Friday, August 13, 2010

Lo sasur, Rashi, the Ramban and the Rambam

Lo sasur
The possuk in this week’s sedrah says:
עַל פִּי הַתּוֹרָה אֲשֶׁר יוֹרוּךָ וְעַל הַמִּשְׁפָּט אֲשֶׁר יֹאמְרוּ לְךָ תַּעֲשֶׂה לֹא תָסוּר מִן הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר יַגִּידוּ לְךָ יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאל

“According to the law that they direct you and the judgement that they will say to you you should do, you should not stray from the matter that they instruct you to the right or to the left.”

There is a machlokess between the Rambam and the Ramban (Sefer haMitzvos, shoresh alef) whether this passuk refers to all derabannan’s, in which case every derabannan is really deoraisoh (Rambam), or if lo sasur only applies to derashos that are made from pessukim using the shlosh esreh midos she’hatorah nidreshes bahem but a takanah miderebannan is not included in this passuk.

The Ramban
Reb Chaim asks (kovetz shiurim, kuntrus divrei sofrim) why we need to listen to derabannan’s according to the Ramban? If the passuk of lo sasur is only telling you that we need to follow the way that the beis din hagodol interprets the Torah according to the yud gimel midos, then why do we need to obey general takanos and gezeros miderabannan?

Reb Chaim explains that the Ramban agrees that lo sasur obligates us to listen to takanos and gezerios, the machlokess between the Ramban and the Rambam is whether we have a general overall mitzva to listen to the chachamim which includes all derabannan’s, or if every derabannan is an extension of the mitzva deoraiosoh (Rambam).

For example;

·         If there is an issur derabannan that relates to one of the mitzvos that are yehoreg ve’al yaavor, is this also yehoreg ve’al yaavor? According to the Rambam, the derabannan of these issurin is also yehareg ve’al yaavor because they are a branch of the original issur (and therefore abizreihu). However according to the Ramban they are not yehoreg ve’al yaavor because the obligation to listen to the de’rabannan is a general mitzva lishmoah el divrei chachamim but is not itself giluy arayos, shefichas damim or avodah zarah.

·         You can only have a zaken mamrei regarding an issur sheyesh bo kares. Can you have a zaken mamrei regarding an issur of chametz miderabannan? According to the Rambam, this is an issur chametz, and chametz is a davar sheyesh bo kores when it is deoraisoh. According to the Ramban the issur de’rabannan is not an issur chamtez at all and does not relate to the kares that applies to chametz deoraisoh, It is a general mitzva lishmoa el divrei chachamim.

The Rambam
Reb Chaim also explains, that even according to the Rambam that every issur de’rabannan is covered by lo sasur, there is also a general mitzva to listen to and respect the chachamim. For example, there is a machlokess whether the chiyuv mi’derbannan of chinuch for a kotton is on the kotton or if it is on the parents. If it is on the kotton, then the chiyuv cannot be because of lo sasur, because the katan is not obligated to do mitzvos de’oraisoh. You see from this that there is a general mitzva to respect the chachamim and listen to their takanos outside of the mitzva of lo sasur.

Lo sasur and kovod habriyos
The gemara in berachos (18b) asks what happens if there is a contradiction between lo sasur and kovod habriyos. For example, if someone is in the middle of the street and realises that the clothes that they are wearing contain shaatnez midrebannan, do they have to take them off straight away or can they go into their house first before taking them off.

 The gemara says concerning shaatnez deoraisoh:
אמר רב יהודה אמר רב המוצא כלאים בבגדו פושטן אפי' בשוק מ"ט  (משלי כא, ל) אין חכמה ואין תבונה ואין עצה לנגד ה' ...

Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav, someone who finds kilayim in his clothes has to take them off even in the market place. What is the reason, because the passuk says “אין חכמה ואין תבונה ואין עצה לנגד ה' – "”There is no wisdom or understanding or advice agaist Hashem”. [In other words, the wisdom of a person which honours him is not relevant in contrast to a mitzva.]

