Thursday, May 6, 2010

An Undeserved Curse

Sometimes people get into altercations that can turn very heated. One woman got into a fight with her neighbor and was so upset that she pronounced some hair-raising curses. Her neighbor was very upset even though she had done nothing to deserve such curses. Despite her blamelessness, she felt very uncomfortable and wondered if this was merely superstition or if there was any basis to being afraid of such a curse.
When Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein, shlit”a, was consulted about the matter, he explained that an undeserved curse was definitely nothing to worry about. “This is clear from Rashi in Sanhedrin who writes that an undeserved curse becomes manifest for the person who wrongly did the cursing. Yet this seems to contradict the gemara in Gittin 35a regarding Rabbah bar Rav Huna. There we find that a widow asked him to allow her to collect her Kesuvah When he said that this was impossible, she asked him to fix the amount she was entitled to receive to pay for her upkeep from her deceased husband’s estate. He said, ‘Now that you have asked for your kesuvah, you are no longer eligible to receive anything from his estate.’ The distressed woman cursed him and he was always weak after that episode. According to Rashi, though, we should ask why wasn’t she cursed rather than him since the curse was undeserved?”
“My brother-in-law, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a, explained that she had a bona fide claim on Rabbah bar Rav Huna. Although he was halachically correct, he should have realized that he was dealing with a broken-hearted widow and treated her accordingly. In such cases it is incumbent on a dayan to explain the halachah clearly and gently, to ensure that she understands and can accept it.”

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