והוא מה שאמר משה רבנו עליו השלום (דברים לב): הצור תמים פעלו כי כל דרכיו משפט אל אמונה ואין עול וגו', כי כיון שהקדוש ברוך הוא רוצה במשפט, הנה כך הוא עבור על המשפט, העלים את העין מן הזכות כמו מן החובה. על כן אם משפט הוא רוצה, צריך שיתן לכל איש כדרכיו וכפרי מעלליו בתכלית הדקדוק, בין לטוב בין למוטב, והיינו, אל אמונה ואין עול צדיק וישר הוא, שפירשו ז"ל (ספרי): לצדיקים ולרשעים, כי כך היא המדה ועל הכל הוא דן ועל כל חטא הוא מעניש ואין להמלט
But then the Maharshal tells us something new. He tells us that
The Maharshal says that the idea of ותרן applies equally to forgiving and to giving- forgiving for no reason is called ותרנות, and giving for no reason is called ותרנות. Forgiving a sin without Teshuva, or giving a gift to one that does not deserve it is the same ויתור.
According to the Maharshal, if a person wants to say that he is getting more than he deserves, he must add that he is getting the extra only because of Zechus Avos.
This idea is expressed before Pesukei D'Zimra every morning (and in Ne'ilah on Yom Kippur,)
The Maharshal’s approach can be seen in Rashi in Tehillim 16:2-3 as well.
In this and last week's Parshios there are three instances that directly bear upon this Maharshal. But before we discuss that, we need to do a little more analysis of the Maharshal.
First, let me mention that this Maharshal is brought by the Magen Avraham in OC 156. The Magen Avraham disagrees with the Maharshal, saying
The Machtzis Hashekel explains the Magen Avraham by saying
This, too, is in the Mesillas Yesharim.
אמנם, מדת הרחמים היא הנותנת הפך השלשה דברים שזכרנו: דהינו, שיתן זמן לחוטא ולא יכחד מן הארץ מיד כשחטא, ושהעונש עצמו לא יהיה עד לכלה, ושהתשובה תנתן לחוטאים בחסד גמור, שתחשב עקירת הרצון כעקירת המעשה, דהיינו, שבהיות השב מכיר את חטאו ומודה בו ומתבונן על רעתו ושב ומתחרט עליו חרטה גמורה דמעיקרא כחרטת הנדר ממש שהוא מתנחם לגמרי והיה חפץ ומשתוקק שמעולם לא היה נעשה הדבר ההוא ומצטער בלבו צער חזק על שכבר נעשה הדבר ועוזב אותו להבא ובורח ממנו, הנה עקירת הדבר מרצונו, יחשב לו כעקירת הנדר ומתכפר לו. והוא מה שאמר הכתוב (ישעיה ו): וסר עונך וחטאתך תכפר, שהעון סר ממש מהמציאות ונעקר במה שעכשיו מצטער ומתנחם על מה שהיה למפרע.
וזה חסד ודאי שאינה משורת הדין, אך על כל פנים הנה הוא חסד שאינו מכחיש הדין לגמרי, שהרי יש צד לתלות בו, שתחת הרצון שנתרצה בחטא וההנאה שנהנה ממנו בא עתה הנחמה והצער. וכן אריכות הזמן איננו ויתרון על החטא, אלא סבלנות קצת לפתוח לו פתח תקון. וכן כל שאר דרכי חסד: כענין ברא מזכה אבא (סנהדרין קד), או מקצת נפש ככל הנפש (קהלת רבה ז כז), המוזכרים בדברי החכמים, דרכי חסד הם לקבל את המעט כמרובה, אך לא מתנגדים ומכחישים ממש מדת הדין, כי כבר יש בהם טעם הגון להחשיב אותם. אך שיותרו עבירות בלא כלום או שלא ישגיח עליהם, זה היה נגד הדין לגמרי, כי כבר לא היה משפט ודין אמיתי בדברים, על כן זה אי אפשר להמצא כלל. ואם אחד מן הדרכים שזכרנו לא ימצא לחוטא להמלט, ודאי שמדת הדין לא תשוב ריקם.
I think that even the Maharshal would agree that the reward we get for mitzvos are not debts that Hashem owes us. Whatever we get is a chesed, a gift from Hashem, because Hashem does not need or benefit from our Mitzvos. Imagine if someone had all that he needed, and he hired people to build something that he has absolutely no use from. His hiring them is only a chesed to enable him to pay them without embarrassing them for taking charity. All that we accomplish by doing the Mitzvos is that the reward we are given is not called נהמא דכיסופא, the embarrassing gift of bread given to someone that is totally undeserving. By doing the Mitzvos, at least we're not getting something for nothing. (The term first appears in the Beis Yosef's Maggid Meisharim בראשית מהדו"ק ד"ה אור ליוה"ש יד טבת.) As Rabbeinu Yona says (Shaarei Teshuva 3:29) on the passuk (Devarim 9:4)
This is emphasized in the Medrash in Va'eschanan (Devarim 23:3)
If you think about it, perhaps you will decide that the great midda of hakaras hatov, of gratitude to the Ribono shel Olam, is predicated on our not thinking that we've earned what we have. The essence of gratitude the awareness that we have received something that was not earned.
The Torah Temimah (Devarim 32:4, on Hatzur Tamim Pa'alo) also brings the Maharshal and says that he can't possibly mean what he seems to say.
If so, what does the Maharshal mean? Anyway, it just doesn't make sense to say that the Maharshal holds that a person is obligated to say to himself "Everything I have I earned and I am entitled to everything I have." If this were true, you wouldn't have to make a bracha on food. Of course Hashem gives us things that we don't 'deserve' in the legal sense of having earned them.
