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Sotah, 22

SOTAH 21-25 - These Dafim have been dedicated by Mrs. Estanne Abraham-Fauer in honor of the first Yahrzeit (18 Teves 5761) of her father, Reb Mordechai ben Eliezer Zvi (Weiner). May the merit of supporting and advancing the study of the Talmud be l'Iluy Nishmaso.


QUESTION: The Gemara explains that a person receives "Sechar Pesi'os" for walking to a Beis ha'Kneses that is farther away, even if there is one that is nearby. RASHI explains that we see from here that if a person exerts himself more than necessary in order to do a Mitzvah, he acquires more reward for the Mitzvah (see Avos 5:23, "l'Fum Tza'ara Agra").

Although we see from here the importance of exerting oneself for a Mitzvah, we only find the importance of exerting oneself by traveling a longer distance with regard to the Mitzvah of going to a Beis ha'Kneses. (We do not find that it is a greater Mitzvah, for example, to walk a longer distance to perform the Mitzvah of sitting in a Sukah.) Is there any reason why going to a Beis ha'Kneses should be unique in this respect?


(a) Perhaps there is a special Mitzvah to travel to the Beis ha'Kneses since the Beis ha'Kneses is called a "Mikdash Me'at" (Megilah 29a; see also Bava Metzia 28b) and there is a Mitzvah in the Torah to travel to the Beis ha'Mikdash during the Regel. The same Mitzvah to travel to the Beis ha'Mikdash applies to traveling to the "Mikdash Me'at," the Beis ha'Kneses.

(b) The point of Tefilah is to bring oneself closer to Hashem and to lessen, as it were, the distance between oneself and Hashem (see earlier, 5a). Traveling a distance towards the synagogue symbolizes that one is exerting himself to lessen the distance between him and Hashem. Therefore, it is a proper preface to prayer. (This might also be the theme of Aliyah l'Regel.) (MAHARAL in NESIVOS OLAM, Nesiv ha'Avodah 5)

AGADAH: The Gemara says that a Talmid Chacham could become Chayav Misah for either passing Halachic rulings when he is not yet of age, or for not passing Halachic rulings when he is of age. Based on this Gemara, the VILNA GA'ON (Kol Eliyahu #64) offers a sharp explanation for the different pronunciations of the words "Lo Sirtzach" in the Aseres ha'Dibros (Shemos 20:13).

When the Torah is read with the Ta'am ha'Tachton, the sub-lineal cantilational notes, the word "Sirtzach" is in the middle of a verse, and it is pronounced with the vowelization of a "Patach" underneath the letter Tzadi. When the Torah is read with the Ta'am ha'Elyon, the super-lineal cantilational notes, the word is pronounced with the vowelization of a "Kamatz," since it is read as the end of the verse, and thus it is pronounced "Sirtzoch."

The Vilna Ga'on explains that the verse is hinting to the two sins for which a Talmid Chacham is punished with death. By transgressing one of these two sins, a Talmid Chacham also commits "murder" ("Sirtzach") because he brings about his own death (or because he brings about the death of the people of his generation, as RASHI in Avodah Zarah 19b writes). The first sin is that the Talmid Chacham opens ("Patach") his mouth and renders Halachic rulings when he is not supposed to, and the other sin is that he closes ("Kamatz," as in "Kamtzan") his mouth when he is supposed to open it and render Halachic rulings!


QUESTION: The Gemara says that there are seven derogatory types of Perushim: "Parush Shichmi... Parush me'Ahavah, and Parush me'Yir'ah." RASHI explains that "Parush Shichmi" refers to a person who does Mitzvos like the people of Shechem, who circumcised themselves for personal gain, to gain honor, and not l'Shem Shamayim. (The Yerushalmi explains that "Parush Shichmi" refers to a person who carries his Mitzvos on his "shoulder" ("Shechem") in order to flaunt them publicly). "Parush me'Ahavah" and "Parush me'Yir'ah" refer to people who act devoutly out of their desire for reward for performing the Mitzvos, or out of their desire to avoid punishment for transgressing the Mitzvos, and they do not do the Mitzvos out of love for Hashem.

Abaye and Rava state that the Tana should omit the last two Perushim, because they are not derogatory types of Perushim. Rav teaches that a person *should* learn Torah and do Mitzvos even she'Lo Lishmah, because it will bring him to do them Lishmah. The Gemara in Nazir (23b) continues and says that Rav cites support for this from the fact that Balak sacrificed 42 Korbanos only in order to appease Hashem to destroy the Jewish people, and yet he merited to have Ruth as a granddaughter who did Mitzvos Lishmah. Why does Abaye not tell the Tana to leave out "Parush Shichmi" as well? A "Parush Shichmi," too, is simply doing Mitzvos she'Lo Lishmah, and he, too, will merit to do them eventually Lishmah!


