We are continuing in siman 19, which discusses spending money for mitzvos. We learned that a person is chayav to spend even up to one fifth of their money to perform a mitzvah.
The Chayei Adam moves to discuss the extent of the tircha, the effort, that one must put into mitzvos. Generally, one is chayav to perform a mitzvah regardless of the tircha involved. However, the Chayei Adam raises the question whether the chiyuv to perform a mitzvah would even require a person to leave their home or their town. For example, lulavim and esrogim were rare in Europe, and could only be procured by importing them. Even when they were procured, most towns could only afford one set for everyone to use. If one’s city was not able to procure a set of daled minim, would a person be chayav to travel to another city to fulfill the mitzvah. The Chayei Adam leaves this question unresolved.
In the Nishmas Adam, he brings a proof from the Gemara. The Gemara discusses a person who has two cities in which he could spend Rosh Hashanah. In one city, there is a shofar but no one who knows the davening (there were no machzorim, the davening had to be known by heart). In the other, someone can daven as the Shliach Tzibbur but there is no shofar. The Nishmas Adam points out that the question should be irrelevant, because theoretically, the people of the city without the shofar should be obligated to go to the city with the shofar, so both the tokeah and chazzan will end up in the same city. Apparently, one does not need to tavel to fulfill a mitzvah. Therefore, he concludes that in our question, a person would not be chayav to travel to fulfill a mitzvah. (The Gemara’s scenario applies to a person who was already looking for somewhere to spend yom tov. The Gemara does not entertain the idea that the people of their respective cities would need to travel.) He then adds another argument why one would be patur. If leaving home will cause a person to lose out on the mitzvah of simchas yom tov (because he is unhappy to be away from his home and his family), he is trading one mitzvah for another. The Chayei Adam is not certain that one must make such a trade.
The Chayei Adam clarifies that in a situation where one could go and return in the same day a person is chayav to go fulfill the mitzvah.
The Chayei Adam raises another argument why one is patur. He suggests that maybe the chiyuv to travel and exert tircha for a mitzvah only starts once the zman of the mitzvah has begun, i.e., once the mitzvah itself becomes applicable. Therefore, one is not chayiv to travel, as the mitzvah has not become incumbent upon him yet. This sevara is difficult to understand, as it can be extended to an absurd conclusion. According to his sevara, the chiyuv of daled minim only begins on the morning of the first day of Sukkos. If so, before Sukkos, one had no chiyuv to procure daled minim. Once the chiyuv has begun, if the city does not have daled minim, it is impossible to fulfill the mitzvah (assuming the next city with daled minim is out of the techum). He would accordingly be relieved from the mitzvah every year. We will discuss this question further, be’ezras Hashem.
In the same way a person must spend money to perform a mitzvah, they must exert tircha as well. However, according to the Chayei Adam, one is not chayiv to travel in order to fulfill a mitzvah.