5

Rashi in parshas Kedoshim brings a Toras Kohanim:

רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲזַרְיָה אוֹמֵר מִנַּיִן שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמַר אָדָם נַפְשִׁי קָצָה בִּבְשַׂר חֲזִּיר, אִי אַפְשַׁי לִלְבּוֹשׁ כִּלְאַיִם, אֲבָל יֹאמַר אַפְשַׁי וּמָה אֶעֱשֶׂה וְאָבִי שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם גָּזַר עָלַי? תַּ"ל וָאַבְדִּל אֶתְכֶם מִן הָעַמִּים לִהְיוֹת לִי, שֶׁתְּהֵא הַבְדָּלַתְכֶם מֵהֶם לִשְׁמִי — פּוֹרֵשׁ מִן הָעֲבֵרָה וּמְקַבֵּל עָלָיו עוֹל מַלְכוּת שָׁמָיִם (ספרא):

Rabbi Eleazer ben Azariah said, “Whence do we know that one should not say, "My soul loathes swine’s flesh”, or, “I have no desire to wear clothes which are a mixture of wool and linen”, but one should say, "I would, indeed, like them, but what can I do since my Father in heaven has imposed these decrees upon me”? Because Scripture states: “I have separated you from the peoples to be for Me", whichyour separation from them (from their doings) should be for My sake — that one should keep aloof from sin and take upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven (Sifra, Kedoshim, Chapter 12 23).

The two examples that Rashi mentions, pig and shatnez, are both laws that Rashi himself 18 4 refers to as being chukim, laws with no apparent reasoning:

ואת חקתי תשמרו. דְּבָרִים שֶׁהֵן גְּזֵרַת הַמֶּלֶךְ, שֶׁיֵּצֶר הָרַע מֵשִׁיב עֲלֵיהֶם לָמָּה לָנוּ לְשָׁמְרָן? וְאֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם מְשִׁיבִין עֲלֵיהֶם, כְּגוֹן אֲכִילַת חֲזִיר וּלְבִישַׁת שַׁעַטְנֵז וְטָהֳרַת מֵי חַטָּאת, לָכַךְ נֶאֱמַר אני ה', גָּזַרְתִּי עֲלֵיכֶם, אִי אַתָּה רַשָּׁאִי לִפָּטֵר (יומא ס"ז):

ואת חקתי תשמרו AND KEEP MINE ORDINANCES — matters which are decrees of the King (promulgated without any reason being stated) against which the evil inclination raises objections: "Why should we observe them and against which also the nations of the world raise objections, as e. g., the prohibition of eating swine’s flesh, of wearing clothes of a mixture of wool and linen, the purgatory  power of "water mingled with the ashes of the Red Heifer" (טהרת מי חטאת) — therefore it is stated: "I", the Lord, have enacted this for you — you are not at liberty to evade the obligation (Yoma 67b).

As of now, it seems like we could assume Rashi would tell us to only say "I would, indeed, like them, but what can I do since my Father in heaven has imposed these decrees upon me” concerning a chok but not a command which falls under the umbrella of mishpat. So we should not say "I would love to steal or kill but what can I do, since my Father in heaven has imposed these decrees upon me".

Is this true?

To make the case even stronger, it seems Rashi's quote from Toras Kohanim is different than the one Malbim had (which he tacks on the Sifra) seen here:

ר' אלעזר בן עזריה אומר מנין שלא יאמר אדם "אי אפשי ללבוש שעטנז. אי אפשי לאכול בשר חזיר. אי אפשי לבוא על הערוה" אבל "אפשי ומה אעשה ואבי שבשמים גזר עלי כך"? תלמוד לומר "ואבדיל אתכם מן העמים להיות לי"-- נמצא פורש מן העבירה ומקבל עליו עול מלכות שמים.

Here added to the two examples of shatnez and pig is adultery. Did Rashi have this reading? Did he believe adultery is a Chok and just didn't bother mentioning it? Does he believe it is a mishpat and he left it out on purpose?

Main question: Do we have any sources that discuss whether we should say "I'd love to but..." about all mitzvos or just about chukim?

