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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Chikrei Lev’

Q & A: Effort And Diligence In Torah Study (Conclusion)

Wednesday, August 20th, 2003
QUESTION: I recently read your Daf Yomi column (JP, June 13, 2003), where you cited the Chikrei Lev’s comments regarding the standard of ‘Sinai’ in Torah study, that is, having extensive knowledge of the Torah. He stated that this is not as important today because the Mishna has been recorded.
My question is: Was the Mishna not recorded in Rashi’s time? Commenting on the first verse in Parashat Bechukotai, Rashi notes (based on Sifra) that “Im bechukotai tele’chu” means “shetih’yu amelim baTorah.” In yeshiva I was taught that this means that one must toil with much effort to learn and understand Torah. If so, how can one not be expected to have an extensive knowledge and yet be amel baTorah?
Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)
ANSWER: Last week, we referred to Leviticus 26:3, where we are commanded, “Im bechukotai tele’chu - If you follow My decrees.” We concluded that this verse serves as the Biblical source for the requirement to be amel baTorah, lit., to work in Torah study. We also discussed the machloket (argument) in the Gemara (Horayot 14a) over whether the goal of “Sinai,” extensive Torah knowledge, or “Oker Harim,” sharp analytic ability, is the preferred method or goal of Torah study, taking into account that we now have the necessary sources available in print.

* * *

A discussion relevant to our subject is found in the newly released Shemen HaTov on Torah by the renowned scholar R. Dov Zev Weinberger. R. Weinberger is the rabbi emeritus of Young Israel of (Williamsburg) Brooklyn.

R. Weinberger is perplexed by the Gemara (Arachim 11a) discussing the singing required in the Holy Temple as the sacrifices were offered is discussed. The verse in Parashat Naso (Numbers 7:9) is given as a biblical source: “Veli’venei Kehat lo natan ki avodat hakodesh aleihem bakatef yissa’u – But to the sons of Kehat [of the Levite tribe] [Moses] did not give [wagons] because the service of the sanctuary was upon them; they carried on their shoulders.” Rashi (ibid.) explains that the burden of the holy items (i.e., the ark, the table) was upon them, therefore it is stated, “they carried on their shoulders.”

The Gemara asks: Since the verse specifies “on their shoulders,” is it not clear that “they carried”? What does the word “yissa’u” teach us? The answer provided is that “yissa’u” is another term for song, as we have the verse in Psalms (81:3), “Se’u zimra u’tenu tof ? Take up the melody and sound the timbrel.” Similarly, there is a verse (Isaiah 24:14), “Yis’u kolam yaronu – They raise their voice and sing,” which also refers to song with the word for carrying (yis’u).

Thus, the verse in Numbers serves as a Biblical source for the requirement of song in the Holy Temple.

R. Weinberger points out that the Gemara (ad loc) states that a Levite who sings, known as a meshorer, was not allowed to assist the sho’arim, the doorkeepers, and vice versa. Every Levite had his specific labor and duty and was liable for death if he went beyond his own requirement into that of his fellow Levite. If so, how could we say that those who carried also sang, or that the verse regarding those who carried can serve as a source for the requirement to sing?

In answer to his question, R. Weinberger cites Torah Temima (Numbers 7:9), which explains that the Sages did not intend this to be the simple explanation of the verse, but rather to be an asmachta, a support for the concept of song.

However, R. Weinberger finds this solution incomplete, as the Gemara (ibid. 11a) did seem to cite the verse in Numbers as the source of the requirement of song to accompany the sacrifices in the Temple.

To solve the difficulty, R. Weinberger points out that after the sons of Kehat carried the ark on their shoulders and were successful in that task, including refraining from any sin even in thought or manner of carrying, and reached their destination, they put down their loads and broke out in song. They had been in mortal danger (improper behavior while carrying brought severe punishment), and the joy upon completion of the task caused them to break out in songs of joy.

