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