיכָא מִיבַּדְקִי? אָמַר רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ: בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁעוֹבְרִים עַל הַגֶּשֶׁר. גֶּשֶׁר וְתוּ לָא? אֵימָא: כְּעֵין גֶּשֶׁר. רַב לָא עָבַר בְּמַבָּרָא דְּיָתֵיב בֵּיהּ גּוֹי, אָמַר: דִילְמָא מִיפְּקִיד לֵיהּ דִּינָא עֲלֵיהּ וּמִתְּפִיסְנָא בַּהֲדֵיהּ. שְׁמוּאֵל לָא עָבַר אֶלָּא בְּמַבָּרָא דְּאִית בֵּיהּ גּוֹי, אָמַר: שִׂטְנָא בִּתְרֵי אוּמֵּי לָא שָׁלֵיט.
And the Gemara asks: And where are men examined? When are men vulnerable to judgment and held accountable for their actions? Reish Lakish said: When they are crossing a bridge. The Gemara wonders: Only when they are crossing a bridge and at no other time? Rather, say: Anything like a bridge, any place where danger is commonplace. On a similar note, the Gemara relates: Rav would not cross a river in a ferry in which a gentile sat. He said to himself: Perhaps a judgment will be reckoned with him, and I will be caught together with him when he is punished. Whereas, Shmuel would only cross in a ferry if there was a gentile in it. He said: Satan does not have dominion over two nations. He settles his accounts with people from each nationality separately.
הַרְבֵּה דְּבָרִים אָסְרוּ חֲכָמִים מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶם סַכָּנַת נְפָשׁוֹת. וְכָל הָעוֹבֵר עֲלֵיהֶן וְאוֹמֵר הֲרֵינִי מְסַכֵּן בְּעַצְמִי וּמַה לַּאֲחֵרִים עָלַי בְּכָךְ אוֹ אֵינִי מַקְפִּיד בְּכָךְ מַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת:
The sages have prohibited many things because they are dangerous to life. If anyone disregards them and says : "What claim have others on me if I risk my own life?" or: "I do not mind this," he should be lashed for disobedience.
תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: מַעֲשֶׂה בְּחָסִיד אֶחָד שֶׁהָיָה מִתְפַּלֵּל בַּדֶּרֶךְ. בָּא הֶגְמוֹן אֶחָד וְנָתַן לוֹ שָׁלוֹם, וְלֹא הֶחְזִיר לוֹ שָׁלוֹם. הִמְתִּין לוֹ עַד שֶׁסִּייֵּם תְּפִלָּתוֹ. לְאַחַר שֶׁסִּייֵּם תְּפִלָּתוֹ, אָמַר לוֹ: רֵיקָא, וַהֲלֹא כָּתוּב בְּתוֹרַתְכֶם ״רַק הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ וּשְׁמֹר נַפְשְׁךָ״, וּכְתִיב ״וְנִשְׁמַרְתֶּם מְאֹד לְנַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶם״. כְּשֶׁנָּתַתִּי לְךָ שָׁלוֹם לָמָּה לֹא הֶחְזַרְתָּ לִי שָׁלוֹם? אִם הָיִיתִי חוֹתֵךְ רֹאשְׁךָ בְּסַיִיף, מִי הָיָה תּוֹבֵעַ אֶת דָּמְךָ מִיָּדִי?! אָמַר לוֹ: הַמְתֵּן לִי עַד שֶׁאֲפַיֶּיסְךָ בִּדְבָרִים. אָמַר לוֹ: אִילּוּ הָיִיתָ עוֹמֵד לִפְנֵי מֶלֶךְ בָּשָׂר וָדָם, וּבָא חֲבֵרְךָ וְנָתַן לְךָ שָׁלוֹם — הָיִיתָ מַחֲזִיר לוֹ?! אָמַר לוֹ: לָאו. וְאִם הָיִיתָ מַחֲזִיר לוֹ, מָה הָיוּ עוֹשִׂים לְךָ? אָמַר לוֹ: הָיוּ חוֹתְכִים אֶת רֹאשִׁי בְּסַיִיף. אָמַר לוֹ: וַהֲלֹא דְּבָרִים קַל וָחוֹמֶר, וּמָה אַתָּה שֶׁהָיִיתָ עוֹמֵד לִפְנֵי מֶלֶךְ בָּשָׂר וָדָם, שֶׁהַיּוֹם כָּאן וּמָחָר בַּקֶּבֶר — כָּךְ. אֲנִי שֶׁהָיִיתִי עוֹמֵד לִפְנֵי מֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁהוּא חַי וְקַיָּים לָעַד וּלְעוֹלְמֵי עוֹלָמִים — עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה. מִיָּד נִתְפַּיֵּיס אוֹתוֹ הֶגְמוֹן, וְנִפְטַר אוֹתוֹ חָסִיד לְבֵיתוֹ לְשָׁלוֹם.
