Monday, January 18, 2010

When Does "Dan L'Kaf Z'Chus" Apply?

It seems that some Jews have a very interesting mindset as to when to extend the benefit of the doubt to someone and when not to. See some of the comments about this VIN story about the ZAKA workers who worked through Shabbos to save lives:

WHAT A SHAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

can any 1 tell me which "posek " gave them "heter" 2 desecratShabbat


Chilul Shabbos! Plain and simple.


There is no machlokes here; there is NO opinion that permits this.

In other words, according to some of the commentators, there is absolutely no possible way that ZAKA could have done what they did without violating halacha. Seems fairly harsh. Of course, there were other commentators who were presenting the possibility that the actions of the ZAKA team were fine and commendable. Eventually, after some arguing, one commentator said the following:

How wonderful. If its a child molester, someone who steals from the government, or Tropper all we hear is 'dan l'chaf zechus!!!'. But when it comes to people saving lives all we get is righteous indignation and outrage from some people. Disgusting.

And it struck me that he was right. It would not surprise me at all to find that some of the very same people who condemn the ZAKA crew would be the same ones yelling "dan l'kaf z'chus" or "you don't know all the facts!" with regard to Tropper or the Spinka Rebbe or any other similar situation. Personally, I believe there are sufficient grounds to be dan l'kaf z'chus here as I have little doubt that ZAKA is in consultation with rabbinic authorities with regard to what they can and cannot do. Do I *know* that? No, but I highly doubt that they went there and acted completely on their own vis-a-vis Shabbos.

I gave the matter some thought and wondered why this case is so different that the "righteous" are out there screaming bloody murder (or chillul shabbos, as the case may be) here and not in the other cases. And then the answer struck me -- in this case, unlike the others, the beneficiaries of the actions in question are non-Jews. It seems to be that whenever a Rav is the "beneficiary" of an action that may be against the law (and halacha) we hear warnings from people to give them the benefit of the doubt. But when the benefactor is a non-Jew, all of a sudden there is no possible halachic justification and any possibility of "dan l'kaf z'chus" gets tossed out the window.

Or am I viewing this wrong?

The Wolf


Devorah said...

Did you see this:

Garnel Ironheart said...

> When Does "Dan L'Kaf Z'Chus" Apply?

When I like the guy. When I don't, it doesn't.

Kol hakavod on this post. You're seeing things absolutely correctly.

Anonymous said...

So then what, doctors are not allowed to work on shabbos if they are on call? I mean, I know plenty of doctors who sleep in the hospital on shabbos so that they don't have to drive (minimizing the chillul shabbos), but they still have to use beepers/phones/medical equipment etc. And guess what - many (most?) of their patients are not Jewish. Whether the recipient of the effort is Jewish or not really shouldn't matter in this type of situation.

It would be a bigger chillul Hashem if they stopped working on shabbos (because they'd have to explain why) during the critical early days of rescue. Rescue, not recovery - that's the goal.

OTD said...

How many times do I have to say?...


OTD said...

If religious apologists were right that religion is all about morality and not about minutiae and OCDness, why would there even be a question about whether they should save lives on Shabbos or take time out to pray?

What a disgrace.

Jeremy said...

ZAKA is not perceived as a "Haredi" organization. Yehuda Meshi-Zahav is viewed as being complicit with the Tziyonim, and the whole organization is just too darn tolerant and blind to differences between us and them (normally Haredi and non-Haredi, but here Jewish and non-Jewish) to be considered Haredi.

Therefore, they don't get the benefit of the doubt.

Anonymous said...

You are right on target with your assessment of the situation. As long as the wrongdoer is doing something that benefits Jews, we should be wary of criticizing. If the benefit goes to non-Jews, all benefit of the doubt goes out the window.

G*3 said...

> When Does "Dan L'Kaf Z'Chus" Apply?
>When I like the guy. When I don't, it doesn't.

Absolutely. It’s all about attribution – I (or someone I like/admire/consider to be a gadol) do questionable things because external circumstances forced me into it. You (or people I don’t like/those from other sects) do questionable things because you’re a jerk.

> It would be a bigger chillul Hashem if they stopped working on shabbos (because they'd have to explain why)

It’s interesting how “chilul Hashem” has changed meaning. Kiddush Hashem originally meant being martyred for your beliefs, and chilull Hashem was disregarding mitzvos. Refusing to do melacha on Shabbos to save goyim is halachicly defensible and more in line with the original meaning of kiddush/chilul Hashem. (Personally I believe such behavior would be immoral, but that’s beside the point.)

