THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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NEDARIM 16 - dedicated anonymously in honor of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, and in
honor of those who study the Dafyomi around the world.
1) A NEDER TO UPROOT A MITZVAH
QUESTION: The Gemara says that a Neder to transgress a Mitzvah takes effect,
but a Shevu'ah to transgress a Mitzvah does not take effect. When a person
makes a Neder, he creates a prohibition on the object, while a Shevu'ah is a
prohibition upon the person. A Shevu'ah cannot take effect to uproot a
Mitzvah, since the person himself is obligated by the Torah to do the Matzah
and he cannot override that obligation. In contrast, a Neder can take effect
to uproot a Mitzvah, since the Neder is not directly opposing the obligation
upon the person, for he is not prohibiting his *self* from the item, but he
is prohibiting the *item* from himself.
2) PLEASURE DERIVED WHILE DOING A MITZVAH
Practically, though, why should there be a difference between a Neder and a
Shevu'ah? In both cases, one is trying to prohibit himself from doing a
Mitzvah, and thus not even a Neder should take effect!
(a) The Gemara (15b) explains that a man can prohibit himself from marital
relations with his wife -- even though he is obligated by the Torah to
provide her with her needs -- by prohibiting on himself any Hana'ah from her.
Since the Mitzvah is for him to provide her with Hana'ah, and his Neder
prohibits *her* Hana'ah on him, the Neder therefore takes effect. Once it
takes effect to prohibit her Hana'ah on him, consequently he becomes
prohibited to have marital relations with her. In contrast, if he says that
his Hana'ah is prohibited on her, then the Neder cannot take effect because
the Neder is in direct opposition to the Mitzvah.
Similarly, the RAN and others (see RAMBAN in Milchamos in Shevuos, end of
Perek 3) explain that in this case, when a person makes a Neder prohibiting
the object of a Mitzvah on himself, the Neder is not in direct opposition to
the Mitzvah, because the Neder was made on the Cheftza and not the Gavra.
Once the Neder takes effect on the Cheftza, consequently the person cannot do
the Mitzvah. A Shevu'ah, on the other hand, is on the Gavra, and thus it
cannot override the pre-existing obligation on the Gavra to do the Mitzvah.
(b) The SHITAH MEKUBETZES suggests that when a person makes a Neder, an Isur
Cheftza, it looks like he is making the object of the Mitzvah (such as a
Sukah) prohibited to him because it is not comfortable, but when he makes a
Shevu'ah, an Isur Gavra, it seems that he is saying that *he* personally
finds doing the Mitzvah undesirable and not because of the Sukah itself, and
that is why the Shevu'ah does not take effect, for it is trying to override
the Mitzvah directly.
(c) The AVNEI NEZER (YD 294) infers from the SEFER HA'CHINUCH (Mitzvah #30) a
different line of reasoning. The Mitzvah of Sukah can be fulfilled by sitting
in any Sukah. Therefore, if a person makes a Neder prohibiting himself from
having Hana'ah from any Sukah, the Neder must take effect on all Sukos. On
each individual Sukah there is no reason for the Neder not to take effect,
since the Mitzvah could be fulfilled with any other Sukah. Since the Neder
takes effect on each Sukah individually, the person is left with no Sukah
with which to fulfill the Mitzvah.
A Shevu'ah, on the other hand, is an Isur Gavra, and thus the Isur takes
effect on him and at once it prohibits him from sitting in any Sukah.
Therefore, the Shevu'ah cannot take effect because it is in direct opposition
to the Mitzvah.
The Avnei Nezer suggests that there are practical differences between the
Ran's logic and his logic. What will be the Halachah if a person makes a
Neder prohibiting himself from covering the blood (Kisuy ha'Dam) of a bird
that was just slaughtered? According to the Ran, the Neder takes effect on
the blood and therefore he is not allowed to cover it. According to the
Chinuch, though, the only time the Neder takes effect is when the Mitzvah can
be observed with another object. In the case of Kisuy ha'Dam, there is only
one object with which to fulfill the Mitzvah (the blood of that bird), and
therefore the Neder should not take effect.
The Avnei Nezer's practical difference could be debated. First, even though
the Ran says that a Neder could prohibit an act that does not involve Hana'ah
and therefore a person can prohibit a stone from being thrown into the sea,
that logic might not allow a person to prohibit Kisuy ha'Dam, which is not an
act done *with* the blood, but an act done *to* the blood. Therefore, an Isur
Cheftza on the blood cannot prohibit doing something *to* the blood (covering
it with dirt), but only doing something *with* it. Second, it is not
necessary to cover all of the blood to fulfill the Mitzvah; one fulfills the
Mitzvah by covering just part of the blood (Shulchan Aruch YD 28:15).
Therefore, the Neder could take effect on each drop of blood, just like it
could take effect on each and every Sukah according to the Avnei Nezer.