I think it is is clear that there is a spectrum that ranges from "legal entitlement" to "receiving for nothing." One can earn a wage by shoveling gravel in the hot sun under a lash, one can earn a wage by clicking a key on a keyboard, one can earn by creating something of great value, and one can earn by having been born with a pleasing appearance. Yes, the Maharshal is saying that we have to earn what we get, but he certainly agrees that to earn things from the Ribono shel Olam does not mean that we have a mechanic's lien.
The very small point that they do argue about reflects the use of the term ויתור in the Gemara in Nedarim 32b. There, the term can refer to the small extra produce thrown in by a merchant, and it can refer to allowing strangers to cross your property. Vitur is like the word "Gratuitous." A gratuity can refer to giving a tip to a waiter or a cab driver, and it can refer to pure tzedaka. Obviously, the first instance is not pure vitur. Nobody throws in a few bagels to someone that didn't buy any bagels at all. But the word ויתור is used there just as it is by allowing people to cross your field in the summer when nothing is growing there.
And I think that everyone will agree that Chesed and Rachamim are not without a cheshbon. Let's remember the Gemara with Reb Chanina ben Dosa in Taanis 25. When he asked for a chesed, he got it. But it was deducted from his schar in Olam Haba. Rachamim and Chesed certainly are different than Din, but there's always a cheshbon.
In any case, it is clear that the difference between the Maharshal and the Magen Avraham is very, very small. All will agree that we are given great reward for doing very little things. If you have to at least do something, the extra is not called Vitur, it's just a greater pay scale than what was promised. While everyone agrees that in the sugya of Vitur in Maseches Nedarim, that would be called Vitur, in the sugya of Vatran in Bava Kamma, it is not called Vitur. The machlokes Maharshal and Magen Avraham only involves what people mean when they say they got יותר ממה שהיה ראוי לי לפי מעשי. The Maharshal is only saying that since we need to do at least something for a reward, and it's only a question of shiurim, you can't use the expression "I got more than I deserve according to my actions." That expression means that you got something for nothing, which would be calling Hashem a Vatran. The Magen Avraham holds that saying that you are getting more than you are entitled to is not calling the Ribono shel Olam a Vatran. The expression יותר ממה שהיה ראוי לי לפי מעשי, more than what I am entitled to according to my behavior, just means that you earned a little and you got a lot, and that is not calling the Ribono shel Olam a Vatran.
1. In Vayeitzei 30:35. Leah, upon the birth of Yehuda, her fourth, says "now I praise/thank Hashem." Rashi- יותר מחלקה, I received more than my share, and so I need to give thanks. Rav Sternbuch puts it this way: Leah's novel concept of Hodayah, of expressing gratitude to the Ribono shel Olam, stemmed from the recognition that she did not deserve what she got.
According to the Maharshal, the idea that she received more than her share is tzarich iyun. What does “my share” mean? Doesn’t it mean that which she deserved? Was Leah saying she got more than she was entitled to?
According to the the Maharshal we will have to say as Rava says in Moed Kattan 28a, that חיי בני ומזוני לא בזכותא תליא מילתא אלא במזלא תליא מילתא. So when Leah referred to חלקה by saying that she got יותר מחלקה. She was saying that according to mazel, she ought to have had no more than three sons, and having a fourth meant that the Ribono shel Olam took her beyond her mazel, not beyond what she deserved. The Maharshal is only talking about things that are not talui in mazal; or he is talking about saying that you have more than you deserve. Leah didn't say that she didn't deserve what she got, only that it was more than her share.
This explanation is not forced; If Leah was talking about what she deserved on the basis of mishpat, how did she know that she was supposed to have davka three kids? How do you compare Leah to the shfachos? Maybe she was a bigger tzadeikes and entitled to ten? But if it is a question of Mazal, then either she knew what her mazal was, or she figured that all things being equal, each wife would have an even number.
ר' לוי אמר כדאי אני אבל קטנתי מכל וגו
In fact, the Gaon, as brought by Rav Sternbuch, seems to say not like the Maharshal:
of course, this is 100% not a kashe on the Maharshal. In fact, it is a Raya to the Maharshal. In the passuk (32:10) immediately before this one, Yaakov says
There is one little issue with the Maharshal, and that is the nusach of Birkas Hagomel. We say הגומל לחייבים טובות שגמלני כל טוב, which is the girsa of the Rif on the Gemara in Brachos 54b. How can we say הגומל לחייבים טובות ? According to the Maharshal, the nusach should not say לחייבים. If you were חייב, you wouldn't be standing there making a bracha.
The simple answer is that חייבים means Chayav according to Middas Hadin. According to Middas Hadin, we are all Chayavim. But Hashem judges us according to Middas Harachamim, and we survive. Even the Maharshal would accept that. He only doesn't like the expression יותר ממה שהיה ראוי לי לפי מעשי ושעבודי נגד ה. Middas HaRachamim, according to the Maharshal, is not hefker, and schar on the basis of Middas HaRachamim would also be called ראוי לי. If you got something on the basis of Middas HaRachamim, that's not called יותר ממה שהיה ראוי לי לפי מעשי.
But I saw that Reb Reuven Margolios in his Nefesh Chaya on Shulchan Aruch in 156 asks this kashe. He brings from Tshuvos Eisan Ha'ezrachi from a talmid of the Sma (3) that he heard a Yerushalmi Ashkenazi darshan named Moreinu Ori Feivush, and he thinks it was in the name of Reb Moshe Kordovero or the Maharam Alshakar that really, only a person that faced imminent harm should make a bracha, not a person that crossed a desert or the ocean. But those people, while they do make a bracha, they use a nusach that means that there are people who really are chayav to make a bracha (the חייבים.) I'm not one of them I'm just a recipient of כל טוב,) and I thank Hashem for not putting me in that position.