I can think of several examples of minimal requirements (k'zayit, rov cos, arba tefachim, etc.) and examples of unlimited measures (ein lahem shiur) but are there examples of maximum requirements, i.e. things that are permitted as long as they are not to excess (and, ideally, where those limits are defined)?

(And I know of Rabban Gamiel's series or More X, More Y, but I'm really after specific limits to a permitted action/experience.)

  • 2
    Owning chametz crumbs
    – Double AA
    Mar 12, 2019 at 21:44
  • 2
    Marrying a woman. (Even when polygamy was allowed - per a king “לא ירבה לו נשים”.)
    – Oliver
    Mar 12, 2019 at 22:09
  • 2
    Drinking on Purim?
    – Double AA
    Mar 12, 2019 at 22:29
  • 2
    Tzedaka that makes you poor?
    – Double AA
    Mar 12, 2019 at 22:47
  • 2
    Number of husbands dying before a woman can't remarry Mar 13, 2019 at 4:04

3 Answers 3


In Kedoshim 19:2 the Ramban introduces the idea of a "נבל ברשות התורה" (lit. a scoundrel with the permission of the Torah). While not an exact shiur that would uniformly apply to every person, we could say the Ramban sets forth a maximum shiur of earthly pleasures we need.

Explaining the principle that we should minimize over-indulging

לפיכך בא הכתוב אחרי שפרט האיסורים שאסר אותם לגמרי וצוה בדבר כללי שנהיה פרושים מן המותרות ימעט במשגל

Therefore, Scripture came, after it specified the prohibitions that it completely forbade, and commanded a more general [rule] - that we should be separated from [indulgence of] those things that are permissible:

For example: Sexual Relations

כענין שאמרו (ברכות כב) שלא יהיו תלמידי חכמים מצויין אצל נשותיהן כתרנגולין ולא ישמש אלא כפי הצריך בקיום המצוה ממנו

He should minimize sexual relations, like the matter that they stated (Berakhot 22a), "That Torah scholars should not be found with their wives [constantly] like chickens. "And he should only have relations according to the need for his execution of the commandment."

Another example: Wine

ויקדש עצמו מן היין במיעוטו כמו שקרא הכתוב (במדבר ו ה) הנזיר קדוש ויזכור הרעות הנזכרות ממנו בתורה (בראשית ט כא) בנח ובלוט

And he should sanctify himself from wine by minimizing it - just as Scripture calls the Nazarite, holy (Numbers 6:5); and mentions the evil that comes from it in the Torah with Noach (Genesis 9:21) and with Lot (Genesis 19:33).

Again not a standard set shiur like k'zayis, rov cos, or arba tefachim- but still a "maximum" shiur to be determined individually.

  • 1
    I’ve always heard נבל translates as a “disgusting person,” cognate to נבלה and נבל תבל.
    – DonielF
    Mar 13, 2019 at 21:36

Mishne Torah Suka 4:1 (see also here)

These are the required measurements of a sukkah: Its height should not be less than ten handbreadths nor more than twenty cubits.

Mishne Torah Melakhim 3:2

[A king] should not amass many wives (Deuteronomy 17:17). The Oral Tradition states that he may take no more than eighteen wives.

Mishne Torah Melakhim 3:3

[A king] may not accumulate many horses, only what is necessary for his cavalry . It is even forbidden for him to have one additional horse to run before him as is customarily done by other kings.

see further for too much silver and gold (3:4), too much to drink (3:5), too many relations with his wives (3:6).


Terumot 4:5

הַמַּרְבֶּה בִּתְרוּמָה, רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר: אֶחָד מֵעֲשָׂרָה, כִּתְרוּמַת מַעֲשֵׂר. יָתֵר מִכָּאן, יַעֲשֶׂנָּה תְּרוּמַת מַעֲשֵׂר לְמָקוֹם אַחֵר. רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל אוֹמֵר: מֶחֱצָה חֻלִּין וּמֶחֱצָה תְּרוּמָה. רַבִּי טַרְפוֹן וְרַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמְרִים: עַד שֶׁיְּשַׁיֵּר שָׁם חֻלִּין.‏

One who gives more Terumah: Rabbi Eliezer says: [he may give up to] one out of ten, as in the case of Terumat Ma'aser [a portion of the tithes that is given to the priest]. [If he gave] more than this, he must make [the extra into] Terumat Ma'aser for other produce. Rabbi Yishmael says: [he may give up until the mixture is] half Chulin [non-sacred produce] and half Terumah. Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Akiva say: [he may give] as long as there remains [enough to carry] the name of Chulin.

Bava Kamma 9a-b

‏א"ר זירא אמר רב הונא במצוה עד שליש מאי שליש ... אלא אמר ר' זירא בהידור מצוה עד שליש במצוה‏

Rabbi Zera said for a mitzvah up to one third. [For instance, if a regular etrog costs $6, you can buy a mehudar etrog for $8 (6/3) or $9 (6 + 9/3 = 9)]. But the next opinion in gemara refutes the prohibition to add more, and contrarily says that more than 1/3 will lead God to reimburse you in this world.

To eat out of the Sukkah up to 2-3 eggs equivalent volume of food (Sukkah 26a)

אוכלין ושותין ארעי חוץ לסוכנות..... ..וכמה אכילת עראי אמר רב יוסף תרתי או תלת ביעי.‏

There are more- to eat before b'dikas chameitz, to drink wine before tefila or din...

  • Dollars in the Talmud. Cool.
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Mar 14, 2019 at 3:20

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