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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ki Savo, Devarim 28:45-48. Do It With a Smile, or Don't Do It At All.

We are told in the Tochecha that curses come of not serving Hashem in happiness amidst plenty.

 ובאו עליך כל הקללות האלה ורדפוך והשיגוך עד השמדך  כי לא שמעת בקול ה' אלקיך לשמר מצותיו וחקתיו אשר צוך.   והיו בך לאות ולמופת ובזרעך עד עולם.  תחת אשר לא עבדת את ה' אלקיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב מרב כל.  ועבדת את איביך אשר ישלחנו ה' בך ברעב ובצמא ובעירם ובחסר כל

There are three well known and widely taught interpretations of this passuk.
1.  When Hashem blessed you with peace of mind and comfort, you didn't have the simple gratitude to recognize and appreciate the source of your blessings, and you stopped serving Hashem.  (Rashi here- בעוד שהיה לך כל טוב.)
2.  That as a result of the gifts of health and wealth and high status you became vulgarians bereft of spirituality.  (Reb Meir Simcha here- והסיבה לזה שלא עבדת הוא מחמת שהיה לך שמחה וטוב לב מרוב כל.)
3.  That you did fulfill all of your Torah obligations, you did everything required, you did the mitzvos and avoided the aveiros, but you did not do it with happiness or joy (Rambam- כל המונע עצמו משמחה זו ראוי להיפרע ממנו.)  One assumes that this is the din of doing mitzvos with simcha that is the subject of  the passuk in Tehillim (100:2) Ivdu es Hashem b'simcha.

I am going to discuss the third pshat, that the curses stem from doing mitzvos without happiness.

Some interpret this passuk as referring to one who does the mitzvos resentfully.  I am not taking this approach.  Not-Simcha is different than resentment.  Obviously, one who feels that the mitzvos are a noxious imposition is a Rasha.  I am assuming that the passuk is talking about doing them without simcha, not doing them with bitterness.

From a technical perspective, what is the problem in doing Mitzvos without Simcha?  Is a mitzva without simcha lacking a positive, a failure to achieve something positive, or is it an active negative, a sin of commission.

I  A Sin of Omission, an עבירה שלילית.
I would explain "sin of omission" to mean that while the Torah requires Simcha in mitzvos, that is something the Torah tells us to achieve; just as on Yomtov there is a special din of simcha, all mitzvos require that we do them with simcha.  If you don't, then you haven't done what the Ribono shel Olam expects from you.

Within Heading I, there are two possibilities:
       A.     Every mitzva has a requirement that it be done with Simcha.  This is an overlay; besides the essential act of the mitzva, the Torah wants you to do it with simcha.  If so, a mitzva done without simcha is lacking shleimus, it is somewhat incomplete.  So doing a mitzva without simcha would not be like "not taking a lulav."  It would be like doing mitzvos without hiddur, with bare adequacy.
        B.     Simcha is not a part of individual mitzvos, it is a separate requirement on people, that when they do avodas Hashem, they should do it with happiness.  Doing a mitzva without simcha is a bittul of this requirement.  But it is still not like "not taking a lulav."  It is a mitzva to have that midda, like Kedoshim Tihyu, but it is not like other mitzvos that require a specific act.

II   A Sin of Commission, an עבירה בפועל.  It is not a matter of an insufficient good; it is a bad act.
A sin of commission, on the other hand, would mean that the absence of simchas mitzvos shows ingratitude and lack of respect towards the Ribono shel Olam.  If you appreciated what having the Torah means, if you accepted the truth and vital importance of Torah and Mitzvos, if you realized that you don't deserve life and health and the prospect of olam haba, and that Torah and Mitzvos are an incomparable gift, then you would rejoice in doing every mitzvah.  Your indifference converts your mitzvos into acts of disrespect, ingratitude, and azus panim.


This is not sophistry.  There is a practical difference.  Question: If you are not going to have simcha when you do a mitzva, is it better to do it anyway, or would it be better to not do it at all?

If the pshat is like IA, that the Torah requires simcha with mitzvos, and a mitzva without simcha lacks something the Torah requires with all mitzvos, then a mitzva done without simcha is incomplete.  The Tochecha says that punishment can come not only for not doing mitzvos, but also for doing them without Simcha, because they are imperfect (IA).  But no matter what the cost of doing it without Simcha, doing a half is better than doing nothing.  Even if the pshat is like IB, that one has failed to fulfill the mitzva of Simcha, this is still a matter of not doing it well enough, but you still have done a mitzvah.  The fact that you haven't developed a sense of simcha is not a reason to avoid doing the mitzva.  If, on the other hand, doing a mitzva without simcha is an avla (II,) it would be better to not do the mitzva at all.

