פרשת קדושים is full of מצוות, each of which warrants an entire ספר. I want to focus on one of them:
Rav Elchanan Samet looks at the לא תעשה of לפני עור לא תתן מכשל
The literal meaning is straightforward:
But almost all פוסקים hold that this is not the halachic meaning of the verse. It is forbidden to literally put a stumbling block before the blind, but that is covered by all the laws of נזיקין in פרשת משפטים. This law is more metaphoric.
Onkelos seems to take the second approach. He translates:
using the expression דְּלָא חָזֵי, ”one who does not see“, rather than the perfectly good Aramaic עַוִּיר.
I have to admit, I walk around playing games on my phone and I definitely would walk into the street if not for those bumpy warning strips on the sidewalk. They are not just for the literally blind, but for all of us דְּלָא חָזֵי. But this is still a physical obstacle in front of a person with vision problems. Rashi cites the Sifra that the entire law is metaphoric:
The fourth interpretation is even less direct, because the “victim” is not blind at all; they know exactly what they are doing. You are still forbidden from abetting them:
The “blindness” here is their inability to understand their own best interest. You have a responsibility to the other, to protect them from a מכשל that they really want to stumble over.
Reading the pasuk metaphorically is appropriate in context; 2 pesukim later we have
Where clearly לא תעמד על דם רעך is a metaphor. And the pasuk after ours is about judgment:
Which evokes the previous use of the word עור, again clearly metaphorically:
And the same connection is made in ספר דברים:
So which interpretation is right? Yes.
Note that this is not a case where the halachic דרש has a different interpretation than the פשט; the משך חכמה says that all four interpretations are halachic binding, and even those who would not take it literally would say the latter two are halachically binding.
That kind of pasuk, from which we learn multiple laws, has a name: לָאו שֶׁבִּכְלָלוֹת. And that has halachic implications.
In other words, each of these acts are forbidden, but בית דין will not punish the perpetrator for them. It’s not clear why that should be true. Rav Yehudah Copperman suggests that when the פשט has a single לאו from which the דרש learns multiple different איסורים, then each individual איסור has less force than a full-fledged לא תעשה.
Through the פשט, ה׳ is telling us that while לפני עור is forbidden, it is left to הקב״ה to judge. Rav Copperman ends there; he does not speculate on why the Torah should make these specific לאוין ”diluted“.
The question is better than the answer I can propose, so any feedback is welcome. I think it is not given to a human בית דין to decide that someone else’s advice was meant maliciously. That is why the pasuk ends with ויראת מאלקיך אני ה׳.
פרשת קדושים is mostly about the מצוות בין אדם חברו. The halacha of לפני עור adds a “metahalachic” level, that it is often not our place to judge the interpersonal behavior of others. While there is a מצווה of (ויקרא יט:טז) הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ אֶת עֲמִיתֶךָ that pasuk starts with the מצווה of לֹא תִשְׂנָא אֶת אָחִיךָ בִּלְבָבֶךָ. We don’t know what others are thinking, so we can’t pass judgment on what others are thinking.