Divrei Torah

The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs

Back to Shiurim List

To What Degree Is One Obligated to Perform the Mitzvoth?- Part II

By: Rav Noam Koenigsberg

Summary of Part I- One may not spend excessively (more than a fifth of one's  financial assets) in order to fulfill mitzvoth. Chazal instituted this  decree when the rabbinic leadership was in the town of Usha. A question  arises if this enactment is purely of a rabbinic status, or was it a  reinstatement of a Biblically mandated halacha.

Is there a minimum sum that one is required to spend for the performance of  mitzvoth? The Bach (Orach Chaim, Siman 656) advances the opinion of Rabeinu  Yerucham that a tenth of one's assets are subjugated to the needs of  fulfilling mitzvoth. The Mishneh Berura (ibid, sub-section 8) raises the  possibility that one is required to spend up to a fifth to fulfill a  "passing mitzvah" (mitzvah overet- if not fulfilled at that moment, the  possibility of performing it may disappear). The Aruch HaShulchan objects;  if one must utilize a fifth of his assets to fulfill a mitzvah overet, he  will not be able to give Tzedakah.

The Marcheshet engages the following situation. An indigent person had a son  to circumcise on a Friday. The only mohel who was willing to travel and  perform the brit demanded the sum of 400 marks. If the father would wait  until Sunday there would be a higher likelihood of finding a mohel who would  be willing to perform the brit for free, or for a low price. Should the  mitzvah overet of milah bizmana (in its' proper time- the eighth day) be  suspended due to the monetary sacrifice involved?

The Marcheshet ruled that performing a brit milah on the eighth day is not  superior to redeeming captives (pidyon shvuyim). In the latter, an  individual is not required to forfeit his estate (despite the great mitzvah  of redeeming captives). The same applies to the case at hand.

Thus, one is not required (actually, is forbidden) to spend more than a  fifth of his assets to fulfill a mitzvah-even a mitzvah overet.

The Rashba (on Masechet Bava Kama, 9) comments that the limit of a fifth  applies exclusively to positive commandments (Mitzvoth Aseh). An individual   is required however, to forfeit all  of his assets to refrain from violating  a negative commandment (Lavin). The Rama (Aruch Chaim, Siman 656) rules in  accordance with the view of the Rashba.

Be'ezrat Hashem next week we will examine the source of this distinction.


Categorized under: 1: Halacha > General
Uploaded: 1/30/2006 12:18:35 PM