Monday, September 10, 2007

mah kashe l'rashi - bal tosif and sfeika d'yoma

Getting back to the Rashi discussion in this post from Friday, I had lined up five questions on Rashi but did not offer any answers (please read that post first or this will make no sense).

The gemara suggested that there cannot possibly be a problem of bal tosif with performing a mitzvah outside its allotted time as long as one has no kavanah, otherwise someone who sleeps in sukkah on the eighth day of sukkos should get malkos. Rashi commented - “d’mosif shmini al shevi’i, v’anan meisav yasvinan b’shmini b’safeik shevi’i l’chatchila – elah, she’lo b’zmano b’lo kavanah lav tosefes hu ul’hachi sharinan, d’i shmini hu lo mechavein l’miztvas sukkah”.

Returning to the questions raised on Friday:
1) What’s bothering Rashi? The gemara’s arguments is in the form of a reduction ad absurdum - you can’t say bal tosif on a mitzvah she’lo b’zmano without kavanah because you would therefore also be forced to say someone who sleeps in sukkah on the eighth day gets malkos. But how do we know that there is no malkos in that case?! Rashi fills in the knowledge gap by reminding us that common practice is to sit in sukkah on Shmini Atzeret because of sfeika d’yoma.
2) The gemara’s language refers to “hayashein”, one who sleeps in the sukkah, but Rashi refers to “meisav” sitting. I think perhaps Rashi is alluding to the fact that our common practice is to eat, but not sleep in the sukkah on Shmini Atzeret, though one could argue that the term “meisav” is a generic term for the mitzvah of yeshivas sukkah in all its forms – eating, sitting, sleeping. I’m just raising the thought.
3) I am a bit perplexed by Rashi’s stress on “l’chatchila”. Perhaps Rashi wanted to avoid the though that there is a potential of bal tosif, but in deference to sfeika d’yoma we sit in sukkah anyway, but this is only a b’dieved concession.
4 a-b) The simple reading of the gemara’s would suggest a scenario of someone in Eretz Yisrael who decided to sit in sukkah for an extra day violating bal tosif. In fact, some Rishonim do present this as the scenario. Going back to question #1, I think Rashi would have wondered why it was so clear that such a person does not get malkos. On the other hand, Rashi raises a different question – if Chazal decreed that there is a Rabbinic obligation to sit in sukkah, that decree may preclude bal tosif (see this post), but who says it would not apply in other cases?
5) The Aruch laNer sees the Rashi in R”H which omits the elaborate scenario as a retraction of sorts – Rashi felt that once the Rabbinic obligation of sitting in sukkah because of sfeika d’yoma is invoked the discussion of bal tosif is moot. However, I would just note that the topic of the two sugyos is different. The focus in R”H is on kavanah, not the issue of zman. Would Rashi perhaps simply feel less pressed to explain why someone is sitting in sukkah during that extra day if the timing is not an issue?


  1. Mike S.12:23 PM

    With regard to your last paragraph, the limud z'chut that the Aruch Hashulchan offers for those who do not sit in the sukkah on Shmini Atzeret is interesting, but seems to contradict the Aruch LaNer's view.

  2. Asher M.12:34 PM

    Dear R’ Chaim,
    Please excuse this off-topic post – but, by the time I have a chance to review the issues in your lomdushe posts you’re usually on to some other topic. Now, I’m referring specifically to mitzvos lav l’henos nitnu. And since this ties in to R”H, Sukkos, the hashkafa issues you were dealing with, and Rashi maybe you’ll be kind enough to respond. On the other hand if you’d be willing to discuss this via some other venue (i.e., email) I’d love to continue the conversation that way. I usually don’t understand these posts ( I’m a yeshiva dropout – Ner Yisrael) and it’s only now, a bit later in life, that I feel more able and am hungering for this kind of learning. Maybe this would be of interest to others as well.

    I’d like to start with a couple of basic questions on the sugyos in R”H(28a) and Sukkah(31b). Regarding using a shofar of shelamim or olah and a lulav of A”Z, (and some other related cases as well) Rava says that one fulfills his obligation (at least b’dieved). Why not? Rashi (in both places) indicates that there is an issur hana’ah (prohibition against deriving benefit) attached to these objects. And apparently fulfilling one’s mitzvah obligations with these objects would be deriving a forbidden benefit.

    My question 1): Ok, say you have violated a prohibition and obtained a forbidden benefit – on what basis would you say that you haven’t fulfilled your (unrelated) shofar or lulav obligation? R’ Art Scroll brings up the idea of mitzvah haba’ah b’aveirah. I seem to recall (could be mistaken) that at least according to some, that idea was entirely d’rabbanan. Any ideas here?

