Tuesday, June 08, 2010

stolen tzitzis and mitzvah haba'ah b'aveira

The gemara darshens from the words "V'asu lahem tzitzis" that the string of tzitzis must be owned and not stolen. Minchas Chinuch asks why a special pasuk is needed for this din -- stolen string should be excluded based on the din of mitzvah haba'ah b'aveira? (Obviously this is not a question according to the Rishonim (Tos. Sukkah 9) who hold mitzvah haba'ah b'aveira is only a psul derabbanan.) The M.C. explains that the din of mitzvah haba'ah b'aveira means that the mitzvah action is not acceptable to Hashem, it is not "l'ratzon." The limud from the pasuk goes a step further. Not only is wearing stolen tzitzis something Hashem funds unacceptable, but more than that -- it is like not wearing tzitzis at all. It's not just a lackof a kiyum mitzvah, i.e. like wearing a four cornered with tzitzis but getting no credit for it, but it's a biutl aseh as well, like not having tzitzis on the garment at all.

The Minchas Chinuch uses this same reasoning to explain why a limud is needed to exclude a stolen sukkah. Not only is eating in a stolen sukkah not a kiyum mitzvah because of mitzvah haba'ah b'aveira, but more than that -- it is like eating outside the sukkah, a bitul mitzvah. (See R' Yosef Engel in Asvan D'Oraysa #11 who rejects this chiddush.)

Ordinarily the shulchan aruch deals only in practical halacha, not philosophy. Tzitzis, tefillin, and sukkah are exceptions to the rule and the shulchan aruch tells us the reason for these mitzvos as well as how to perform them. Achronim explain that besides the regular din of kavanah required for all mitzvos, these mitzvos also require having in mind the reason behind them while doing the mitzvah.

R' Elchanan Wasserman, using similar logic to the Minchas Chinuch, raises the question of what happens if a person wears tzitzis without kavanah: does he simply lose the kiyum mitzvah, or would we go a step further and say it is as if the person was wearing a four cornered garment without any tzitzis, a bitul aseh?


  1. It's true that the chiyuv begins when you put on the beged, but the chiyuv is that the beged should have tzitzis on it, and I don't know why you need kavana for a state of being. If you're wearing a beged, you're chayav to make sure it has tzitzis, not that you're chayav to make the tzitzis now. If not, there would be a din of ta'aseh velo min ha'asui, like Reb Akiva Eiger's kashe on mezuza. So I don't see that kavana matters here at all.

  2. Not sure what you are asking - you still need kavanah at some point. Even if you need it only at the time of levisha, R' Elchanan's question still stands -- does not having kavanah = not doing a ma'aseh levisha?

  3. I'm saying that even if you hold mitzvos tzrichos kavana, it wouldn't apply to tzitzis. Absolutely clear that's true if you hold klei kufsa are chayav, of course. Then the kavana only matters when you put the tzitzis on the beged. But even if you're only chayav when you wear them, once the tzitzis are on the beged, the chiyuv is the asiya of the tzitzis, not the levisha. So if you have a beged that's properly metzuyetzes, you can wear the beged; you don't need to have kavana on the tzitzis.

    If I'm just repeating what I said, I apologize. I can't put it into words properly.

  4. I understand what you are saying now, but don't see why you are saying it. L'shitascha, Why do you say a bracha on putting on tzitzis and not on the asiya? IIRC, the geder hamitzvah is a whole discussion in Yevamos 90 with Tosfos and the Sha'agas Arye, but I'm not sure if it fits with your assumption.

  5. Well, we do say "ahl mitzvas," phrasing it as a gerund and not "lilovosh," a verb. True, the Rama in Darkei Moshe says this is because so many people wear begadim that are less than the shiur, so to avoid a bracha levatala we make the nusach on the mitzvah as a whole instead of this ma'aseh levisha, but maybe my explanation is better.

    As to why you don't make the bracha when you put the tzitzis in, that you know the answer to yourself. The fact is that the tliyah is just a hechsher, until you actually put on the beged. Maybe if you were wearing the beged and while you wore it you would put in tzitzis, you would make "la'asos tzitzis" or something.