Sunday, June 15, 2008

Shlach, Bamidbar 15:37. Tzitzis– Equal to All Other Mitzvos

Let’s start with something Reb Moshe Feinstein said. First, I will say what he writes in his Darash Moshe, and the then I will say it the way I heard it from him.

From the Darash:
Tzitzis is a uniquely important mitzvah. So why isn't it mandatory?
Rashi brings that Reb Moshe Hadarshan says that Tzitzis is shkulah keneged kol hamitzvos. If so, if tzitzis is such an important mitzvah, that it equals all the other mitzvos, and in that it is a constant reminder of all the mitzvos of the Torah, why is it not obligatory at all times? It is so easy to avoid this mitzvah by not wearing four kanfos, or by rounding them off, or by wearing garments made of synthetic fiber. Why shouldn’t we be chayav to wear daled kanfos so that we should have the mitzvah of tzitzis at all times?
Because only one who seeks instruction will be sensitive to its lesson.
Answer: the fact is that many people look at tzitzis and remember nothing. The reason for this is that a person is apt to misinterpret the things that he knows, people tend to re-interpret what they know to comport with their desires and yeitzer hora, as demonstrated by all the old and current sects that claim loyalty to the Torah but turn it upside down. For them, Torah becomes a sahm hamoves (Yoma 72b) because they are lack the humility to seek to instruction. They think they know enough to be able to interpret according to their understanding and perspective, but they don’t realize that wisdom does not automatically follow knowledge. Only a person who who seeks to be instructed will look at these strings and see the tcheiles and the gematrios and the mitzvah itself and be reminded to keep the taryag mitzvos.

The way I heard it from Reb Moshe (with a slant toward ahavah instead of humility):
Because only one who does it with loving devotion, not as an imposition, will be sensitive to its lesson.
Why shouldn’t it be chiyuvis to wear a daled kanfos in order to be mekayeim this mitzvah? Also, why is the word "ve’amarta" used, since it is a lashon rafah, a softer form of speech, not "dabeir" which is a stronger form? The answer is that tzitzis is only mazkir the mitzvos when it is done mei’ahava. When a person does a mitzvoh that he is chayav to do, it does not express ahavah. Only a person who can avoid the mitzvoh, but seeks out the opportunity to have the mitzvoh, is doing it mei’ahavah. (See below, update dated June 2015)

This seems to contradict the rule that fulfilling a mandatory mitzvah is greater than fulfilling a voluntary mitvah.
The problem with this pshat is that it seems to contradict the rule of "gadol ham’tzuvah v’oseh," that one who does a mitzvah because he is obligated is greater than one who does a mitzvah by choice. How can he say that making it into a kiyumis makes the reward greater, when the rule is that the schar for a chiyuvis is greater? Although R’ Yosef (Kiddushin 31, BK 38, 87) has a havah amina that there is a greater mailah in eino metzuvah v’oseh, the final decision of the Gemara is that metzuvah is greater.

A side discussion as to whether a Mitvah Kiyumis is called a Eino Metzuvah Ve'oseh.
I told this to Harav Moshe Faskowitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Madreigas Ha’adam and Rav of Torah center of Queens, and he said that even assuming that Tzitzis is a Mitzvah Kiyumis, Mitzvos Kiyumis are included in ‘mafkidna v’avidno," a kiyumis is called metzuvah ve’oseh. I said that this would not be like Tosfos’ pshat based on a yeitzer hora not to do it when commanded to do it. He said that even a kiyumis there is a yeitzer hora to not do it, because it is being done because Hashem said one should do it, and it’s called ‘mifkidno’ and ‘m’tzuveh’ even if it is not mandatory. He said that the real eino m’tzuvah is a woman in a zman grama, and a blind man if you hold they are pattur. And maybe a kattan.

(I had Harav Yakov Drillman at my house, and mentioned this question to him. He said that there is a question among the achronim whether a mitzvah kiyumis is docheh a lahv; the Shagas Aryeh, for example, holds that a kiyumis is not docheh. Obviously, then, Tzitzis is not called a kiyumis, because Tzitzis is the source of Asei Docheh Lo Sa'aseh. In any case, though, he said, Tzitzis is not a good example of kiyumis, because as soon as you have the beged on it certainly becomes a chiyuvis. It is only a kiyumis in the broadest sense, that you don't have to wear a beged in the first place. See Reb Akiva Eiger in Shulchan Aruch OC 11 on Magen Avraham 13, where he asks, why is Tzitzis docheh Shatnez, since you can avoid putting on the beged and not have the conflict. He answers based on the Mordechai that the chiyuv begins only after you have the garment on-- it is not assur to put on a four cornered garment without tzitzis, only that after you have it on, you are obligated to put in the tzitzis. So if Asei were not dochel Lo Sa'aseh, so Tzitzis was not docheh shatnez, you would be still be allowed to put on the garment, and then not put in the Shatnez tzitzis, just as the Mordechai says that you may wear a non-tztizissed garment on Shabbos-- since you cannot put the knots in on Shabbos, you can put on the beged, and then, when the obligation to put in tzitzis arises, you can ignore the mitzvah because of the issur of kosheir. His point is that tztizis is called a chiyuvis, not a kiyumis, in the context of efsher lekayeim shneihem.

