Generally mitzvos have specific פרטים and שיעורים. For example, the Torah says to bentch (ברכת המזון) once satiated - however it's not left up to each person to decide if they feel satiated - but rather there's a specific שיעור - thus a 100 lb man and 400 lb man have the same שיעור. Otherwise, the Q is asked נתן דבריך לשעירים

The RambaN in Devarim 6:18 re: ועשית הטוב והישר explains that מצות כלליות are "catch alls" (my term) as it's impossible to detail every action - however he doesn't say that things are subjective (i.e. what would apply to one person doesn't apply to another)

Q - Are there mitzvos where it IS subjective to the specific person/situation? How can you tell? Are mitzvos כללי in that category? (please include sources מראה מקומות that point out how the details are subjective) (Note when I refer to "mitzvos" I don't mean specifically those counted amongst the 613, but rather something commanded/forbidden דאורייתא (from the Torah)

To clarify - most (all?) mitzvos have DEFINED peratim by which make them applicable to some but not others. I'm asking where there are NO defined peratim, but rather the goal being commanded depends upon the person. For example - if the Torah commanded against טירחא יתירה on Shabbos in a way that is not clearly defined - such that to one person lifting up a box is excessive exertion (and forbidden) but to the professional weight lifter - lifting the one box is easy and allowed.

  • Bechukosaihem lo selechu?
    – robev
    Jul 19, 2022 at 16:59
  • 1
    The amount of trumah?
    – rosends
    Jul 19, 2022 at 17:36
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    #@Deuteronomy - you're right - I wasn't clear - I've added explanation in the OP
    – Chaim
    Jul 19, 2022 at 19:14
  • Netziv says "appoint a king WHEN YOU ARE READY", but that's at the national level ...
    – Shalom
    Jul 19, 2022 at 21:16
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    Hashavos Aveida if you are working and will lose more than the item is worth then your patur from returning it vs someone else who makes less and will be required to return it
    – Chatzkel
    Jul 20, 2022 at 1:42

4 Answers 4


The של"ה in פרשת קדושים says the following:

פרשה ראשונה קדושת הגוף, דרך כלל עוררני הרמב"ן עיין כל העמוד ואז יתבאר מאמרם (יבמות כ, א) קדש עצמך במותר לך. הכלל העולה, שלכל אדם תורה בפני עצמו איך יכלכל דבריו במשפט, ואם היה טבעי בני אדם שוה וכל עת שוה לעת אחד, היתה התורה כותבת למשל, כך סך יאכל והמותר אסור, וכן לבעילות, וכן לדיבור ומחשבה, וזה הדבר אי אפשר להאמר רק דרך כלל קדושים תהיו, ובא הביאור קדש עצמך במותר לך, דהיינו מה שתרגיש שהוא מותר לפני הענין ולפי טבעך אז הוא אסור לך מן התורה:

Translation from Sefaria:

The beginning of our portion deals with קדושת הגוף, attaining sanctity of one's body. Nachmanides (Chavel edition page 115) – as distinct from the Midrash Rabbah quoted by Rashi – does not see in this a directive to be separate, to refrain from incest, etc., but understands it to mean that people who qualify for the description קדושים, holy, are the ones who have sanctified themselves not by abstaining from what is forbidden, but by abstaining from what is permitted, each person according to his individual urges. Our sages (Yevamot 20a) have called this process קדש עצמך במותר לך, "sanctify yourself by denying yourself something you are entitled to!" From the above we learn that to a certain extent every single person has his own Torah. Assuming that every person had the same natural tendencies, and that every day or hour of the year would be identical to each other [that there would not be a predisposition to seek warmth in the winter and a cooling breeze in the summer, for instance. Ed.], the Torah, when legislating what may or may not be eaten would simply write that: "a certain quantity of certain foods may be consumed, everything else is prohibited." The Torah would express itself in similar terms concerning with whom and how frequently one is allowed to have sexual intercourse. The Torah would find a way to phrase prohibitions of permitted speech and thought in a similar way. As it is impossible to state these prohibitions in such a detailed manner, the Torah has to allow for the differences in the nature of different people. It therefore contents itself with a general directive: "Strive to become holy!" The meaning of the directive of the Talmud to sanctify oneself by means of denying oneself enjoyment of things which are permitted in principle, is that a person must be mature enough to know what is permissible in accordance with his particular station in life and his particular natural tendencies. When a person feels himself to have attained a particular spiritual level he considers certain matters as forbidden to him though they may formerly have been perfectly permissible, and though they may still be perfectly permissible for others not on his spiritual level.

  • 2
    Thank you @Avrah for the answer. There are users who may find it difficult to understand the Hebrew - so it is helpful if you can add a translation or at least a summary in English. Jul 20, 2022 at 12:50
  • Paraprhasing - The thought was insipred by what the RambaN says (I'm guessing he's referring to the RambaN's explanation of the passuk קדושים תהיו) The Gemara says in Yevamos - "One should sanctify oneself with that which he's permitted in" - the general rule which emerges is - **Each Person has an Individual Torah" - how it manages it's words in judgment (please suggest improvements on how to translate איך יכלכל דבריו במשפט). If it were that (all) people had the same nature, and all times were the same - the Torah would be written - via example - (continued in next post...)
    – Chaim
    Jul 20, 2022 at 16:21
  • (continued from above) how much a person should eat, and what's above that (amount) is forbidden. Likewise in regards to sexual relations, and speech and thought. This is something which is impossible to say - rather (the Torah commands) in general "קדושים תהיו" (You should be holy) - it's explanation - sanctify yourself in matters permitted to you i.e. things you feel are allowed according to the situation (לפי הענין) and according to your nature - that it what is forbidden to you from the Torah
    – Chaim
    Jul 20, 2022 at 16:25
  • @Avrah - THANKS - this is EXACTLY what I was looking for - Please keep them coming !! :-)
    – Chaim
    Jul 20, 2022 at 16:29
  • Thank you for pointing out that I should translate.
    – אילפא
    Jul 20, 2022 at 17:38

