Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lech Lecha. Seeking a Mohel or Sandek Who is a Tzadik

I've realized that this is much too long and shmues-y, so here's the short version.
1.  It is beneficial to have a tzadik write your sifrei kodesh and tefillin.

2.  The same is true for the Bris Milah.  You should try to find a mohel and a sandek who are gedolim in Torah and Chesed.

3.  This hiddur may also apply to anything that requires that it be done or made lishma. It might even be true by all chafeitzim that are used for mitzvos.

4.  I have a list of five reasons that there would be a ma'aleh to seek out a tzadik to do certain mitzvos for you.  I can't compress them, you'll have to look at the list.


The other day, someone told me a story about the Satmarer Rov.  A Chasid presented this question; given a choice between a pair of  unusually beautiful and mehudar Tefillin that were written by a respected Sofer, or a pair of less beautiful Tefillin that were written by a Sofer who was known to be a great Tzadik, which is better?  I don't remember the Rov's mordant response, which was actually the point of the story, but the bottom line was that the psak was to take the one that was written by the great Tzadik, even though the ksav is less mehudar.

As one who knows me might expect, my initial reaction was to say the opposite.  I thought that as long as the Tefillin are written with the kavanos and dikdukim that are necessary, it makes absolutely no difference in the chashivus of the Tefillin whether they were written by the local kli kodesh or Rav Chaim Kanievsky.  Since when does greater kavana and tzidkus of the sofer make it more mehudar?  Yes, the ma'aseh mitzva was greater, but that doesn't mean that the cheftza shel mitzva is any better.  This is not a shidduch, where zechus avos and familial traits and middos matter.  To the extent you would prefer the shoes made by Chanoch (חנוך תופר מנעלים היה ועל כל תפירה ותפירה היה מיחד יחודים) or dinner that was cooked by a tzadik, over one made by a regular ehrliche yid, to that extent would you prefer his Tefillin.  

My initial reaction was wrong.  

The Aruch HaShulchan in OC 32:42 and the Mishna Berura 32 sk 103 talk about how difficult it is to properly write kisvei hakodesh- the sheimos need special kavana, kesidran, and many many other things that only the greatest sofrim can do.  Ok, so now I understand that the greater Sofer, or at least the more scholarly sofer, can make tefillin that are more mehudar.  Once we know that certain kavana is essential, and that there are kavanos that add even more, then even though the other one is kosher, it is understandable that there can be greater hiddur with greater kavana.

Harav Mordechai Tendler, I'm told, has in his Masores Moshe a story of a similar question asked to Reb Moshe. Reb Moshe answered that it is impossible for a human being to judge who is a greater Tzadik.  If the apparently lesser one had overcome terrible nisyonos, and the other just did what came naturally, then the truth is the opposite of what you think; האדם יראה לענים וה' יראה ללבב, and in the world of truth, עליונים למטה ותחתונים למעלה.  So as long as you know that both are 100% kosher, it's best to go with the one that has the nicer ksav.

But Reb Moshe was just saying that we cannot know who is the greater tzadik.  If, however, we did know, then the Tzadik's tefillin would be the better choice.

In addition, there is the Gemara in Shabbos 133b about Zeh Keili.  
התנאה לפניו במצוות, עשֵה לפניו סוכה נאה ולולב נאה ושופר נאה, ציצית נאה, ספר תורה נאה וכתוב בו לשמו בדיו נאה, בקולמוס נאה, בלבלר אומן וכורכו בשיראין נאין

The question is, what does כתוב בו לשמו mean?  Lishma is not just hiddur, it is me'akeiv.  Because of this question, R' Yaakov Karliner, the baal Mishkenos Yaakov, in his sefer Kehilas Yakov, in Pesachim 64, wants to say that the whole halacha that the Sheimos in a Sefer Torah have to be written lishma is because of the din of hiddur mitzva, just that in this case, hiddur is me'akeiv, a tremendous chiddush.  But other achronim, for example, Rav Gifter, say pashut, that you see from this Gemara that besides the regular din of lishma that is me'akeiv in a sefer, there is another din of writing it "lishma," l'sheim Hashem, and this makes it into a more mehudardikkeh sefer.

So you have a strong proof that writing it with deeper kavana makes it into a sefer that is more mehudar, in line with the Aruch HaShulchan and Mishna Berura..