The Sages taught: There was a related incident, involving a particular pious man who was praying while traveling along his path when an officer [hegmon] came and greeted him. The pious man did not pause from his prayer and did not respond with a greeting. The officer waited for him until he finished his prayer.
After he finished his prayer, the officer said to him: You good for nothing. You endangered yourself; I could have killed you.
Isn’t it written in your Torah: “Take utmost care and guard yourself diligently” (Deuteronomy 4:9)?
And it is also written: “Take therefore good heed unto yourselves” (Deuteronomy 4:15)? Why did you ignore the danger to your life?
When I greeted you, why did you not respond with a greeting?
Were I to sever your head with a sword, who would hold me accountable for your spilled blood? The pious man said to him: Wait for me until I will appease you with my words.
He said to him: Had you been standing before a flesh and blood king and your friend came and greeted you, would you
return his greeting? The officer said to him: No.
The pious man continued: And if you would greet him, what would they do to you?
The officer said to him: They would cut off my head with a sword.
The pious man said to him: Isn’t this matter an a fortiori inference?
You who were standing before a king of flesh and blood,
of whom your fear is limited because today he is here but tomorrow he is in the grave,
would have reacted in that way;
I, who was standing and praying before the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He,
Who lives and endures for all eternity,
all the more so that I could not pause to respond to someone’s greeting. When he heard this, the officer was immediately appeased and the pious man returned home in peace.
והמקלל עצמו וחבירו כו': אמר רבי ינאי ודברי הכל עצמו דכתיב (דברים ד, ט) רק השמר לך ושמור נפשך מאד כדרבי אבין אמר רבי אילעא דאמר כל מקום שנאמר השמר פן ואל אינו אלא לא תעשה וחבירו דכתיב (ויקרא יט, יד) לא תקלל חרש:
The mishna teaches: One who curses himself or another employing any of these names or appellations of God violates a prohibition. Rabbi Yannai says: And everyone agrees that this is the halakha. Even the Rabbis, who hold that one who blasphemes God or curses his parents is liable only if he employs the Tetragrammaton, agree here that one is liable to receive lashes when he curses employing an appellation. The Gemara proceeds to cite sources for these prohibitions. The prohibition against cursing oneself is derived as it is written: “Only observe for yourself, and keep your soul diligently” (Deuteronomy 4:9). This is in accordance with that which Rabbi Avin says that Rabbi Ile’a says: Everywhere in the Torah that the terms observe, lest, or do not are stated, it is nothing other than a prohibition. One who curses himself does not keep, i.e., take care of, himself and consequently violates the prohibition. And cursing another is derived as it is written: “Do not curse the deaf” (Leviticus 19:14), which applies to others just as it does to one who is deaf.
