Our generation has been branded “Generation M” – M stands for Multitasking.
People seemingly manage to check their email and Facebook, follow a movie, eat dinner, and hold a conversation – all at the same time.
What about mitzvos? What does the Torah say about multitasking mitzvos?
What are we to do if we simultaneously encounter more than one mitzvah opportunity? Can we drop one commandment to do another? Must we stay on task? Should we try to multitask?
We have insight into the answer from Parshas Eikev:
All the mitzvah that I command you today you shall observe to do, so you may live and multiply, and come and possess the land that G-d swore to your forefathers. (Devarim 8:1)
Midrash Tanchuma (cited in Rashi, IBID) derives from here, that although the verse refers to performing all the Torah’s commandments, on a individual basis, once someone begins to perform one mitzvah, he should complete it. Why? The principle is understood from Bnei Yisroel who buried Yosef Hatzadik in Shechem.
Even though Moshe Rebeinu himself famously initially occupied himself with carrying the bones of Yosef out from Egypt, since Moshe was not allowed to enter Eretz Yisroel, Bnei Yisroel completed the task. Hence, the mitzvah was attributed to Bnei Yisroel!
Clearly, if one wants to gain the most credit for fulfilling a mitzvah, he should complete his initiative. Nevertheless, what should a person do if he encounters a second mitzvah after beginning another? May he drop the current mitzvah to engage in another one?
There is one free NLE Thinking Gemara shiur on Osek Bemitzvah Patur Min Hamitzvah.
Some of the key questions this class addresses include:
- If I am doing one good deed – a mitzvah – and another opportunity or obligation presents itself, how should I act?
- What are the principles and concepts underlying the prioritization of mitzvos?
- Does it make a difference which mitzvah I am doing and what other mitzvah comes up?
- What if I am learning Torah and the opportunity to do a mitzvah arises – do the same rules apply?
Download the Teacher’s Guide and Student Source sheets for the class on Multitasking Mitzvos – Osek Bemitzvah Patur Min Hamitzvah.