GEMARA BAVA KAMA 5771
SHIUR #14: Hiddur Mitzva Ad
Based on shiurim by Rav Reuven Taragin
[Editor's note: We have skipped to Daf 9
in accordance with the program of studies in the Yeshiva. It is nevertheless recommended to at
least read over these pages (bekiyut).]
I) Gemara - Rav Huna and Rav Zeira
In a parenthetical note the gemara quotes R. Asi in the name of Rav Huna,
who mandates a maximum limit of one third to be spent on proper mitzva
observance - "be-mitzva ad shelish."
R. Zeira rejects the literal interpretation of the quote, which would require
one to sacrifice a third of one's assets on behalf of each mitzva, as
unreasonable. Instead, he applies it to situations
of hiddur mitzva and understands the limitation of a third as a percentage of
the cost of the normal mitzva - "Be-hiddur mitzva ad shelish be-mitzva."
At first glance, this explanation seems far from R. Huna's actual
statement which does not even mention the word hiddur. After having seen R. Zeira's opinion
through the eyes of the Rishonim, we will realize how his suggestion reflects an
appreciation of R. Huna's true intention.
The Rishonim debate the intent of both segments of R. Zeira's statement:
1) be-hiddur mitzva; 2) ad shelish be-mitzva.
Rashi (s.v. Be-hiddur) links R. Zeira's hiddur mitzva to the gemara in
Shabbat (133b) which mandates beautification of mitzva objects such as sifrei
Torah and describes a scenario where one is choosing between two Torot. Shelish defines how far beyond the
VALUE of the least expensive kosher scroll, must one spend in order to purchase
a more beautiful one.
Tosafot (s.v. Ad), on the other hand, limit R. Zeira's mandate to a
particular type of choice - between variant sizes. Shelish refers to the VOLUME beyond
the minimum, for which one is required to spend extra money to obtain. For instance it one found a minimum
sized etrog, he is encouraged to search for an etrog which is larger by one
third. Rabbeinu Peretz (s.v. Hiddur)
presents Tosafot's limiting interpretation as a response to his understanding of
the boundless nature of Rashi.
Rabbeinu Peretz understood Rashi as requiring one to spend up to a third to
acquire a more beautiful object, even after a kosher one was ALREADY PURCHASED. Taken to its logical end, one would
have to purchase numerous objects for the same mitzva moving slowly but steadily
up the beauty scale in increments of less than a third in value. However, by limiting hiddur to a
third of the minimum volume, there is a defined maximum which need not be
Tosafot's limitation of R. Zeira's mandate to the issue of size, as
opposed to beauty as stressed by the gemara in Shabbat, implies a distinction
between two types of hiddur.
Although mitzva beautification reflects one's love of the God Who decreed their
observance, it does not enhance the fulfillment of the actual mitzva. An adorned sefer Torah is no more a
Torah than a simple one. Increasing the
size, on the other hand, at least in regard to an etrog (the case described by
Tosafot), enhances the fulfillment of the mitzva of etrog itself. Although one is expected to beautify
mitzvot, additional financial investment is mandated only when doing so enhances
the mitzva's objective halakhic fulfillment.
This restrictive criterion might limit R. Zeira's statement not only to
specific types of hiddurim, but even to particular mitzvot. The Maharshal (Yam Shel Shlomo 24)
understands Tosafot's etrog illustration as precise - only the size of the
etrog, as opposed to the size of other mitzva objects, mandates additional
expenditure. Etrog is unique because
the Torah describes it as "peri etz hadar" (literally, the fruit of the "hadar"
tree), explicitly defining hiddur as part of the basic mitzva. On this formulation, Chazal based the
uniquely high standards, both lekhatchila (ideally) and be-di'eved (post-facto),
set for the four species. According to the Maharshal,
therefore, only regarding etrog, where the Torah itself stresses hiddur, can we
view hiddur as enhancing the fulfillment of the mitzva itself.
C) Rosh / Rabbeinu Tam
Although Tosafot's demand for intrinsic hiddur may have restricted R.
Zeira to particular types of hiddurim within specific mitzvot, when applicable
it may very well be more emphatic than according to Rashi. The Magen Avraham
infers from Rashi that the requirement applies only to one who is choosing
between objects of varying beauty and cost; one who has already made a purchase
is not required to purchase a second object for the same mitzva. Tosafot, like
Rashi, describe a case where one has a choice between two mitzva items and seem
to accept the same condition.
However, the Rosh (siman 7) and Rabbeinu Tam,
who explain hiddur like Tosafot, require a second purchase. This follows directly from their
understanding that hiddur intrinsically improves the quality of the mitzva.
III) Basis for Tosafot in the Gemara
A) Rav Ashi
Rav Soloveitchik used a
Tosafot-based conception to justify Rav Ashi's suggestion (continuation of the
gemara 9b) that the third by evaluated "mi-lebar" - from the sum total of the
base and the added expenditure (or, in other words, one would be required to add
half of the base value). If,
according to Tosafot, R. Zeira relates only to hiddurim that can be classified
as integral to the mitzva, we might view money allocated for such hiddurim as
akin to money spent on the mitzva's basic fulfillment. Inclusion of the third together with
the base value as the sum used for evaluating itself, reflects this kinship.
B) Rav Zeira
Tosafot may have derived his limiting conception from R. Zeira's strange
formulation - "be-hiddur mitzva ad shelish be-mitzva." Had R. Zeira been referring to the
amount spent for basic fulfillment, he would have more appropriately described
it as "shelish bi-DEMEI
mitzva" (a third of the sum spent on the mitzva).
In R. Zeira's actual formulation, "shelish" modifies, at least if taken
literally, the mitzva itself. From
this, Tosafot concluded that R. Zeira was dealing with hiddur that enhanced the
mitzva itself by increasing the size of the object used to fulfill it.
C) Rav Huna
R. Zeira, according to Tosafot, may have inferred his explanation from R.
Huna's formulation - "be-mitzva ad shelish."
Having proved R. Huna to be referring to hiddur, not the mitzva itself,
R. Zeira faced R. Huna's formulation which seems to refer to the mitzva itself. R. Zeira reconciled the law with its
formulation, by limiting it to types of hiddurim integral to the mitzva itself. It is noteworthy that the Yerushalmi
(Jerusalem Talmud), which seems to hold like Rashi, quotes R. Huna as -
"LE-mitzva ad shelish." The lamed,
in place of the bet, changes the implied relationship between the hiddur and
mitzva from intrinsic to external.
IV) Two Tracks
The Shulchan Arukh (OC 646) quotes the opinions of both Rashi and
Tosafot. Interestingly, though, it
quotes Tosafot with the scope added by the Rosh, who requires a second purchase. Recognition of hiddur in the broader
sense highlighted by Rashi, does not necessarily force a blurring of Tosafot's
distinction. We can accept the two
by applying R. Zeira's position to all types of hiddur (Rashi), but requiring a
second purchase only in regard to those which are intrinsic (Tosafot according
to the Rosh).
Sources for the next shiur:
1) Mishna 9b
Gemara "Ka garim."
Rashi, Tosafot s.v. Shor.
Ra'avad s.v. I-leima.
Ramban Milchamot Hashem 22b on the Rif "Ela vadai ... Shlomo zt"l."
Rambam Nizkei Mammom 4:6.
2) Kofer payments in other mazikim
Gemara ... bottom of 9b.
Tosafot s.v. Ma she-ein.
Gemara BK 26a "Ibaye lehu ... shema mina."
Gemara 40b "Amar man ... mishna" (41a).
*Hiddur Mitzva - A more beautiful/halakhically correct form of mitzva