From the Archives of Tradition

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by R. Yitzchak Blau

What is the relationship between the concrete details of specific halakhot and the ideas and ideals that animate them?  Do the latter sometimes have legal force?   In the Fall 2003 issue of  Tradition, Rabbi Mayer Twersky, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University, addresses a relevant position of Sefer haHinnukh.    R. Twersky  notes several examples of the “expansivity principle” in which the Hinnukh extrapolates a value from a mizva and applies it beyond the command’s original parameters.   For example, the command to love the convert also includes the need to take pity on any person away from his native land.  In some cases, the extrapolation is part of the essential mizva and fully obligatory whereas in others , the expansion is correct behavior but not normative.


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About Yitzchak Blau

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau is Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivat Orayta and also teaches at Midreshet Lindenbaum. He is the author of Fresh Fruit and Vintage Wine: The Ethics and Wisdom of the Aggada and an Associate Editor of Tradition.

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