I'm not sure this is true by other mitzvos that have a din of Lishma, such as Matza and Tzitzis. There, it''s a simple yes or no, and greater kavana doesn't matter.  Here, it's not just a din of lishma.  The kavana creates the kedusha of the sheimos and the sefer, the kavana is a part of the cheftza shel Mitzva.

Note: please see Update I, where I bring the Netziv.


The reason I"m writing about this in Parshas Lech Lecha is because of the mitzva of Millah in our parsha.  Does it matter if the Mohel and the Sandek are tzadikim? 

(In case you think Sandeka'us is trivial, please see the Darkei Moshe in 265:11, who brings from the Maharil that the Sandek has kedima for the aliyah that morning-
דיפה כח הסנדק מהמוהל לקרות בתורה קודם המוהל, דהסנדק המחזיק הילד על ברכיו הוי כאילו בנה מזבח והעלה עליו קטורת.  The Tshuvos Chasam Sofer OC 119 explains that the Sandek has two maalos- he helps in the act of milah, and he becomes a mizbei'ach for that moment.  See also the Toras Chaim I have in Update II.)

Bishlema by Sefer Torah, we saw that the manner of writing makes a difference in the quality of the sefer.  

Bishlema by korbanos, we find that people would seek out a tzadik for the performance of the avoda of their korban.

 Sefer Chasidim 761:
אם יש בעיר שנים צדיק ושאינו צדיק הגון ושאינו הגון שיודעים לתקוע בשופר יתנו להגון לתקוע ובלבד שלא יהיה מחלוקת בדבר ויראי שמים לא היו מוסרים קרבנותיהם אלא לכהנים צדיקים
But that could be because the other is doing it on your behalf, so you want the act of doing the mitzva, the maaseh mizvah, to be more mehudar, and doing it with greater kavana makes it a better ma'aseh mitzvah.  

But by Milah, all you care about is the result.  Who says that having a tzadik do the milah makes the result any more chashuv?  As I said above, does it matter who tied your tzitzis, as long as it was done le'sheim mitzvas tzitzis?  Are tzitzis that were made by a tzadik any better than tzitzis that were made by a regular trustworthy person?  On the other hand, it could be that by Milah also, the ma'aseh is being done as a shlichus, so you would apply what the Sefer Chasidim says.  Although there are those that learn that the Rosh holds there is no shelichus by milah, the Tur in 265 says from the Baal HaItur that the father should stand net to the Mohel and state that he wants him to do his shelichus, as we find by korbanos.  In fact, it is possible that the din of standing there that we find by Korbanos and Milah means it is more than just the regular din of shelichus, it could be that the ma'aseh becomes yours as well.

I don't have time to do this thoroughly, but here are the basics.  It should be enough.

1.  The Rama in YD 264:  ויש לאדם לחזור ולהדר אחר מוהל ובעל ברית היותר טוב וצדיק  from the Or Zarua.  (I bring the Or Zarua at the end.)

2. Reb Chaim Kanievsky in Derech Sicha page 64:

השפעת הסנדק על התינוק
 על גודל השפעת הסנדק על התינוק סיפר הרב שליט"א נכנס אלי אדם עם שני ילדיו האחד נראה הגון והשני נראה גוי גמור זה שנראה טוב אבא זצ"ל היה הסנדק שלו ואילו אצל השני אינו רוצה לומר מי היה הסנדק שלו.   החזו"א הקפיד שהסנדק יהיה הגון 

Along the same lines, from a different book.  This is actually a well known story, if that proves anything.  (I don't understand the story, because the father has the right to be mochel on behalf of the child, and there was no kinyan, just an invitation.  The Levush here says the following:
ואם נתן המוהל ובעל ברית לאחד, אסור לחזור בו. מיהו, אם חזר בו, הוי חזרה, ואין מועיל בזה אפילו ק"ק [קבלת קנין] שאינו אלא קניין דברים ודבר שאין בו ממש, ואין קניין חל עליו. מכל מקום, החוזר בו עובר משום "שארית ישראל לא יעשו עוולה ולא ידברו כזב". וזה הוי דבר כזב. ומותר לקרותו רשע. אבל אם נשבע לו או נדר תקיעת כף, כופין אותו שיקיים שבועתו ותקיעת כף.
And we all know the Ketzos and others in CM 382.  But that doesn't matter.  It's a well known story.)
הובא מעשה בספר בית ישראל באיש אחד שכיבד את הגאון בעל חזון אישי בסנדקאות ובליל שימורים שקודם המילה שאלוהו בני משפחתו את מי תכבד בסנדקאות והשיבם שכבר כיבד את החזון איש אך הם הרימו עליו קול צעקה הרי הדוד בא מאמריקה והוא רב וגם שולח לנו כסף מפעם לפעם ואם לא תכבדו בסנדקאות בודאי יעלב ולא יתמוך בנו יותר והלך אבי הבן לחזון איש וסח לו כל המעשה והשיבו החזון איש אלמלי היתה הסנדקאות טובה בשבילי יכול הייתי לוותר עכשיו שיש בסנדקאות טובה לרך הנימול אין אני רשאי לוותר על טובתו של הילד 

