I work in an office in which someone working down the hall is disabled. She has a Jewish sounding last name and talks to me about her family's practices in regard to being members of a Reform temple and keeping certain Jewish traditions like going to Miami for Passover (we've had this conversation tongue in cheek, but it impressed upon me that she has experience in Jewish practice).

Yesterday she made a comment that led me to strongly question whether she is, in fact, Halachically Jewish.

Until now I've been very mindful of avoiding situations in which I have to aid her with certain things that might constitute Lifnei 'Iver or Mesayea' issues (causing someone to sin or helping someone sin if they would have sinned anyway). If, however, I have a doubt that she is actually Jewish according to Halachah, do I need to worry about these things?

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    Incidentally, I don't see this as a classic CYLOR case, because I'm curious about the parameters of the laws that pertain to the case, not to my case in particular. I'm careful about this regardless. I also don't think it's too localized, but if others disagree they should feel free to edit it.
    – Seth J
    Mar 23, 2012 at 16:19
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    What exactly does her disability have to do with the question? Mar 23, 2012 at 18:01
  • @l' The Mesayea' is much more pronounced, although I don't know that it necessarily rises to Lifnei 'Iver, as she could get someone else to help her.
    – Seth J
    Mar 23, 2012 at 18:18
  • @SethJ What exactly are you doing that might be a problem / not doing because you think it's a problem? I would need to know exactly what's (not) happening to figure out if it's an issue.
    – user1095
    Mar 26, 2012 at 7:35
  • @Will, see my second example here. But it could easily have been a request to help her put it in the microwave and turn it on. Or it could have been a request to help her with not only treif, but Hametz on Pesah. How serious and how directly involved is part of the question. I am looking for parameters of when I need to say 'no' (if ever, since I'm not sure she's Jewish) and when I can say yes.
    – Seth J
    Mar 26, 2012 at 14:16

2 Answers 2


The gemara in Avodah Zarah speaks of selling animals to a non-Jew. Perhaps that non-Jew will then sacrifice this animal to his false god(s), and then the Jew who sold it to him would be guilty of lifnei iver.

However - if the non-Jew already has other animals, he will be able to do his sin, even if the Jew doesn't help. Therefore, most views would say that the Jew may sell an animal to this non-Jew.

Using this logic, we could say the following: If other people in the office would be willing to help this woman retrieve her treif lunch, then your refusal to do it won't stop her from eating it. Furthermore, you'll look like a jerk for refusing, possibly causing a Chillul Hashem.

So be a mentsch and help her get her lunch.

(Chametz on Pesach might be different. You don't want to have anything to do with Chametz on Pesach. Even holding it might possibly constitute momentary "ownership". In that case, I would explain that we don't go anywhere near Chametz this week, and find someone else to help her.)

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    I was gonna +1 until I saw the hametz part. Is hametz bipesach assur binegia the same way the etz hadDa'at was? Mar 26, 2012 at 15:42
  • @l' theoretically, the diabled woman is "giving" her chametz lunch to a Jew to heat up as he sees fit. Safek he owns the chametz at that point (it's definitely b'reshuso, and possibly, shelo). Safek d'oraisa l'chumra, ESPECIALLY on an issur kares. Where did I use the word negia, or touch??
    – user1095
    Mar 26, 2012 at 16:03
  • "we don't go anywhere near Chametz..." Mar 26, 2012 at 16:46
  • @l' that's the only the phrase I would use to explain to a non-frum Jew why I wouldn't feel comfortable taking possession of her chametz lunch. You don't start going into details of kinyan and bal yirah / bal yimatze with a non-frum Jew. She's an acquaintance, not a chevrusa.
    – user1095
    Mar 26, 2012 at 17:58
  • I don't think there's anything wrong with being vague or not giving details, but I think that teaching ANYONE a wrong Halacha can be dangerous. Mar 26, 2012 at 18:44

if it's a safek and not a vadei then since lifnei iver is min hatorah you should probably go l'chumra.

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    But Mesayea' is MiDeRabanan.
    – Seth J
    Mar 25, 2012 at 21:17

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