We are beginning Klal 68. Klal 68 is a wide-ranging Klal, in which the Chayei Adam discusses various halachic concepts regarding the proper way to perform mitzvos.
The idea behind this Klal possibly came from the Sefer Chareidim, a sefer written by one of the Gedolim who lived in Tzfas at the same time as the Arizal and Shulchan Aruch. The Sefer Chareidim goes through all the mitzvos one can perform, grouping them based on the parts of the body with which they are performed.
In his hakdamah, the Sefer Chareidim discusses tenaim, conditions, which one should be careful about while fulfilling a mitzvah. These are integral for the proper fulfillment of the mitzvah.
The Chayei Adam wrote a sefer called Kitzur Sefer Chareidim, a condensed version of the original work. The Klal which we are about to begin parallels the Sefer Chareidim in many ways; hence the assumption that the Chayei Adam based this Klal on the Sefer Chareidim. However, there are some elements found in the Sefer Chareidim not discussed here, and vice versa, and they are presented in a different order as well.
For example, the Sefer Chareidim has 13 tenaim, and begins with doing mitzvos with ahavah and yirah. The Chayei Adam will discuss ahavah and yirah, but will not discuss them until number 18. The Sefer Chareidim next discusses mitzvos tzrichos kavanah, and the Chayei Adam does not list it until number 9. It is not clear why they each chose the order they did.
Either way, it is clear that there are ideas one should have in mind, and conditions one should strive to fulfill, in optimally performing a mitzvah.
The Chayei Adam begins with the concept of ein ma’avirin al hamitzvos. In Sefer Nishmas Adam (the commentary and footnotes on Chayei Adam, written by the same author), he proves that the concept of ein ma’avirin al hamitzvos is deoraysa. This concept is that if one is presented with the opportunity to perform two mitzvos, and comes upon one of them first, he is not allowed to ignore that mitzvah in order to perform the other.
An example of this concept often plays out with tallis and tefillin. The Shulchan Aruch writes that the correct order is to put on one’s tallis first, followed by tefillin, in accordance with the concept of ma’alin bakodesh, that we begin with lower levels of kedusha and proceed to higher ones. Tefillin has the full level of kedushas sta”m, while the kedusha of a tallis is a lower level, known as kedushas mitzvah.
One of the applications of this halacha is that when one is finished with tefillin, they must be placed in geniza. Meikar hadin, a tallis does not need to be placed in geniza, but can be double wrapped and thrown out. It cannot be thrown out directly into a garbage, because it is considered a bizayon for it to be absorbed with other items, but double wrapping is considered sufficient to separate it from the other items in the garbage.
Returning to our siman, although the halacha is that the tallis should be put on first, if one opens their tallis bag and happens upon his tefillin first, he is not allowed to pass over the tefillin in order to put on the tallis, due to the concept of ein ma’avirin al hamitzvos. Therefore, the Mishnah Berurah points out that one should arrange their tallis bag in a way that they avoid this problem. According to the Chayei Adam, and others who follow him, passing over the tefillin would be an issur deoraysa.
- Ein ma’avirin al hamitzvos teaches us that one cannot pass over one mitzvah in order to perform another.
- An application of this halacha is that one cannot pass over their tefillin in order to put on their tallis, so they should arrange their tallsi bag in a way that they encounter their tallis first.