Tuesday, February 06, 2007

mitzvos tzerichos kavanah and tevilah (II)

Very good comments on yesterday’s post. I should have noted that the Ohr Zarua actually does derive from tevila without kavanah a proof that mitzvos do not require kavanah, undermining the entire premis of my question! However, assuming (as other Rishonim do) that there is a difference between these sugyos, some thoughts: I am not fully convinced of the distinction suggested between 2 types of kavanah – kavanah to become tahor, and kavanah for a kiyum mitzvah. The mitzvah is to become tahor – by definition having kavanah for that effect is itself kavanas hamitzvah. The better answer seems to me to be that there are two types of actions: true mitzvos, like eating matzah (side point: I appreciated the gotcha that this was a bad example, shekein ne’hene), and acts which are just a hechsher mitzvah, like becoming tahor or shechita. This approach is taken by the Radbaz, who is just echoing a Ramban (Chulin 31).

R’ Elchanan Wasserman (K.S. Kesubos 247-9) quotes a chakira of the Chacham Tzvi whether the kavanah required (acc to some Tanaim) for chalitzah is kavanah for a kinyan or kavanah for mitzvah – overtones of the “two kavanah” theory above. R’ Elchanan argues that a lack of kavanas hamitzvah cannot invalidate chalitzah. Chalitzah by definition is an act which frees a woman from the obligation of yibum – to have intent to release the woman from the obligations of yibum yet to not fulfill the mitzvah of releasing her from that obligation is an oxymoron. I would suggest this echoes Yehudah R’s sevara mentioned yesterday with respect to tevilah. The act of eating is not by definition a mitzvah – it is intent which makes it so. However, the act of tevilah is by definition an act of becoming tahor; the act of schechita is by definition an act of proper slaughter; the act of chalitzah is by definition a release of a woman from yibum. Kavanah does not define the act as a mitzvah in these cases; the mitzvah emerges from the occurrence of the act.

R’ Elchanan goes one step further and suggests that the debate over mitzvos tzerichos kavanah applies only where the mitzvah is defined as performance of an action – e.g. eating matzah, reciting kerias shema etc. However, where a mitzvah is defined not by the performance of a specific act, but as achieving a certain result, kavanah plays no role – if the result is achieved, a lack of intent does not negate the accomplishment. For example, R’ Elchanan writes that the mitzvah of peru u’revu is defined by the result of having children – even if one did not have kavanah to fulfill the mitzvah in doing so, it does not negate the fulfillment of the mitzvah. (As an aside: I didn't double-check, but I believe the new edition of the Minchas Chinuch in the notes to peru u'revu quotes that when the M.C. was mesader kiddushin he would instuct the chosson and kallah beforehand to have kavanah that they were being mekayein the mitzvah of peru u'revu). The same would apply to yibum and chalitzah. He ends with an interesting question: if one dons tzitzis which are made of kilayim without proper kavanah to fulfill the mitzvah of tzitzis, has one violated the issur of kilayim or not – is the mitzvah of tzitzis the act of donning the garmet, or the result accomplished in wearing it? For another time…

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:01 PM