בלא סכנה. עבה"ט לענין אם בזה"ז מצוה לעלות לא"י כו' ועיין בתשו' מעיל צדקה סי' כ"ו אודות שלשה חברים שרצו ליסע לא"י הם ונשיהם ובניהם הקטנים בני שנים ושלש שנים והב"ד שבעירם רוצים לעכב על ידם שלא ליסע עם בנים הקטנים מחשש סכנה פן לא יוכלו לסבול צער טלטול הדרך ונענוע הספינות ושינוי האויר ושאלו האנשים ההמה אם ימנעו מנסיעה זו או לא ואם יחושו לגזירת ב"ד בזה. והשיב לענין אם בזה"ז מצוה להעלות לא"י הנה הרמב"ן מנה מצוה זו בכלל מצות מקרא דוירשתם אותה וישבתם בה וכי היא שקולה נגד כל המצות (כדאיתא בספרי) וגם התה"ד בפסקיו סי' פ"ח הפליג בה איברא התוספת בכתובה בשם ר"ח כהן כו' אמנם הרי"ט בתשו' סי' כ"ח ובחי' לכתובות הוכיח דאיזה תלמיד טועה כתבו על שם התוס' ולאו דסמכא היא כלל והדין עמו וכ"כ בעל נתיבת משפט וא"כ כל הזמנים שוים לקיום מצוה זו וכן מבואר מכל הפוסקים ראשונים ואחרונים שכתבו שכופין האשה שתעלה עמו כפשטא דמתני' א"כ ודאי דלא ס"ל הא דר"ח כהן וגם מ"ש התוס' שם דאינו נוהג בזמה"ז דאיכא סכנת דרכים הא ודאי דאף בזמן הבית כל שהיה בו משום סכנה גלויה לא נאמר לכוף לעלות וזה משתנה לפי הזמן וכבר כתב המבי"ט ח"ב סי' רי"ו הכלל בזה כשכל הסוחרים אינם נמנעים יכולים לכוף כו' ובענין שחששו ב"ד הנ"ל כי הי' סננה לקטנים ז"א דא"כ ה"ל למתני' או חד מפוסקים למימר דאם באה מחמת טענה מחמת בנים הקטנים שומעין לה א"ו זה אינו כי אין סכנה פרטיית לקטנים יותר מלגדולים כי מצד סכנת טביעה ושביה ולסטים הרי קטן וגדול שם הוא ואם מטורח הנענוע הרי הקטנים בטבעם קלי התנועה וכן מבואר בתשו' הר"ם מרוטנבורג סי' ר"ג כו' (ע' בש"ך יו"ד סי' רכ"ח ס"ק צ"ז) וגם הרבנים היושבים על איי הים כתבו שעיניהם ראו בכל יום נוסעים דרך ים לקצוי ארץ עם ילדים קטנים כו' ולכן נראה דאף אם יגזרו ב"ד שבעירם שלא לנסות מטעמים הנ"ל רשאים לסמוך על אלו אשר עיניהם ראו ההיפך כי לא ראינו אינו ראיה והרי זה כהורו ב"ד ששקע' חמה והי' לפנינו דאין זה הוראה ואם לחוש שלא להמרות פי ב"ד מפני הכבוד כבר כ' המבי"ט סי' קל"ט דאין לחוש בזה לכיבוד אב ואם החמור' (צ"ע בתשב"ץ ח"ג סי' רפ"ח שלא כ' כן ע"ש וע' קדושין ל"א ע"ב) מכ"ש לגדרי ב"ד וכבר אישתמיט ר' זירא מרב יהודא רביה דבעי למיסק לא"י. אמנם כן צריך בתחלה תנאי אחד. שיהיה לו מקום מוכן להיות מצוי לו שם פרנסתו בריוח וכמ"ש התה"ד שם ובכל בו וגם בתשב"ץ כ' דכל שאין לו שם פרנסה מוכנת מעבירו על דעתו וע"ד קונו ח"ו כו' והלא יוצאין מא"י לח"ל ללמוד תורה מרבו מכ"ש שלא לנסוע לכתחלה במקום שאין לו הכנה ללמוד. והכלל בזה אשרי הזוכה לכך ואינו נצרך לבריות ומתפרנס שם אפי' חיי צער ויעבוד השם אבל אין כל אדם זוכה לכך וכבר נהגו העם שאינם נוסעים עם בנים קטנים והכל בשביל קושי השגת הפרנסה שם וחוב הוא לקטנים וח"ו יש לחוש שיצאו לת"ר עד לא יחזק שכלם עליהם לסבול חיי צער. ועכ"פ אלו הנוסעים לשם וצריכים עי"כ להתפרנס מן הצדקה ואילו היו בח"ל היו יכולים להתפרנס ממעשה ידיהם לא טוב עושין כי גדול הנהנה מיגיע כפו וצוה לנו ז"ל עשה שבתך חול ואל תצטרך לבריות וצריכין להתיישב בזה כי הדבר שקול ואין לי בו הכרע עכ"ל ע"ש (וע' בתשו' נו"ב תניינא חי"ד סימן ר"ה ור"ו ובתשובת חתם סופר חי"ד סימן רל"ד וגם בחלק אה"ע סימן קל"ב שהובא לעיל סימן ע' סק"ד) . ועמ"ש לעיל סימן א' ס"ק ט"ז ולקמן סימן קנ"ד ס"ק כ"ה: