Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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17 Adar I 5760 - February 23, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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It is a Mitzva to Confiscate Fireworks and Combustibles from Children -- Beis Din Would have Struck Children Who Frighten Others [In this Manner]

A frightened infant is in mortal danger, as is explained in Yuma, 84b: It is a mitzva to desecrate Shabbos in order to save a child from panic.

[It also says, ]"Cursed is the man who raises a ferocious dog that frightens women." Bovo Kama, 83a.

Therefore, it is a mitzva for every person to prevent the use of explosive noisemakers in any form, and to take the destructive instruments from children, in order to prevent them from committing the violation that borders on pikuach nefesh (as explained in Bovo Kama 28). Anyone who encounters a distempered cat who attacks children is urged to kill it and is permitted to keep its skin. (See Chosen Mishpot 266:4.)

The Mishnah Berurah (343:9) writes: If a young child does damage, he deserves to be beaten by beis din.

It is a mitzva to [figuratively] "break the arm of a wicked one" by reporting sellers of fireworks to the police. One who does so is not considered an informer, rather, he will be commended for blessing. Happy are the parents who train their children in the right path and prevent them from using combustible noisemakers. In this merit, may they be privileged to hear from them the sound of jubilation, the sound of joy and the sound of Torah.


HaGaon R' Shmuel Halevi Wosner shlita

HaGaon R' Nissim Karelitz shlita

"We must Uproot the Phenomenon Which Derives from Amolek"

by N. Katzin

According to HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, rov of Ramat Elchonon in Bnei Brak, referring to the widespread use of firecrackers and dangerous combustibles in chareidi communities in Israel, "The phenomenon of explosives that frighten people and can cause heart failure is absolutely foreign to our people. It is rooted in those who live by their swords, savages who have a hand in everything. Yet this evil practice has reached our people, or more accurately, the unruly fringe of our people. It originates with Amolek and it must be uprooted in these days when we efface the memory of Amolek."

In an interview with Yated Ne'eman, HaRav Zilberstein stressed the danger in this phenomenon, as is reflected in the many appeals that come to us in this matter. "Many doctors come to me and tell me of incidents of women who were on the verge of a serious condition from fright, or of children who were nearly blinded. A rosh kollel came to me and told of a firecracker that was thrown into a synagogue and the dreadful panic it raised. Drivers came to me and told me that someone threw a firecracker at their cars, causing a near accident. Someone who studies in our kollel said today that someone threw a firecracker at his wife on Rechov Ezra in the middle of the day and she almost fainted from fright. And the Amolekites watch and smirk with glee.

"Chazal say, `Cursed is the man who keeps a ferocious dog on his property.' A dog is even a G-d-made creature and we are obligated to show it gratitude, yet here we are talking about dynamite that is far worse. This must be uprooted at its very source."

HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein added that these words were already written by HaGaon R' Chaim Falagi. He mentions "An explosive cylinder which is a vessel of death . . . Even if it does not contain anything that kills, nevertheless, the noise it makes, alone, causes trembling and dread and makes a person afraid." He wrote further that "even the [small amounts of] explosive matter that is placed in papers and rolled up, known as pulver-powder does not befit our people to use -- even on Purim . . . In our city of Izmir, the rabbis have issued a joint statement that it is forbidden to use explosives on Purim . . . This applies to anything that contains dynamite. It is customary on Shabbos Zochor to announce this in public to warn and remind the people against using it."

"These warnings," says R' Zilberstein, "must be issued again and this habit uprooted together with Amolek."

What can be done against this practice?

"Very simple. There is no recourse but to involve the police in the matter. We will publicize a statement in the name of the rabbonim that it is a mitzva to report anyone who sells these devices to the police. Principals and teachers shall be told to publicly announce the name of any boy caught handling explosives and to censure and denounce him. This will help to halt this terrible phenomenon.

"It cannot be that there are such wicked people with hearts of stone who insist on pandering to this urge and making huge sums of money at the expense of frightening an entire community.

"I ask that whoever can help in this matter, to eradicate this practice as a measure of `And you shall wipe out the evil from your midst,' to do whatever is in his power. Whoever finds a child using fireworks must seize him and wrest it away from him, ask him his name and report him to the principal of his cheder to be dealt with."

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