I have heard it said that only the mitzvot of kibbud av v'eim (honoring parents) and shiluach haken (sending away the mother bird before taking eggs) are given with an explicit reward (that your days may be lengthened). Often times this is cited in relation to the story of Acher in the Gemara, although it doesn't seem to be there.

In fact, I can't find a source for it anywhere. And it would seem that Devarim 25:15 would be a third case (specifying honest weights and measures), so it would also seem to be wrong. Yet it also seems to be something that "everyone" knows.

Can anyone help track down a written source for the popular belief?


4 Answers 4


It is easy to falsify the assertion that those are the only two mitzvos whose reward is stated. In fact, there is an entire category of mitzvos discussed in the g'mara, for which "matan s'charah b'tzidah" - "its payoff is [written] next to it". One ramification of being included in this group is that one cannot be coerced by the courts to perform those mitzvos (because there is enough incentive built into the command, according to some).

Hypothetical explanation for the source of misconception: Those two mitzvos in particular are associated strongly with each other and with this designation because they are the focus of a g'mara (Kidushin 39b) whose point is that material reward for any and all mitzvos may be (or is) actually immaterial in this world and only collectible in the next. As a result these mitzvos are commonly used as paradigms of this type of mitzva when discussing the ramifications of the type. For example, see the detailed analysis of the S'de Chemed on the topic here.


The source is the Gemara in Kedushin 39b and Chulin 142a. דתניא רבי יעקב אומר אין לך כל מצוה ומצוה שכתובה בתורה שמתן שכרה בצדה שאין תחיית המתים תלויה בה בכיבוד אב ואם כתיב (דברים ה) למען יאריכון ימיך ולמען ייטב לך בשילוח הקן כתיב (דברים כב) למען ייטב לך והארכת ימים

  • 1
    These passages say that when torah gives the reward with the mitzvah it means after resurrection. Neither says that these are the only two cases of that. May 13, 2011 at 20:57
  • @MonicaCellio, but it's easy to read that way.
    – msh210
    May 16, 2011 at 3:04
  • @msh210: true. I'm wondering if people who think there are just two are mis-reading this or if there is another source for that idea. May 16, 2011 at 3:36
  • @MonicaCiello, yeah: see WAF's answer.
    – msh210
    May 16, 2011 at 6:29

The source of the story with Elisha Ben Abuya is Ruth Rabbah Parsha 6 #4 (on the paseuk 3:13). It's brought in shortened form in Tosafot Hagigah 15a.


See here (from sefer Shaleiach Tishalach p. 91) for an interesting essay on this topic.

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