Lessons for Shabbat, 13 Adar II, 5771


Positive Commandment 174 (Digest)
Obeying the High Court

The 174th mitzvah is that we are commanded to obey the Beis Din HaGadol and act in accordance with all their instructions regarding what is prohibited and what is permitted. There is no difference whether it is something they received by Oral Tradition; derived using one of the principle of Torah extrapolation; decreed in order to correct some laxity or in response to some other situation where they found it appropriate and that it would strengthen Torah observance. We are required to obey all such directives and to act in accordance with their words, not to transgress them.

The source of this commandment is G‑d’s statement1 (exalted be He), “You must keep the Torah as they interpret it for you [and follow the laws that they legislate for you].”

The Sifri says, “The verse, ‘Follow the laws that they legislate for you’ constitutes a positive commandment.”

The details of this mitzvah are explained in the end of tractate Sanhedrin.2

FOOTNOTES
1. Deut. 17:11.
2. 87a.

Negative Commandment 312 (Digest)
Disobeying Torah Authorities

The 312th prohibition is that we are forbidden from disagreeing with the Sages who pass down the Oral Tradition (may they rest in peace), or from deviating from any of their instructions in Torah matters.

The source of this prohibition is G‑d’s statement1 (exalted be He), “Do not stray from the word that they declare to you.”

The Sifri says, “The verse, ‘Do not stray…’ constitutes a prohibition.”

One who violates this prohibition, i.e. a zaken mam’re, is executed by strangulation if all the conditions described in the end of Sanhedrin2 are fulfilled. The details of this mitzvah are explained there.

FOOTNOTES
1. Deut. 17:11.
2. 86b.

Negative Commandment 313 (Digest)
Adding to the Torah

The 313th prohibition is that we are forbidden from adding on to either the Written or the Oral Torah.

The source of this prohibition is G‑d’s statement1 (exalted be He), “Do not add to it.”

Our Sages say in many places,2 “He transgresses the prohibition, ‘Do not add to it,’ ” or “You transgressed the prohibition, ‘Do not add to it.’ ”

FOOTNOTES
1. Ibid., 13:1.
2. Rosh HaShanah 28b, et. al. The Rambam apparently quotes these passages to prove that this verse serves as an actual prohibition.

Negative Commandment 314 (Digest)
Subtracting from the Torah

“You shall not subtract from it”—Deuteronomy 13:1.

We are forbidden to subtract anything from the Torah—both the Written and Oral Laws.

“You shall not add to it”—Deuteronomy 13:1.

We are forbidden to add anything to the Torah—both the Written and Oral Laws.

“You shall not deviate from that which they shall tell you”—Deuteronomy 17:11.

We are forbidden to dispute the rulings of the sages who are the transmitters of the Oral Tradition and to deviate from their rulings with all that pertains to Torah law.

 

“According to the Torah which they shall teach you…”—Deuteronomy 17:11.

We are commanded to obey the High Court (Sanhedrin) and heed all their decisions with regards to what is permitted or prohibited. This is true whether their decision is based on oral tradition, they arrived at their decision via extrapolation from the words of the Torah, or if the rule was issued in order to address a contemporary concern, i.e., the court saw the need to impose a certain law in order to safeguard a Torah law.

 

המצווה הקע”ד 

ואין חילוק בזה בין דבר שקיבלוהו בקבלה ובין דבר שלמדוהו באחת המידות התורניות, או דבר שהסכימו עליו כדי לגדור פירצה, או בהתאם לאיזה מצב שהוא, ממה שנראה להם נכון ושיש בו חיזוק לתורה – כל זה חייבים אנו לקיימו ולעשותו ולנהוג על פי דבריהם, בל נעבור עליהם.

והוא אמרו יתעלה: “על פי התורה אשר יורוך וגו'” (דברים יז, יא).

ולשון ספרי: “[ו]על המשפט אשר יאמרו לך תעשה – זו מצוות עשה”.

וכבר נתבארנו דיני מצווה זו בסוף סנהדרין.

המצווה השי”ב

והוא אמרו: “לא תסור מן הדבר אשר יגידו לך” (שם יז, יא).

ולשון ספרי:”לא תסור’ וגו’ – זו מצוות לא תעשה”. והעובר על לאו זה – והוא זקן ממרא – חייב חנק,

בתנאים המקובלים המבוארים בסוף סנהדרין ושם נתבארו דיני מצווה זו.

המצווה השי”ג

והוא אמרו יתעלה: “לא תסף עליו” (שם יג, א).

ובפירוש אמרו בכמה מקומות: “עובר על בל תוסיף”, “עברת על בל תוסיף”.

המצווה השי”ד

והוא אמרו: “ולא תגרע ממנו” (שם). ובכמה מקומות אומרים: “נמצא עובר על בל תגרע”, “והרי עברת על בל תגרע”.

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