Friday, July 19, 2013

Making the fence clear

In VaEtchanan, 4:1-2, we are told not to add.
ב  לֹא תֹסִפוּ, עַל-הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם, וְלֹא תִגְרְעוּ, מִמֶּנּוּ--לִשְׁמֹר, אֶת-מִצְו‍ֹת ה אֱלֹקיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי, מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם.2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God 

Ramban comments:

ומה שתקנו חכמים משום גדר, כגון שניות לעריות וכיוצא בהן, זו היא מצווה מן התורה, ובלבד שידע שהם משום הגדר הזה ואינן מפי הקב"ה בתורה:

It is a good thing for Chazal to add a geder. However, this is only so long as they inform the people that it is a geder and not that it is the mitzvah itself.

We can look back to parashat Breishit. According to Rashi, Chava added to Hashem's command. Hashem only said not to eat, and she added a geder.
But of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, God said, "You shall not eat of it, and you shall not touch it, lest you die.'" ג. וּמִפְּרִי הָעֵץ אֲשֶׁר בְּתוֹךְ הַגָּן אָמַר אֱלֹהִים לֹא תֹאכְלוּ מִמֶּנּוּ וְלֹא תִגְּעוּ בּוֹ פֶּן תְּמֻתוּן:
and you shall not touch it: She added to the command; therefore, she came to diminish it. That is what is stated (Prov. 30:6): “Do not add to His words.” - [from Sanh. 29a] ולא תגעו בו: הוסיפה על הצווי, לפיכך באה לידי גרעון, הוא שנאמר (משלי ל ו) אל תוסף על דבריו:

In Avos deRabbi Nassan 1:5, it is explained that Adam added it, and presented it as if it were the Divine command:
לא רצה אדם הראשון לומר לחוה כדרך שאמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא, אלא כך אמר לה, ועשה סייג לדבריו יותר ממה שאמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא: "ומפרי העץ אשר בתוך הגן אמר אלוהים לא תאכלו ממנו ולא תגעו בו פן תמותון". שרצה לשמור את עצמו ואת חוה מן העץ אפילו בנגיעה. 
באותה שעה היה נחש הרשע נטל עצה בלבו, אמר: הואיל ואיני יכול להכשיל את האדם, אלך ואכשיל את חוה. 
"Adam HaRishon did not with to say to Chava in the same way that Hashem had told him. Rather he told her, making a fence to his words more than Hashem told him, 'And from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, Hashem said not to eat from it nor touch it, lest you die.' For he wished to guard himself and Chava from the tree, even from touching. At that time, the wicked snake took counsel in his heart, saying 'Since I am unable to cause Adam to stumble, I will go and cause Chava to stumble."
The point of this is that it is fine in many cases to put up fences. However, one should not attribute the fences themselves to the Divine.

Alas, this is all to common today. Either because traditional sources (e.g. Shulchan Aruch) don't indicate what is deRabbanan, what is deOraysa, and what is minhag. Or, for contentious topics, in order to persuade the populace to abstain from a practice, people find a way to make it a violation a deOraysa. 

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin