Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pekudei. The Most Important Ingredient in Bringing the Shechina

Brief outline:   
מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו
The Rambam applies the rule of מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו in three places: in one, he says "mitzvah," and in the other two, "chiyuv."
Use the Tosfos Ri'd to say that some mitzvos have an aspect of  מצוה שבגופו, although technically they are not מצוה שבגופו. 
These are the mitzvos where, more than mitzvos in general that are mekadesh us, the תוצאה is the תועלת of being mashreh the Shechina on us as individuals. 
The Rambam holds that in the case of these hybrid mitzvos, מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו generates chiyuv, not just mitzvah.
A general overview of the rules of  מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו.

Pekudei ends the series of Parshios that describe the instructions for, the funding of, and the realization of the construction of the Mishkan.  The Mitzva to build the Mishkan is synonymous with the Mitzva to build a Beis Hamikdash.  This mitzva applies to us today and forever; when we will finally have a Beis Hamikdash, this mitzvah will be to maintain it.

The Rambam frames the mitzva thus:
והכל חייבין לבנות ולסעד בעצמן ובממונם אנשים ונשים כמקדש המדבר.
All are obligated to build and to assist, with their person and with their money, men and women, just as was true for the Mishkan of the Desert.

Note that the Rambam says בעצמן, with their person.  Apparently, the Rambam is teaching us that the mitzva of building the mikdash cannot be entirely delegated: one must do it at least something personally and physically.  

Where did the Rambam get this?  There is no Chazal that says this explicitly.  So the Rambam must be based either on some diyuk, an analytical derivation specific to Binyan Beis Hamikdash, or on some general rule.  The most likely explanation is that the Rambam is based on the general rule
מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו
A Mitzvah is better done by the person rather than his agent.  Mitzva bo yoser mibishlucho.

The problem is that this is a preference, not an obligation, and if this is what the Rambam means, he shouldn't have said chayav/obligated, he should have said Mitzva, preferable.

The Rambam does use this same expression in another application. 30 Shabbos 6:
אע"פ שהיה אדם חשוב ביותר ואין דרכו ליקח דברים מן השוק ולא להתעסק במלאכות שבבית חייב לעשות דברים שהן לצורך השבת בגופו שזה הוא כבודו. חכמים הראשונים מהם מי שהיה מפצל העצים לבשל בהן. ומהן מי שהיה מבשל או מולח בשר או גודל פתילות או מדליק נרות. ומהן מי שהיה יוצא וקונה דברים שהן לצורך השבת ממאכל ומשקה אף על פי שאין דרכו בכך. וכל המרבה בדבר זה הרי זה משובח: 
Even a dignified person who does not publicly shop or do housework is obligated to physically make preparations for Shabbos for this is his honor.  (examples follow-great Talmidei Chachamim that split kindling, one that cooked or salted meat, or made wicks, or went to the store and bought food and drink for Shabbos.)  And doing ever more is ever more praiseworthy.

We know exactly from where the Rambam got this halacha: Shabbos119a and Kiddushin 41a, almost verbatim.  The Gemara in Kiddushin brings the stories about preparing for Shabbos to illustrate the rule of מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו, a rule that appears only there in Kiddushin, and which is explicitly applied only to two cases- Kiddushin/betrothal and preparation for Shabbos.

So its clear that the Rambam does use the word Chayav when he is referring to מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו.  This is puzzling, because it is clear in the Gemara in Kiddushin that מצוה means preference, not obligation.  The Mishna says one can be mekadesh with a shliach, and the Gemara says that although betroth a woman via a representative, it is preferable to do it yourself because of מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו.  Then, alternatively, the Gemara says that there might be an actual issur in sending a shliach, because one must see a woman before betrothal.  The Gemara says that the difference between the two explanations is that the second approach is one of Chiyuv/issur, and the first is one of mitzvah.   So the Rambam is puzzling.

The Mishna Berura (Biur Halacha in 250 D"H Yishtadel) notes that when the Mechaber quotes the Rambam, he uses the word Yishtadel (he should endeavor) instead of Chayav (he is obligated.)  The Mishna Berura says that it is possible that the Rambam himself didn't really mean Chayav, he just meant that it's very important, because if it weren't, these great Chachamim wouldn't leave their learning to do these things when they would be done by others anyway.  But he ends with a Tzarich Iyun, because we know that when the Rambam says Chayav, he probably means chayav. 

(The Aruch Hashulchan is even more interesting.  He says (250:3) that  מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו is a hiddur, and you can be yotzei this hiddur by having your spouse do it, because Ishto K'Gufo!  I'm not sure whether this is because of a high regard for the concept of Ishto K'gufo, or because of a low estimation of MBYM.)

But now that we've pointed out the same anomaly in the Rambam in Beis Habechira, it's hard to believe that he meant Chayav as "very important."  This is particularly interesting, because in the primary application, that one should be mekadesh personally, the Rambam does not say Chayav!  The Rambam in 3 Ishus 19 says
מצוה שיקדש אדם את אשתו בעצמו יותר מעל ידי שלוחו. וכן מצוה לאשה שתקדש עצמה בידה יותר מעל ידי שלוחה.
 It is a Mitzva to be mekadesh personally rather than through a shliach.
What happened to Chayav?  Of course, the answer is that  מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו is just mitzvah, not chayav.

So it has become harder to accept the Mishna Berura's suggestion.  If the Rambam uses מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו only three times, and two of those times he says chayav and once he says mitzvah, it's most likely that when he said chayav he meant chayav and when he said mitzva he meant mitzva.  So, what does the Rambam have in mind?  Why would מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו sometimes mean Mitzva and sometimes mean Chayav?

The answer:
The Ktzos in 382 brings the Tosfos Ri'd that says there are some mitzvos that you can delegate and some that you can't.  The ones that involve your body- מצוה שבגופו- cannot be delegated; wearing tefillin, sitting in the Sukkah, and so forth.  Other mitzvos are not called מצוה שבגופו, bodily mitzvos, such as Kiddushin or designating Teruma, and are effective via shliach.

As we've seen, even among those mitzvos that can be done via shliach, the general rule of  מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו applies, and tells us that it is better to do them yourself.  But I propose that there is a third category; mitzvos that although technically are not מצוה שבגופו/bodily mitzvos, do have a צד, an aspect of bodily mitzvos. 

These are the mitzvos whose purpose is the תוצאה, the effect, on the individual or the group who does the mitzva.  The effect of these mitzvos is to be mashreh the Shechina on Klal Yisrael individually and as a people.
בתוכו לא נאמר אלא בתוכם- בתוך לבו של כל אחד ואחד 
תרומה כ'ה ח' , של"ה שכ'ה ב'  ושכ'ו ובשער האותיות אות ל' , ואלשיך שם, and see מהר'ל there.

So by Binyan Habayis, the Hashra'as Hashechina is explicit in this passuk.   But how do I know that Shemiras Shabbos is mashreh the Shechina just like the Beis Hamikdash?  Because of the Gemara in Shabbos 118b.
אמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יוחי אלמלי משמרין ישראל שתי שבתות כהלכתן מיד נגאלים שנא' (ישעיהו נו) כה אמר ה' לסריסים אשר ישמרו את שבתותי וכתיב בתריה  וַהֲבִיאוֹתִים אֶל הַר קָדְשִׁי וְשִׂמַּחְתִּים בְּבֵית תְּפִלָּתִי עוֹלֹתֵיהֶם וְזִבְחֵיהֶם לְרָצוֹן עַל מִזְבְּחִי  
Reb Yochanan in the name of Reb Shimon bar Yochai:  If only Klal Yisrael would properly observe two Shabbasos they would immediately be redeemed, as it says "So says Hashem to the childless who observe my Shabbasos," and afterwards it says "and I will bring them to My holy mountain and make them glad in My house of prayer, (where) their offerings and sacrifices on my altar will please Me...."
We see that Shemiras Shabbos and the Beis Hamikdash are intimately connected, and that both bring Hashra'as Hashechina.

