Wednesday, September 30, 2009

bal tosif in adding to the 4 minim

In the last post I did on bal tosif I left a question hanging that I will try to return to bl”n, but first this...

The Rambam (Lulav 7:7) writes that one may take extra hadasim with the lulav because having a full bouquet looks more beautiful. However, one may not take more of the other minim; taking an extra lulav, esrog, or aravah does not add to the beauty of the mitzvah and violates bal tosif. The Ra’avad disagrees and writes that he does not understand why taking extra minim disqualify the mitzvah. Since lulav does not require eged, meaning there is nothing which unites whatever you pick up and defines it as a single halachic bundle, there is no connection between the extra items picked up and the items which are part of the mitzvah requirement. An extra lulav, esrog, or aravah serves no function and has no effect on the character of the mitzvah.

Recall our discussion before Rosh haShana regarding bal tosif: according to the Rambam bal tosif occurs when adding chiyuvim; e.g. were Chazal to give the impression that a din derabbanan is actually a chiyud d’oraysa they would be in violation of bal tosif. Ra’avad sees bal tosif as a function of changing a kiyum mitzvah, e.g. adding an extra bayis to tefillin.

The Avi Ezri extends that discussion to explain our machlokes as well. According to the Rambam whether or not the extra items technically count as part of the cheftza shel mitzvah bundle of 4 minim is irrelevant -- the disqualification of bal tosif is caused by the attempt by the person to alter the chiyuv of the mitzvah by adding minim. The Ra’avad who looks only at the kiyum mitzvah as the measure of bal tosif sees no problem in this case because since there is no eged the kiyum mitzvah is unchanged.


  1. According to the Rambam how could there ever have been a machloqes between R' Aqiva and the Chakhamim about how many hadasim aravos to take?

    R' Aqiva holds one of each. (As is evidenced in the picture on the "tails" side of a Bar Kochva dinar, in contrast to those of late bayis sheini.)

    Now, if it was a question of what was the minimum, then I could understand. People normally took many of each, and there was a machloqes whether someone would be yotzei if they only found one hadas.

    But if it's also a machloqes about the maximum... Then how could it ever arise? Did they have generations of no one taking lulav and esrog that people could have forgotten?

    Also, li nir'eh baal tosif would depend on whether the taam hamitzvah depends on the number. If HQBH is making a point by telling us to use 4 minim, or that it's some message taught by the contrast of these particular 4 (eg w/ vs w/out ta'am and w/ vs w/out rei'ach) then using 5 misses it. "Kol hamosif, gorei'a".

    And since we can't possibly fully know the taam hamitzvah for a deOraisa, and WRT chakhamim, "im heim kamal'akhim, anu kebenei adam" -- so secnd guessing is frought with danger. However, there are times the taqanah states its reason, and thus we aren't bound to exceed the stated reason. (Unless we believe the gemara's reason was provided later, not within the taqanah; c.f. the machloqes about basar kafui.)


  2. >>>Did they have generations of no one taking lulav and esrog that people could have forgotten?

    Can't you ask that question on about 1/2 the machlokisin in shas? There were different traditions... and also remember this post

    Ta'am hamitzvah is derush - when is it ever used l'halacha?(darshinan ta'ama d'kra is a different inyan).

  3. There are few machloqesin in shas about something that happens frequently (eg annually) and where it's impossible to be yotzei all the shitos.

    In chazal's time, was someone not yotzei if they wore tefillin with the parashah orders we today identify with "Rashi" or "Rabbeinu Tam"?

    Here we have either the chakhamim saying that those who until then were following R' Aqiva weren't yotz'im, while the Rambam would have R' Aqiva would say that those who follow the chakhamim were violating bal tosif. Neither have room for a status quo that allowed either before the pesaq was reached.

    Unless, thinking out loud with a possible retraction, the existence of a different shitah would force the Rambam to say that exceeding the chamim's quantities would be bal tosif, but R' Aqiva would say that taking 3 aravos is not.

    As for your second point, "[t]a'am hamitzvah is derush - when is it ever used l'halacha?" When I was done narrowing scope, I am left with taqanos which explicitly include the reason in the text of the taqanah.

    In principle, the problem is that the taam would be ruined; in practice there is only one case where we can be sure of the ta'am and can draw conclusions from it. But in that case, the taqanah that includes its own reason, we do. Two examples:

    The rabbanut includes the 3 day deadline for melichah in that category, which is how basar kafui can be considered kosher. They don't look at the lemaaseh of the taqanah of 3 days without also looking at the reason which doesn't apply in solid frozen meat.

    One of the approaches to chalav ha-companies (belashon haIgeros Moshe) treats chalav yisrael as a taqanah, but one with an included reason -- cheshah of adulteration. (Another approach is to consider it a straight birur issue, an example of eid echad ne'eman be'isurim, and that chalav yisrael isn't actually a new din at all. In which case, one can use other forms of birur.)

    So to answer your question, only in one limited context, but in that context we DO.

    I guess I'm making a point more about dashening ta'am from din. If it's not a problem of baal tosif, you can't construct a ta'am hamitzvah that requires the minimum number to work. Self evident, when put that way.