Lifnei Iver - ìôðé òéååø ìà úúï îëùåì
Group Size: 10-50
Estimated Time: 45 minutes
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Background: In Vayikra 19:14 we are told “Before a blind person you should not place a stumbling block.” Rashi explains that this precept should only be taken literally. Obviously one should not attempt to torture or impede the progress of an actual blind person, someone who is handicapped and unable to protect himself. Rashi points out that this din refers to giving bad or incorrect suggestions to other people in an attempt to mislead them. When someone is unsure of the direction they want to take in a business deal or any other type of transaction they can be considered “blind” and it is thus forbidden to try and convince them of some action that will eventually lead to his loss. Moreover, “Lifnei Iver” has come to symbolize any action, that in itself may be perfectly proper by will lead to somebody else committing an Aveira or misfortune. If a teacher leaves the answer key to an important final where students can cheat off it, it could be considered Lifnei Iver. I a father strikes a grown-up son, the gemara in Moed Katan relates that he has transgressed Lifnei Iver, since his son may very well hit him back and be chayav mita. This is the type of din that has a place in our daily lives. We must always be careful in our deeds and calculate the ramifications of our actions.
Game 1: Human Obstacle Course
Depending on the age of your chanichim, you may want to play this game with boys and girls separate, or if need be, make obstacles with chairs instead of with people.
Choose five or more chanichim to be human obstacles. The first person stands erect, the second stoops in leapfrog position, the third stands with legs open, and the forth and fifth join hands to form a bridge. (You can, of course, make your own obstacles, or have the kids suggest them. These are just for your help if you need ideas.) Divide the chanichim into two teams and have them race through the obstacles. When one player finishes, he must go back and tag the next teammate, who then begins. Whichever team finishes first wins. You go around the first obstacle, over the second, under the third, and between four and five. One member of the team should be blindfolded, and must be guided by the words of their teammates.
If you only have enough for one team, have them set a goal for how fast they can complete the course.
Game 2: Yakov Ayeka?
This is a game much like Marco Polo. Set up a small enclosure by having the rest of the chanichim surround an area. (They can change the shape if they want during the game. This will keep them a little more involved in what’s going on.) Choose two chanichim to put inside, one as seeker and one as hider. Both are blindfolded. The seeker tries to find the hider, and the hider tries to avoid him. The seeker yells out “Yakov Ayeka?” to which the hider must respond “Hineni.” If after trying ten times the seeker cannot find him, the hider wins. In addition, you can put a number of chairs in the area, giving obstacles for the two to negotiate or use to dodge the seeker.
Alternative 1: Only blindfold the seeker
Alternative 2: Have one seeker but many hiders.
Discussion: In theses two games we dealt with very real obstacles and “blind” people. It would be easier for us to just run straight, and not to have to worry about the obstacles, or to find each other without a blindfold. But it would be quite difficult for the blindfolded person to complete the course without help, and it’s much harder for the seeker without his sight. Introduce the idea of Lifnei Iver literally – we should never impede a blind person. The reasons for this are pretty obvious.
Demonstration 1: Have all the chanichim sit down and say you are going to do an experiment. Have them stick out their tongues and walk by, putting a candy on each tongue. But stipulate that they must let the candy dissolve on its own – they can’t suck on it. See how many can actually perform this feat of patience. (Remember to have them say a bracha beforehand). You can do this by team and see which team has more who succeed.
Discussion: Was it fair to expect people not to suck on these delicious candies? Are there times in life when we put “sweets” in front of others that will temp them to do something wrong? Explain how Lifnei Iver applies beyond just the literal explanation. If someone comes over to your house and you have non-kosher candies on the table, for example, even if you don’t offer them, this is the same as Lifnei Iver – you can expect that they’ll take some and thereby eat non-kosher. This is also a type of stumbling block that you have placed. For another example, there have been teshuvot asked on whether you can invite someone over for Shabbat lunch if you know they will drive there on Shabbat. (The answer is usually yes, for a number of reasons). This is another possible example of Lifnei Iver.
Game 3: Fox and Squirrel
Three balls are needed. Two of them should be similar – for the foxes – and the other perhaps smaller and distinctly different, for the squirrel. The object of the game is for the foxes to catch the squirrel by tagging whoever is holding the squirrel ball with one (or both) of the fox balls. Everyone stands in a circle and begins passing the fox balls from player to player. With a bit of practice, you should be able to get them all moving at top speed. You can only pass the foxes to the player next to you, but you can throw the squirrel across the circle. To keep everyone alert, call out “Fox” or “Squirrel” each time you pass one of the balls.
Discussion: The connection between this game and our theme should be apparent. There are times when someone will toss you the squirrel just as the foxes are converging on you. This is akin to Lifnei Iver. Although it’s possible that you’ll be able to avoid the foxes, it makes things difficult. We must be careful not to put people in situations where, although we aren’t forcing to sin, it’ll be hard for them to avoid it.
 The New Games Book p. 59