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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