Anonymous said...

WHAT A SHAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

can any 1 tell me which "posek " gave them "heter" 2 desecratShabbat


This is where yours and everyone's else's tuition dollars are going for. To teach stuff like this. Why the shock ??

Shmendrik said...

"This is where yours and everyone's else's tuition dollars are going for. To teach stuff like this. Why the shock ??"

Are you referring to the sentiment itself or the almost incomprehensible way in which it is expressed?

Michael Koplow said...

So where's Harav Hechacham Hagadol Hanifla Ha-Etc Ovadia Yosef? How come he's not explaining that this is what happens to these melanin-enhanced people for not learning Torah?

E-Man said...

There are many halachic sources that say that a Jew should desecrate shabbos even to save non-Jews. I do not know who these people are, but they clearly do not know halacha. Even the Rambam says that a Jew can desecrate shabbos to save a non-Jew because we don;t want the non-Jews hating us.

Unfortunately, Wolf, you are dead on target here. When will the idiotic kanoyim go away?

Mike S said...

You seem to have confused "benefactor" with "beneficiary" but otherwise you have a point. It is about "our crowd" vs. the others.

On the other hand, the gemara (somewhere in Yuma if I remember correctly) gives an example of a paragon of being Dan l'chaf z'echut. It concerns a worker who took on a three year contract that came do shortly before Yom Kippur. He asked to be paid his salary at the end and the boss told him he had no cash; he asked to be paid with produce and the boss said he couldn't pay him in produce; and there were a few more ways the boss couldn't pay, despite there seeming to have been plenty. The fellow finally goes home empty handed after his years of labor; after yom tov the boss comes to the fellow's house to pay him the wage (many times over as I recall.) He asks what the fellow was thinking when he was told he couldn't be paid; the worker answered along the lines of "I thought you had promised the cash for tzedaka, and you couldn't give me produce because you had yet to take out ma'aser, and you had dedicated the animals as sacrifices (and several more excuses, one for each type of good.) The boss said, "Yes that is exactly what happened."

G6 said...

This needed to be said, and nobody does it as well as you ;)
Thank you.

Eees said...

It just saddens me that these people don't recognize that EVERY life is precious to G-d. Jew, non-Jew...doesn't matter.
Of course the sanctity of the Shabbos is important, but saving human lives would be docheh IMHO. The ZAKA team's actions were wonderful and they should be commended, not criticized.

smb said...

I think I read somewhere long while ago, that if on Shabbos, Joe Smith somewhere is having an emergency, look to see if someone else can help, if there's no one, then help out.

Btw, I think that Israeli rescue is doing an Amazing job, B'H May they continue their good work

jewinjerusalem said...

Yes Wolf you are viewing this wrong. This is blatent chillul shabbos. [There are certain heterim in rare cases. I won't go into it now.] Those that say otherwise are wrong. You quote various commentators as if they are all equal. but that isn't so That's why we have poskim.
I want you to know that I totally condemn child molesters. They should be kicked out of the community and jailed. but remember, that molester isn't bragging about himself publicly. If he would then everyone would write negative things about him. Zaka, OTOH, has publically bragged that they are mechallel shabbos - one of the most severe aveiros that exist.
I am not condoning Tropper, modrowitz, the Spinka Rebbe, etc. IAt the same time the truth must be told about kedushas hashabbos. It's a shame so many people feel they are qualified to issue halachik rulings when thay haven't studied the sources and/or consulted with poskim. This has absolutely nothing to do with the haredi/dati leumi divide. This is simple halacha.

Anonymous said...

Jewinjerusalem, why do you feel this is chillul shabbos? Do you feel that it's chillul shabbos because they violated shabbos to save a non-jew or because non-jews could have done the necessary labor?

jewinjerusalem said...

This is not a question up for debate. It is assur for a Jew to be mechallel shabbos to save a non-jew. To do a derabbonan is a machlokes haposkim if "eiva" allows it. OTOH, every PERSON in the world is created betzelem elokim!!! It's wonderful that we understand the intrinsic value of a human. I think many need to now properly appreciate the value of shabbos.
I am not saying any chiddushim. This is an explicit halacha in shulchan aruch.
To EEES [and others like her] and her "humble opinion" I have to say that you are not aware of the halacha. That is a shame as you are obviously a good jew. You value life! Great! Unfortunately you are allowing your personal feelings to intrude into an area of halacha in which you don't know.

