[Avodah] aseih docheh lo taaseh

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Tue Aug 17 12:02:52 PDT 2021

On Mon, Aug 16, 2021 at 09:08:00PM +0000, Rich, Joel via Avodah wrote:
> Discussion concerning aseih docheh lo taaseh:

I found it very enlightening when learning the Yerushalmi version of
Lulav haGazul (Sukkah ch. 3).

In the Y-mi (vilna 12a) and midrashim (Vayiqra Rabba, Tanuchma),
the expression instead of "mitzvah haba'ah ba'aveirah" is "shena'aseh
saneigoro qeteigoro".

When lomdus attacks the question of when we say asei dokheh lav and when
mitzvah haba'ah ba'aveirah, one of the proposed solutions is that the
latter refers to a cheftza. So, when I came upon this Y-mi, a little
light bulb went on.

> Me-After listening to a shiur: It is certainly true that if you have a
> +10 for an aseih and a -8 for a lo taaseh, you would net out +2...

Unless the lav makes the whole asei a travesty. Like giving someone a
present bought with money they know you stole from them.

Addition may not be the right metaphor.

> Would you agree that: If I can do something that creates 10 units
> of spiritual good in the world and 8 units of spiritual evil, then the
> world is better off. I would receive only reward for doing such an act.

You are assuming that there is only one spiritual good.

In reality there are many, and sometimes they have many points of conflict
-- like Emes and Shalom.

Even if we assume addition is the right metaphor, maybe you're adding
meat and salad. A person needs a variety of foods and their nutrients
in order to be healthy. Maybe the world has plenty of whatever it is
you created, but not enough of whatever it is you destroyed.

And each person in the universe has their own spiritual "metabolism"
and likely needs different spiritual goods in different quantities.

I think that it is because we cannot know what the world needs, or
what we ourselves need, that the mishnah tells us to be as cautious of
mitzvos qalos as we are of chamuros. Because even though one mitzvah
is a 4 and the other a 10, maybe what the 4 whatevers are is more what
you and your part of Creation needs more than the 10. And therefore
(the mishnah continues) we don't know that the sechar of the mitzvah
chamurah would be greater.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 What you get by achieving your goals
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   is not as important as
Author: Widen Your Tent      what you become by achieving your goals.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF            - Henry David Thoreau

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