3.  Since we pasken like Reb Yosi in AZ 27a,  as the Taz and the Shach bring from the Beis Yosef, that kavanah is not me'akeiv by a bris- as long as a Yisrael shomer mitzvos does it, it's kosher, even if he was mis'aseik, that he did it only for medical or other reasons, it's kosher, if Lishma is not essential, what difference does it make if the mohel/sandek had great kavanos and were tzadikim?  It's even less important than kavana by Tzitzis.

4.  More than that.  It appears that even though Reb Yosi holds in general that Mitzvos tzrichos kavana, he doesn't care if a kusi does the bris l'sheim har Grizim (as the Keren Ora points out in his intro to Zevachim (end of column 2.)  That apparently means that forget about lishma, you don't even need kavana.  So who cares if a tzadik does it?

5.  Reb Boruch Ber Yevamos 2, second paragraph, where he talks about the difference between mitzvos where the act is the mitzva and mitzvos where the result is the mitzva.

6.  By Milah, it could be that it becomes your ma'aseh through shlichus, and the gadlus of the ma'aseh milah is misyacheis to you.  This really is a machlokes between the Shach in CM 382, who says that a father that gets a mohel loses the ma'aseh mitzvah, following in the path of the Rosh (Chulin 6:8,) and the Tevuas Shor that argues and says that in kol hatorah kulah, yeish shliach.  It is possible that this is what the Tur in YD 265 means to say from the Baal HaItur, that by a bris the father should davka stand there and tell the mohel to be his shaliach, because then the shlichus is poeil that the ma'aseh is the father's.

I have to point out, though, that this is a dochack.  Even if there is a din shlichus, and even if the ma'aseh is done by a tzadik, there is no way that his enhancement of the ma'aseh mitzva is misyacheis to you.  He did the mitzva well, he gets schar.  But the din shlichus is not going to make it that you did a ma'aseh mitzva with hiddur.

7.  If #6 is correct, then we have a problem with the Or Zarua.  Why does the Or Zarua tell us to get tzadikim for the bris because otherwise Eliahu HaNavi might not want to come, or because a tahor should do the mitzva with a tahor?  These reasons are specific to Bris Millah, and have nothing to do with the svara of finding a good shaliach?  Doesn't this show that the svara of shlichus is wrong?  No.  It only shows that the Or Zarua holds like the Shach, and not like the Tevuas Shor.

The sof dovor is that it is a beferiusheh Rama/Or Zarua that by Millah also, there is a ma'alah of getting a tzadik to be the mohel and the sandek.  The question remains, why is this the case.  It is not because Milah needs lishma, because it does not.  Is it because of Chavivus Hamitzva?  Kavod?  A metziyus of influence on the child, like Reb Chaim Kanievsky says?  

It is possible that we ought to make a basic distinction between Tashmishei Mitzva and a cheftzah that has kedusha.  Matza and Sukkah and Tzitzis are only Tashmishei Mitzva, and if they're kosher, nothing is added to them by making them with better kavana.  Kisvei Kodesh is kedusha, and to make a chalos kedusha, the kavana in creating it matters.  It is possible that Milah also falls into that category.

My guess is that there is less here than meets the eye, that this is not a din, and my Reb Boruch Ber and Keren Ora are irrelevant:  Who says everything has to have a lomdus?  We simply have a mesorah, as the Levush says, that the character and ruchniyus of the Sandek, and maybe the Mohel, have an effect on the child that is getting a bris.  

So to sum up, the reason we should look for a tzadik to be mohel and to be sandek might be one or all of the following.

