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:
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
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
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 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.
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.
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 Rumanian 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.
- 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.