Prologue:        The Torah is quite clear. If you worship idols, you willbe excommunicated (Shemos 22:19). Yet just how clear is the Possuk? If it referred to idol worship why not explain Zoveiach l'elohim Acheirim? And why the special mention in Parshas Mishpatim if  the Issur of Avodah Zara had already been mentioned in an earlier Parsha? And what is the difference between Zoveiach and Makriv anyway?

        Rav Chaim Kramer (Rayonos Hachaim, Iowa, 1939) noted that there is a fundamental difference between a Zevach offering and that of a Korban. The Zevach is always shared. The one bringing the Korban is able to share it with his peers and with the Kohein who brings it on his behalf. This is not necessarily true of other Korbanot.
        Similarly, the idea of Elokim does not always have to refer to God per se. Rather, as the Rambam notes in Moreh Nevuchim (Chap. 2)  the title refers to any governing body necessary to a man whether that refer to God, a king or even a court. Whoever watches the man and takes care of him can take on the status of Elokim.

        However, unfortunately, care that is too good often causes the receiver to forget the element of true godliness in each and every aspect of human functioning. The receiver forgets how he needs God  in his life and how God helps him daily. Thus, in the Parsha of societal law, we are reminded that society must be set up to run the world in a structured format. Still, that structure must promote godliness, not thwart it. Zoveiach L'Elokim, when the community gathers and only compliments its
structure, Yacharam, it will be destroyed because people should come together to celebrate and recognize God's involvement in the world. Not to deny it.


Something’s Rotten in the State of pizza


                A person purchased a condo on top of a building whose ground floor has housed a pizza store for the last decade. Recently, the apartment owner has complained that the smell of cheese has permeated his home and now he wants he wants the store shut down. What is the Halacha’s stance?

                The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 155:2) writes that if one has a store downstairs from a storehouse, he made not open a bakery or a tannery or any other business that provides for a large amount of heat because that heat will cause damage. However, if the store preceded the storehouse, the owner of the storehouse has no right to demand that the store close.

                The Ketzos HaChoshen (155:2) notes that this is true if the upstairs was a storehouse. However, if it was a dwelling, then even if the store opened later, the apartment owner would have no right to prevent the storeowner from doing his business. The Ketzos adds that the Ramban disagrees with this opinion and although not cited by the Shulchan Aruch or any other sources, this opinion of Ramban is the correct Halachic opinion since it is also the opinion of the Yirushalmi. The only exception is if the store opened before the apartment was sold, then the store can continue to function without complaint from the upstairs apartment owner about the damage coming from the store.

                The Shulchan aruch limits the ruling to damages except in 4 situations – smoke, the smell caused by the bathroom, dirt and the like. The Rema explains that these damages are of the type where people just cannot stand it. Where someone cannot stand it, he cannot be expected to “just take it” and the business downstairs must close or take corrective actions.

                The Nesivos (156:7), Chazon Ish (Bava Basra 13:11), and Steipler (Bava Basra 14) all maintain that since the pizza shop in our case has been here for the last ten years and no one has complained about the smell, the right to complain has expired since clearly people CAN handle the smell.

                Noise control becomes a secondary issue when running a business. Where does it fit in? The Mishna (Bava Basra 20b) notes that one can argue against a neighbor’s home business citing the noise pollution of people constantly coming in and out of the area. The Nesivos (156:1) comments that if the noise traffic is intermittent then the person complaining has a right to note that he used to be able to handle the noise but he cannot anymore.

The Maharalbach (Cited in Pischei Teshuva C.M. 156:1) notes that noise of the constant flow of people to the building to buy should and could be mitigated if the store owner would move his business to the market. That too, would be a reason to force one to close a home business due to noise pollution.

The Chasam Sofer (Choshen Mishpat 92) adds that a bar owner cannot become the subject of complaints abut the foot traffic to his bar. Apparently, in his time, people came to a bar to drink QUIETLY. Accordingly, an argument that the bar was creating too much rowdiness would not be applicable if that were the case. The same could be argued about the pizza store, especially when it does not serve alcohol.

Based on the reasons cited, Rav Yeshiah Rotberg (Divrei Mishpat VII: 399) argued against forcing the owner of a pizza store whose store came before the selling of the upstairs apartment to close his business due to the complaints of the new owner.

Shabbat Shalom