Friday, August 30, 2013

does the mitzvah of teshuvah turn every lav into a lav ha'nitak l'aseh?

Last year I mentioned R’ Baruch Ber’s question of why every lav in the Torah is not considered a lav ha'nitak l’aseh since anyone who violates a lav becomes obligated to do the mitzvas aseh of teshuvah.  R’ B”B cryptically distinguishes between being metakein the “aveira” vs. being metakein the “avon,” an idea I can best explain with an example.  If someone violates the issur of taking interest, the fix for the lav would be to return the extra money (let’s put aside the details of that din for now).  However, the Rambam writes (Eidus 12:5) that someone who charges interest may not serve as a witness until he voluntarily rips up all contracts that he has entered into that include interest charges, “v’yachziru bahem chazarah gemurah,” and he does a complete return.  Similarly, a gambler must destroy his instruments of gambling, not simply return money gotten illicitly.  A lav h'anitak l’aseh is where the aseh simply comes to make whole the loss caused by the lav.  We see from the Rambam that teshuvah goes far beyond that.

R’ Yechiel Michel Feinstein on this week’s parsha offers another answer (or maybe it is the same answer, but it is formulated far more sharply and clearly).  Lav ha'nitak l’aseh is about fixing the effects of the sin; teshuvah is about fixing the person.  If you steal $100, you can return the $100 and make whole the loss caused, but it takes much more than that to make yourself whole as a person afterwards. 


  1. I just saw a Netziv [Devorim 30:11] that says that according to the Rambam, there is no mitzvat asai of teshuva; rather, if a person does do teshuva, then there is a mitzva of vidui!?

  2. In fact that's what the Rambam says explicitly in the beginning of Hilchos Teshuva.

  3. And therefore there is no question of nitak l'asai

  4. This Minchas Chinuch discusses this as well. The lashon of the Rambam in the koteres to the hil teshuvah is "mitzvas aseh achas v'hu she'yashuv..." Yes, he adds "...v'yisvadeh," but it sounds from the koteres that this is a tnai, not the geder of the chiyuv. As opposed to the lashon haRambam in Sefer haMitzvos which is mashma that the mitzvah is the viduy, as you wrote.

  5. It can be read that the teshuva is a tnai in, or a machsir for, the vidui.

    See, of course, Pachad Yitzchak, R"H, at the end of the sefer in kuntres reshimos 1-3. Note, e.g., the loshon of the Rabbeinu Yona that the purpose of נחפשה דרכינו is כדי שיתוודה עליהם.

  6. R' Kook in Mishpat Cohen (128) takes your approach exactly (and its interesting that in the edition on hebrewbooks someone wrote in the margain to take a look at the minchas chinuch):

    1. Good to know that I have imbibed enough Rav Kook via Rav Hutner that I could say Baruch Shekivanti.

      כתיבה וחתימה טובה והרבה נחת ממשפחתך החשובה. יה"ר שתמשיכו בהרבצת התורה להגדיל תורה ולהאדירה.