1) HALACHAH: DONATING BLOOD
OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses the prohibition of "Lo Sa'amod Al Dam Re'echa" (Vayikra 19:16), the injunction not to let one's fellow man die. The Gemara explains that one who stands by idly as his fellow Jew drowns, is attacked by an animal, or is threatened with death by robbers, transgresses this prohibition. Does this prohibition apply even when one must put himself in danger in order to help his fellow man, or only when he is able to help without putting himself in danger?
The RADVAZ (3:627) writes that a person who puts himself even in a possible danger in order to save his fellow Jew is called a "Chasid Shoteh" -- "a pious fool."
Does this mean that the Halachah views with disfavor a Jew who donates blood?
(a) The TZITZ ELIEZER (16:23) writes that even if a Jew will die unless a person donates blood to him, there is no obligation to do so, although it is meritorious to do so. He explains that a person is never required to give up his own blood, about which the Torah says, "Ki Nefesh ha'Basar ba'Dam Hi" -- "For the soul of the flesh is in the blood" (Vayikra 17:11). The only situation in which one is required to give up his own blood is when he is threatened with death if he does not commit one of the three cardinal sins, in which case he must give up his life and not sin.
The Tzitz Eliezer says compares the question of donating blood to the question posed to the Radvaz. The Radvaz was asked about a person who was given an ultimatum: give up one of your limbs or I will kill your friend. The Radvaz uses the term "Chasid Shoteh" to describe the person who gives up a limb to save his friend. If, however, the person assessed that it was highly unlikely that he would die due as a result of the loss of his limb, he is considered righteous for giving up his limb to save his friend. The Radvaz adds that he knows of someone who had small incisions made in his ear and subsequently bled to death. Although such a case was unusual, the Tzitz Eliezer asserts that the rule that the Torah never makes a person give up his life includes giving up his blood. A similar opinion is expressed by the MISHNEH HALACHOS, as quoted by the KUNTRES B'DAMAYICH CHAYI, and the DIVREI YETZIV (CM 79).
(b) The KUNTRES B'DAMAYICH CHAYI quotes many contemporary Poskim, including RAV SHMUEL WOSNER shlit'a, RAV CHAIM PINCHAS SHEINBERG shlit'a, who rule that a person is obligated to give blood if he knows that a fellow Jew's life is in danger and he can save him by donating blood. Rav Wosner comments that it is clear from the Gemara in many places that in ancient times, bloodletting was viewed as a healthy practice. (The Tzitz Eliezer refutes this proof by quoting various Gemaras which teach that when a person let blood, he needed to be careful to eat only specific foods and to take care of himself in certain other ways in order that he not become ill due to the bloodletting.)
All of the Poskim agree that it is a meritorious act to give blood. (See Tzitz Eliezer ibid. for a discussion of donating platelets and other anatomical entities which involve more complex issues.) It is well known that RAV SHLOMO ZALMAN AUERBACH zt'l used to tell people to go to a certain Rav in Eretz Yisrael to receive a Berachah, because that Rav had given blood for many years in order to help fellow Jews. (Y. MONTROSE)
2) WHY MUST ONE PAY A FINE FOR AN ACT OF "MEFATEH" WITH A SISTER?
OPINIONS: The Mishnah (73a) teaches that one is permitted to kill a man who is pursuing a Na'arah ha'Me'urasah to have relations with her. The Gemara earlier derives from the word "Chet" (Devarim 22:26) that a person may be killed in order to prevent him from sinning with most forms of Arayos punishable by Kares or Misas Beis Din. The Gemara asks that the Mishnah seems to contradict a Beraisa which states that when a man seduces (Mefateh) his sister, he must pay the monetary fine which the Torah obligates a Mefateh to pay to the father of the girl. RASHI (DH ha'Ba Al Achoso) explains that the Gemara's question is as follows: if a person is allowed to kill a man who is attempting to commit a sin of Arayos with his sister, then he should not be obligated to pay a fine, because of the principle of "Kam Lei bid'Rabah Minei." The principle of "Kam Lei" states that when a person becomes liable for two punishments (such as Misah and a monetary payment) at one time, he receives only the more severe punishment. (The Gemara in Kesuvos 35a teaches that this principle applies even when the person is not actually killed.) If the Torah permits killing a man who is pursuing an illicit relationship for which he will be Chayav Kares, it follows that the man should not be obligated to pay a monetary fine for that act. Why does the Beraisa say that one who seduced his sister must pay the monetary fine?
The Gemara answers that at the start of his act of Arayos (She'as He'era'ah), he no longer may be killed, and he becomes obligated to pay the fine only when he finishes the act. (See Rashi DH mi'She'as He'era'ah for the definitions of these stages of the act.).
How does this answer resolve the Gemara's question?
(a) RASHI explains that the Gemara's answer is based on an earlier statement in the Gemara. The Mishnah teaches that one is permitted to kill a person who is attempting to sin with Arayos, but not a person who is attempting to sin with Chilul Shabbos or Avodah Zarah, even though they carry the same punishment (Kares). The difference is that a sin of Arayos involves a "Pegam" -- "blemish." When a serious sin is going to be committed which will seriously blemish a person, the Torah allows one to take the law into his own hands to prevent an innocent life from being ruined. In this case, Rashi explains, the Pegam occurs at a different time from the point at which the monetary fine takes effect. One who has relations with his sister has ruined her status from the beginning of the act. Once he has ruined her status, there is no longer any permission to kill him, since the permission to kill him is only to prevent the forbidden relationship from occurring and causing her a Pegam. However, as long as he has not completed the act and removed her Besulim, she still is a Besulah and thus the fine of a Mefateh does not take effect. Since the penalty of death and the monetary fine do not occur at the same time, the principle of "Kam Lei" does not exempt him from the monetary fine.
(b) TOSFOS (DH Mamona) rejects Rashi's explanation. The Gemara in Kidushin (9b) discusses a case in which a girl was seduced ten times by ten different men and she remained a Besulah. Although Rebbi and the Rabanan disagree about the Chiyuv Misah of those men, Rebbi agrees with the Rabanan that they all must pay a fine to the father. This clearly shows that the fine must be paid regardless of whether the Besulim remain intact.
Tosfos therefore explains that the Gemara means that the obligation to pay the fine cannot take effect at the beginning of the illicit act, because the man becomes liable for Misah and for the fine at that moment. However, after he has begun his act and is no longer able to be killed, he becomes obligated to pay the fine since he still is involved in an act which obligates him to pay a fine to the girl's father.
The CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN records an entirely different discussion between Rashi and Tosfos, which sheds light on Rashi's position. He explains that Rashi certainly was aware of the Gemara in Kidushin (9b). However, Rashi understands that the Gemara there is discussing a case in which the ten men had relations "she'Lo k'Darkah." Since an act of "she'Lo k'Darkah" does not affect the Besulim at all, all of the men must pay the fine. Only when the act is done "k'Darkah" does Rashi maintain that the obligation to pay the fine takes effect only at the moment the Besulim are removed.
According to the Chidushei ha'Ran's text of Tosfos, Tosfos challenges Rashi's explanation from an entirely different Gemara. The Yerushalmi states that when ten men performed He'era'ah to the girl, they all must pay the fine. This implies that even an act of "k'Darkah" makes one liable to pay a fine due to the act itself, and not due to the removal of the Besulim. For this reason, Tosfos gives a different explanation. (Y. MONTROSE)