Similarly, after the service of the Kohen Gadol (the High Priest) was completed on Yom Kippur, he would exit the Holy of Holies to songs of joy and festivities. The tenseness of the wait to see wether the Kohen Gadol would come out alive gave way to celebration as he appeared. (See our Yom Kippur prayers for a description.)

We derive from the above an understanding that where the effort is increased according to the difficulty of the task, the resulting joy upon completion of the task becomes greater as well.

R. Weinberger describes an event of this kind. The Gaon R. Yitzhak Hutner, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Rabbenu Chaim Berlin, met the Gaon R. Aharon Kotler, Rosh Yeshiva of the Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, at a wedding. R. Hutner told R. Kotler about a great scholar who was approached regarding a prospective marriage partner for his daughter. The young man was described as a matmid, greatly diligent in his studies, and of refined character. It was explained that he had the finest of traits; however, he was not a ba’al kisharon, that is, he lacked in aptitude and understanding at Torah study.

The scholarly father was in doubt as to whether to consider this young man for his daughter. Finally, the one who approached him reminded the father of what we learn in the Mishna (Avot 4:9), “R. Yonatan says, ‘He who fulfills the Torah in poverty will ultimately fulfill it in a state of wealth,’” and that the poverty mentioned in the Mishna does not refer exclusively to monetary poverty but to intellectual deficit as well.

The father was convinced, and the marriage took place. The young man labored with great diligence and perseverance in his Torah study, with encouragement from his wife and father-in-law, and emerged as a great scholar.

Shortly after relating this story, R. Hutner noticed that R. Kotler had disappeared. R. Hutner found R. Kotler crying in another room. When questioned, R. Kotler explained that he himself had never experienced such tribulations, and had never had to resort to such diligence and effort in his Torah studies. R. Kotler was sad that as a result of never undergoing the “poverty” he had lost out on the promised “wealth”.

R. Weinberger concludes that we might see from here how far these matters reach. [As we read in Avot (5:23), Ben Heh Heh states, "Lifum tza'ara agra - The reward is in proportion to one's pain (and effort required in the course of a task)." This, of course, can be applied to Torah study as well.]

We may now be able to understand the comments of Chikrei Lev – if one immerses himself in the analytical approach to study, even though one may not aim toward the goal of extensive knowledge of the Torah, one will end up accomplishing the standards of both Oker Harim and Sinai.

R. Kotler, who notwithstanding his emotional reaction to R. Hutner’s story, did study with due diligence, was just the opposite of the above. R. Kotler had vast knowledge of Torah as well as the great power of dialectic analysis. We see that diligence in Torah study will result in increasing both these attributes in the scholar.

Q & A: Effort And Diligence In Torah Study (Part I)

Wednesday, August 13th, 2003

QUESTION: I recently read your Daf Yomi column (JP, June 13, 2003), where you cited the Chikrei Lev’s comments regarding the standard of ‘Sinai’ in Torah study, that is, having extensive knowledge of the Torah. He stated that this is not as important today because the Mishna has been recorded.
 
My question is: Was the Mishna not recorded in Rashi’s time? Commenting on the first verse in Parashat Bechukotai, Rashi notes (based on Sifra) that “Im bechukotai tele’chu” means “shetih’yu amelim baTorah.” In yeshiva I was taught that this means that one must toil with much effort to learn and understand Torah. If so, how can one not be expected to have an extensive knowledge and yet be amel baTorah?
Zvi Kirschner
(Via Email)
 
 
ANSWER: Indeed, you are very perceptive in your observation. Let us review this entire matter and perhaps then we will be able to resolve this difficulty.

The Torah states in Parashat Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3), “Im bechukotai tele’chu ve’et mitzvotai tishmoru va’asitem otam - If you will follow My decrees and observe My commandments and perform them.” The parasha then continues with the blessings that will ensue, all conditional on the fulfillment of these instructions.

Rashi (ibid.) explains that one might think that “bechukotai” refers to the performance of commandments, but when the verse continues to state “ve’et mitzvotai tishmoru – and [you will] observe my commandments,” we understand that it is the latter phrase which refers to the
commandments. Thus, what does “im bechukotai tele’chu” refer to? Rashi answers that we are told here to study Torah with effort and diligence.

