We are continuing in siman 23, discussing the halachos of bal tosif. The Chayei Adam will discuss how Chazal are able to make takanos without an issue of bal tosif.
The Chayei Adam writes that Chazal have the power to nullify a mitzvas asei as long as it is done in a manner which causes a person to sit and refrain from a mitzvah (shev v’al taasei). For example, although there is a mitzvas asei to blow shofar on Rosh Hashanah, Chazal made a takana against blowing shofar when Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos. They were able to make such a takana because the mitzvas asei is nullified through the lack of an action on the part of Klal Yisrael. Actively going against a lo saasei can only be done on a temporary basis. Similarly, regarding bal tosif, Chazal have the power to override the issur of bal tosif, in order to protect the Torah. One may not deviate from the words of Chazal, so we are commanded to listen to their takanos.
We need to understand what the Chayei Adam means. There are three approaches in the rishonim as to why there is no issur of bal tosif when Chazal make a takana:
- The Raavad writes that bal tosif is primarily regarding a mitzvas asei; the takanos Chazal made are generally to protect lo saaseis.
- The Rambam does not differentiate between mitzvos asei and mitzvos lo saasei. He writes that as long as Chazal make it clear that their takana is their own addition, and not the original intent of the Torah, the issur of bal tosif does not apply.
For example, the issur deorasya of basar b’chalav applies to meat of an animal, and not to meat of a bird. Chazal realized that if people are allowed to eat milk with meat of a bird, they may come to eat milk with meat of an animal, so they made a takana. If a person says that they are not eating milk with meat of a bird because it is a Torah prohibition, they are transgressing bal tosif; if they understand that it is a takana of Chazal, it is not an issur of bal tosif.
- The Rashba brings a third approach. He points out that the same Torah which teaches us the issur of bal tosif teaches us the mitzvah of lo sasur, to listen to Chazal. We see that Chazal were given the authority to enact takanos, so the concept of bal tosif does not apply to them. This approach seems to be the approach of the Chayei Adam.
The Chayei Adam points out that the same way it is assur to add to a mitzvah, it is assur to diminish a mitzvah, such as only wearing three strings of tzitzis.
The Chayei Adam understands that the same Torah which teaches us the issur of bal tosif teaches us the mitzvah of lo sasur, so the concept of bal tosif does not apply to takanos Chazal.