1) HALACHAH: GIVING MEDICAL TREATMENT TO A "NOCHRI"
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Rav Simi treated an idolater who was suffering from leprosy with a remedy that the Gemara prescribes, and the idolater was healed of his illness.
How could Rav Simi give medical treatment to a Nochri? The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (26a) prohibits a midwife or a nurse-maid from rendering her services to a Nochri child because doing so enables that child to grow up to serve idols! (TOSFOS in the name of RABEINU ELCHANAN)
(a) The ME'IRI (in Avodah Zarah), the DARCHEI TESHUVAH (YD 158:2), and others (see RASHBA, Teshuvos 1:8 and as cited by the Beis Yosef in YD 154) write that the prohibition of the Gemara in Avodah Zarah applies only to treating Nochrim who actually serve idols. A Jew is permitted to give medical treatment to a Nochri who does not serve idols.
(b) The RI, cited by Tosfos, answers that perhaps Rav Simi was permitted to treat the Nochri because he needed to practice this medical treatment in order to know how to administer to it to Jews who might have the same illness. To practice a medical treatment on a Nochri is permitted.
(c) TOSFOS answers further that if the Nochri knows that the Jewish medical practitioner is an expert in the treatment of his illness, the Jewish doctor is obligated to treat the Nochri in order to prevent malice ("Eivah") of the Nochri towards the Jews.
This is also the way the RAMBAM rules (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 10:2). The Rambam, however, adds a second condition that is necessary to allow a Jew to treat an ill Nochri. He adds that even when there is concern for malice, a Jew still is prohibited from treating the Nochri unless the Jew takes a fee for treating him. Conversely, even when the Jew takes money for his services, he may not treat the Nochri unless there is concern for malice. (The DEVAR YAKOV cites the YAD DAVID who writes in the name of the SEMAG that the Rambam himself relied on this Gemara as his source for becoming a doctor in Egypt, where he treated Nochrim. The YAD DAVID himself adds that although there was no concern for malice in the Rambam's case, the Rambam was permitted to treat Nochrim because they did not serve idols, as the Me'iri and others mention.)
The RAMBAN (in Toras ha'Adam) also rules that a Jew may not treat a Nochri where there is no concern for "Eivah," even when the Jew would receive money for his services. However, he maintains that where there is a concern for "Eivah," a Jew may treat a Nochri even for free. (This is in contrast to the view of the Rambam, who permits a Jew to treat a Nochri where there is a concern for "Eivah" only when the Jew receives money for his services.) (The Ramban derives this from the Gemara earlier in Gitin (61a) which says that we visit the sick of the Nochrim just as we visit the sick of the Jews, and visiting the sick is a form of healing, as the Gemara in Nedarim (39b) teaches.)
(It is interesting to note that the TZITZ ELIEZER (17:6) asks how could Elisha, the prophet, have cured Na'aman from his leprosy, as Na'aman was a Nochri? He answers that in the case of Elisha, there was a great Kidush Hash-m involved, and therefore Elisha was permitted to cure Na'aman.)
(d) Tosfos answers further that perhaps to heal an adult Nochri from his illness is not the same as tending to an infant. In the case of treating an infant, the Jew actually helps to raise the child who will serve idols. In contrast, an adult is already an idol-worshipper, and thus the Jew does not help him become an idol-worshipper by providing treatment for his illness; the Jew merely helps to remove illness or risk of death and does not play an active role in bringing the Nochri to serve idols.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 158:1) rules that a Jew may not provide medical care for a Nochri even if he receives money for it, unless there is concern for "Eivah." The REMA, however, rules like the RAMBAN that when there definitely will be resentment against the Jews if a Jew does not treat a Nochri, a Jew is permitted to treat a Nochri even for free.
(All of this applies to rendering medical treatment to a Nochri on a weekday. There are various other Halachos with regard to transgressing the laws of Shabbos in order to give medical treatment to a Nochri.)
2) REFRAINING FROM WORLDLY PLEASURES
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that one who is at a meal in which the food entices him should hold himself back and refrain from eating it.
RAV ELIYAHU DESSLER (Michtav me'Eliyahu 4:268) asks that this Gemara seems to contradict the Yerushalmi at the end of Kidushin which states that a person will be judged (and punished) for all of the pleasures of this world that were presented to him to eat and from which he did not partake. (That is, Hash-m created food to be eaten and enjoyed so that man would feel gratitude to his Creator, and thus one should not refrain from eating and appreciating Hash-m's provision of food for him.) Similarly, the Gemara in Ta'anis (11a) says that one who fasts is considered a sinner. How is the Gemara here to be reconciled with the Yerushalmi and with the Gemara in Ta'anis?
(a) RAV DESSLER answers that there are two types of people. The first type is the person who is attracted to physical pleasures. Such a person should make guidelines to distance himself from indulgence in worldly pleasures. The second type is the person who is in control of his desires for worldly pleasures. Such a person should partake in acts of eating tasty foods so that he will be able to appreciate Hash-m's creations and thank Hash-m for them.
(b) Another possible way to resolve this apparent contradiction is as follows. The Yerushalmi teaches that it is not commendable to refrain from eating various foods, since one who refrains from them will not fully appreciate Hash-m's goodness. On the other hand, the Gemara here refers to one who is eating a meal and enjoying it already; such a person should not over-indulge at the meal, but he should stop eating before he finishes all the food that is there. This seems to be the intention of RASHI when he writes that one should not "fill his stomach" from the meal he enjoys.
