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BECHIRAH-----zohar ohr hachaim and bavli

MODERATOR Posted - 16 August 2003 21:17

The idea that if something is destined to happen to you it will happen anyway is false.

If that would be true, you may as well jump off the roof and say if you’re destined to die it would have happened anyway!

We are instructed by the Torah to take care of our safety and well being, and if we don’t, then our blood is on our own hands.

Yes - Hashem has your future "planned out" but only if you cooperate. If you insist on putting yourself in danger, then Hashem's plan "changes" and He c"v leaves nature to take its course.

As far as suicide goes, there is probably a machlokes between the Gemora and the Zohar about this (I say probably because if you really want, you can reinterpret things and reconcile them b'dochek).

The Zohar explains the Torah's statement that Reuven "saved Yosef from their hands" - meaning his brothers who wanted to sell him - by lowering him into a pit of snakes and scorpions, even though it would seem that he just made if worse for Yosef, that human beings are more dangerous than snakes and scorpions, since snakes and scorpions are not baalei Bechirah and can therefore only harm someone when G-d decrees it; as opposed to humans, who are baalei Bechirah and can therefore harm someone even if G-d did not decree that he should be harmed.

In other words, G-d gave humans the power to hurt someone who was not destined to be hurt, since they have Bechirah and can choose to do even what G-d would not otherwise have done.

The Ohr HaChaim on the spot follows the Zohar's commentary without attribution.

Many Chasidishe seforim, such as the B'er Mayim Chaim, follow this principle, that humans have the ability to harm others even without a decree from Hashem.

Tosfos seems to follow the Zohar as well. He comments on the Gemora in Kesuvos that says "everything is in G-d's hands except injury from heat and cold", that if a person carelessly allows himself to be put in danger, any harm that comes to him is his own doing - that was not G-d's decree; but if he tried his best to protect himself and he was hurt anyway, then it was G-d's decree.

Clearly, he is saying that a person has the ability to harm himself. If Tosfos was following the Zohar, this makes perfect sense.

However, the Gemora seems to disagree. Commenting on the posuk in Mishpatim, v'rapoh yerapeh, the Gemora says that permission for a doctor to cure is necessary, since it was Hashem that caused the person to be hurt, and therefore one might say that doctors have no right to change Hashem's decree.

The Chofetz Chaim points out that the means by which the ailing person in the posuk got hurt was, as the posuk says clearly, by being hit on purpose by another person. You see from here, he says, that even if someone willingly strikes someone else, the Gemora considers his injury "coming from Hashem."

The Chovos Halevovos clearly says that if someone harms someone else it was decreed so in heaven; the Sefer HaChinuch says the same thing regarding the prohibition of taking revenge: why would you want to take revenge, he says, if you would have gotten hurt anyway, since its obvious that G-d decreed that you be hurt?

In any case, everyone agrees that it is prohibited to put yourself in harm's way.

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