1. When you get a mohel, and you stand there and tell him to do your shelichus, the shelichus becomes that the ma'aseh is yours, not just the chalos, because there's no real chalos here that can be misyacheis to the father.  If so, it could be that the greater the ma'aseh mitzvah, the greater the ma'aseh that is misyacheis to the father.  (I heard this svara from Harav Dovid Oppenheimer.) 

2.  Even when there's no din of shelichus, when you arrange to have a mitzva done, you want the ma'aseh mitzva to be done in the best way.  A tzadik's ma'aseh mitzva is more chashuv.  This might even apply to tevillas keilim.  Or maybe it only applies where there is some kind of requirement of lishma

3. A Bris Milah, the אות ברית, is a Davar She'bikedusha, just like a Sefer Torah, and a Davar She'bikedusha that is created by a tzadik is more mehudar.  This only applies to a Cheftza that has inherent kedusha, not to Tashmishei Mitzva, like Tzitzis, Sukkah, or Matza. (Proof- Eliezer's נקיטת חפץ when Avraham Avinu gave him the Shvu'ah.

 4. The ruchniyusdikkeh madreigah of the Mohel and the Sandek have an effect on the ruchniyus of the child.  The greater they are, the more beneficial the effect on the child. 

5.  As you will see from the following update, it is possible that the hiddur of being done with greater kavana even applies to tashmishei mitzva. 

These five svaros are disparate and have clearly different applications.  If you go with 2, then it will apply to tvilas keilim or building a maakah, unless you limit it to cases that have a din of lishma, like baking Matza Shemura.  If  you go with 1, it only applies where there is a din of shelichus, and that is certainly not true by keilim or a sukkah.  If you go with 3, it only applies to devarim shebikedusha like STAM and maybe milah.  5, of course, is universal.

An anonymous comment came in that made an excellent point, and I thank the writer, whoever he/she/it may be.  In something posted five years ago on this parsha, (Og and Ulterior Motives) we talked about what the name Og means, the upshot being that the Matza (Ugos Matzos) that Avraham Avinu was making highlighted the difference between a mitzva done with and without good kavana.  What makes it even stronger is that Reb Moshe, in the Darash in Bo (Shemos 12:17) says that the din of ושמרתם את המצות applies to every mitzva in the Torah.  
 ודאי עדיף טובא מה שצריך לעמול ולהתייגע  במעשה המצוה כהילפותא מקרא דושמרתם דמצות שלא סגי במה שנזדמן שאינו חמץ אלא צריך שיהיה בהשתדלות שלא תחמיץ.
Reb Moshe is not talking about lefum tzaara agra.  He is talking about the quality of the mitzvah.  So the answer is, yes.  It does make a difference who writes the St'am, and it makes a difference who the mohel and the sandek are, and it makes a difference who ties your tzitzis, and for all I know, it might make a difference who builds your sukkah and makes your matza. Kosher requires specific kavana in all these cases, and with that kavana it will be kosher.  But if they are done with chavivus and kavana and dveikus, then they are, somehow, a whole different cheftza shel Mitzva. 
I found that the Netziv addresses this directly and clearly.  He says it's just common knowledge.
העמק דבר שמות  כח ג ד"ה ועשו בגדי אהרון לקדשו

ועשו את בגדי אהרן לקדשו. דאחר שנצטוה אהרן להתקדש נתן המקום לו בגדי קודש שיסייעו לו לדבר. וידוע דכ״ד שבקדושה לבד שטעון עשיה לשמה עפ״י דין עוד כל מה שמכינים יותר הפעולה לשם קדושה מועלת יותר לתכליתה כמש״כ לעיל י״ט ב׳ ובכ״מ מש״ה נצטוה משה שיזהיר להאומנים שהם בעצמם יראי ה׳ לעשות הבגדים באופן שיועילו יותר לקדשו. ובאשר הוא דבר שבלב ע״כ הקדים לומר להם אשר מלאתי את אהרן רוח חכמה והוא יבין וישכיל מכח הבגדים איך שהם פועלים על לבו. היאך נעשו. ומש״ה נצטוה בזה משה בעצמו שידבר אל כל חכמי לב. ולא בצלאל שזה הפרט אינו נוגע לחכמות המלאכה אלא לחכמת המוסר:


