SHEVUOS 35 (15 Teves) - dedicated by Dr. Moshe and Rivka Snow in memory of Rivka's mother, Rebbetzin Leah bas Rav Yosef (Rabinowitz), the Manostrishtcher Rebbetzin, whose Yahrzeit is 15 Teves.
1) HALACHAH: CURSING SOMEONE WITHOUT USING A NAME OF HASH-M
OPINIONS: The Mishnah discusses the prohibition against using Hash-m's Name to curse someone. This is a Lo Ta'aseh, a negative prohibition, punishable with Malkus. The Mishnah and Gemara do not discuss the law about cursing someone without using Hash-m's Name. Is this also forbidden?
(a) RASHI in Temurah (4a) writes that the Isur of "Lo Sekalel Cheresh" (Vayikra 19:14) includes a prohibition against cursing both with the Name of Hash-m and without it. This is also the opinion of the SEFER HA'CHINUCH (#231), the TUR, BACH, and SHACH (CM 27).
According to these Poskim, the only difference that between cursing with Hash-m's Name and cursing without it is that the punishment of Malkus is given only for cursing with Hash-m's Name.
The SEFER CHAREDIM (24:16) cites proof for this view from the death of Rachel Imenu. When Lavan pursued Yakov Avinu and accused him of stealing his idols, Yakov responded that whoever took his idols "shall not live" -- "Lo Yichyeh" (Bereishis 31:32). Although he did not use the Name of Hash-m, his curse was potent enough to take effect, and it eventually caused the death of Rachel (who, unbeknownst to Yakov, had taken the idols). If such a curse is not forbidden, then it should not have had the potency to take effect.
(b) RABEINU YONAH in SHA'AREI TESHUVAH (3:46-7) apparently argues that there is no specific Torah prohibition against cursing without using Hash-m's Name. This is also the implication of his words in SEFER HA'YIR'AH (#218), where he writes that "a person should not curse his fellow man using Hash-m's Name, for such a person transgresses two negative prohibitions." The ME'IRI comments that "based on this, many Ge'onim have warned that one should not curse his fellow man even with a Kinuy (diminutive) of Hash-m's Name or [His Name] in a different language." This implies that the Ge'onim did not expressly warn against cursing someone without using Hash-m's Name altogether. This is also the opinion of the SHE'ILTOS (Korach, #134).
HALACHAH: Most Acharonim, including the KITZUR SHULCHAN ARUCH (6:3) and the CHAZON ISH (Sanhedrin 20:7), side with the first opinion. Since this is a question that involves a Torah prohibition, one must conduct himself stringently. The MINCHAS YITZCHAK (to Sefer ha'Chinuch 69:5) points out that even the lenient opinions mentioned above agree that cursing a person in any manner is a violation of the positive commandment of "v'Ahavta l'Re'acha Kamocha" (Vayikra 19:18). (Y. MONTROSE)
2) GIVING PERMISSION TO CURSE
OPINIONS: The Mishnah states that a person is punished with Malkus for cursing others and for cursing himself. May one person give permission to another person to curse him, and thereby exempt the other person from Malkus)?
(a) The MINCHAS CHINUCH (48:2) writes that a person may give permission to another person to curse him. With regard to Malkus, the RAMBAM (Hilchos Sanhedrin 26:6) rules that when the recipient of a curse forgives the person who cursed him after the curse was pronounced, the perpetrator still receives Malkus, since he already transgressed the prohibition against cursing. The wording of the Rambam implies that if the recipient gives permission before the curse is pronounced, then the perpetrator does not receive Malkus. The Minchas Chinuch adds that parents and friends are similarly entitled to forgive hitting if permission is given prior to the action. This is also the opinion of the RALBACH (Kuntres ha'Semichah #101) and the NESIVOS SHALOM.
RAV YOSEF PERLOW points out the difficulty with such an opinion. The Mishnah clearly states that a person is given Malkus for cursing himself, even though he obviously gave himself permission to do so! If permission does not work to exempt himself from punishment, then why should it work to exempt someone else?