However, a different practical difference could be in a case where a person
makes a Shevu'ah that he is going to eat an entire loaf of bread, and then he
makes a Neder prohibiting himself from eating any of the bread. Since the
Shevu'ah obligates him to eat every single k'Zayis of the bread, the Neder
(according to the Avnei Nezer) should not take effect since there is no
k'Zayis of the bread on which it can take effect. The Ran and the other
Rishonim (18a) follow their reasoning that a Neder can take effect to
override a Shevu'ah in such a case.
QUESTION: Rava argues with Abaye and says that if a person makes a Neder
prohibiting himself from sitting in a Sukah, he is allowed to sit in a Sukah
Shel Mitzvah, because "Mitzvos Lav li'Hanos Nitnu," the Hana'ah of a Mitzvah
is not considered Hana'ah.
Why does Rava rule like this? The RAN earlier (end of 15b) writes that it is
only the actual fulfillment of the Mitzvah that is not considered Hana'ah. If
a person, though, derives physical pleasure at the same time as he performs
the Mitzvah, that pleasure *is* considered Hana'ah! The Ran proves this from
the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (28a) that says that if someone prohibits himself
from having Hana'ah from a wellspring, he is permitted to immerse in the
wellspring in the winter but not in the summer, because in the summer he has
physical pleasure from the wellspring in addition to the pleasure of
fulfilling the Mitzvah of Tevilah. According to this, in the case of our
Gemara it should be prohibited to sit in a Sukah Shel Mitzvah, since -- in
addition to having Hana'ah from the Mitzvah -- one is having physical Hana'ah
of sitting in the shade! (SHALMEI NEDARIM, quoting the MACHANEH EFRAIM
Nedarim #25, NODA B'YEHUDAH OC 2:132, and BEIS MEIR YD #215)
(The RASHBA (15b) indeed seems to argue with the Ran and holds that even an
incidental Hana'ah received while doing a Mitzvah is not considered a
The BEIS MEIR adds that in the Gemara later (39a), the Ran (DH v'Iy) himself
writes that if a person prohibits himself from receiving Hana'ah from a sick
person and from his property, he is not allowed to visit the sick person
because he is having Hana'ah by walking into the person's house. Even though
he is doing a Mitzvah, while he stands on the sick person's property he is
getting physical benefit by standing there. Similarly, sitting in a Sukah
should also constitute physical Hana'ah apart from the Hana'ah of doing the
Mitzvah and should be Asur!
(a) The SHALMEI NEDARIM first suggests that the Isur to have Hana'ah while
doing a Mitzvah is only an Isur mid'Rabanan.
(b) The Shalmei Nedarim then suggests that perhaps the main question of Rava
is not from a Neder prohibiting oneself from sitting in a Sukah, but from a
Neder prohibiting oneself from doing the Mitzvah of holding a Lulav. At the
time that a person holds the Lulav, he certainly does not receive any
physical Hana'ah. Therefore, if one makes a Neder and says "Hana'as Lulav
Alai" ("the pleasure of holding a Lulav is Asur upon me"), he should not be
prohibited from doing the Mitzvah.
(c) The RAN (16b) only prohibits Hana'as *ha'Guf*, or pleasure that the body
itself experiences. Perhaps the Ran is ruling that only a Hana'ah that
involves physical contact is prohibited at the same time that a person does a
Mitzvah, such as the Hana'ah of immersing in a wellspring, marital relations,
and the Hana'ah of standing on someone's property. When a person prohibits
himself from the Hana'ah of a Sukah, though, his intention is to prohibit
himself from receiving Hana'ah from the Sechach, which is the main part of
the Sukah. Hence, even if he benefits from the shade of the Sechach, that
benefit does not involve physical contact, and therefore that type of Hana'ah
is not Asur since it is coming at the time of the Mitzvah. (M. Kornfeld)
(d) Perhaps the only type of Hana'ah that is prohibited is Hana'ah that is
not necessary in order to accomplish the Mitzvah. If the Mitzvah could be
accomplished without the Hana'ah, then the Hana'ah is independent of the
Mitzvah and is Asur. That is why, in the case of the wellspring, one may not
immerse in the wellspring in the summer, because it is possible to immerse in
it in the winter without getting the extra physical Hana'ah. Similarly,
visiting the sick can be done by standing outside of the house, without
receiving any Hana'ah from the sick person's property (especially if the sick
person comes out of his home). The Hana'ah of standing on his property is not
necessary in order to accomplish the Mitzvah. In the case of marital
relations, too, one could do the act "k'Mi she'Kafa'o Shed" (like the Gemara
says on 20b) without receiving any Hana'ah from the act. Since it is
impossible for most people to control that, practically the act becomes Asur
even though it is a Mitzvah because he will have Hana'ah independent of the
Mitzvah. In contrast, sitting in a Sukah is *not possible* to do without
getting Hana'ah from the Sechach (if he is eating or sitting in the Sukah and
it is sunny outside). (M. Kornfeld)