If, for reasons beyond his control an individual can’t perform a mitzvah properly, is there any point in doing it in part, even of one would not be yotzei? For instance, someone who can’t eat a kezayis of maror, should he eat a little bit of it?
Hagaon Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, brings a powerful proof from this week’s parashah that one should indeed do so.
When the individuals, who were impure because they had come into contact with a deceased person, came to Moshe Rabbeinu to plead that they should be allowed to bring a korban Pesach, they articulated a specific request: The korban should be offered by those Kohanim who were pure, and since by nightfall they too would be already pure, they would be able to eat it as well.
Ultimately, Hashem instructed Moshe Rabbeinu to tell these individuals to bring a korban Pesach on Pesach Sheini. But their request seems perplexing. Chazal teach us that in fact, those seeking to be yotzei a korban Pesach must be in state of purity. (Pesachim 61a) Even if they would have joined in a chaburah together with those who were pure, the impure would still not be fulfilling the mitzvah. So what were they seeking to accomplish?
Out of a genuine love for the mitzvos, these individuals were eager to partake in every way possible — even if they couldn’t actually be yotzei the mitzvah. Rejecting the assumption that unless something can be done in its entirety it shouldn’t be done at all, they were intent on doing whatever they could possibly do.
Somewhat analogous to this concept is the fact that Moshe Rabbeinu chose three cities for Arei Miklat in areas where the Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuvein settled — although they wouldn’t actually become Arei Miklat until the other cities in Eretz Yisrael were settled as well. Since Moshe Rabbeinu wouldn’t be entering Eretz Yisrael, he was only able to choose cities on the other side of the river Yardein; still, he did whatever he could to perform this mitzvah.
(There is however one key difference: Though technically Klal Yisrael could have chosen other cities in Eiver Hayardein, Moshe Rabbeinu knew that they would not do so, and his actions would have a long-lasting effect. The impure individuals on the other hand, wanted to take part in a korban that they would not be yotzei in at all.)
Rav Moshe says that from this we learn that one should seek to connect oneself as much as possible with a mitzvah. For instance, even of one can’t eat or sleep in a Sukkah — he should take part in building one.
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The love that Am Yisrael has had throughout the generations for the fulfillment of mitzvos cannot be described.
The halachah is that if one brings crops into a house via roofs and storage yards, one is exempt from giving maasros. Therefore, from a technical perspective, it would be possible not to give maaser all. Yet, HaKadosh Baruch Hu did not give Shevet Levi its own portion of land in Eretz Yisrael, for he knew that Klal Yisrael — not only the tzaddikim of the generations, but the nation — would not seek to find exemptions, and they would in fact give maaser.
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At every bris, the child is blessed that, just as he entered the bris, he should enter into Torah, chuppah and maasim tovim.
The word Torah certainly includes the performance of mitzvos as well. So why is there a need to also bless the child with “good deeds”?
It is because there are some mitzvos that one can avoid performing, and yet not transgress any prohibitions. For instance, one is only obligated to wear tzitzis on a four-cornered garment. According to halachah, were one to wear only garments that don’t have four corners, one would never have to wear tzitzis, yet in their great love for mitzvos, Yidden choose davka to wear a tallis kotton so that they can perform this cherished mitzvah.
Rashi informs us that the mitzvah of Pesach Sheini was first to be taught to Moshe Rabbeinu along with all the other mitzvos. But these individuals merited that it be taught because of them.
Since the Torah doesn’t name these individuals, what purpose was there in letting us know that they were on such a lofty level that they merited such a remarkable distinction?
It is to teach all coming generations the enormous reward given to all those who have a burning love for a mitzvah. Through seeking to perform a mitzvah they were actually exempted from, they merited that the parashah be taught because of them. May we have the wisdom to follow their example — and fill our own hearts with an ahavah for mitzvos.