The gemara says that although a mitzva deoraisoh overrides kovod habriyos, a mitzva derabonnon does not:
ת"ש גדול כבוד הבריות שדוחה [את] לא תעשה שבתורה ואמאי...?
We have learnt in a beraisoh that kovod habriyos overrides a lo saaseh?
The gemara answers:
 תרגמה רב בר שבא קמיה דרב כהנא בלאו  (דברים יז, יא) דלא תסור אחיכו עליה לאו דלא תסור דאורייתא היא אמר רב כהנא גברא רבה אמר מילתא לא תחיכו עליה כל מילי דרבנן אסמכינהו על לאו דלא תסור ומשום כבודו שרו רבנן
“Rav bar Sheva explained it in front of Rav Cahana that we are talking about the lav of lo sasur (In other words we are talking about issurim miderabannan.)
They laughed at him, and said, ‘Lo sasur is also mideoraisoh!’ [So how has his answer helped. Rashi explains that the haveh aminah of the gemara is that the chachamim told someone to do a mitzva deoraisoh].
Rav Cahana said, a great man said something, you should not laugh at him. All derabannans are based on the lav of lo sasur and because of people’s honour (kovod habriyos) the chachamim were matir their issur.”

The gemara’s conclusion is that kovod habriyos is docheh a de’rabannan bekum ve’aseh but it is only docheh a deoraisoh be’shev ve’al taaseh.

Rashi
Rashi explains:
...דבר שהוא מדברי סופרים נדחה מפני כבוד הבריות, וקרי ליה ל"ת משום דכתיב לא תסור. ודקא קשיא לכו דאורייתא הוא? רבנן אחלוה ליקרייהו לעבור על דבריהם היכא דאיכא כבוד הבריות כגון לטלטל בשבת אבנים של בית הכסא לקנוח (שבת דף פא:) ...

An issur derbannan is pushed away because of kovod habriyos, the reason the beraisoh calls this a lo saaseh is because it says lo sasur. But, if you will ask, this is still deoraisoh because the derabannan is based on the mitzva of lo sasur? [The answer is that] the chachamim forgave their honour to allow you to transgress their words where there is a question of kovod habriyos, for example they allowed carrying stones on Shabbos for use in the bathroom…

·         What does Rashi mean by saying that the chachamim forgave their honour? Why does he need to say this? Surely the gemara is making a simple difference between a deoraisoh, which is not overidden by kovod habriyos, and a de’rabannan, which is?

·         Rashi starts by saying, “An issur derbannan is pushed away because of kovod habriyos”, which implies that the issur de’rabannan remains but it is overridden by kovod habriyos. But later Rashi says “the chachamim forgave their honour” which implies that there is no issur at all (the issur is hutrah, not dechuyoh)?

Rabbi Meshulam Shenker answers as follows; According to Reb Chaim’s explanation of the Rambam, every issur de’rabannan is comprised of two parts; There is a specific issur that is an extension of the de’oraisoh, for example chametz de’rabannan is chametz. This is based on the mitzva of lo sasur. Then there is also a mitzva to listen to respect the chachamim by listening to them, for example in the case of chinuch of a kattan. This is not based on lo sasur, rather it is a general concept to respect the chachamim.  Rashi agrees with the Rambam, that issurei derabannan are included in lo sasur, as rashi says were it not for the fact that this is a case of kovod habriyos then the chiyuv to obey the de’rabannan would be de’oraisoh. So we can understand that according to Rashi as well, every de’rabannan has these two components.

Therefore Rashi says that in a case of kovod habriyos, the actual takana of Sanhedrin remains, so Rashi uses the word ‘nidcheh’,  the takana is still there but it is pushed away. However, Rashi is left with a problem; What is the difference between every de’oraisoh, which is not pushed away by kovod habriyos, and a mitzva de’rabannan, which is?

Rashi explains that the basis of the mitzva of lo sasur is not to obey what Sanhedrin enact, but rather to respect the chachamim. The chachamim said that they consider kavod habriyos more important than the necessity to respect their takanos and agree that, in such circumstances, you do not need to follow their takana. That which Rashi says “רבנן אחלוה ליקרייהו” – the chachamim forgave their honour, is an explanation of how the takan de’rabannan is nidcheh. By forgiving their honour, the chachamim removed the perogative to obey their takanos.

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