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Kollel Iyun Hadaf

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Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld


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QUESTION: The Gemara says that a person who says, "I hereby give this money to Tzedakah in order that my child be healed," is considered a complete Tzadik and has fulfilled the Mitzvah of giving Tzedakah perfectly.

How can he be considered to have performed the Mitzvah perfectly if he does it with intention to receive reward? The Mishnah in Avos (1:2) clearly says, "Do not be like a servant who serves his master on condition to receive payment." Why does the Gemara call such a person a "complete Tzadik" who fulfills the Mitzvah perfectly?


(a) TOSFOS in many places explains, based on the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (4a), that it is only when the person intends to give the Tzedakah in any event, whether or not the child recuperates, that he is considered a complete Tzadik. He intends to give the Tzedakah anyway, and he merely appends to his act a prayer that in the merit of giving Tzedakah his son should be healthy. This is not considered serving one's master in order to receive payment. The Mishnah in Avos refers to one who performs the Mitzvah only in order to receive reward.

(b) TOSFOS RABEINU PERETZ suggests that the Mishnah in Avos, which says that a person should not serve Hash-m like a servant serves his master with intention to receive payment, does not mean that it is a bad trait to do so. There is nothing inherently wrong with serving Hash-m in order to receive reward. Rather, one who serves Hash-m in this way merely has not yet reached the level of a Chasid, one who fulfills the Mitzvos only in order to do the will of Hash-m with no ulterior motives. When the Gemara says that he is a complete Tzadik, it means he is only a Tzadik, but not yet a Chasid.

(c) The TUR (YD 247) says that although normally one may not test Hash-m by saying that he will do a Mitzvah to see if Hash-m will reward him for it, he is permitted to test Hash-m when it comes to Tzedakah by saying that he is giving Tzedakah in order to see if Hash-m will reward him for it. Accordingly, the Mitzvah of Tzedakah might be an exception to the rule expressed in Avos that a person should not serve Hash-m in order to receive reward. One is permitted to test Hash-m when he gives Tzedakah because the reward for this Mitzvah is certain; Hash-m promises to give reward to those who give Tzedakah (see Malachi 3:10, Devarim 15:10). Therefore, perhaps one is called a complete Tzadik even if he gives Tzedakah in order to receive reward. (RAV ELIEZER LANDA, in a note printed in the Vilna Shas to Tosfos, Rosh Hashanah 4a, DH Bishvil. The TUR, when he says this difference between Tzedakah and other Mitzvos, does not say it in the context of the Gemara here.)

However, the BEIS YOSEF and the REMA there point out that the Gemara in Ta'anis (9a), which seems to be the source for the Tur's words, implies that not all types of Tzedakah result in definite reward. Hash-m's promise to give reward applies only to the Tzedakah of Ma'aser that is given to the Levi. The other Acharonim agree with this point, as cited by the PISCHEI TESHUVAH. Accordingly, the Tur's words do not suffice to explain the Gemara here, which is not discussing Ma'aser. (See Insights to Rosh Hashanah 4:1-2 and Kesuvos 67:1.)



QUESTION: Rav Ami rules that a person who does not own land is exempt from the Mitzvah of going up to Yerushalayim on the three festivals (Aliyah l'Regel).

RAV YESHAYAH BERLIN (the author of the bracketed marginal notations in the Vilna Shas) asked the TZELACH why the RAMBAM never mentions this Halachah. Why does the Rambam omit this ruling, with which no one seems to argue?

ANSWER: The TZELACH answers that this exemption from Aliyah l'Regel is actually subject to a dispute in the Gemara here. The Gemara says that the verse, "No one will covet your land" (Shemos 34:24), teaches that no harm will befall one who is on his way to perform a Mitzvah. Another verse, "In the morning you shall turn and go back to your dwelling" (Devarim 16:7), teaches that no harm will befall one who returns from performing a Mitzvah. The Gemara asks that if one is assured that he will not be harmed while he returns from a Mitzvah, then certainly he will not be harmed while on his way to perform a Mitzvah. Why, then, is the first verse necessary to teach that one will not be harmed while on his way to perform a Mitzvah? The Gemara concludes that the first verse teaches something else. It teaches the Halachah that one must own land in order to be obligated in the Mitzvah of Aliyah l'Regel.

The Tzelach points out that in the preceding Sugya, Rav seemed uncertain about whether a person is protected while he returns from a Mitzvah. Rav did not want to guarantee the students of the Yeshiva that no harm would befall them when they returned home alone at night. If Rav maintained that his students might be harmed while they return from a Mitzvah, then obviously he understood that there is no verse that teaches that one will not be harmed upon returning from the performance of a Mitzvah, and the first verse cited above is needed to teach that one will not be harmed while on the way to perform a Mitzvah. Consequently, the verse is no longer available to teach the Halachah of Rav Ami. Therefore, the Rambam is justified in not ruling like Rav Ami. The Rambam rules like Rav, that a person is assured of Divine protection only while he is on his way to perform a Mitzvah, but not while he returns.


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