E-Man said...

Jewinjerusalem, I do not think you know what you are talking about. Otherwise, how could anyone become a doctor? How could one violate shabbos for a goy in that situation? Truth is it is a machlokes in the poskim about violating even dioraysas.

Yerachmiel Lopin said...

Why is no one dan l'kaf zchus for the victims of molesting when they come forward. Instead they are denigrated as mentally ill, OTD, angry, driven by a desire for revenge, or lacking in modesty.

Essentially most chareidim are not halachic. They are social creatures most concerned about not risking their own frum status or shidduch prospects. I regularly hear of dayanim and poskim who are intimidated out of the correct halachic stance. Chareidism is ruled by a mob of kanoyim and peopled by a mass of sheep. But they get a lot of self righteous pleasure out of trashing others. So when a rebbe rapes your son you settle for a quiet unfullfilled promise. But you are allowed to holler and denigrate some other shnook.

I have written another one of my drashas spoken by a true chareidi addressed to true chareidim. I am sure it will get no traction.


jewinjerusalem said...

I think e-man should look in the Mishna Berura and all classical halacha seforim. Then you will see that I am right.

Anonymous said...

Jewinjerusalem, Gil Student has a list of several responsa that conclude differently:

jewinjerusalem said...

Student correctly says that one may not break shabbos for a goy. All the other sources are for special situations. Zaka should not have gone to haiti before shabos putting themselves in a situation that they would have to be mechallel shabbos. They should have waited 'till sunday.
Again I state that the plain simple halacha prohibits this. All those who say that lechatchila one should break shabbos for a goy are wrong.
I assume the posters here are ignorant of the halacha and not malicious. Therefore, the mishna that states "המגלה פנים בתורה שלא כהלכה אין לא חלק לעולם הבא" does not apply to them.

E-Man said...

Rav Moshe feinstein in chelek 3 or chaim in chapter 79 says a doctor can be mechalel shabbos for a non-jew even a dioraysa.

So please take ur foot out of ur mouth.

E-Man said...

sorry, I think it is actually part 4 chapter 79.
Anyone who wants to read it in englisd, there is an article in the journal of halacha that quotes this ruling along with many others. On page 54-55 it is quoted in the name of Rav Moshe that treating a non-Jew on shabbos is that same as a Jew. Here is the link's%20Inf.pdf

jewinjerusalem said...

E-man you are avoiding the real issue. RMF is speaking in a bdieved situation. In a perfect world the halacha is clear: It is assur to break shabbos to save the life of a non-jew. [I imply no ill feelings to any non-jews.] You may be guilty of magaleh panim etc.

E-Man said...


I am dealing with the issue. Rav Moshe says it is lichatchila for the Jew to desecrate shabbos for the goy. Just read the teshuva and stop spreading slander against our boys in haiti.

Also, how am I being megaleh panim? You can't be megaleh panim on an anonymous person in an anonymous forum. Plus, saying that I do not know the halacha when it is clearly you that are ignorant of it is probably much worse of the two statements.

E-Man said...

Just to clarify, it seems like you are teaching the wrong halacha, spreading motzei shame ra, and being a bit arrogant about it.

Maybe if you said why Rav Moshe doesn;t apply we could have a discussion, but just saying that you are right and I am wrong is worthless. This is especially true since I provided a link that shows Rav Moshe says explicitly that a Jew saves a non-Jew on shabbos Lichatchila!

Eees said...

@ Jew in Jerusalem:
You are correct, I am obviously not as well versed in halachot as others are. However, I still cannot understand how the same Torah which allows us to be michalel Shabbat to milk a cow who's udders are full in order to prevent pain (though we cannot make use of the milk) would not allow someone to tend to a PERSON who is severely injured, in pain, and in need of help.
Yes, I value life and feel that those creatures that G-d put on the planet are worth saving, even if it is Shabbos. And I, along with my "personal feelings", will stand before HKBH after 120 years, I'YH, and except His judgement for my actions if He feels I did wrong.However, you are in no position to judge me.