This question would not apply by most mitzvos.  By most mitzvos, we don't have a choice, we can't do a cost/benefit analysis before deciding if we're going to do the mitzva.  If you're obligated to do it, you do it, period.  But when it comes to optional mitzvos, a mitzva Kiyumis, the question becomes relevant.  For example, limud hatorah beyond Krias Shma, or wearing a four cornered garment in order to have tzitzis, or spending more time in a Sukkah, or eating more Matza, or many others, such as those that are not docheh talmud torah because they can be done by others.  What if you can't do them with simcha.  Is it better to not do them at all?

Here is an example of a very similar dichotomy.  Torah should be learned Lishma.  Rava (Pesachim 50b) says that learning not lishma is good, because it will bring to Lishma.  On the other hand, Rava brings down an opinion that one who learns Torah not Lishma would have been better off dying at birth.  This contradicts the other statement of Rava, which indicates that "Not-Lishma" is not optimal, but has redeeming qualities.  Tosfos, in one answer, says that the former "Not-Lishma" means that he learns for a job, or for honor, or because he finds it interesting.  That's not terrible.  The latter "Not-Lishma" means that he learns to disparage others, to beat other people down.  This is terrible, and nothing good can come of it.  So you see that in "Not-Lishma" there is a case of "something missing" and there is a case of "poison."  Here, too, it is obvious that one could satisfy the technical requirements of a mitzva in a way that is poison- if he does it with resentment and bitterness, similar to the Gemara (Kiddushin 31a) that Kibbud Av done with scorn is a terrible sin-יש מאכיל לאביו פסיוני וטורדו מן העולם.  But, as I said earlier, our passuk is not talking about doing mitzvos resentfully.  The passuk is talking about simple "Not-Simcha."  What is "Not-Simcha?"  Is it "something missing," like a simple "Not-Lishma,"or is it like "poison," like the man who feeds his father, but does it with scorn and resentment.

The side that it is better to do them, albeit reluctantly, doesn't need proof.  More interesting to me is reading Rabbeinu Bachay and the Ikkarim and seeing if we can bring a proof as to what they hold.

Rabbeinu Bachay in our parsha, 28:47
 יאשימנו הכתוב בעבדו השי"ת, ולא הייתה העבודה בשמחה, לפי שחייב האדם על השמחה בהתעסקו במצוות, והשמחה במצווה - מצווה בפני עצמה. מלבד השכר שיש לו על המצווה, יש לו שכר על השמחה, ועל כן יעניש בכאן למי שעובד עבודת המצווה כשלא עשאה בשמחה, ולכן צריך שיעשה האדם המצות בשמחה ובכוונה שלמה.

First, you see that Rabbeinu Bachay holds that Simcha is not an aspect within the definition of how a mitzva should be done.  It is a separate requirement- השמחה במצווה - מצווה בפני עצמה.  That is clearly pshat IB.  Still, he does not say that absence of simcha is sinful because it implies disrespect, ingratitude, and azus panim.  It's just that he is sinning in that he has failed to develop the midda of simcha.  But it would still be better to do the mitzvah.

Ikkarim-

הדבר הנותן שלמות אל המצווה כדי שיושג על ידה התכלית המכוון בה היא השמחה, כי השמחה נותנת גמר ושלמות אל הדבר הנפעל, עד שהפועל האחד בעצמו בשמחה ובטוב לב יקרא מעלה, וכאשר יעשה בעיצבון יקרא פחיתות

וזה דבר נתבאר במאמר השני מספר המידות לאריסטו. כי הנדיב כשיעשה פועל הנדיבות והוא שמח בפועל ההוא יקרא מעלה, ואם יפעלהו בעיצבון יקרא פחיתות. 

וכן נמצא הכתוב מיעד הגמול על עשיית הצדקה בשמחה, אמר: נתון תתן לו ולא ירע לבבך בתתך לו, כי בגלל הדבר הזה יברכך ה' אלוהיך (דברים ט"ו). תלה הברכה ב'ולא ירע לבבך' ולא ב'נתון תתן לו'. [העונש הגדול לעובד מתוך עצבות]
ויתבאר זה ביאור יותר שלם על זה הדרך: אין ספק כי הפועל היותר נכבד והיותר מעולה ראוי שיקבל עליו שכר מהשם על עשייתו, והעונש על הפכו, לפי הדרך התורי. ואין בעולם פועל יותר נכבד ויותר מעולה שראוי שיקבל עליו שכר, כפי האמת בעצמו, וכפי הסכמת כל האנשים, אלא עבודת השם יתברך. ונמצא הכתוב מייעד העונש הגדול על מי שאינו עובד השם יתברך בשמחה, אמר משה במשנה תורה:תחת אשר לא עבדת את ה' אלוהיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב מרוב כל ועבדת את אויביך וגו' (שם כ"ח)  תלה העונש על שלא עבד השם יתברך בשמחה לא על שלא עבד במוחלט

ועניין הכתוב יורה שפירושו כך, כי לא יתכן שיאמר שהעונש יגיע אליו על שלא עבדו בהיותו בשמחה. שאם כן, יתחייב שלא יהיה האדם מחויב לעבוד את השם יתברך בשלא יהיה בשמחה וברוב כל, ומזה יראה שקיום המצווה בשמחה נותן גמר ושלמות אל המצווה. 

