Monday, August 12, 2013

meshech chochma's definition of an asmachta

Why do Chazal bring asmachtos, hints in a pasuk, to some dinim and not others?  How does having an extra hint in a pasuk add to a din's significance? (I believe the PM”G has a safeik in the pesicha ha’kolleles whether an asmachta is more chamur than a regular derabbaban [sorry, I didn’t double-check], but why should that be the case?) 

The Meshech Chochma in last week’s parsha (in his discussion of “lo tasur” here) explains that Hashem foresaw that due to historical or sociological circumstances, additional safeguards would be required for various mitzvos hamitzvos.  It was impossible to reveal the what and why of those safeguards in the Torah without also revealing something of those future circumstances, which was impossible, as revealing the future would impinge on our bechira.  Therefore, these safeguards were only hinted at but not spelled out.

When the circumstances were ripe for the creation of those safeguards and takanos, Chazal saw in hindsight that the laws they were enacting were already alluded to and present in the Torah itself.  These are the asmachtos given for dinim derabbanan.  An asmachta is a ratification of Chazal’s thinking as being consistent with the ratzon Hashem.

My son pointed out that this idea is already found in Rishonim (see Ritv”a Rosh Hashana 16), but we both had the same question: according to this approach, how do you read this gemara in Sukkah 6a – link?  The gemara there brings a pasuk as being an asmachta to a halacha l’Moshe m’Sinai.  A halacha l’Moshe m’Sinai is not a new law enacted at some future point in time that we need justify in hindsight as having always been inherent in the text -- we know halacha l’Moshe m’Sinai was there from day one given at mattan Torah and by definition exists without any basis in text?!


  1. Rav Chaim Kanievsky told me that מורד במלכות חייב מיתה is הלכה למשה מסיני and פסוקים in Yehoshua are אסמכתא בעלמא

  2. You were right about the Pri Megadim in the Psicha. They are treasure houses. See
    in first column, end of first paragraph, where he says that there are two kinds of Asmachtos, which addresses your question from the Gemara in Sukkah.

    And, R Binyomin, prior to his discussion of Asmachtos he mentions the idea that those drashos that stem from Nach might have a din of a deoraysa, but without malkos.

  3. On the issue of מורד במלכות, the מהרי"ץ חיות in דברי נביאים says that it is a din in רודף. This is similar to the חינוך on נשיא בעמך לא תאור and the רמב"ן and his understanding of לא תסור and ככל אשר יורוך

    As this topic is one I am very involved in, could you give me Rav Chaim's makor for saying it is הלמ"מ. That sounds much like R'Elchonon's understanding of לא תסור in דברי סופרים.

    Intriguingly, the חזון איש at the end of אמונה ובטחון, while giving halachic mekoros for אמונת חכמים, also points out that without it, anarchy would reign.

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  5. Can you first elaborate on the Chinuch, Ramban and Reb Elchonen? I have no idea how Reb Chaim knew that, other than I learned not to question him, like his thesis that there were two נחמיה בן חכליה 's, two תמנע 's!

    Agav, Chavos Yair in Teshuvos (I think 91) has a list of halacha liMoshe MiSinai's and mored bimalchus isn't there.

  6. Re: the PMG's two types of asmachtos, this will probably work to get out of the Ritva, but not the Meshech Chochma. The PMG's logic: really every derabbanan should be treated like a d'oraysa because of lo tasur. However, the chachamim chose to make an exception and build in conditions like sfeika d'rabbanan l'kula to distinguish their laws from real d'oraysas. An asmachta is just a derabbanan without the exceptions built in.

    The theory that every derabbanan = a d'oraysa if not for built in conditions comes from attempts to answer the Ramban's hasaga on the Rambam that if every derabbanan is covered by lo tasur, there is no difference between derabbanas and d'orayasas. However, the Meshech Chochma himself uses a different theory to get out of those problems (I wanted to and may still do a post on this). According to M.C. lo tasur is a generic issur of rebellion against Chazal, but it does not mean a particular din derabbanan has a d'oraysa status. This is a completely different approach.

    1. Which is why there is no shogeg on d'rabbanan

    2. The Nesivos' idea that there's no shogeg on D'rabanan loses its shine in light of the Ramban's shittah that there's no shogeg on anything except chayvei krisos.

    3. What I meant with the PMG was that the word Asmachta does not have only one meaning. While some Asmachtos are merumaz in the Torah, or according to the PMG, meant to be respected as if they were Deoraysa, others are not. So you can't ask on RMS from the Gemara by shiurin.