Friday, July 23, 2010

Ba'al tosif - Igros Moshe

The gemara in Rosh HaShana 28b says:
קסבר רבא מצות אין צריכות כונה...
Rava holds that mitzvos einon tzerichos kavana – if you do a mitzva without intending to fulfil the mitzva you have still performed the mitzva. For example, if someone lives next to a shul and hears the shofar or megillas esther, they have fulfilled their obligation even if they did not intend to do so.

א"ל אביי אלא מעתה הישן בשמיני בסוכה ילקה
Abaye said to Rava – if you say that mitzvos einon tzerichos kavana – then if someone sleeps on a succa on shemini atzeres they should receive malkos for the issur of baal tosif even if they did not intend to do a mitzva by sleeping in the succah. During succos, if they slept in the succa and did not intend to do the mitzva – they would have been yotze. So after succos, although they did not intend to do the mitzva, they should be over on baal tosif as they have done that which would have been required to fulfil the mitzva during succos.

אמר לו, שאני אומר, מצות אינו עובר עליהן אלא בזמנן
Rava answered – you are only over baal tosif if you do a mitzva inadvertantly at the right time. So for example, if someone took 5 minim on succos, he is over baal tosif, or if someone wore tefillin with 5 parshiyos at the time you are meant to wear tefillin, then he is over on baal tosif. But if someone sleeps an extra day in the succah without intending to do the mitzva then he is not over on baal tosif.

Reb Moshe Feinstein explains (Igros Moshe chelek 1, siman 13) that it turns out that the halacha is;
  • If someone deliberately added to succos by sleeping in the succoh on the night of shemini atzeres in order to do the mitzva, then he is over on baal tosif
  • If someone slept in the succah inadvertantly on the night of shemini atezeres, without intending to do a mitzva, then he is not over on baal tosif.
  • If someone wore tefillin which had 5 parshiyos during the week – then even if he did not intend to do the mitzva he has been over on baal tosif because this is the correct time to wear tefillin.
Reb Moshe asks – what is the difference between bizmano and shelo bi’zmano? Adding to the mitzva of succah is done by living in the succah beyond succos, so just as I am over on baal tosif by wearing tefillin with 5 parshiyos even if I did not intend to perform the mitzva, why am I not over on baal tosif if I sleep in the succah after succos and do not intend to do the mitzva?

Reb Moshe explains as follows:
If someone invents a mitzva – for example, they break a stick every day and say that this is a mitza – this is not baal tosif.
The possuk says:
לא תוסיפו על הדבר אשר אנכי מצוה אתכם
“You should not add on to the matter that I command you.”
The issur is to add on to Hashem’s mitzvos by extending them. For example, through having 5 parshiyos in tefillin. But if you create a new mitzva alltogether, this is not adding on to mitzvos, it is just silly, because Hashem did not command that new mitzva.

(Note; The Rambam says that if beis din create a mitzva this is baal tosif. This is because they have used their authority as a legal body to announce the mitzva – so it is significant. However there is no siginificance in an individual inventing a mitzva.)

Reb Moshe explains that there are two ways to add on to existing mitzvos.
1.      Either by adding to the physical maaseh hamitzva – for example by making 5 parshiyos in tefillin. Or
2.      by adding to the dinim of a mitzva.

If someone sleeps in the succa on shemini atzeres, he has not extended the physical act of having slept in the succa on the first7 days. By sleeping in the succa on the 8th day he has not changed that which he did previously. Nevertheless he is over on baal tosif because by sleeping in the succa on the 8th day he is ruling thathere is a mitzva to sleep in the succa for 8 days and not 7. This is baal tosif in the dinim of succa, not in the physical embodiment of the mitzva.

Therefore it comes out that if you sleep in the succa on shemini atzeres without intending to do a mitzva at all then you have not been over on baal tosif because:
1.      You have not extended the original maaseh hamitzva – there is no connection between what you are doing today and what you did yesterday.
2.      You also have not added to the dinim of succa because you did not intend to do a mitzva. There is nothing in your actions which suggests that the mitza of sleeping in a succa extends to shemini atzeres. You slept there because you felt like it, not for any significant halchical reason. However if you sleep in the succa on shemini atzeres with the intention to do a mitzva of sleeping in the succa then you have been over on baal tosif because you have been moreh that there is a mitzva to sleep in the succa for 8 days.

Similarly;
If someone wears tefillin on shabbos because he wants to do the mitzva of wearing tefillin, then he has been over on baal tosif – not because he has changed what he did yesterday – but rather because he has demonstrated that the halacha is that you should wear tefillin on shabbos.  However if someone wears tefillin on shabbos in order to carry them out of the street and bring them into a house where they will not be damaged, he has not been over on baal tosif. The baal tosif here is not adding to the physical maaseh hamitzva – it is demonstrating that there is an additional halacha. Because in this case it is obvious that he is only wearing the tefillin to save them from being damaged, he has not shown that he wants to change the halacha.

Reb Moshe continues to explain that if someone would sleep in the succa on Purim, he would not be over on baal tosif. The fundamental notion of baal tosif is adding to an existing mitzva. This can be done either physically (5 parshiyos in tefillin) or demonstratively (by sleeping in the succa for 8 days).

However if someone sleeps in the succa on Purim, he has not extended the mitzva of sleeping in the succa on Succos, because there is no connection at all between Purim and Succos. He has simply invented a new mitzva. This is like breaking a stick as a mitzva, which is not baal tosif.

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