I’m sure there are more examples, but the first one that comes to mind is the prohibition to drink on Yom Kippur which is determined to be a mouthful (m’doraysa) and it is dependent on each person’s mouth size as the Gemara in Yoma 80B

מַתְקֵיף לַהּ רַבִּי זֵירָא: מַאי שְׁנָא אֲכִילָה, דְּכׇל חַד וְחַד — בִּכְכוֹתֶבֶת, וּמַאי שְׁנָא שְׁתִיָּה, דְּכׇל חַד וְחַד בְּדִידֵיהּ? אֲמַר לֵיהּ אַבָּיֵי: קִים לְהוּ לְרַבָּנַן בִּכְכוֹתֶבֶת, דִּבְהָכִי מִיַּתְּבָא דַּעְתֵּיהּ, בְּצִיר מֵהָכִי — לָא מִיַּתְּבָא. בִּשְׁתִיָּה, בְּדִידֵיהּ מִיַּתְּבָא דַּעְתֵּיהּ, בִּדְחַבְרֵיהּ — לָא מִיַּתְּבָא דַּעְתֵּיהּ.

Rabbi Zeira strongly objects to this halakha with regard to the measure for liability for drinking: What is different with regard to eating, in that all people have the same measure, the volume of a large date; and what is different with regard to drinking, where each and every person is liable according to his own measure, i.e., every individual’s measure depends on the size of his own mouth? Abaye said to him: The Sages have an accepted tradition with regard to the volume of the large date, that eating this amount settles his mind, but less than this amount does not settle his mind. However, with regard to drinking, his mind is settled with the amount of his own cheekful, but his mind is not settled with the cheekful of his fellow who is smaller than him

  • That's a great example- it brings the Q - why a mitza (ואכלת ושבעת) - triggered by eating to satiation - something that each person physical needs different amounts to feel - yet it is standardized - one shiur for everyone. And drinking of Yom Kippur is not. Why don't why ask ונתת דבריך לשעורים re: YK? Why isn't it standardized?
    – Chaim
    Jul 20, 2022 at 3:47
  • The Gemara explains that eating is standardized but drinking is not. Abaye says it’s קִים לְהוּ לְרַבָּנַן
    – Chatzkel
    Jul 20, 2022 at 3:55

The Ohr Sameach writes

ונראה לי לבאר דבאמת כל המצוות המה שווים לפחות שבפחותים, ולמשה רבינו ע"ה. דתורה אחת יהיה לכם כתיב, וחיוב המצוה גבול יש לה כמו נטילת אתרוג בנינוע בעלמא יצא. רק המדקדקים נושאין אותו כל היום וכיו"ב ולכך לא כתבה התורה מדות רק ברמז, דלמשל מדת הנקמה, כל ת"ח שאינו נוקם ונוטר, ומלך שמחל כו' ולכך אין זה חוק בפרט, שווה לכלל הישראלי, רק כל אחד לפי ערכו, רק נקימה דממון זה שווה לכולם, וכן בגאוה וכי"ב וכן לפנים משורת הדין ובקור חולים וקבורה וכו' והדברים ארוכים בספרי המחקר. ונמצא מצוות ת"ת אשר בוודאי אם יבקש האדם טרף ומזון, בכ"ז אינו נחשב למפריע מצוות ת"ת ואספת דגנך כתיב, וכן למשל אדם חלוש המזג, וכן כל אחד לפי ההכרחיות שלפי הרגלו, וכן לפי טוהר נפשו של אדם, כי אינו דומה בחיוב ת"ת האיש אשר נפשו מרגשת בשכלה הזך ונקשרה בעבותות אהבה לתלמוד תורה, לאיש אשר כוחות נפשו נרפים ועצלים, לכן איך היה מחוק הבורא לחוק חיוב ת"ת לכל ישראל ונתן תורת כ"א בידו, ואין לאל יד האנושי ליתן המדה האמיתית לזה, לכן באו חכמים ופירשו לנו גדר מרכזן האמיתי של ת"ת, ק"ש בשחרית, ק"ש בערבית קיים והגית בה יומם ולילה, כיון שלומד קבלת המצווה ואזהרתה בשחרית ובערבית, כבר קיים מצוותה, אולם יתר מזה, הוא בכללי המצוות אשר נבדלו ונפרדו בזה, כל איש לפי ערכו ומהותו והיא כמו הסר מן המדות המגונות אשר נפרדו זה מזה, ובוודאי צריך להתעצם בה האדם בכל יכלתו, כי כפלה התורה הרבה פעמים ענין למודה, וצריך האדם להלהיב נפשו לשקוד על דלתותיה כאשר הרבו לדבר בזה הספרים הקדושים, ולכן אמר והזהרת אתהם את החוקים ואת התורות ודבר השווה לכולם והודעת כו' ילכו בה ואת כו' אשר יעשון שבזה אינו שוה רק כל אחד לפי מה שהוא אדם

Basically, all Mitzvos apply equally to everyone. Hashem would only command that which everyone can do, and that is enough for even the greatest person (like Moshe Rabbeinu) to fulfill the commandment. However, one who could do more can do so and fulfill more of the mitzvah, esp. regarding Torah study.

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    – msh210
    Jul 28, 2022 at 6:28

Are there not variations on the requirement to say the Bracha "Shechiyahanu" based on individuals' likes, tastes, experiences and so forth? Are there not subjective aspects to the Bracha? I thought I learned that some time ago. Please forgive me if I am off-base. Thanks.

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