[14a] It was taught in a baraita: One may sell [a pagan merchant] a bundle [of frankincense]. And how much is a bundle? R. Yehudah b. Beteira explained: a bundle weighs at least three manehs [approximately one pound]. Should we not be concerned lest the [merchant] goes and sells it to another [idol worshiper] who will burn it [as a sacrifice to a pagan idol]? Abaye says: We are commanded, Before [the blind do not place a stumbling block] (Leviticus 19:14) but we are not obligated concerning a “before” for a “before:… [15b] Rabbah once sold a donkey to an Israelite who was suspected of selling it to an idolater. Said Abaye to him: “Why did you do this?” He said: “I sold it to an Israelite.” “But he will go and sell it to an idolater!” “Why should he sell it to an idolater and not sell it to an Israelite?”
“But the Torah teaches us that even by sitting at home doing nothing, by complete passivity and divorcement from society, one cannot shake off responsibility for what is transpiring in the world at large, for the iniquity, violence and evil there. By not protesting, "not marking the graves" and danger spots, you have become responsible for any harm arising therefrom, and have violated the prohibition: "Thou shalt not put a stumbling block before the blind..."
Nehama Leibowitz, Studies in Leviticus, p.178'
- Can you think of examples of behaviors that would violate the prohibition, You shall not…place a stumbling block before the blind in various arenas of modern life (e.g., community, politics, business, economics)?
- Can one passively violate You shall not…place a stumbling block before the blind? For example, by failing to point out corruption, bribery, safety violations in the workplace, or by not protesting injustice?
- When one sells an item to someone who might use it to harm another, how much responsibility does the seller have to vet the buyer? Consider the following: (A) an adult who presents a valid ID to purchase cheap beer, while teenagers are seen outside waiting in the parking lot; (B) physicians who dispense drugs such as oxycontin, Adderall, and Ritalin without periodically seeing the patient; (C) dealers who sell guns at gun shows.