Our local Rambam's baalabus (not a guzma) showed me the Rama in YD 265 that says that davka the Sandek should drink the wine at the bris.  Reb Akiva Eiger earlier in the siman brings the Toras Chaim from the last piece in the tenth perek in Sanhedrin who says this is because the Sandek, being the mitzbei'ach, should drink the wine, so the korban of Milah should have Nesachim.  In the context of our discussion, this underlines the unique character of Milah as being a kind of avodas hakrava (see, for example, Rabbeinu Bachay in Breishis 17:13,) and, as we saw in the Sefer Chasidim, you want the Kohen who does your avoda to be a special Yarei Shamayim.
 לפי שהמילה כקרבן יחשב, כדמשמע במדרש רבה ריש פ' וירא. ר׳ לוי פתה, ושור ואיל לשלמים לזבוח לפני ה; אמר מה אם זה שהקריב שור ואיל לשמי הריני נגלה עליו ומברכו, אברהם שמל עצמו לשמי על אחת כמה וכמה ולכך בשעה שמל אברהם יליד ביתו והעמיד גבעת ערלות והתליעו עלה ריחן לפני הקב״ה כעולה שהוא כליל לאישים כדאיתא במדרש רבה סוף פ׳ לך לך. ומהאי טעמא נראהדמה שמלין בב״ה בצפון לפי שהעולה שחיטתה בצפון.  והיינו דאמ' ליה באבר אחד שנעש׳ בך קרבן אתה מגרה בי אם אומר לי הקב"ה זבח עצמן לפני לשם קרבן אני זובח... וכיון שהילד הנימול נחשב כקרבן כך רגלי הסנדק שמלין עליהן חשוב כמזבח כמ״ש להדיא מהרי״ל ז״ל בהלכות מילה. 
ונראה דלכך נוהגין ליתן כוס יין של ברכה לשתות לסנדק ואין נותנין אותו לתינוק כדרך שנוהגין בכוס יין של קדוש, לפי שהעולה טעונה נסכים שהיו מנסכין יין על גבי המזבח בשעת ההקרבה וכיון שהילד דומה לקרבן עולה והסנדק דומה למזבח לכך נותנין כוס יין של ברכה בגרונו של סנדק דהוה ליה כמנסך יין על ע"ג המזבח. ומהאי נראה דדוקא הסנדק המחזיק את הולד בשעת המילה על ברכיו הוא יחזיקנו ג״כ בשעת ברכה וישתה מן הכוס של ״ן ודלא כאותן שנוטלין את הילד מן הסנדק לאחד שנימול ונותנין אותו לאדם אחד להחזיקו בשעת ברכה והוא שותה כוס של ברכה דאיהו לאו מזבח יחשב ומה לו לשתות כוס של ברכה זו

The Or Zarua inside
Hilchos Milah 107:
וצריך לחפש יהודי טוב לעשותו בעל ברית כדי שיבא אליהו ז״ל וישב על הקטידרא אצלו בשעת המילה כמו׳ש רב שרירא גאון ז״ל מנהג בישראל להעמיד קטידרא מכוסה במעיל אצל בעל ברית משום כבודו של אליהו ז״ל דמתקרי מלאך הברית כדתניא בברייתא דר׳ אליעזר (כנ״ל) בענין ויאמר קנא קנאתי וגו׳ א״ל הקב״ה לאליהו בשטים אתה מקנא על גילוי עריות שנא׳ פנחס בן אלעזר וגו׳ וכאן אתה מקנא על עסק הברית חייך אני אכרות ברית עמך ברית שלום וברית כהונה, ולא עוד אלא שאין ישראל עושין ברית מילה עד שאתה רואה בעיניך. ומיכן נהוג רבנן למעבד מושב כבוד למלאך הברית והוא אליהו זכור לטוב
 וצריך נמי לחפש אחר המוהל יהודי טוב כדאמרינן במדרש חזית המול ימול יבא טהור ויטפל עם הטהור

 ויש לאדם להדר ולחזור אחר מוהל ובעל ברית היותר טוב וצדיק, שיכוונו במילתו כוונה מובחרת ומעולה, ויגרום שגם הולד יהיה כמותם.


    Og got his name from the kavonoh he had in this weeks parsha.

    1. Ouch. I'm feeling a little Bulkeh-ish.
      For 'tis the sport to have the engineer.
      Hoist with his own petard...
      That is an excellent observation that makes a world of difference in how this ought to be written. I hope I have time to fix it.