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What Would Ricky Henderson Say? He Made A Living Off Stealing

There was a tiny little shtetl in Poland called "Kintzk". It was about as large as an Olympic Size swimming pool. But there was a towering Torah giant who dwelled therein named Rav Yoav Yehoshua Weingarten. He was a Chassidic Rabbi and a student of the Avnei Nezer. His two famous works are "Chelkas Yoav" and "Kava D'Kashyasa". The latter is a collection of 103 [gematria of kav - which is a measurement] "bomb kashas". They aroused quite a stir in Europe and spawned an impressive amount of literature. Here is question 96 for the Torah Scholars who visit Alleyways to ponder.

The Shulchan Aruch [749] rules that if one uses a stolen lulav on the second day [and on] he has fulfilled his obligation. The rationale is that the mitzva of lulav on the second day is only Rabbinic and Tosaphos maintains that with respect to Rabbinic mitzvos there is no problem of "mitzva habaá baáverh" [a mitzva that is generated by an averah].

However in the laws of kriah [rending one's garments upon hearing about the passing of a relative, Yoreh Deah 340/29] he rules that if one rends a stolen garment he has NOT fulfilled his obligation. Hey!! What's the problem?! Kriah is only a Rabbinic mitzva.

[It goes without saying that it is forbidden to steal but the question is if one did steal can he fulfill his mitzva with the stolen object. That is the seeming contradiction pointed out by Rav Weingarten.]

I think it has to do with the fact that with the lulav it was already stolen and then you did the mitzvah - so it is ok. Whereas the tearing of the garment is the act of damaging the garment.

The kryiah during mourning is an expression of being upset to the point where one is willing to destroys ONE'S OWN property.It can be argued that sometimes one is even willing to destroy oneself, but the Torah specifically prohibits it( lo tidgodedu...etc...).

Therefore ripping someone else's clothes does not necessarilt indicate sadness, despair, etc...

The very essence of the mitzvah is about destroying one's own things, whereas the mitzvah of a lulav, in its essence only requires a lulav, whomever it may belong to.

Interesting חילוק. The ש"ע himself admittedly does not explain himself at שמ:כט, though both גר"א and ש"ך refer to a חילוק made by ירושלמי שבת יג:א, the former explicitly and the latter implicitly. That ירושלמי is discussing מצוה הבאה בעבירה so the question remains, at the very least, acc. to the נושאי כלים.

It seems to me that ש"ע תרמט is simply quoting רמב"ם לולב ח:ט, in which case there's no reason to agree to the הנחה that it's okay on יו"ט שני because there's no מצוה הבאה בעבירה by דיני דרבנן. רמב"ם's position on מהב"ע is more than just a complicated affair.

I just wanted to add that my answer was suggested to me by Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn. I did not come up with it myself.

What Hillel means is that ripping a stolen garment is itself an aveirah. That cannot be considered a mitzva.

Whereas when one uses a stolen lulav for his mitzva, the aveirah of stealing was already done BEFORE the mitzva act. That CAN be counted as a mitzva.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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