I don't know if anyone has seen the Lipa Schmeltzer music video for Abi M'leibt, but I remember that when it first came out, many people on various forums were furious at the blatant bal tashchis that it contained. Spoiler: A carton of eggs gets smashed when some groceries are thrown to the ground, and he throws out a cup of coffee that had "spoiled" milk in it.

My question is, is this really bal tashchis? I mean, he did throw out perfectly good food, but he did it for a reason - the music video; (which, I imagine, was beneficial to him and/or HASC (he made it for HASC's benefit concert)). So he did in fact use it for something, even if not the purpose originally intended.

Does this fall in the category of bal tashchis? What about the other things they do in filmmaking? Blowing things up (which is not always special effects), smashing things, breaking things...

Is it considered bal tashchis to use things for a purpose other than the one they were made for?
What if that purpose is for entertainment only?

  • This is the first time I've experienced the dreaded commentless downvote. Anybody care to explain how I've stepped on their toes? – Hod - Monica's Army Nov 27 '11 at 7:31
  • I actually upvoted the question, but one way to improve it would be to describe the thought-to-be-problematic part of the video so people know what you mean without watching it, and another would be to translate and explain bal tashchis. – msh210 Nov 27 '11 at 7:34
  • Good point, and I will do that presently. However, I doubt that is the reason. – Hod - Monica's Army Nov 27 '11 at 7:35
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    I have upvoted just because of the senseless downvote :) – avi Nov 27 '11 at 19:55
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    @msh210 oh but it does :) – avi Nov 28 '11 at 17:28

Although I am not at all familiar with the video or the controversy,I would suspect that many, or most, people were not upset because it constituted a technical violation of bal tashchis but because they felt it violated the principle of the matter.

According to my understanding pretty much any reason to destroy something will override the prohibition of bal tashchis, only purposeless destruction is forbidden. But while the needs of the video as imagined probably constitute a reason to permit doing so, we must ask whether there was ultimately a need for imagining the video to include such elements. Does the film use this destruction to dramatize a certain unexpected and undesired occurrence...or is it just slapstick humor relying on the fact that people find things getting broke funny?

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    +1. Any source on " pretty much any reason to destroy something will override the prohibition of bal tashchis"? Not that I disagree. – Hod - Monica's Army Dec 28 '11 at 17:01
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    I'll try, but it will be a while before I have a chance – Yirmeyahu Dec 28 '11 at 17:04
  • @hodofhod tosafos in kiddushin around page 32 I THINK, where it mentions an inquiry regarding kibud av viaym , if the son has to even lose his own money or not... and tosafos points out that an earlier mentioned case of a father throwing a purse of money into the ocean and (an earlier Amora mentioned that) the son is obligated to not retaliate, so tosafos says that that must be talking about a case where the purse belongs to the father, and also if it's not bal tashchis, and tosafos say that that means even if it was to inflict fear on his family, it wouldn't be considered baal tashchis. – user8832 Dec 19 '18 at 6:02

I haven't seen the video, but I would imagine that people were upset because there wasn't an absolute need to use actual food for the props - they could have had plastic 'eggs' filled with some yellow liquid, and a cup of water darkened to look like coffee (adding mud might be one way to get a good color for a cup of coffee). In this sense, although the eggs and coffee were used because they were cheaper than the alternative (buying eggs vs. making plastic eggs filled with a yellow liquid), it was still bal tashchlis.

As for the other part of your question, I would posit that those who get upset at a box of eggs being used as a prop would probably also get upset over the wastefulness - both of time and energy - of other forms of filmmaking. Having said that, I think the qualifier would be if the object in question was able to be useable after the action done to it. Throwing some eggs on the ground essentially ruins the eggs from ever being used again. Breaking a pane of glass, for example, can still allow you to melt the glass down and reform it again (similar to the idea that a pot can technically be made rutially pure by making it 'unusable' - making a hole in it - and then reforming it [which has been banned anyway, as the Rabbis feared people forgetting to actually make their pots and pans properly unusable in the first place]).

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    Barry Hammer, welcome to the site and thanks for your answer. I hope you stick around and enjoy the site. – msh210 Nov 28 '11 at 15:41
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    Don't you suppose that the money expended to make fake eggs is a bigger issue of bal tashchis if you can use real ones instead? – Hod - Monica's Army Nov 28 '11 at 23:08
  • It depends on how much money it would cost to make the eggs. It would also depend on whether dumping eggs on the floor was even necessary in the first place (there are probably plenty of other cheap props - such as a fake cup of coffee - that would get the point of spilling a product across). – Barry Hammer Nov 29 '11 at 14:03
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    Anyway, so you're saying that the way to do it, is to find the utmost cheapest thing to use, because otherwise it's bal tashchis? That seems prone to a lot of problems: ("what do you mean it cost you $1.59? I have a cousin who could have gotten you such a deal...."). Also, melting glass down into new glass is rather rare, and probably prohibitively expensive, since most glass makers use pure silica. – Hod - Monica's Army Nov 30 '11 at 7:41
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    @Barry Why is wasting coffee worse than wasting water? – avi Dec 5 '11 at 8:27

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