Tuesday, October 3, 2006

A Remarkable Brisker Chumra on S'chach

I saw the strangest thing in the Brisker sefer (anonymous, printed taf shin nun gimmel) on the moadim. He brings that R Chaim was choshesh for the shitta of the Magen Avraham in OC 14 and 649 that l’chatchila only a bar chiyuva can make tzitzis or put s'chach on or even tie the lulav together.  Not only was Reb Chaim machmir like the Magen Avraham, but he was machmir more than the Magen Avraham:  The Magen Avraham says that the whole thing is just Lechatchila; and also, if the child is thirteen we are not chosheish that he is not a gadol.  Apparently, Reb Chaim was chosheish to such an extent that when he found out that a thirteen year old had put the s'chach on a sukkah, he refused to eat there, because he didn't want to rely on Chazaka d'Rabba for De'oraysas.  (Obviously, Reb Chaim wasn't machmir because the Magen Avraham says so, he was machmir because held like the Magen Avraham, but not just as a chashash lechatchila, but mei'ikar hadin.)

R Moshe talks about this chumrah in Igros OC 5 page 133. He disagrees with the Magen Avraham on two points.

First, he (and the Mishneh Brura) says that the Rema that says that yeish omrim that a woman should not tie tzitzis is not because of Rabbeinu Tam’s limud that the same way women cannot write tefillin because “uchsavtam/uk’shartam” which teaches that “kol she’yeshno b’kshira yeshno b’ksiva,” applies to all mitzvos, but rather the Maharam’s “dabeir el b’nei Yisrael v’assu lahem tzitzis,” which teaches “v’lo akum,” and which the Maharam says also excludes women.  The Maharam is specific to the mitzvoh of tzitzis and unrelated to other mitzvos.

Second, he says that even Rabbeinu Tam, whose shitta excluding a non-bar-chiyva the Magen Avraham says would apply to tzitzis, agudas lulav, and putting up the s'chach, does not really hold like that. Rabbeinu Tam’s limud only applies to objects which have no meaning outside of the mitzva, like lulav agud and tzitzis. But where the object exists independent of the mitzva, like schach l’sheim tzeil, even Rabbeinu Tam would agree a woman can make the sukka.

Reb Moshe notes that Tosfos in Gittin 45a DH Kol says that RT said his din on tzitzis and igud lulav and asks that Rabbeinu Tam’s din should also apply to passel a women from putting on the s'chach, and this is shver from ganba’ch and Tosfos bleibs shver. R Moshe says that the answer to Tosfos’ kashe is that Rabbeinu Tam never meant to apply his din to Sukka.

Then R Moshe has an interesting discussion about the idea of Hiddur Mitzva. He says that the Machzor Vitri’s pshat in hiddur mitzvoh is that you should be machmir to do the mitzva fully with all chumros and things that contribute to the kiyum hamitzva, and has nothing to do with esthetic beauty. For example, putting on a gartel is a noi mitzva because it adds to Hikone. So it could be that Rabbeinu Tam holds like the Machzor Vitri, and holds that the din hiddur we find by igud lulav is because it contributes to holding the minim together, which is a to’eles in the kiyum hamitzva. If so, this explains Rabbeinu Tam’s reason for not having a women do the igud, because igud is not just hiddur, it is a part of the tzuras hamitzva. (See Parshas Lech Lecha, Breishis 12:1, where I bring from the Brisker Rov that the ambiguity of the identity of the land to which Avram was told to go was intended so that the halicha should be mitzva atzma and not just hachanoa.)

I am told that the Briskers hold that the Rambam holds like the Machzor Vitri.

This was originally posted in '06, and has been edited for stylistic consistency and clarity.  Mostly the former. 

However, you can’t go too far with this shittoh, because the Rambam in 7 Issurei Mizbei’ach says that from the possuk by Hevel, which says that Hevel brought beautiful korbonos and “vayisha Hashem el Hevel v’ehl minchoso” shows that whatever mitzvoh you do should be done in a beautiful way. The Rambam there says clearly that he is referring to esthetic beauty. But it is also interesting that he doesn’t prove it from the regular din of hiddur mitzvoh or from v’anveihu. Also, the Brisker Rov somewhere in his pirush on the gemora says that there is a special din by korbonos of ‘meichelveihem,’ which is not connected to ‘v’anveihu.’

So the bottom line is that R Moshe holds that even if you are machmir like Rabbeinu Tam, it would only apply to tzitzis and lulov, but not other mitzvos. But b’etzem he holds like the Maharam, which is limited to tzitzis, and would be mattir even lulov. He says he is surprised that the Bikkurei Yaakov paskened like RT, and he paskens instead like the Maharam. Imagine how surprised he would be at the story of R Chaim not sitting in the Sukkoh because a boy of thirteen put on the schach, and maybe he didn’t have shtei sa’aros.


  1. Interesting. I just heard recently that Reb Chaim was machmir to not swallow his own saliva on Yom Kippur.

    Where did you get that Brisk on Moadim sefer? My Rebbe always says from it, and he uses a really old print, probably from when he learned in Brisk, but can a pashut person like me his hand's on this sefer?

    Which actually goes back to another question I always had on Brisk, why do they not publish the shiurim from Rav Avraham Yehoshua, Rav Dovid, Rav Berel, Rav Meir, etc...? Even if I had the pull to get into Brisk (like my friend has who is going to Rav Avraham Yehoshua after Succos), I wouldn't understand the shiur because it's in Yiddish, so I really think they should make seforim for the shiurim to be availible worldwide.

  2. Although I don't think you should believe all that you see in (1)anonymous seforim(2)particularly if they relate to Brisk(or a controversial topic),I will note that IIRC briskers are always chosos someone is a koton untill they know for sure he was has sayros.

  3. RCH-Rav Dovids shiurim on mesechtas Sotah and Temurareh are printed as well as some of his torah on chumash.As far as RAYs etc. shiurim when I learnt by R' Dovid everyone had stenceled copies of someones notes of RAY and Rav Dovids shiurim(for what we were learning second seder).Assuming there are no halachic problems with doing so you could try to get ahold of them also.

  4. The sefer I quote should be available in bookstores. It was printed in the last few years.

    The Briskers do not print their shiurim because they hold that the depth and nuance cannot be transmitted in writing. It's their Torah shebaal peh. For example, they say the stencils are a total bluff. But, as far as I'm concerned, the Torah in there is excellent.

  5. Next zman Rav Avraham Yehoshua is starting Zevachim again, so I'll ask my friend to get my some stencils. When I learned Kerisos in the summer, I had access to a sefer that had many gishmake chiddushim from the brisker rav and his sons. But I only saw that sefer on kerisos and no other masechta. I've only really learned 2 kodshim-style masechta: sotah and kerisos. I hope to learn more kodshim when I'm older.

  6. "I hope to learn more kodshim when I'm older."
    Me too!