But all this does not diminish the question, though. I don't care if Tzitzis is a kiyumis or not, or whether a kiyumis is called metzuvah or eino metzuvah. The fact remains that one can easily avoid the obligation to ever wear Tzitzis.)

Here is the "require some thought" part.
Open-ended Mitzvos are engineered to attract only those who do them with love.
Reb Moshe has another vort in the Darash. Near the beginning of Trumoh he says a remarkable vort. He says that in any mitzvah which is "ein lahem shiur," a mitzvah which has a minimum mandatory requirement but has no maximum limitation, a person who does beyond the mandatory minimum without nedivus leiv is only rewarded as a "eino m’tzuvah ve’oseh." Only if he does it with ahavah and simchah and n’divus haleiv is he rewarded as a ‘m’tzuvah v’oseh.’ This is true by all mitzvos that are "ein lohem shiur", including limud hatorah.

For those that do them with love, they are called mandatory-- the mandate of love.
Reb Moshe’s vort in Trumoh explains his vort here and addresses the argument about whether a kiyumis is called ‘m’tzuvoh’ or not. R Moshe is saying not like me and not like Harav Faskowitz. He says that by any mitzvah that has a mandatory component but also has a ‘ein lohem shiur’ component, when a person does the ein lahem shiur component, (which I think is a perfect model for every ‘eino m’tzuveh,’) then if he does it with nedivus, he gets the schar of a metzuveh, and if he does it without nedivus haleiv, then he only gets the schar of a eino metzuveh.

Tzitzis is a classic example of a Mitzvah that begins as a voluntary mitzvah but becomes a mandatory mitzvah.
So, in the case of tzitzis, which a person can avoid doing forever, if he chooses to be m’chayeiv himself, then his motivation matters very much. If he does it mei’ahavah, then he is rewarded as a m’tzuveh. If not, he is rewarded as an eino m’tzuveh. So Harav Faskowitz is right, to a degree. A kiyumis is included in the rubric of ‘mifkidnah’ or ‘m’tzuveh.’ But if he does it with ahavah, with ‘nediv leiv,’ then he is the person that Hashem wanted to be doing the mitzvah, and he is rewarded as a m’tzuveh. If he does it out of habit or to for his ego or for show, then he is not the person Hashem wanted to be doing the mitzvah, and he is rewarded only as an eino m’tzuveh.

We can even say that any ‘ein lahem shiur’ mitzvoh which is directed at nedivei leiv is intended to be done only when your heart makes you do it. This is what R Moshe means in Trumah. For the nedivei leiv, it was a chiyuv. For everyone else, it was a ‘eino m’tzuveh.’ Hashem is not mandating it unless your heart is driving you to do it. When that is the case, then Hashem is mandating that you do it. If so, tzitzis is a perfect model for this kind of mitzvoh, as follows:

We see from R’ Yosef (Kiddushin 31, BK 38, 87) that there is a advantage in eino metzuvah, although the maskonoh is that metzuvah is greater. The superiority of eino metzuvah is that he does it mei’ahavah, as R’ Moshe says. The superiority of metzuveh is that he is overcoming his yetzer horah to do what Hashem commands. Tzitzis has both advantages! You don’t have to wear a beged daled kanfos, but once you put on the daled kanfos, you are chayav to put in tzitzis. So you have the advantage of eino metzuveh and the advantage of metzuveh. So tzitzis is like the Trumas Hamishkan: for the nedivei leiv, there was no chiyuv. But for a person who was a n’div leiv, it was chiyuvis.

In short: Tzitzis is a unique Mitzvah, that comprises all the Mitzvos of the Torah. One would think that such a mitzvah would be mandatory, while in fact Tzitzis is a mitzvah one could legitimately avoid his entire life. The reason this is so is because the Mitzvah of Tzitzis contains the advantage of both an obligatory mitzvah and a voluntary mitzvah; one may avoid wearing a four-cornered garment. But when one chooses, because he seeks the opportunity to do the mitzvah, to wear such a garment, as soon as he puts on the garment he becomes obligated to put in tzitzis. Thus, Tzitzis falls under the rubric of both Metzuveh and Eino Metzuveh, and it carries the reward of both types of Mitzvos as well. It is only for such a person who seeks out the opportunity to become obligated in the mitzvah, for a person who is driven by his devotion to Hashem’s will even when he is under no obligation, that Tzitzis equals all the mitzvos of the Torah.

