Osek Bemitzvah Patur Min Hamitzvah, Multitasking Mitzvot – Should you ever stop doing one mitzvah to go do another? (Sukkah 25a)

Halachah, Jewish law, is the framework for the way we navigate our lives. Depending on the dynamics of each day, and the opportunities and challenges that arise, we are empowered with free will to reach our potential by choosing to do mitzvot, avoiding transgression and refining our character. Aside from the caveat of pikuach nefesh (a life-threatening situation), which obligates us to drop whatever mitzvah we are engaged in to save a life, it seems that our daily choices are fairly linear – we seek to fulfill each mitzvah opportunity as it appears.

What does the Torah say about multitasking mitzvot?

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?

This Thinking Gemara shiur deals with these key questions and more:

  • 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 mitzvot?
  • Does it make a difference which mitzvah I am doing and what other mitzvah comes up?

The shiur concludes by resolving a seeming paradox in Torah study: On the one hand, talmud Torah kineged kulam – Torah study is considered equivalent in value to all the mitzvot; but, on the other hand, at times we find that someone in the middle of learning Torah should break off and perform another mitzvah! Why is this? And how can one know when to continue studying or when to stop for another mitzvah?

This shiur addresses these questions by exploring central Talmudic principles connected to making choices between different positive mitzvot.


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