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A Future Investment
‘A Halacha For The Days Of Moshiach’
(Sanhedrin 51b)



R. Yosef b. R. Chanina explains why the punishment for committing adultery with a betrothed woman is different than the punishment for comittin adultery with a fully married woman. R. Yosef questions the necessity of the discussion. Since we no longer have an active Sanhedrin that can meet out capital punishment, what’s the relevance?

Abaye retorts, “If so, why study the laws of Kodshim? After all, there is no Beis Hamikdash nowadays. Obviously these laws are also impractical.” Abaye explains that nonetheless “drosh vekabel sechar” – we are to study these subjects and receive reward.

Torah Lishmah

One is rewarded for studying Torah purely for the sake of understanding, even if the topic has no practical halachic application (see Responsa Beis HaLevi Vol. 1:66:1; Ohr Yisrael – Rabbi Yisrael Salanter – siman 31).

The Source

The Semag (in his preface to the Mitzvos Aseh) cites Vayikra 22:31 as the scriptural source for this principle: “U’shemartem mitzvosai va’asisem osam… – You shall observe my commandments and perform them…” One is required to perform them as well as observe them. We are to do so for the sake of understanding Hashem’s word.

Practical Takes Precedence

The Chavos Yair (siman 124), Magen Avraham (Orach Chayim 429), and Shach (Yoreh Deah 245:5), while not disputing the principle of “drosh vekabel sechar,” stress the importance of studying practical halacha to learn how to properly act. The Chavos Yair goes so far as to opine that studying topics of practical halacha take precedence over topics with little or no halachic relevance today.

Virtue Of Study

The Chafetz Chaim, who was famous for pioneering the study of Kodshim in our time, states (in his preface to Likutei Halachos on Kodshim) that although practical halacha is important, there is great virtue to studying the laws of Kodshim. He writes that studying sections of the Torah that have no practical relevance is particularly pleasing to Hashem because it demonstrates a person’s love for His Torah since he clearly is studying it for its own sake and not for any practical instruction. He also cites the Gemara (Menachos 110a), which states that one who studies the laws of korbanos is considered as if he actually offered a sacrifice to Hashem.

Korbanos will be Restored

Another reason to study such laws, writes the Chafetz Chaim, is because we anticipate Mashiach coming. Since the Beis Hamikdash will be rebuilt and our sacrifices restored, it will be essential for kohanim to be knowledgeable in the service of the Temple. Non-kohanim will also have to be versed in the Temple-related laws concerning them. And there will also be a great need of scholars who are well-versed in these halachos to provide guidance to everyone involved in the Temple avodah.


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Rabbi Yaakov Klass is Rav of K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush; Torah Editor of The Jewish Press; and Presidium Chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim.