ד׳ בתשרי ה׳תשע״ז (October 6, 2016)

Bava Metzia 10a-b: An Agent for Matters of Transgression

One of the themes that is discussed on today’s daf is “Ein shali’ah le-dvar aveira – a person cannot be made an agent to sin” – i.e. that a person must take responsibility for his own actions, and cannot blame another person for having told him to perform a forbidden act.

According to the Gemara in Massekhet Kiddushin (42b) the underlying principle of ein shali’ah le-dvar aveira is based on the fact that the messenger’s true obligation is to follow the directions of God, not of another person – divrei ha-rav ve-divrei ha-talmid, divrei me shom’im!

The Talmud Yerushalmi presents a discussion on this point as to whether the concept of – of making someone your agent to act on your behalf – is true in all cases, and certain situations – like this one – are exceptions, or if we would ordinarily assume that a person cannot pass on responsibilities to another, and we need a special source in order to permit shelihut to work. This discussion impacts on the question of a shali’ah le-dvar aveira since according to the first approach we need to explain why shelihut will not work in the case of a forbidden activity; according to the second approach it is obvious that we will not allow the creation of shelihut to do something forbidden.

Tosafot Ri”D argues that the Gemara does not mean to suggest that we would have thought that the messenger could have freed himself from responsibility for performing a forbidden act with the argument that he was only following orders. It is clear to us that an intelligent person must take responsibility for what he does. The discussion on this matter was solely to clarify whether the person who instructed the messenger should also be held accountable, since he was the one who instigated the action.

Previous
Next