(all sources Sefaria)

  • 1
    Are you asking about Rashi's opinion, or any source other than the Toras Kohanim that mentions "mishpatim"? – רבות מחשבות Jan 30 '18 at 3:01
  • Best answer would be an explanation in Rashi, next best is anyone discussing the Toras Kohanim, but anybody discussing the subject is appreciated. – user6591 Jan 30 '18 at 5:02
  • I assume you're aware adultery is only one example of an ערוה – Loewian Jan 30 '18 at 15:25
  • @Loewian :) yes just picked the easiest example. Please don't read into it! – user6591 Jan 30 '18 at 15:43
  • I disagree with "we could assume Rashi would tell us to only say 'I would...' concerning a chok but not a... mishpat": all I see from Rashi is "we could only assume Rashi would tell us to say 'I would...' concerning a chok but could not assume anything about what he would say about a mishpat". – msh210 Jan 30 '18 at 17:28
11

The Rambam in Shemoneh Perakim, ch. 6, discusses the preferable attitude towards avoiding aveiros, and references this midrash.

After citing sentiments of the Nevi'im, such as (Mishlei 21:10) "נֶפֶשׁ רָשָׁע אִוְּתָה רָע" (the soul of a wicked person desires evil), and contrasting those with Chazal's statements such as "לפום צערא אגרא" (the reward is commensurate to the struggle) and the Toras Kohanim you quoted, the Rambam writes (copied from daat.ac.il here):

וּלְפִי הַמּוּבָן מִפְּשׁוּטֵי שְׁנֵי הַמַּאֲמָרִים בִּתְחִלַּת הַמַּחֲשָׁבָה הֵם סוֹתְרִים זֶה אֶת זֶה - וְאֵין הָעִנְיָן כֵּן; אֲבָל שְׁנֵיהֶם אֱמֶת וְאֵין מַחֲלֹקֶת בֵּינֵיהֶם כְּלָל. וְהוּא: שֶׁהָרָעוֹת אֲשֶׁר הֵן אֵצֶל הַפִּילוֹסוֹפִים רָעוֹת, אֲשֶׁר אָמְרוּ: שֶׁמִי שֶׁלֹּא יִתְאַוֶּה אֲלֵיהֶן יוֹתֵר חָשׁוּב מִן הַמִּתְאַוֶּה אֲלֵיהֶן וְיִכְבּשׁ אֶת יִצְרוֹ מֵהֶן - הֵם הָעִנְיָנִים הַמְפֻרְסָמִים אֵצֶל כָּל בְּנֵי אָדָם שֶׁהֵם: "רָעוֹת": כִּשְׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים, וּגְנֵבָה, וּגְזֵלָה, וְאוֹנָאָה, וּלְהַזִּיק לְמִי שֶׁלֹּא הֵרַע לוֹ, וְלִגְמֹל רַע לְמֵיטִיב לוֹ, וְלִבְזוֹת אָב וָאֵם וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָאֵלּוּ. וְהֵן הַמִּצְווֹת שֶׁאָמְרוּ עֲלֵיהֶן הַחֲכָמִים, זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה: "שֶׁאִלּוּ לֹא נִכְתְּבוּ רְאוּיוֹת הֵן לִכָּתֵב". וְיִקְרְאוּ אוֹתָן קְצָת מֵחֲכָמֵינוּ הָאַחֲרוֹנִים אֲשֶׁר חָלוּ חֳלִי הַמְדַבְּרִים: "מִצְווֹת הַשִּׂכְלִיּוֹת",וְאֵין סָפֵק שֶׁהַנֶּפֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר תִּכְסֹף לְדָבָר מֵהֶם וְתִשְׁתּוֹקֵק אֵלָיו - שֶׁהִיא חֲסֵרָה; וְשֶׁהַנֶּפֶשׁ הַחֲשׁוּבָה לֹא תִתְאַוֶּה לְאֶחָד מֵאֵלּוּ הָרָעוֹת כְּלָל, וְלֹא תִצְטַעֵר בְּהִמָּנְעָה מֵהֶם. אֲבָל הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁאָמְרוּ עֲלֵיהֶם הַחֲכָמִים, שֶׁהַכּוֹבֵשׁ אֶתיִצְרוֹ מֵהֶם הוּא יוֹתֵר חָשׁוּב וּגְמוּלוּ יוֹתֵר גָּדוֹל - הֵם: "הַתּוֹרוֹת הַשִּׁמְעִיּוֹת", וְזֶה אֱמֶת; שֶׁאִלְמָלֵא הַתּוֹרָה לֹא הָיוּ רָעוֹת כְּלָל

Rambam concludes that there is a distinction between the mitzvos which Chazal refer to as "had they not been written they would be fit to be written," or "rational mitzvos," and those which are only "evil" because of the mitzvah (what we might call chukim). By the former, one who wishes to do them but holds himself back is deficient. By the latter, one who wants to do them and refrains because of the mitzvah is better than one who does not want to do them.

  • +1 Very nice. Interestingly he says bassar vichalav, not bassar chazzir even though he holds chazzir is a chok. – user6591 Jan 30 '18 at 5:03

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