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The Many Sins Of A Meserev

Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2008 in Jewish Law

A Jew that refuses to cooperate with Bais Din is labeled a Mesarev L’Din, one who contempts Bais Din. The Mesarev transgresses numerous Torah laws including: Al Pi Hatorah Asher Yorucha, Uvasa El Hashofet, Asher Yehiyeh Bayamim Hahem, Ad Haelokim Yovo Dvar Shnayhem, Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof (all found in parshios Mishpatim and Shoftim).

One who keeps money or property that is not rightfully his according to Torah law, even if he is entitled to do so according to civil law, is a thief who transgresses –depending on the circumstances–any or all of the following: Lo Signovu Velo Sechachashu Velo Seshakeru Ish Baamiso, Lo Saashok Es Reyacha Velo Sigzol. Lo Salin Peulas Sachir, Lo Saasu Avel Bamishpat Bamida Bamishkal Uvamishura (all in Parshas Kedoshim).

The Rama adds-–“And Bais Din has authority to excommunicate him and declare a Cherem against him.”

Is Cherem really all that bad?

The Talmud (Moed Katan 17A) expounds upon the frightening nature of Cherem. Says Rav, “Shamta (The proclamation of Cherem) is a death curse”. Shmuel says, “It bespeaks utter destruction”. Reish Lakish says “The curse of Cherem affects all 248 limbs of the individual, as is illustrated by the fact that the letters Ches, Resh, Mem equal in numerology (Gematria) 248. However, when the sinner repents, these same letters may be rearranged to spell Rachem – (mercy) as he has freed himself of the curse of Cherem.

The Shulchan Orech (Yoreh Deah Chap. 334) instructs us regarding an individual placed in Niduy (the lesser degree of Cherem) that except for his wife and children, one may not sit next to him within a distance of four amos. One may not share food and drink with him. He is not counted for a Minyan or a Mezumin. He is forbidden to wash his clothing or to wear freshly laundered clothes or to take a haircut, just as though he were in mourning.

Chazal said, “Whomever was boycotted for one day in the lower world, is boycotted in the upper world for 30 days; whomever was boycotted in the lower world for 30 days, is boycotted in the upper world for a year. Whomever is boycotted in the lower world for one year, is boycotted eternally in the upper world. There is no ‘medicine’ for this.”

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