Positively Mistaken by Joseph Jarashow


In Parshat Ki Teitzei we learn a Halacha with regard to gleaning crops.  In 24:19, the Torah says that if one forgets a bundle in the field, “you may not return and gather it.  It shall be for the convert, orphan, and widow, in order that Hashem will bless you in all of your handiwork.”

The Sefer Hachinuch writes that the root of this Mitzvah is to provide a way for Hashem to satisfy the desire of the convert, orphan, and widow.  They yearn for this lifestyle of being able to collect crops.  They wish that they could bring the crops into their own home.  When it happens by chance that someone forgets crops in the field, Hashem fulfills their desire.

However, there is also a reward for the one who forgets his bundle in the field.  The Pasuk concludes that as result of forgetting the bundle, Hashem will bless the person in all of his handwork.  One may ask: why does a person receive a reward for accidentally performing a Mitzvah?  The reason may be derived from both a Gemara  and  human psychology.  The Gemara (Shabbat 68B) discusses the case of a Jewish person who was raised in a non-Jewish environment and never became aware of Shabbat until later in his life.  Does he have to bring a Korban Chatat for the times he unknowingly violated Shabbat?

Munbaz believes that he is not obligated to bring a Korban Chatat.  His reasoning is that even though the Torah uses the word “sinner” for both intentional and unintentional sins, one cannot apply the term to one who never even heard of Shabbat.  The question now arises: why does the Torah call an accidental violation a sin?

A major principle of the psychoanalytic theory suggests that there are truly no accidental acts.  There is always some motivation behind every act.  Whether it is a conscious or subconscious motivation is somewhat irrelevant, in that either way there is still adequate grounds to hold someone accountable for his or her actions.

However, Rav Twerski says that just as we are punished for unintentional, subconscious acts, we are duly rewarded for similar unintentional acts.  Just as inadvertently desecrating Shabbat is a sin, accidentally forgetting a bundle in the field is a virtue.  Thus, we must appreciate that all Mitzvot and acts of Chesed are rewarded by Hashem independent of our motivations.  Nonetheless, we should all strive to achieve a level of Torah knowledge which enables us to comprehend the reason behind all Mitzvot, and to perform them with all the proper intentions in mind.

Reasonable Rejection by Chaim Strassman

Return to the Nest by Avi Wollman