Is there a teaching that specifies how much time you have to perform mitzvot? For example, after you say the motzi, how much time do you have before you must eat a piece of bread? I am interested in a broad answer. In this week's portion, Bo, we are told "And you shall watch over the matzot  וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת-הַמַּצּוֹת [Ex. 12:17]" The Mechilta d'Rabbi Yishmael says: Rabbi Yoshiah says: Do not read:, אֶת-הַמַצּוֹת, the matzot, but אֶת-הַמִצְוֹת, the commandments. Just as we may not permit the matzot to become leavened, so may we not permit the commandments to become leavened [by waiting too long before performing them]. If [a commandment] comes your way, perform it immediately.
Is any further guidance available, beyond "as soon as possible"?

closed as too broad by DonielF, rikitikitembo, sabbahillel, mbloch, Gershon Gold Jan 18 '18 at 22:29

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Every mitzvah is different. Voting to close as too broad. – DonielF Jan 17 '18 at 20:59

The lesson quoted in the question, "If [a commandment] comes your way, perform it immediately" (in the Hebrew "מצוה הבאה לידך אל תחמיצנה") isn't implying a time restraint but rather an overall idea that the execution of a given commandment should not be delayed or put on the back burner.

This concept is echoed in another lesson by the rabbis (BT Pesahim 4a):

זריזים מקדימים למצוות

Translated as (Sefaria):

the vigilant are early in the performance of mitzvot

On the other hand, questions of time limits such as eating bread after pronouncing the appropriate blessing, is a matter of hefsek (interruption). This specific issue is of concern that unnecessary interruption between a blessing and execution [of the related commandment] alienates intention of the doer from his/her action.

A somewhat related matter is commandments that are subject to and contingent on a specific time/date, e.g. circumcision on the eighth day or searching/ridding of chametz (unleavened bread) on the eve of the fourteenth of Nissan. In this category each commandment (biblical or rabbinic) has different guidelines and a full scope of the minutiae is beyond this answer.


I think you ask two different questions here.

The first part of your question deals with Shiurin for Mitzvot - Time allotment for performing a Mitzva. That can include, for example, time for Chanuka candles being lit, time to consume a measure of Matzah at the Seder, time allotted for saying Birkas Hamozoyn after a meal, time allotted for a loan to pay back, times allotted for prayers, etc.

You second part, the Mechiltah you brought is talking about something different - להחמיץ in Hebrew simply means to miss something, like missing a train. So you can miss a Mitzva, the way you miss a train. E.g. Mishna in Avos 2,4 - "Don't say I will study when I'll have some free tome, for you might not have a chance (so start now)". Or if you see a poor don't say I will help him tomorrow.

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    Don't see how this answers the question... You explain the question, but you don't provide an answer to either part of your explanation. – רבות מחשבות Jan 18 '18 at 3:35
  • Do you know a source for the first part? Let's say the motzi, to use the example I have. – Maurice Mizrahi Jan 18 '18 at 19:49
  • As I wrote, every Mitzvah has its own timeframe, that can be seconds, minutes, hours, days ... years etc. It can not be generalized. What do you mean? – Al Berko Jan 18 '18 at 20:02
  • OK, after you say the motzi, how much time do you have to eat some bread? I note that the quantities of food for mitzvot in general are usually specified (e.g., at least a kazayit-- an Olive's worth, etc.). Are times also specified? My research produced no answer. – Maurice Mizrahi Jan 19 '18 at 1:35

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