Friday, October 16, 2009

Bereishis 5770 - Is emunah one of the Taryag mitzvos?

The Rambam in ספר המצות, מצוה א, says that the first mitzva is to believe in Hashem;

היא הצווי אשר צונו בהאמנת האלקות והוא שנאמין שיש שם עלה וסבה הוא פועל לכל הנמצאים והוא אמרו אנכי ה' אלוקיך
“The first mitzva is that which Hashem commanded us to believe in a G-d, that is, that we should believe that there is One who is the source and the cause, He creates all that exists and this is what Hashem said [in the first of the Aseres haDibros] - אנכי ה' אלוקיך"

The Behag (brought in the Hasogos Haramban) argues on the Rambam and is of the opionion that believing in Hashem is not one of the Taryag mitzvos. The reason that the Behag argues with the Rambam is that believing in Hashem is a prerequisite to accepting the mitzos. Once we are aware of Hashem we can accept his mitzvos, but it is not one of the Taryag mitzvos itself.

What is the macholkes between the Rambam and the Behag? Why does the Rambam say that אמונה is a mitzva and the Behag say that it is a pre-requisite to the mitzvos?

There is another machlokes between the Rambam and the Behag in the מנין המצות regarding עונשי בית דין – the punishments that בית דין administer such as misah and malkos. The Behag does not count these as part of the Taryag mitzvos, the Rambam, however, in שורש י״ד of the ספר המצות says that they are part of the Taryag mitzvos.

The Rambam says:
והנה קיום ‫אלו הגדרים כלם מצות עשה כי אנחנו נצטווינו ‫שנהרוג זה ושנלקה זה ושנסקול זה ושנקריב ‫קרבן על מה שעברנו עליו
“Upholding these safegaurds are all a mitzvas aseh because we are commanded that we should kill this one and we should give malkos to this one and that we should stone this one and that we should bring a korban for that which we have transgressed.”

Why does the Behag not count administering the onshim of Beis Din as a mitzva but the Rambam does?

In his introduction to his Minyan Hamitzvos the Behag writes:
דרש רבי שמלאי שש מאות ושלש עשרה מצות נצטוו ישראל. אמר רב המנונא מאי קראה, תורה צוה לנו משה. תורה בגימטריא הכי הױ, שש מאות ואחת עשרה הואי? אנכי ולא יהיה מפי הגבורה שמעום, שלש מאות וששים וחמשה מצות לא תעשה ומאתים וארבעים ושמונה מצות עשה, כל המקיימם זוכה לעולם הבא וכל העובר עליהן נידון בשבעה עונשין – סקילה, שריפה, הרג וחנק, מיתה וכרת ומלקות.

“Rebbi Simlai expounded, the Benei Yisroel were commanded to do 613 mitzvos. Said Rav Hamnuna, which passuk is this derived from? תורה צוה לנו משה - [The gematria of תורה is 613.] The gemara asks, is the gematria of Torah 613, it is only 611? The gemara answers that we heard the first 2 of the Aseres Hadibros from Hashem, so Hashem commanded us regarding 2 mitzvos and Moshe Rabbeinu commanded us to do 611.

There are 365 mitzvos lo sa’aseh and 248 mitzvos aseh. Anyone who keeps them merits olam habah and anyone who transgresses them is judged with seven punishments – stoning, burning, beheading, strangulation, misah min hashamayim, kares and malkos.”

The Behag is of the opinion that the onshim of beis din are not part of the mitzvos, rather they are part of the ultimate reward and punishment that is a consequence of keeping or transgressing the mitzvos. When beis din deliver a punishment they are acting as shelichim of Hashem to punish the person who transgressed the Torah.

The Rambam, however, is of the opinion that the onshim of beis din are a geder – a safegaurd to the Torah. As the Rambam says:
והנה קיום ‫אלו הגדרים כלם מצות עשה
“Upholding these safegaurds is a mitzvas aseh.”

It is possible that this machlokes represents a fundamental machlokes regarding the nature of the Taryag mitzvos.

The Behag is of the opinion that the mitzvos are to be looked at from a perspective of olam habah. Their primary purpose is to earn olam habah and not to be mesaken olam hazeh, as the Behag says:
כל המקיימם זוכה לעולם הבא
“Anyone who keeps them merits olam habah.”

Subsequently the onshim of beis din are not a mitzva, rather they are a consequence of not keeping the Torah.

The Rambam however is of the opionion that the primary focus of the Taryag mitzvos is to prescribe an appropriate way to live in olam hazeh. Because the onshim of beis din encourage this behaviour, they are described as a geder – a safegaurd, and are themselves a mitzva.

With this we can understand the machlokes between the Rambam and the Behag concerning whether or not emunah is a mitzva.

The Rambam is of the opinion that emunah is a mitzva because believing in Hashem is part of the way of life that is appropriate to live. In other words, Hashem appeared to the benei yisroel at Har Sinai and said, this is how you should live:
a) Remember that I exist
b) Do not serve idols
c) Etc.

However the Behag is of the opinion that we look at every mitzva as a way to earn olam habah. Therefore it is not possible for the Behag to say that believing in Hashem is a mitzva because believing in the metzaveh (commander of the mitzvos) is a prerequisite to having mitzvos altogether but is not itself a mitzvah.

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