Monday, September 25, 2006

do hechsher mitzvos require kavanah?

Hope everyone had a nice Rosh haShana!
The Rishonim and Achronim offer numerous answers to explain why the Rambam paskens like Rava (chameitz u'matzah 6:3) that one is yotzei matzah even if coerced to eat and has no kavanah to fulfill a mitzvah but by shofar the Rambam paskens (2:4) like R' Zeira that one is not yotzei shofar without kavanah to fulfill the mitzvah. Putting that issue aside, the Yom Teruah asks: the gemara (Kesubos 86) writes that if one refuses to build a sukkah or make a lulav Bais Din imposes malkos until the person relents and does the mitzvah - doesn't this prove Rava's point that mitzvos fulfillment can be coerced and kavanah is not integral? The Yom Teruah distinguishes between the matzah case where the coercion is done by Persians who certainly have no mitzvah kavanah and the case of coercion by Bais Din which is done with their intent to see a mitzvah fulfilled. The Aruch laNer says this distinction is irrelevant - the kavanah of Bais Din is no substitute for the person's own kavanah. Aruch laLer offers an interesting distinction between eating matzah, which itself is a mitzvah, and building a sukkah or making a lulav, which are just hechsheirim to allow the person to accomplish the mitzvah act. Mitzvos tzerichos kavanah, but hechsheirim that enable the mitzvah to be performed do not.

5 comments:

  1. Bill Selliger1:07 PM

    From the context it’s clear that the gemara is not relating to these actions as hechsheirim. Firstly, they’re being compared to mitzvos lo saseh. Is there a hechsher for a mitzvas lo saseh? Also, do you really believe that B”D will kill someone for not being “machshir”?! For all they know, he can sit in someone else’s sukka! It must be where the individual has declared that he is not going to be eating in a sukka or not shaking a lulav. In that case, B”D can hit him until he acquiesces to perform the mitzvah – not build the sukka or tie the lulav.

    Also, can you please provide the location of the AL"N? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Aruch l'Ner is on RH 28 or 29 (somewhere around there). If someone says I am not building a sukkah because I will use my friend's, then I think you are right that bais din will not interfere. But if someone a week before sukkos says I am not building a sukkah because I do not want to do the mitzvah, then i don't think it is so far-fetched to think the coercion is on the act of building sukkah, not just the yeshivas sukkah. Anyway, that's where he says it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bill Selliger2:28 PM

    Interesting also, because you see that the AL"N holds that the hechsher does not necessarily share the din of the "parent" mitzva. See Tosafos to Shabbos 131a d"h Lo.

    This relates to the question of making a birchas ha'torah before learning Alef Bais (assuming learning A"B is a hechsher). Perhaps according to the AL"N one would not make that bracha. Hechsheirim are unique, independent, and autonomous actions - that happen to lead to a mitzva.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What about the issues of active versus passive and partial fulfillment versus complete fulfillment.
    Eating is an active act (so to speak)--no one can throw the matzah into your mouth on the odd chance that you will swallow it (and even if you do, you can spit it out); whereas listening is a passive act--the sound of the shofar is, so to speak, thrown into your ear, and you can't (short of earplugs or the Talmudic equivalent thereof) spit out the sound. So eating matzah automatically requires intention (of eating the matzah, even if not performing the mitvah of matzah), but hearing shofar does not. Therefore actual kavanah is required for the latter and not the former. Perhaps the relevant case here is the question of kavanah of saying the Shma as part of studying that section of Devarim, and not as part of the regular tefilah.

    And building the sukkah is merely preparation for sitting in the sukkah. I could, theoretically, build a sukkah and then give it to my neighbor for his use, and never sit it in it myself. So building the sukkah is just partial fulfillment. This may not be what the Aruch LaLer was saying, but I think it's pretty close.

    (Jeffrey Smith)

    ReplyDelete
  5. the achronim make a chiluk between eating and listening to answer the rambam.

    ReplyDelete