If you don't like the tzushtell, you can look at it from the perspective that Shabbos brings a Neshama Yeseirah.  In any case, the point is that Shabbos has an immediate and personal effect on the person who is Shomer Shabbos.

Both the Mikdash and Shabbos brings Hashra'as Hashechina to individuals.  To accomplish this, it's not enough to have it done on your behalf.  You have to do it yourself, physically; to some extent it is a מצוה שבגופו.  In these cases, the meaning of מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו is that it is a chiyuv, not just a mitzvah.  By Binyan Mikdash and Shabbos, the mitzvos bring Hashra'as Hashechina.  By Kiddushin, the kiddushin might lead to Hashra'as Hashechina if the couple creates a house of shalom and kedusha (Sotah 17a), it is certainly a precursor, but it is not the proximate cause; the Kiddushin is too early in the process to say that it is Mashreh Shechina.  So Kiddushin is really not different than other mitzvos.  Where the mitzva does contribute to Hashra'as Hashechina, then there is a general hiddur mitzvah to do it yourself, but there is not a chiyuv.

So look at it this way:   When you're building the Beis Hamikdash, and when you prepare something special for Shabbos, do not make the mistake of thinking that the cheftzah shel mitzvah, the mitzvah commodity, is the object you're working on, the kli shareis, or the cholent.  You are the Cheftza shel Mitzvah.  And if it's you, it's no different than Tefillin (Tosfos Ri'd in Ha'ish Mekadeish), and you can't mail it in.

I was reminded about this recently when I remembered a man that lived in my neighborhood.  He was a dignified man, a man who achieved great financial success, and who was very involved in community education and chesed organizations.  Every once in a while, I would find him polishing the brass rails of the Bima in Shul.  This man could have flown in a Romanian to do it every week, but he wanted to do it himself.  Yehoshua was zocheh to lead Klal Yisrael (Bamidbar Rabba 21:14) because he insisted on setting out the benches in the yeshiva himself.  In Kelm, there was an annual lottery to determine who would have the honor of emptying the trash can that stood in the Beis Medrash.  Let's all remember that chavivus mitzva means that every once in a while you roll up your sleeves and do it yourself.

General discussion of  מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו (hereinafter MBYM):

Does MBYM apply to all mitzvos?  
  • Mechaber OC 260:2 and Magen Avraham SK 1- Yes.  Shaarei Teshuva OC 250 in name of Tosfos Shabbos- Yes, even to prepare the Seuda for a Bris or a wedding.  Yoreh Deah 305:10, Reb Akiva Eiger and the Gaon both say that lechatchila all mitzvos should be done by you and not a Shliach.  (By the way, a close relative of mine is married to Reb Reuven Feinstein's daughter, and when I was visiting the Yeshiva of Staten Island, I surprised Reb Reuven and his Rebbitzen as they were setting the tables for a grandchild's bris.  I asked why they were doing it, when there were literally hundreds of others that would be thrilled to take over from them, and Reb Reuven told me "מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו". ) 
  • The Tshuvos Or Zarua (Siman 11), however, says that in all mitzvos where the purpose is "to bring about a condition," it doesn't matter at all who does the act.  The examples he gives are Milah on a son, teaching your son Torah, building a Sukkah, having someone else put tefillin on you, and having someone else putting a tallis on you.  (I have no idea how the Or Zarua learns the Gemara in Kiddushin.  Preparing Shabbos meals and doing Kiddushin are perfect examples of "bringing about a condition," and despite that, the Gemara applies the rule of MBYM.)  The Chochmas Shlomo in OC 260 also holds that MBYM only applies to Kiddushin and Shabbos, and argues with the Magen Avraham, and says that the Minhag to bake matza yourself is based on something completely different.

Does MBYM mean you have to do the whole thing yourself, or only start the mitzva yourself?
  • The Pri Megadim on the Magen Avraham 432 SK 5 that says that מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו applies to Bedikas Chametz says that if you start by yourself, you can delegate the rest of the house, and it's not a problem.  What matters is that you started by yourself.  This is really self evident, inasmuch as the Gemara in Kiddushin and Shabbos don't say that you have to make the whole Shabbos yourself.  It just says that you should do one of the initial steps of preparation- singeing the skin, salting the fish, etc.

