Thursday, March 25, 2021

mitzvos lav l'henos and the brachos on matzah

The gemara (Nedarim 15b) writes that if a person takes a neder not to have hanaah from relations, his wife becomes prohibited to him.  The Rishonim ask why this is true.  We have a principle that mitzvos lav l'henos nitnu, and when a person is with their wife it is a kiyum mitzvah of onah, so where is the prohibited hanaah here?  Ran answers that mitzvos lav l'henos nitnu just means that the schar of the mitzvah is not considered hanaah, but certainly if there is physical pleasure associated with a mitzvah it is considered hanaah.  For example, the gemara (R"H 28) writes that a person who took a neder not to bathe in a spring cannot go to mikveh when it is hot outside.  Even though the person may be going to mikveh l'shem mitzvah, the physical pleasure that he gets is still hanaah that is prohibited.  Rashba gives a different answer: the mitzvah of onah is part of the shibudim obligations of a husband to a wife.  Since the neder breaks this shibud, m'meila there is no mitzvah.  (It is a bit hard to understand why exactly the neder breaks the shibud).  

Achronim (e.g. Avnei Miluim 28:60) assume that Rashba avoids Ran's answer because Rashba interprets mitvos lav l'henos very broadly as allowing any and all hanaah that comes as part and parcel of doing a mitzvah.  

We discussed this machlokes a long time ago, but since it is close to Pesach, here is the Maharatz Chiyus' hesber based on Tos (Pesachim 46a): Tos writes that point under debate in the machlokes whether nedarim/nedavos can be offered on Y"T is whether the heter to eat meat from the korban is just an incidental side benefit and ignored, or whether it allows the hakrava to fall under the umbrella of ochel nefesh.  So too here, the Rashba holds that physical benefit that results from a kiyum mitzvah is just incidental to the mitzvah act and therefore ignored, while Ran disagrees.  (There are many other hesbeirim, e.g. the machlokes Rashba/Ran is whether you say psik reisha by issurei hanaha -- the physical hanaah is a psik reisha of the maaseh mitzvah.)

If you are still with me, based on this Rashba that says even physical hanaah from a kiyum mitzvah does not count as enjoyment, R' Hutner asked: why do we need to say a birchas ha'nehenin when we eat matzah?  Mitzvos lav l'henos and the enjoyment of the food [you mean some people enjoy eating matzah?] counts for nothing, it's just a maaseh mitzvah, so just say a bracha of al achilas matzah and that's it?!

(R' Michael Shiloni has a long arichus on this in his sefer Maarachei Moed, but I'll leave it for you to enjoy thinking about.  There are many ways out of the problem...) 


  1. One of may favorite topics :)
    My answer (using the explanation of the Rashba you linked that the issur hanaa is a maaseh of lekichas hanaa):
    וכן יש ליישב בזה הערת הג"ר יצחק הוטנר זצ"ל, הובא ברבבות אפרים חלק א' סי' ש"ח, שלדעת הרשב"א דסבירא ליה דמלל"נ אפילו בהנאת הגוף בהדי המצוה, אם כן אמאי מברכין המוציא וברכת המזון באכילת מצה דליל הסדר, הרי לחיוב ברכה בעינן הנאה, וכאן לדעת הרשב"א לא חשיב הנאה.
    ולפי דרכנו, קושיית הגר"י הוטנר לא קשה מידי, דאכן חשיבא הנאה באכילת מצה, אלא שהמעשה נקבע על שם מעשה מצוה, ולא כמעשה של לקיחת הנאה, ואע"פ דאית ביה הנאה. ועל כן מובן, שכל זה שייך דוקא לענין איסורי הנאה, שהאיסור הוא המעשה של לקיחת הנאה, ובעינן שם מעשה דלקיחת הנאה, ולכן שייך למימר מלל"נ. אבל בברכת הנהנין, בפשוטו בעינן רק אכילה דאית ביה הנאה לחייב ברכה, ופשיטא דחשיב אכילה דאית ביה הנאה, ולא שייך להקשות מפאת מלל"נ, כיון דלא תלוי כלל בקביעת שם המעשה. (ויעויין עוד ברבבות אפרים ח"ג סי' תק"צ אות ל"ב, מכתב מהג"ר חנוך קרלנשטיין זצ"ל, בעל חק המלך, שכתב דמלל"נ היינו דוקא לגבי דין נהנה אבל הנאה במציאות איכא, וברכת הנהנין משום מציאות ההנאה ולא משום דין נהנה בגברא. ולכאורה כוונת הדברים כמו שביארנו כאן.)

    Here's the Rav Karlenstein:

    1. It's like you had this queued up and ready to go!

      That sevara answers the kashe from tevilas maayan as well and lots of the other questions on the Rashba.

    2. I did :) It's part of a piece I have prepared for my forthcoming sefer...

  2. if "a birchas ha'nehenin" permits foods, it shouldn't be needed when we're commanded to eat (either a particular food, or an entire meal); His command presupposes His permission. {and if we're commanded to survive, pekuach nefesh, then aren't we implicitly commanded all vital consumption? so in an eat to live mode, no bracha (even if there be incidental pleasure* above and beyond relief from hunger); in a live to eat, i.e. predatory mode, (a Jew must make) a bracha.}

    *wouldn't that pleasure be His? [while for a predator, the pleasure is his]