PSAK CLARIFICATION: What Rav Elya Brudny Said Regarding Water Sports Following Recent Tragedies

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There are rumors viral on social media that have emanated from a camp called, “Camp Machne Yehuda” in Lakewood, which stated the following (unedited) Psak in the name of Rav Elya Brudny:

“Camp Machnane Yehuda just got a Psak from Reb Elya Brudny that there’s a big Midas Hadin on mi bamayim and therefore should not go on any water trips. We have therefore cancelled our jet skiing trip scheduled for tomorrow.”

YWN spoke with Rav Elya Brudny, who explained the following, and asked that his Psak be made clear.

“I am not a Posek for anyone. I was asked for advice from many camps, and I gave the same exact response to every one of them.

Normal water activities such as swimming, a cruise, or normal boating are perfectly fine. But water tubing, jet skiing and/or any other “thrill-seeking activity” that flirts with some level of danger — and are only there for the “thrill” – I do not see how a person with a heart when there is clearly a midas hadin out there that manifests itself in mayim, can engage in such activities.”

For those that question this Psak, Rav Brudny mentioned the Rambam Hilchos Taanios Perek Aleph Halacha Gimmel.

“But if they do not cry out and do not sound the alarm, but rather say, ‘this is just the course of how the world works and this tragedy is just happenstance’ – this is the manner of cruelty and causes people to continue to hold on to their evil actions.  It further causes more tragedies to happen.  This is what is written in Vayikra 26:  And you walk with me in keri.. I shall walk with you with anger of keri happenstance..  In other words, when I bring tragedy upon you so that you shall repent – if you say that it is just happenstance – I shall add more tragedy to you.”

אבל אם לא יזעקו ולא יריעו אלא יאמרו דבר זה ממנהג העולם אירע לנו וצרה זו נקרה נקרית, הרי זו דרך אכזריות וגורמת להם להדבק במעשיהם הרעים, ותוסיף הצרה צרות אחרות, הוא שכתוב בתורה ויקרא כ”ו והלכתם עמי בקרי והלכתי עמכם בחמת קרי, כלומר כשאביא עליכם צרה כדי שתשובו אם תאמרו שהוא קרי אוסיף לכם חמת אותו קרי.

Recent drownings that YWN has reported on in just the past few weeks include:

[BORUCH DAYAN HA’EMMES: Body Of Rabbi Reuven Bauman Z”L Has Been Found By Misaskim Boat]

[TRAGEDY: Boro Park Child R”L Drowns At Water Park In NJ [LEVAYA INFO UPDATE]

[Levaya of Drowning Victim HaRav Dovid Traube Z”L]

[TRAGIC ENDING: Body of Yungerman Recovered from Waters Off Tel Aviv Beach]

[TRAGEDY: Yeshiva Bochur Drowns On Mexico Beach]

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13 COMMENTS

  1. What particular aveira is Klal Yisroel guilty of that we are being punished in this way? It seems obvious to me that Mi BaMayim is the punishment so there must be a certain inyan that we have to rectify.

  2. i heard that reb shmuel birnbaum said that people are always nervous during the 9 days about tragedy. but the real problem is after the 9 days because NOONE IS LEARNING!!!!

  3. The accident on Thursday night, where the van turned over, the boys were returning from the water and the accident happened on River Avenue.

  4. funnybone, because common sense should be practiced too. All the tehillim and Torah learning in the world would likely not prevent a tragic ending for someone who can’t swim, going for a midnight unsupervised dip in the ocean. There is a reason why swim lessons in the pool are permitted during the 9 days.
    ah yid, according to media reports, besides for the driver, none of the passengers in the van were wearing seat belts. What good is tefilas haderech if one doesn’t make an attempt for safety precautions, otherwise known as hishtadlus?

  5. I asked a talmid chochom what avaira would be punishable by water. He said the mabul was water, and “lo nechtav gezar dinam ela al hagezel”. Gezel = stealing. Perhaps this means shady , questionable business deals, or where we are taking “only a little bit” of what is not rightfully ours.

  6. Educate the kids all year how to treat Oceans, Boats, Jet skies, ATV’s, Woods, Hiking, Segways, and all outdoor sports.
    If not its like giving them keys to your car for the first time.

  7. it is not because no one is learning; it is because no one understands the dangers involved in getting ‘cheap thrills’.
    Enjoy bein hazmanim, but understand the dangers that are in the “thrills”…..

  8. The Rambam also says it is forbidden to attribute an unfair act to God. To suggest that one person is being punished because of the sins of another would be doing just that. To clarify, no one is suggesting that it is simply derekh ha-olam; the point here is that it is necessary to avoid foolish decisions, which is a violation of ve-nishmartem me’od. If there is a transgression happening, it is that one.

  9. Three of the people who drowned were swimming in the ocean when they got dragged out to sea in a rip tide, and for people who do not know how to escape a rip tide the ocean can be a very dangerous place. So telling people what to do if caught in a rip tide can both save lives and also make the ocean a safe place to swim. People’s instinct is to fight the rip tide and try to swim towards the shore. Doing this results in drowning because the tide is too strong and the person loses all his strength. Instead the person must swim sideways, parallel to the shore till he gets out of the rip tide and then he can make it back to shore. So many people die every year because they lacked this life saving information.