Prologue: The impending battle against Midyan was destined to be
Moshe's final battle. In preparing for it, Moshe sent 12,000 troops
together with Pinchas (31:6). The Meforshim all question why it was
Pinchas and not Elazar who led the troops to battle?
Rashi explains that Hashem said that he who initiated the mitzvah,
who originated the vengeance against this abominable nation, should
complete the task. Pinchas, who slew Kosbi, should finish the job.
What is the reason that "he who begins the mitzvah" is told to complete it?
Horav Chaim Shmuelevitz, zl, comments that there is no comparison
between an endeavor which is executed piecemeal and one which is
performed in one complete unit. A number of people participating in a
mitzvah - one after another - demonstrates the beauty of teamwork.
Such a cooperative effort, however, is still not to be compared to the
quality manifest when one performs the entire mitzvah by himself. A
mitzvah performed in sections, one that is carried out in components,
does not have sheleimus, completeness/ perfection. Sheleimus can be
achieved only if a mitzvah is carried out by one person in one motion.
When Rabbi Akiva returned after twelve years of study with an
entourage of twelve thousand students, crowds gathered to see the
great Torah scholar. His wife, who had encouraged his decision to
leave home to study Torah, was also waiting. As Rabbi Akiva came
close, one of the women questioned his wife about how she had
permitted him to stay away for so many years. Rabbi Akiva's wife
responded emphatically, "I would be happy to let him return for
another twelve years!" Rabbi Akiva heard this and immediately turned
around to return to the yeshivah to study. He returned twelve years
later with twenty four thousand students. The question which begs
elucidation is apparent: Why did Rabbi Akiva not stop for even a
moment to greet his wife, from whom he had been separated for twelve
years? Would it have been such a terrible thing to do? The response
which is echoed by the various baalei mussar, teachers of ethical
behavior, is that two times twelve is not nearly the same as one
continual period of twenty-four uninterrupted years. What Rabbi Akiva
achieved in Torah study, his brilliant erudition, his vast group of
students, was due to the fact that he had studied continually for
twenty-four years. He did not pause; he did not take a break; he would
not even say hello to his wife after twelve years! He did not weaken
his momentum. A brief interlude quells one's enthusiasm, diminishing
the end result. One who begins a mitzvah should complete his action to
achieve greater success.
This week's Chaburah examines the benefit of completion as well. It is entitled:
Tevilas Keilim: Is it worth the wait???
The Talmud (Avoda Zara 75b) notes that all the metal Keilim that were
captured in the battle with Midyan need Tevila based on the Possuk of
Ta'aviru BaEish V"Taher." This idea is based upon the fact that the
Torah adds the word "V'Taher" which, Chazal tell us means that one is
supposed to add an additional Tahara to the Kashering process. The
Rishonim differ as to whether the Tevila concept is Deoraisa or
D'Rabbonon. Rashi clearly holds that the issue is one of Deoraisa as
do Tosafos (A.Z. 75b), the Smak (99) and the Rashba (Toras HaBayis,
Bayis 4, Shaar 4). On the other hand, the Kol Bo (86) argues that
Tevilas Keilim is a Mitzva D'Rabbonon and the Possuk is only an
asmachta B'Alma. Tosafos Rid and many other Rishonim concur (See
Yeshuos Yaakov, Y.D. 120:2-4) who notes that this is the opinion of
Truthfully though, one must question as to whether this Tevila is a
Mitzva on its one or merely a Matir, a means of allowing one to
utilize new dishes? The Rambam doesn't count Tevila Keilim as a Mitzva
in his numbering of the 613 and the Ramban doesn't challenge the
omission. Though, the Smak seems to count Tevilas Keilim as a mitzvah.
It would seem that the Rambam and Ramban count Tevilas Keilim as a
Matir while the Smak counts it as a Mitzva, one of the 613.
The problem with such an interpretation is that when it comes to
Shechita (Mitzva Aseh 146), the Rambam DOES include Shechita as a
Mitzva even though it is merely a Matir for meat to be consumed (as it
removes the prohibition of Ever min HaChai). The Raavad even
challenges the Rambam's decision to count Shechita as a Mitzva even
though it is merely a Matir. How then do we reconcile the Rambam's
decision to ignore the Mitzva of Tevilas Keilim while counting that of
Rav Asher Weiss Shlita (Minchas Asher, Matos, 68) suggests thatit is
more likely that the Rambam holds that Tevilas Keilim is a Mitzvah
D'Rabbonon. Hence, we can recite a blessing over it (like a mitzvah)
but not have it included in the lisiting of 613. In fact, Rav Asher
notes that the Rambam never notes a Beracha for Tevilas Keilim (see
the Ritva, A.Z. 75b) implying that perhaps he didn't recite one,
consistent with his opinion about the recitation of Berachos on
One particular Halachic difference that results from this question is
whether one may leave Keilim in his home untoiveled or whether s/he
should strive to get them to the Mikva IMMEDIATELY. If Tevilas
Keilim is a mitzvah, then one must strive to get the new Keilim to the
Mikva right away. But truthfully, the only one who discusses the
matter is the Maharshal (Beitza II:19) and his primary concern was
that he was worried lest one forget to toivel the Keilim – not because
of the mitzvah. This raises the question as to why one does not have
to take keilim to the Mikva right away. After all, if it is a mitzvah,
why do we not say Mitzva HaBaah L'Yadecha Al Tachmitzeina?
Rav Asher shlita suggests that the reason is based on the fact that
the obligation to take one's keilim to the Mikva only begins when one
wants to use the Keilim. The mitzvah becomes a Mitzva Kiyumis similar
to the rules of a Matir.
Bottom line, when purchasing new Keilim it is ideal to take them to
the Mikva as soon as one can, but only so that one not forget and ruin
the Mitzva of Tevilas Keilim.