The EIN MISHPAT also seems to understand the Gemara in this manner, since he refers to the RAMBAM in Hilchos De'os (4:15) who writes that over-eating is unhealthy. The Rambam quotes the verse, "One who watches over his mouth and tongue protects himself from troubles (Tzaros)" (Mishlei 21:23). He explains that the verse is teaching that one who watches over his mouth from over-indulgence in food and his tongue from talking unnecessary chatter protects himself from "Tzaros."
3) THE GET OF A "SHOTEH"
OPINIONS: Rebbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish disagree about whether a Get may be given to a man's wife in a case where the man gave a command to write and give a Get to his wife and subsequently lost his sanity as a result of the Kurdiyakus sickness. Rebbi Yochanan maintains that the Get may not be given until the man's sanity returns, just as a Get may not be given for a Shoteh. Reish Lakish disagrees and maintains that one who is sick with Kurdiyakus can be cured, and therefore his lack of sanity is similar to one who is sleeping who can have the Get delivered for him by a Shali'ach; his condition is not similar to that of a Shoteh for which there is no known cure.
Both Rebbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish agree that a Get may not be given for a man who became a Shoteh, even when he commanded the Shali'ach to deliver the Get before he became a Shoteh.
Is this Halachah -- that a Get given on behalf of a man who became a Shoteh is invalid -- mid'Oraisa or mid'Rabanan?
(a) The TUR (EH 121) maintains that if a Get is given on behalf of a man while the man is a Shoteh, the Get is invalid mid'Oraisa.
(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Gerushin 2:15) writes that if a man who is not sane gives a Get before he returns to his sanity, the Get is "Pasul," invalid. The Acharonim point out that the term "Pasul" implies that it is invalid only mid'Rabanan.
The BEIS YOSEF and the SHULCHAN ARUCH (EH 121:2) understand that the Rambam maintains that the Get is Pasul mid'Rabanan only in a case where the man was insane as a result of the Kurdiyakus sickness. If, however, the man was a Shoteh, the Rambam would agree that the Get is Pasul mid'Oraisa. His logic is that even though Rebbi Yochanan says that one who has the Kurdiyakus sickness cannot give a Get, still he admits that this is only a Pesul d'Rabanan since this illness has a remedy.
Other Acharonim (See BEIS SHMUEL, CHELKAS MECHOKEK, VILNA GA'ON to Shulchan Aruch ibid.) disagree with the Beis Yosef's interpretation of the Rambam. Their logic is that since Rebbi Yochanan does not differentiate between a mental illness that has a remedy and one that has no remedy, there is no reason to assume that a Get given by a man who has an illness which has a remedy is Pasul only mid'Rabanan. They understand that according to the Rambam, even if one sent a Shali'ach to give a Get to his wife and then became a Shoteh, the Get is Pasul only mid'Rabanan, and the Rambam disagrees with the view of the Tur that it is Pasul mid'Oraisa.
There are various explanations of the logic behind this dispute between the Rambam and the Tur.
Some Acharonim (OR SAME'ACH, Hilchos Gerushin 2:15, AFIKEI YAM 2:44) explain that the dispute is based on different ways of understanding the nature of Shelichus. The Rambam understands that a Shali'ach completely represents the one who sent him in the transaction. Since it is the mind of the Shali'ach which causes the transaction to take place, there is no concern that the one who sent him is now a Shoteh; the sender's condition is no longer relevant. In contrast, the Tur understands that appointing a Shali'ach is merely a way of extending the sender's ability to do the act. Therefore, it is the mind of the sender which causes the transaction to take place, and if he becomes a Shoteh the Shali'ach cannot carry out the mission.
The Yerushalmi (quoted by the RAN) says that Rebbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish disagree in a case where one gives a Get to his wife with the stipulation that it should take effect in thirty days, and within those thirty days he becomes ill with Kurdiyakus. The Yerushalmi equates the Get a Shali'ach gives after the sender has become a Shoteh to a Get a man gives but which takes effect only when he is a Shoteh. If the situations indeed are comparable, one may infer that the question of a Shali'ach who gives a Get for a man who has become a Shoteh is not a question involving the laws of Shelichus but is a question involving the necessity of the husband to be sane at the time the Get takes effect, even if he completed his act before he became insane (that is, it is a matter of the laws of Get and not of Shelichus).
Based on this, RAV SHMUEL ROZOVSKY and others understand that the dispute about whether or not a Get may be given (mid'Oraisa) on behalf of a Shoteh is based on their understanding of the reason for why a Shoteh cannot give the Get himself. The Rambam maintains that a Shoteh cannot carry out a transaction when there is a need for his Da'as, for his understanding and soundness of mind. In a case where the Da'as of the Shali'ach is involved, such as when the Shali'ach gives the Get or when the Get was given when the husband was sane but will take effect only when he is a Shoteh, there is no reason for the Get not to take effect. In contrast, the Tur understands that it is impossible for any transaction to take effect for a person who does not have Da'as at the time that the transaction is supposed to take effect. Therefore, if the man is a Shoteh at that time the Get will not take effect even though someone with Da'as is carrying out (or has carried out) the act. (E. KORNFELD)