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  • The Chazon Ish OC 15:3 suggests that the exemption of an onen from mitzvot is an application of the rule that chazal can uproot a mitzvah in a passive way (Yevamot 90a). An investigation into how we can understand that halacha may help us explain better the dispute regarding the exemption of an onen if it is only for passive mitzvot or all positive mitzvot.
  • Rav Elchanan Wasserman (Kovetz Haarot 69) poses investigative questions about the nature of the distinction that chazal can only uproot a mitzvah in a passive way but not in an active way. 1) Are chazal able to uproot the prohibition completely (a) OR is their uprooting of the mitzvah only temporarily push it aside (b)? 2) Is the reason passive mitzvot can be uprooted because passive mitzvot are less serious (a) OR because when presented with a conflict it is better to be passive than active (b)? 3) Is the main criteria to decide if chazal can uproot a certain mitzvah is whether the mitzvah is stated in a passive statement such as "don’t appear before Me empty handed" [don’t passively omit this mitzvah] as opposed to an active statement such as "don’t kill" [don't commit a crime] (a) OR is it whether I personally fulfill the prohibition in a passive or active way (b)?
  • To organize these questions, it is possible to connect each one with the next one. If (1a) chazal are able to uproot the entire prohibition then we can say (2a) that it is only for less serious mitzvot such as (3a) those which the statement of the mitzvah is passive but not for those more serious mitzvot which the statement of the mitzvah is active. If (1b) chazal aren’t able to entirely uproot the prohibition then we can say (2b) that when I am in a situation of conflict whether to do a particular mitzvah or to listen to the rabbis I can follow the general rule of conflict resolution and (3b) passively omit a mitzvah but I can’t active violate a prohibition.
  • Maybe the machloket Ran ketubot 1b and Chiddushei Anshei Shem depends on this. Ran says that Chazal were mevatel the passive nihugim of the first day of aveilut for a chatan whose father died before the wedding but not the active ones. Chiddushei Anshei Shem shabbat 10a says that once they removed the positive mitzvah they removed the active isurim as well.