Sunday, August 31, 2008

hidur vs. zerizus

It's Sukkos morning and you are stuck with a non-mehudar esrog, but if you just wait until after davening, you will be able to obtain a mehudar esrog for the mitzvah of netilas lulav. Is it better to fulfill the mitzvah of lulav as soon as possible in a zerizus manner even with a non-mehudar esrog, or is it better to wait to obtain the nicer esrog and fulfill the mitzvah in a mehudar manner at the cost of sacrificing zerizus?

The Gilyon Mahrasha in Yoma quotes the following proof from the Shvus Ya'akov: If the members of a beis av of kohanim are tamei, the gemara (Yoma 6) quotes a machlokes whether tumah hutra b'tzibur and those kohanim can still offer korbanos tzibur, or tumah dechuya b'tzibur and other kohanim should be called to offer the korban in their place. Even though there will be a delay in calling in those substitute kohanim, the gemara assumes that a delayed korban offered b'taharah is preferable to offering the korban immediatly b'tumah. QED, says the Shvus Ya'akov, it is better to delay a mitzvah a fulfill it in a mehudar manner than to fulfill it immediatly b'zerizus in a less than mehudar fashion.

I am not sure I see the comparison between the two cases. If tumah dechuya b'tzibur, offering the korban b'tumah is not just a less than ideal kiyum mitzvah - it is not a mitzvah at all! To take a different example, if one assumes Shabbos is dechuya with respect to a dangerously ill choleh (and not hutra), accomplishing the task of pikuach nefesh by using fewer melachos is not just an ideal, but it is the only permissabel option - to perform more melacha than necessary would be chilul Shabbos. The same is not true with respect to the case of the esrog, where one fulfills the mitzvah of esrog whether done b'hidur or not. Hidur may be an ideal, but is it worth the delay where there is a kiyum mitzvah anyway?


  1. Then there's the Chavos Yair that if a prisoner has the opportunity to be freed, and to do mitzvos, for one day; should he go out immediately and put on tefillin, or should he wait for Rosh Hashannah and hear the shofar. He says that you sieze the opportunity to do a mitzvah immediately, and don't wait for the chance to do a 'more important' mitzvah later.

  2. The question of whether someone should daven bizman or with kavanah seems to be related. Perhaps there would be a misnaged / chassid split on this as well.


  3. In the case of the Shvus Ya'akov, there is simply no way to obtain a mehudar esrog earlier - the psul is an objective psul in the cheftza shel esrog. If a person says "I can't have kavanah before 11:00" that's not an objective psul - that's a subjective situation completley in the hands of the person to change. Aderaba, that is the essence of the chiyuv of tefilah - to come to the right mindset in the proper time.
    Secondly, a non-mehudar esrog is still an esrog. Tefilah post-zmano is not a kiyum of tefilah (certainly not within the context the derabbanan defined it). However, tefilah without kavanah is still considered tefilah as long as a very minimal level of kavanah is met (first 3 brachos of shmoneh esrei).