The Daf Yomi column was based on the siyum (completion) of Tractate Horayot (14a), which states, “R. Yochanan said, R. Shimon b. Gamaliel and the sages were in disagreement on the following matter. One said, ‘Sinai’ [lit. Mt. Sinai, where the entire Torah was revealed, meaning a scholar, possessing extensive knowledge of the Torah] is greater, and the other said, ‘oker harim’ [lit. one who can move mountains, that is, one who possesses a keen and analytical mind] is greater.”

We call someone described as sinai a baki, a knowledgeable person, and an oker harim a charif, a sharp-minded individual.

The Gemara continues, “R. Yosef [is described as] ‘sinai’ [as he had vast knowledge of every subject matter in the Torah and Talmud] and Rabbah [is described as] ‘oker harim’ [as he had a great analytical mind].”

To help reach a conclusion as to which method of Torah study is preferable, a query was sent to the learned rabbis in Eretz Israel. They responded that ‘sinai’ is greater, as the master taught, ‘Everyone is dependent on the owner of the wheat’ (Rashi s.v. “Hakol tzerichin lemarei
chatya” explains that R. Yosef would be described as “the master of the wheat” since “the mishnayot and the baraitot are organized in his mind as if they were given [to him] on Mt. Sinai. The mishna and the baraita are the forefathers [i.e., foundations or sources] of the halachot.”

Even so, R. Yosef, in his great humility, would not accept the leadership upon himself, therefore Rabbah ruled as nasi for twenty two years, and afterwards R. Yosef ruled as nasi. During all the years that Rabbah ruled, R. Yosef did not call any expert to his home [Rashi s.v. "Umna leveitech" explains that to do so would show that he wished to benefit from the
trappings of high office - therefore if he had need for hakazat dam, bloodletting, he would go to the home of Rabbah where the expert would be found.]

The Gemara continues, describing how Abaye, Rava, R. Zera, and Rabba b. Mattena were sitting [and learning together] and they wished to choose a leader. They decided that the method of choosing such a leader would be as follows: They agreed that whoever would deliver a dvar Torah and it could not be refuted will be the leader. The result was that each of
those present said a dvar Torah, which was refuted by the others. Abaye’s words, however, remained unrefuted. Rava then noticed that Abaye raised his head, and he called out to Abaye: “Nachmani” [Abaye, also known by the nom de guerre Nachmani, grew up in the house of R. Nachman and was thus referred to affectionately as his son], “begin and speak.”

The Gemara concludes with the following query: “R. Zera or Rabba b.R. Mattena – who is greater? R. Zera, who possesses a great analytical mind and asks many difficult questions [Rashi s.v. "charif u'maksheh" explains that through his method of deep analysis, R. Zera felt the need to pose questions, but he was also able to answer them], or Rabba b. R. Mattena,
who is deliberate [and thoroughly researched, see Rashi] but arrives at conclusions [according to halacha, see Rashi]?” The answer recorded in the Gemara is “teiku,” which is how the Gemara refers to questions that will be resolved by Elijah the Prophet. That term is an acronym for “Tishbi yetaret kushiyot u’va’ayot,” Elijah the Tishbi will resolve all questions and
undecided matters.

According to Chikrei Lev, today we have our Mishna, Talmud, and Shulchan Aruch recorded, therefore, the most pressing need in Torah study is the ability to arrive at conclusions based on the sources which are readily available in print. Since the main purpose of Torah is to learn and do, as we find in Avot (4:5), “R. Ishmail says, ‘One who learns in order to do [is far better and] is given the ability to learn in order to teach, to keep, and to do.’”

Thus, we see from Chikrei Lev’s comments that one may [and should] use all means available in one’s time to enhance Torah study. Using available means, such as the printed Talmud and the Shulchan Aruch, does not detract from the required hard work necessary for Torah study.

(To be continued)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/q-a-effort-and-diligence-in-torah-study-part-i/2003/08/13/

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