Reb Moshe in Kol Rom I page 136 says
מצינו לשון ויאמר אע"ג שנשנה כאן דיני תורה והי' צ"ל דברים קשים ובלשון "וידבר." ונראה משום שמצות ציצית אינה חיוב כשאר מצוות אלא רק אם לובש בגד של ארבע כנפות צריך להטיל בהם ציצית.  וא"כ כשמקיים מצוה זו, אע"ג שאינומוכרח, ומביא עצמו לידי חיוב, מראה שעושה המצוה מאהבה וזה מדרגה הכי גדולה-- ורק ע"י זה יבא ל"וזכרתם את כל מצות ה'"

A side discussion about whether a Mitzvah Kiyumis is called Metzuveh Ve'oseh.
Regarding the issue of whether a Mitzvah Kiyumis is called Metzuveh or Eino Metzuveh:
Rabbi Drillman pointed out the Gemara in Bava Kama 38a. The Gemara says "Amad Vayteir Goyim," Hashem saw that the nations did not fulfil the seven mitzvos and He freed them from their obligation to fulfill them. The Gemara asks, does this mean they benefitted from their negligence? The Gemara answers that as a punishment for their indifference to the seven mitzvos, Hashem changed their status from Metzuva ve'oseh to Eino Metzuveh ve'oseh, which gets less reward. The Gemara asks, but Rav Meir said that anyone who fulfills a Mitzvah, even a non-Jew who does Mitzvos, is rewarded as if he were a Kohen Gadol! The Gemara answers that they do get a reward, but not as a Metzuveh, only like an eino metzuveh. Rashi there says a remarkable thing: he says that even though "va'yateir," they are called eino metzuveh, but if they transgress these mitzvos, they are punished. Rashi in Avodah Zarah says the same thing: the Gemara there says that there is an issur of lifnei iveir for a Jew to enable a Gentile to transgress one of the seven mitzvos. Rashi asks, but the Gemara in Bava Kama says "vayateir!" Rashi answers that even after vayateir, they are punished for transgression. So what do we see from this Rashi? Obviously, there remains a mitzvah kiyumis for the Gentiles to fulfil the seven mitzvos. The Gemara says there is a schar of a kiyumis. And even so, the Gemara calls it Eino Metzuveh. So we see that Mitzvos Kiyumis-- even where transgression results in punishment!-- are called Eino Metzuveh.


  1. Good Vort (not that Reb Moshe needs anyone's approval).I heard another Answer from Rabbi Frand. He says the fact that the Parsha Of Tztzis is by the Parsha of the Meraglim is not by chance in Fact there are also similarities in the language. First there is by Tztzis "LO SISRU ACHRIE EINCHEM" then by Meraglim it says "LOSUR ACHRIE HAARETZ" and again by Tztzis it says "VROESEM OSO" than by the Meraglim it says "VROESEM ES HAARETZ MAH HI". The Similarities tell us Hashem gave us one optional Mitzvah to spy out the land there we made a Mistake now Hashem gives us another optional Mitzvah we have to make sure to do it right. Another answer to why Tztzis is close to the Meraglim is one he said on this theme is The Meraglim saw the people dying and said Eretz Yisroel is an "ERETZ OCHELES YOSHVEHU" they failed to see the proper picture they only see the NARROW PICTURE that is Hashem was keeping the inhabitants busy to allow them to do their job now comes Tcheiles in the Tztzis and counters it reminds us of the sea then the sky then the sky of the KISIE HAKOVOD. This is The BROAD SPECTRUM the lesson is learnt.

  2. Hello, Anonymous Drush poster.

    I was one of Rabbi Frand's contemporaries in Ner Israel; I can't seem to shake that guy...

    Yasher Koach for the vort, though.

  3. Why would you need to SHAKE him?

  4. >>>Rashi answers that even after vayateir, they are punished for transgression.

    Maybe the punishment can be explained using R' Elchanan Wasserman's yesod in Koveitz Divrei Sofrim that one is liable for violating the ratzon Hashem even without an explicit tzivuy, e.g. Bilaam got punished for going to Balak because it was obvious that Hashem did not want him to go even though there was no explicit tzivuy.

  5. That's sort of what what Rabbi Drillman said. He said that mitzvos were given only to people who listen. This is how he explained the din that a mechalel Shabbos befarhesia is Ke'Akum lechol dovor-- they are under the rubric of "vayateir!" Even Jews! But, and this is the big But, they are punished for coming to the madreiga of nezifa, for their indifference and negligence that resulted in their being but off from the dialogue with the Ribono Shel Olam.

    Reading your blog, I was reminded of something I heard from my brother; how can it be that Nodov and Avihu were punished for Shtuyei Yayin, if it wasn't nitztaveh till after they were killed? He answered that since one of their aveiros was "moreh halacha lifnei rabon," the Ribono Shel Olam said, if you think that you know enough to make decisions without being told by a rebbi, then you are chayov for shtuyei yayin even though it wasn't nitztaveh yet.

  6. After thinking about it some more I am confused. Women are ainan metzuvos on all zman gerama mitzvos. They do, however, geta a kiyum mitzvah for fulfilling them (and can therefore say a bracha). Would they get an onesh for failing to fulfill a zman gerama?