Monday, July 09, 2007

Rogatchover's "peulah hanimshechet"

Posting may be a bit off this week because I have to give a shiur on Shabbos and need time to transform some loose thoughts into something coherent - please bear with me, because while in general my blogging is more "thinking out loud" rather than a finished product, this week may be messier than usual.

On that note, can someone who knows what the Rogatchover means by “peula hanimshechet” please help me come up with an explanation in English that is understandable? I keep working the idea over in my brain into various-Brisker type formulations, but I don’t think I am capturing what the Rogatchover really meant. Some examples (culled from the fantastic sefer “M’Fa’aneiach Tzefunot”):

1) The Midrash writes that when David haMelech was in the bathhouse and was saddened because he found himself bereft of any mitzvah performance at that moment, he took heart from the mitzvah of milah that is always present. If the mitzvah of milah is simply a one time act, it should have given no more comfort than tefillin, lulav, or sukkah. It must be that milah is a peulah hanimshechet….

2) The mitzvah of taking lulav is not just a one time act that must be performed at some point during the day of Sukkot, but is a peulah hanimshechet through the entire day, hence the lulav is huktzah l’mitzvaso the entire day.

3) Pinchas’ act of zealotry is described as “heishiv es chamasi”, past tense, but the pasuk continues “vayichaper al Bnei Yisrael” indicating a continuous act of kaparah, a peulah hanimshechet l’doros…

In the first case, a Brisker would probably say that milah involves creating a chalos of being mahul which is a status, not just an isolated act. One might even argue in the second case that lulav creates a status of being a mitzvah object which transcends the actual act, or one might say that the chiyuv of lulav is a din in the cheftza shel lulav, which is why it is huktza beyond the time that the kiyum hagavra is finished. But I don’t think these formulations really are what the Rogatchover meant – the Brisker reformulation shifts the focus from action to status; the Rogatchover I think is distinguishing between two types of actions. I have an idea, but I will wait to see if anyone else has thoughts before posting.


  1. From a fast look 2 is different than 1 and 3. It is more amuktza because the mitvah of lulav is cahl all day as the halacha in rambam that chassidim harishonim did everything with Lulav biyedeihem. It is more that there as a chiyuv hanomshach.

    in 1 there it is clear a pe'ulah hanimshechet because it is an Oss - symbol. The ma'asseh hamila is the cutting but thye Mitzvah is having the Oss. That is why hamoshech bemilato negates the mitzvah destroying the oss.

    3 to me is the toughest. The protagoniists are gone yet the consequence is still around and the one who is doing the pe'ula is HKBH.

    I don't think I helped you definre it but it gives me food for thought.

    BTW the Mefa'aneach tzefonot is fabulous!

  2. sorry for my typing above. I am in the office between calls. hope you understood.

  3. Anonymous12:08 PM

    Now let me preface by saying that unfortunatly I am not a baki in Tzafenat Paneach or the mifaneach tzefunot, so I apologize if I am wasting your time.

    The Rambam in the chiluk haseforim at the end of the hakdama to the mishnah Torah explains sefer ahava as follows:
    ספר שני. אכלול בו המצוות שהן תדירות, שנצטווינו בהם כדי לאהוב את המקום ולזוכרו תמיד--כגון קרית שמע, ותפילה, ותפילין, וברכות; ומילה בכללן, לפי שהיא אות בבשרנו להזכיר תמיד בשעה שאין שם לא תפילין ולא ציצית וכיוצא בהן. וקראתי שם ספר זה ספר אהבה.

    It is clear that as MR. Guttman said milah according to the Rambam is an Os, so when David HAmelech sees his milah he reflects on the mitzvah and remembers the Kadosh baruch hu even though at that moment he lacks any other means of reflection ( tzitzith, tefillin etc.)
    However, the mitzvah of milah is seemingly as you said the maaseh of cutting off the arla

    מצות עשה אחת, והיא למול את הזכרים ביום השמיני. וביאור מצוה זו בפרקים אלו.

    So it seems clear that the peula nimshechet cannot be that the mitzvah is continuous. However, there is a result of the maaseh which is continuous.I would at first try to say , as you did,that perhaps this is a chalos of the gavra( I am not sure what the exact problem with saying that is )but what I would say now is as follows. Is it possible to say that what the Rogetchover means by peulah hanimshechet is a maaseh which has a continuous effect
    ( either kappara or a mechayiv) after the passage of said maaseh.
    ט בוא וראה כמה חמורה מילה, שלא נתלה למשה רבנו עליה אפילו שעה אחת, אף על פי שהיה בדרך. וכל מצוות התורה נכרתו עליהן שלוש בריתות בלבד, שנאמר "אלה דברי הברית אשר ציווה ה' את משה, לכרות את בני ישראל--בארץ מואב: מלבד הברית, אשר כרת איתם בחורב" (דברים כח,סט); ושם הוא אומר "אתם ניצבים היום . . . לעוברך, בברית ה' אלוהיך" (דברים כט,ט-יא). הרי שלוש בריתות. ועל המילה, נכרתו שלוש עשרה בריתות עם אברהם אבינו: "ואתנה בריתי, ביני ובינך" (בראשית יז,ב), "אני, הנה בריתי איתך" (בראשית יז,ד), "והקימותי את בריתי ביני ובינך" (בראשית יז,ז), "לברית עולם" (שם), "ואתה את בריתי תשמור" (בראשית יז,ט), "זאת בריתי אשר תשמרו" (בראשית יז,י), "והיה לאות ברית" (בראשית יז,יא), "והייתה בריתי בבשרכם" (בראשית יז,יג), "לברית עולם" (שם), "את בריתי, הפר" (בראשית יז,יד), "והקימותי את בריתי איתו" (בראשית יז,יט), "לברית עולם" (שם), "ואת בריתי, אקים את יצחק" (בראשית יז,כא).
    perhaps peula hanimshechet by milah means that it is a mechayiv in mitzvot after the maaseh has been completed you see that milah is a BRIS.By pinchas perhaps you can say something along these lines. The action of Pinchas itself was casued by the knowledge of the halacha( rashi " ra'ah maaseh vnizcar halacha") namely that Pinchas saw this act , recalled the halacha and acted in accordance with it. The fact that Pinchas acted in accordance with the halacha made it nikkar ldoros that the halacha was such and the fact that the halacha is nikkar is how the peulah is nimshach?
    Again I am sorry if this made no sense or simply was not an answer, I eagerly await your post!
    Ya'akob ibn Avi Mori

  4. Anonymous12:10 PM

    Also clearly, I have not touched the idea of lulav as a peulah nimshechet.
    yaakov ibn avi mori

  5. Let me jump in here with one comment - the Rogatchover uses the Moreh Nevuchim as the source for many of his sevara distinctions (which the MeFa'aneiach Tzefunot illustrates). The model for a peulah nimshechet is Creation - G-d did not perform a one time event, but Hashem is mechadesh b'tuvo b'chol yom ma'aseh braishis.
    All you need to do is translate that concept into human action and explain how it works with some examples. Piece of cake ; )