Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mitzvos Tzrichos Kavana

In the previous post we mentioned a shittah that even though by most mitzvos we say mitzvos ein tzrichos kavana by mitzvos of amirah kavana is needed forsure. Rav Soloveitchik addresses this distinction in Iggros HaGrid Tefillah 3:4. He asks, what would be the logic of this distinction? If kavana is needed it should be needed by all mitzvos. Why distinguish between mitzvos of amirah and other mitzvos?

Rav Soloveitchik answers that when we say mitzvos need kavana the pshat isn't that there is an additional requirement of kavana besides the maaseh mitvah in order to be yotzei. Rather, the pshat is that without kavana the maaseh mitzvah isn't a maaseh mitzvah at all. It's basically a din that without kavana to be yotzei you have the status of a misasek. If so, we can understand why we would distinguish between different types of mitzvos. If the din of mitzvos tzrichos kavana affects the actual maaseh mitzvah, so different types of maasim may be affected differently.

This is a classic example of the brilliance employed by Brisker analysis. Think about what most people would say if they were asked to explain why mitzvos tzrichos kavana by mitzvos d'amirah and not other mitzvos. Probably they would resort to trying to explain the difference between mitzvos that are said and mitzvos that are done. They would probably offer some kind of psychological pshat about how amirah is more related to kavana than maaseh or something like that. Of course this is a futile exercise - we already know that distinction! The question really is why should that make a difference? Either mitzvos need kavana or not. When pressed on this issue they would probably offer some type of dochek sevara. Rav Soloveitchik here goes in a different direction. He assumes that there is an inherent distinction between mitzvos d'amirah and other mitzvos. How to word that distinction isn't really relevant. Rather, the issue to him is why should any type of distinction between mitzvos make a difference in the kavana requirement? From this he deduces that the necessity for kavana is tied to the maaseh mitzvah itself, and not simply an additional requirement. A very good lesson in lomdus.