By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, member of the Badatz of Crown Heights
OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, affects quite a number of people and has a lot of bearing on halachah. Although it is something that is not directly discussed in poskim, there are some general applicable guidelines that are found throughout Chazal and poskim.
On one hand, there is the concept of “Ve’hevei medakdek b’mitzvah kalah kevachamurah” (“Be as scrupulous in observing a minor mitzvah as a major one”); all mitzvos should be performed in the best possible manner, which is the concept of hiddur mitzvah (beautifying a mitzvah).
On the other hand, Chazal tell us about the concept of ein l’davar sof (there would be no end to the matter) if reasonable limits were not imposed. For example, the Gemara says we should not be concerned about the remote possibility that a weasel may have carried chometz (leavened food) from one room into another because then there would be no end to bedikas chometz (checking for chometz), with the entire city being rechecked over and over again.
We also have the concept of “Lo nitnah Torah l’malachei hashares” (The Torah was not given to angels); it was given to earthly beings who were granted the ability to perform its mitzvos.
A person should attempt to do each mitzvah regardless of its apparent importance, and trust that Hashem is satisfied with their efforts—and not obsess over their performance.
If a person suffers from OCD and is stressed by certain mitzvos, it is imperative that they discuss it with a rav.
The rav can then work out a plan in consultation with their medical practitioners to enable them to begin fulfilling these mitzvos besimchah u’vtuv levav (with happiness and gladness of heart), in a manner that is halachically acceptable yet feasible, taking their medical condition into consideration.