ולזה תמצא המשורר מזהיר על עבודת השם יתברך שתהיה בשמחה, אמר: עבדו את ה' בשמחה בואו לפניו ברננה וגו

The words of the Sefer HaIkkarim- הדבר הנותן שלמות אל המצווה כדי שיושג על ידה התכלית המכוון בה היא השמחה, כי השמחה נותנת גמר ושלמות אל הדבר הנפעל, and his word that כאשר יעשה בעיצבון יקרא פחיתות seem to combines IB and II.  It could be that according to the Sefer HaIkkarim it would be better to not do the mitzva at all.

I also saw an interesting Rabbeinu Yona in Shaarei Teshuva.  He says that one of the reasons we have a seuda Erev Yom Kippur is because on other Yamim Tovim, we are able to express our simcha with a Seuda, and this is very important, as our passuk in Ki Savo teaches us.  Since we can't do that on Yom Kippur, we have to do it before Yom Kippur begins.
כי בשאר ימים טובים אנחנו קובעים סעודה לשמחת המצוה. כי יגדל וישגא מאוד שכר השמחה על המצות. כמו שנאמר (ד"ה א כט) ועתה עמך הנמצאו פה ראיתי בשמחה להתנדב לך. ונאמר (דברים כח) תחת אשר לא עבדת את ה' אלהיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב. ומפני שהצום ביום הכיפורים, נתחייבו לקבוע הסעודה על שמחת המצוה בערב יוה"כ

Note that Rabbeinu Yona says that the Schar for Simcha on a Mitzva is far greater than that of the Mitzva itself.  This, to me, is consistent with Rabbeinu Bachay, with I B, and not consistent with the Ikkarim.  If Rabbeinu Yona meant that simcha is a chelek of each mitzva, then the schar for the simcha cannot be greater than the schar for the mitzva itself.  If, however, simcha is a separate din, if it's not a part of the mitzva it is applied to, then we have no way to evaluate what the schar is.  The schar for Simcha might be greater, it might be less.  However, he says, since the passuk in the Tochecha says that the punishment for not-simcha is so terrible, this proves that the schar/importance of simcha is correspondingly great, and far greater than the schar for fulfilling mitzvos in general.

And then there's the Sefer Hakuzari, who says (3:11)
ולבל תביאהו היראה להתיאשות מן המחילה והסליחה שעל ידי כך ישאר האדם בפחד לכל ימי חייו ויעבר על מצות השמחה בחלקו שנצטוינו עליה במאמר ושמחת בכל הטוב אשר נתן לך ה' אלהיך ועל ידי זה ימעט השבח שעליו לשבח על טובת האלוה כי השבח הולך אחר השמחה ואז יתקים בו מה שנאמר תחת אשר לא עבדת את ה' אלהיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב ועבדת את איביך וגו'
By relating our passuk to the passuk by Vidui Bikkurim אשר נתן לך ה' אלהיך, which the Gemara in Brachos 48b and 60b uses to teach us the obligation to make a bracha of Hakaras Tov, he indicates that the Simcha in our passuk is a general mitzva of gratitude to the Ribono shel Olam for what He gives us, and has nothing to do with Mitzvos.  It is certainly not I, neither A nor B.  It might be consistent with II.

I written about this subject in the past.  See Meta-Mitzvos.
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On an entirely different topic:  Regarding the construction set for the Goloventzitz site in Ramat Beit Shemesh, and the heart-breakingly demented things that have been said by certain Talmidei Chachamim in and around and far from the scene.  Chazal tell us
כל ת״ח שאין בו דעת נבלה טובה הימנו.  
The Torah also tells us, in Devarim 21:22-3, that
לא תלין נבלתו על העץ כי קבור תקברנו ביום ההוא כי קללת אלקים תלוי ולא תטמא את אדמתך אשר ה' אלקיך נתן לך נחלה.  
The term נבלה in common to both statements.  It seems to me that this indicates that the din in the passuk should apply, with a kal vachomer, to a ת״ח שאין בו דעת.  It is clearly a case of קללת אלקים תלוי, and the only eitza is כי קבור תקברנו ביום ההוא.

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And now, for an even more entirely different topic.  Someone asked me whether there is a connection between our commemoration of Adam Harishon's discovery of fire Motzei Shabbos, and the fact that we eat chopped liver on Shabbos.  As a result of saying a Daf Yomi for twenty five years to a collection of talmidei chachamim, baalei kishron, and tchepoons, I'm pretty quick with answers, but this one stopped me in my tracks.

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Disclaimer:  It is possible that the content and tenor of this post is related to Bacardi 151.

1 comment:

Chaim B. said...

It has nothing to do with your chakira, but I figure you would like it anyway: my son thinks spaht in 'v'samachta b'chagecha' is l'afukei the rest of the year. Spoken like a true litvak.