If you did use a Shliach, can you fix things later?
  • The Bendiner Illui, in his Gilyonei Hashas in Kiddushin 41, brings that there is a minhag that if you're mekadeish with a shliach, then when the woman shows up, to be mekadeish her yourself.  Some say it's a meaningless minhag, but he explains it's like Hekdesh Illui miderabanan where your aris was mafrish teruma.  I would shtell tzu the mitzva to be makdish the bechor even though it's kadosh mei'rechem (Erchin 28b-29a) where it's clearer.

Does it apply to Hechsher mitzva?
  • Magen Avraham in 453 says that because of  מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו some people go to see the grinding of their Matza, even though it's only a hechsher.  
  • The Netziv in Sheiltos 169 says that for a general hechsher, there's no din of מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו.  But if the Hechsher is mentioned in the Torah, then there is a din of מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו.  Examples- building the sukkah, the Shimur of Matza, and making Tzitzis. 
  • Pnei Yeshoshua in Brachos 18 says clearly that there's no din of מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו on Hechsher mitzva, like digging a grave. 
  • But a careful reading of the Ran in Kiddushin 41 and the Yam shel Shlomo there shows that they hold that MBYM does apply to Hechsher Mitzvah.
Is there any difference between  מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו and the din of זה קלי ואנוהו, that is, הידור מצוה?  
  • Maybe the din of מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו is based on הידור.
  • Maybe not.  Maybe it's just a svara, as Rashi there indicates, about greater schar.
  • If it is, then maybe it should be talui in the machlokes Rashi and Tosfos in the beginning of Lulav Hagazul in Sukka 29b, whether the psul gamur of yaveish is based on the general din of hiddur (Rashi), that every mitzvah that is totally lacking hiddur is 100% passul,  or on a specific requirement of hiddur by esrog and therefore by lulav (Tosfos), because ve'anveihu can't possibly result in a psul gamur.  This might also yield an explanation of the Rambam, if delegating some mitzvos results in an absolute lack of hiddur.

What is more important, מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו or הידור מצוה?
  • The Chayei Adam in 68 talks about whether better to write a Sefer Torah or Mezuza or Tefillin by yourself kosher but poorly, or hire an expert Sofer who will write with Hiddur.  He paskens that מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו is more important than הידור מצוה, which is obviously not the opinion of the Aruch Hashulchan in 250:3 that I mentioned above.



    1. "Why does the Rambam say בעצמן, personally?"

      Why not from the mishkan, like he says כמקדש המדבר? In the midbar everyone helped, so the Rambam says this is the way your supposed to build the beuis hamikdash. That's why he calls the mishkan "מקדש המדבר", to tell you that you can learn the mikdash from the mishkan

    2. You're right, we see that people were personally involved by the Mishkan. But that could have been their choice. All we know from the mitzva of ve'asu li mikdash' is the mitzva of binyan. What's the raya that it has to be done physically and personally, as if it were a mitzva she'be'gufo like wearing tfillin or sitting in the sukkah? Maybe it's just a mitzva to see to it that it's done, and you can make a shliach, like the Ketzos in 382 brings from the Tosfos Ri'd? So it must be that the Rambam applied the concept of mitzva bo yoser mibishlucho.

    3. So, to bring up one of my pet peeves [of which I have a veritable menagerie] letting the schools be mekayem v'higad'ta l'bincha for you is violating mitzva bo. Especially since it is a geder of hashra'as hashechina.

      Besides the issue of it violating the spirit and the structure of the seder. But then, it's been a long time since yiddishkeit followed the torah.

    4. Constructive criticism:
      You've made fundamental changes to the Dvar Torah you posted at the beginning of the week, to the extent that Wednesday is completely different from Sunday or whenever you first put it up. Would it have hurt to keep it as a draft until you were satisfied?

    5. Yes, I know. But the way I write is that first I let my subconscious take charge, and then my conscious mind figures out what I was talking about. I have two suggestions: Either don't read it till the end of the week, or participate in the process.