    Question 2): the gemara’s explanation in R”H (and brought by Rashi in Sukkah) is mitzvos lav l’henos nitnu. These words apparently mean that:
    the mitzvos were not given so that their fulfillment would be a benefit to the one who fulfills them; rather they are a yoke upon one’s neck. (My rough translation of Rashi in R”H.)
    Rashi in Sukkah says something like:
    fulfillment of mitzvos does not provide a physical(?) benefit; rather it is (merely ) a servant serving his master.

    I’m not clear on whether these are two different explanations and anyway, how either of them work. The only glimmer of explanation I get from Rashi in R”H is that there is a difference between removal of a negative - yoke (which would be permitted even via issurei hana’ah ) and some positive benefit. I.e., there is no such thing as (a positive) satisfaction in fulfilling one’s mitzvah obligation. (Even if a person feels that there is!)
    I don’t think this works. Can you help?

    Asher M.

  3. 1) even if mitzvah haba'ah b'aveira is derabbanan, it means the rabbanan declared you have not fulfilled your mitzvah, which may be what the gemara in R"H means.
    2) i'm not sure exactly what is bothering you in part 2. I think rashi simply means that you don't do mitzvos for pleasure - would you pick up a shofar and start blowing if G-d hadn't commanded you to do so?
    the feedback even on prior posts is appreciated - thanks!

  4. Mike S. - I'm not sure what you mean by the AhS and Aruch laNer not fitting together. How does the AhS fit in here? Thanks

  5. Mike S.6:55 AM

    Well, the Aruch Hashulchan's limud zchut (o.c. 668) is predicated on the assumption that to avoid bal tosif one must make a heker that it one's actions are not l'shem mitzvah. In warm climates like Bavel, one might prefer to eat in the sukkah, and therefore not making a bracha is a sufficient heker (he uses this also to explain the Raaviah's position that one must not sleep in a succah on Shmini Atzeret--since we don't make a brachah on sleeping on Sukkot itself there is no heker), but in the climate of Novardok no one would eat in a sukkah at that time of year except as a mitzvah observance, therefore even the lack of a bracha does not suffice.

    This would seem to go against thae Aruch LaNer's position that the Rabbinic decree of sfekah d'yoma makes the discussion of bal tosif moot.

  6. Asher M.9:36 AM

    Thanks for your response.

    Back to mitzvos lav l’henos nitnu.

    Q1) Ok. That does seem to work. But does it seem odd that Rashi doesn’t mention mitzvah haba’ah b’aveirah as the reason that the mitzvah has not been fulfilled?
    Is there another explanation?

    Q2) I don’t think that is what the gemara or Rashi means.
    a) the expression is too complex.
    Why not just say ma’asei mitzvos are not hana’ah or the like.
    In fact, isn't this just simply the metzios?
    What does it mean that the mitzvos were not given to benefit, etc.?
    There seems to be some focus on the purpose of mitzvos.

    b) Tosafos R”H(28a) says that R’ Yehuda’s shitah is mitzvos l’henos nitnu.
    So, what are Rava and R' Yehuda arguing about?

    c) Is it true that the one who performs a mitzvah does not derive some hana'ah?
    People do enjoy performing mitzvos. People look forward to hearing the shofar, taking the lulav and esrog, sitting in the sukkah. I don't think it's just kiyyum hamitzvah. My young children look forward to these events and enjoy them. In my experience many non-religious Jews have pesach sedarim, light chanukah licht, etc. What originated as a mitzvah has taken on happy family associations and I guess has become a cultural phenomenon.

  7. Mike S. - thanks.
    Asher M. - 1) I don't know, I would have to look around.
    2) It is not a metziyus. First of all, acc to Rashba (see previous posts) there is a big chiddush that even if you get physical hana'ah along with the mitzvah it is permitted. Without the sevara of mllh"n one could have argued that hana'ah is hana'ah - no distinctions based on why you are engaged in an act. Even according to the Ran who does not go that far, there is still the chiddush that this intangible type of hana'ah does not count.
    b) Which leads to the machlokes - how tangible does hana;ah have to be to be considered a benefit? Do we define hana'ah as just getting benefit, or do we look at the act involved and its purpose?
    c) True, but the machlokes is not whether a person enjoys mitzvos (metziyus tells us yes), but whether that type of joy is what the torah prohibits. Is that joy really the same type of hana'ah as eating a piece of cheilev?