(a) The MAHARSHA explains that when the people of Shechem performed Milah, everyone who saw them knew that they were doing it for their own personal gain and not Lishmah. Therefore, their act was not on the same level as one who does a Mitzvah in a way that only he knows that he is doing it for personal gain and not Lishmah. The she'Lo Lishmah of Shechem is indeed a derogatory form of Lo Lishmah.

However, this does not seem to be consistent with the proof that Rav cites from Balak. It was certainly clear to all that Balak was bringing his Korbanos only out of his desire for personal gain, and yet Rav says that Balak's act is the source that one who does a Mitzvah she'Lo Lishmah will eventually come to do it Lishmah!

(b) The HE'OROS B'MASECHES SOTAH, in the name of Rav Elyashiv, explains that although a person might perform Mitzvos that he is obligated to do and do them she'Lo Lishmah, if a person is not obligated to do a certain Mitzvah and he chooses to do it for personal gain, then his act is not a positive one. It would be better for him to refrain from doing the Mitzvah altogether. The people in Shechem were not obligated to perform Milah, and therefore when they performed it she'Lo Lishmah, it was an inappropriate act. Similarly, if a person wears Tefilin all day long only in order to gain the respect and honor of others, his act is not acceptable to Hashem.

This might explain why Rashi (DH Ma'aseh Shechem) writes that this Parush performs "his acts" -- "Ma'asav" -- for his own benefit, instead of writing that this Parush performs "Mitzvos" for his own benefit.

However, this also does not seem to be consistent with the proof from Balak who brought Korbanos, which he was not obligated to bring, and yet Rav proves from Balak's act that "Mitoch she'Lo Lishmah, Ba Lishmah!"

(c) Rav states that a person should do Mitzvos even she'Lo Lishmah, because doing Mitzvos she'Lo Lishmah brings a person to do them Lishmah. Whom is Rav addressing? Is he addressing a person who does not want to do Mitzvos at all, or a person who wants to do them Lishmah? Obviously, he is not addressing a person who wants to do Mitzvos Lishmah and telling him not to do them Lishmah. Rather, Rav is addressing a person who is ready to refrain from doing a Mitzvah because he knows that he cannot do it Lishmah. Rav tells him that it is worthwhile to do the Mitzvah in any case, because by doing it she'Lo Lishmah he will merit to do it Lishmah. Obviously, the person Rav is addressing does not want to do the Mitzvah she'Lo Lishmah because of personal gain, for then he would not have considered refraining from doing the Mitzvah in the first place out of his lack of ability to do it Lishmah! He has his own reason to do the Mitzvah (i.e. his personal gain).

Rather, Rav is addressing a person who wants to do Mitzvos Lishmah, but he cannot bring himself to recognize the loftiness of Hashem and to arouse in himself a love for Hashem. The person does not want to arouse the wrath of Hashem and therefore he is willing to do the Mitzvah, but he is considering refraining from doing the Mitzvah because he reasons that even if he does the Mitzvah, he will not be doing it in the proper manner and Hashem will still be displeased with him. Rav tells such a person that even if his only reason to do the Mitzvah is to avoid the wrath of Hashem, it is better than not doing the Mitzvah at all, and through such performance of the Mitzvah he will merit to perform Mitzvos out of love for Hashem. Rav proves that a person can merit to do Mitzvos Lishmah from doing them she'Lo Lishmah from Balak.

According to this, we may suggest that Rav would advise a person to perform a Mitzvah she'Lo Lishmah only in the circumstances mentioned above, because a person who is not on the proper level is unable to arouse in himself the love of Hashem until he performs Mitzvos, and through the performance of Mitzvos he comes to do them Lishmah. However, if a person wants to do Mitzvos for personal gain, Rav would certainly tell him to refrain from doing Mitzvos in that manner, since the person could do the Mitzvah simply in order because he is obligated by the Torah and he will be punished otherwise, and he does not have to do it in a way that brings him personal gain. If he is not bound by the Torah, then he could avoid doing it entirely.

The proof that Rav cites from Balak is that any she'Lo Lishmah performance of a Mitzvah can lead to Lishmah, even the worst she'Lo Lishmah (for personal gain). However. there is no need to advise a person to do Mitzvos in such a manner, in order to be honored and to gain monetary gain in this world, since he could just as well do the Mitzvah for the reward in the World to Come. Nothing is stopping him from doing the Mitzvah for reward in the World to Come.

That is why Abaye says that the last two Perushim should be omitted; it is because Rav teaches that it *is* advisable to serve Hashem in such a Lo Lishmah manner. However, doing Mitzvos in the manner of the "Parush Shichmi" is never an advisable manner in which to serve Hashem even if it, too, does lead one to do Mitzvos Lishmah.

This explanation also supports the explanation of the Maharsha and of Rav Elyashiv in He'oros b'Maseches Sotah. (M. Kornfeld)

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