RAV MOSHE FEINSTEIN zt'l (IGROS MOSHE OC 3:78) proposes a novel idea to explain why a person is entitled to let others curse him. He explains that the prohibition of cursing oneself and the prohibition of cursing others are two separate prohibitions. Cursing oneself is forbidden because one is not allowed to hurt himself. Cursing someone else is forbidden because it embarrasses the other person, and not because the curse will hurt him. The curse cannot hurt the other person, as the verse states, "Kilelas Chinam Lo Savo" -- "A curse in vain will not take effect" (Mishlei 26:2). Therefore, a person is entitled to forgive the embarrassment caused by the curse and let someone curse him, such that the one cursing him does not transgress the prohibition.
Rav Moshe Feinstein cites an additional proof to this concept from the words of the Rambam earlier (Hilchos Sanhedrin 26:1). The Rambam states that even one who curses a child receives Malkus for his sin. The KESEF MISHNEH explains that this is because the Gemara (86a) says that a person must pay for embarrassment caused to a child. It is evident from there that the basis of the prohibition of cursing someone is the embarrassment caused to him.
The SEFER L'RE'ACHA KAMOCHA has difficulty with Rav Moshe Feinstein's explanation. Why does he say that cursing another person is only a matter of embarrassment since the curse will not come true? The Gemara teaches that if the recipient of the curse did even a small improper thing to the other person, the other person's curse may take effect (see Insights to Makos 11a). Moreover, the Kesef Mishneh's explanation is based on the Rambam's text, but none of the other Rishonim rule like the Rambam with regard to one who curses a child.
(b) The SHE'ILTOS (Mishpatim, #60) argues that parents cannot override the Halachah that forbids their children from hitting and cursing them, even by giving advance permission. The RIVASH (#120) quotes this opinion in the name of the RA'AVAD. The Rivash later (#484) explicitly rules this way with regard to the cursing of an ordinary person as well. (Y. MONTROSE)
3) ERASING THE NAME OF SHLOMO IN "SHIR HA'SHIRIM"
QUESTION: The Gemara says that whenever the name "Shlomo" is mentioned in Shir ha'Shirim it is holy, because it refers to Hash-m with the acronym -- "Mi sheha'Shalom Shelo" (the One to Whom peace belongs).
What is the Gemara's point in teaching this? Does the Gemara mean that one is prohibited to erase the name of Shlomo when it appears in Shir ha'Shirim, just as the Gemara earlier mentions that it is prohibited to erase other names of Hash-m which are holy?
(a) The RAN and RITVA explain that one is allowed to erase the name Shlomo in Shir ha'Shirim. This name is no different than other descriptive words used to refer to Hash-m (such as "Rachum" and "Chanun") which may be erased. The Gemara is saying that the word "Shlomo" is holy with regard to its use in a Shevu'ah. For example, if a person makes witnesses swear a Kinuy of Hash-m, such as "Shlomo," that they do not know testimony, and the witnesses swear falsely, they are obligated to bring a Korban Shevu'as ha'Edus.
The ROSH agrees that one is allowed to erase "Shlomo" in Shir ha'Shirim, but he gives a different explanation for the Gemara. He states that the Gemara's intention in teaching the explanation of the word "Shlomo" is so that one will learn Shir ha'Shirim correctly and know the right interpretation and meaning of the verses.
Although other Rishonim also mention this explanation of the Gemara, the Rosh does not mention their explanation (that the usage of the word "Shlomo" in a Shevu'ah makes the Shevu'ah valid). The CHESHEK SHLOMO explains that the Rosh does not give that explanation because it is not a common occurrence that someone makes a Shevu'ah with the name "Shlomo." (The Rosh agrees, however, that in practice such a Shevu'ah would be valid.)
(b) The Rosh quotes RABEINU MATZLI'ACH who understands that the Gemara's intention is to teach that one is prohibited to erase the name "Shlomo."
Some understand that this is also the opinion of the RAMBAM. The Rambam (Hilchos Yesodei ha'Torah 6:9) records all of the statements of the Gemara here together, and mentions that "every appearance of the word 'Shlomo' is holy and is like other Kinuyim." The Cheshek Shlomo explains that the Rambam refers to Kinuyim which are prohibited to erase. He understands that this is also how the RADVAZ (Leshonos ha'Rambam 67) understands the Rambam.
The RITVA and KESEF MISHNEH, however, understand the Rambam's words differently and maintain that the Rambam permits erasing the word "Shlomo." (Y. MONTROSE)