Please Learn in the Merit of:

Please learn for the merit of a complete recovery for the following individuals:

Ya'akov Don ben Esther Ahuvah Sharona
Avraham Yishayahu ben Aviva
Perel Leah bas Sima

Please learn in the merit/memory of Eyal ben Uriel, Gil-Ad Michael ben Ophir, Ya'akov Naftali ben Avraham, and Alter Aryeh Leib Reuven ben Sima

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon ז אדר - Adar 7 - One-Hundred-and-Fifty-Sixth Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

[Through involvement in Torah study], one merits [to receive reward in] The World to Come, as our Sages of Blessed Memory have said [in masechesPeah” (Chapter 1, Mishna 1), as follows]: “These are the things for which a person consumes [the fruits [of their reward] in this world, and the principle remains intact for him in The World to Come]… and Torah study is equivalent to all of them.”[1] Our Sages of Blessed Memory have also said [in masechesBava Mitzia” (85b), as follows]: “What is the meaning of that which is written [in seferIyov”], “The small and the great one are over there, and [the] servant is free from his master.”[2] (Iyov: 3; 18)? All those who make themselves small over words of Torah in this world [are] made great in The World to Come, and all of those who [treat] themselves as slaves over words of Torah in this world become free in The World to Come.” Furthermore, [we learn] in “[Pirkei] Avos” [that] “There is no honor except for The Torah, as it says, “Sages inherit wisdom…”[3].[4]” (Mishlei: 3; 35) (Pirkei Avos: Chapter 6, Mishna 3) [We also learn in “Pirkei Avos”, in the succeeding mishna, as follows]: “Do not desire greatness in excess of your learning, and do not desire the tables of ministers, for your table (in The World to Come) is greater than their table – in this world, and your crown is greater than their crown…[5]” [We] also [learn] in PerekChelek” [in masechesSanhedrin” (100a)[6], as follows]: “All of those who blacken their face in this world through words of Torah, The Holy One, Blessed is He, [in turn], brightens [that person’s] countenance for The World to Come, as it says [in “Shir HaShirim”], “...מראהו כלבנון בחור כארזים” – “…his appearance is like Lebanon, he is choice like the cedars.”[7] (Shir HaShirim: 5; 15) A similar [teaching] is also brought in “Midrash Rabbah[8], [as follows]: “Rabbi Yehudah explains [the following pasuk] in reference to Torah scholars: One pasuk states “…black like a crow.”[9] (Shir HaShirim: 5; 11), and [another] pasuk states, “…their appearances are like flames, quick as is lightning.”[10] (Nachum: 2; 5) [The aforementioned pisukim refer to] those involved in Torah who appear [of] leathery and blackened [complexion] in this world, however, in the future [world], their appearance will be [bright] like flames.” [We learn in masechesSanhedrin” (100a), as follows]: “Rabbi Tanchum, the son of Chanilie, said, ‘All those who make themselves hungry over words of Torah in this world, will be satiated by The Holy One, Blessed is He, in The World to Come, as it says [in “Tehillim”], “They will be satiated from the fatness of Your House…”[11] (Tehillim: 36; 9)

[1] As is noted in the teaching recited subsequent to the morning Torah blessings, we learn that 1) honoring one’s parents, 2) acts of kindness, 3) arriving early to the Beis Midrash (Torah study hall) in the morning and during the evening, 4) inviting guests, 5) visiting the sick, 6) helping enable a bride to get married, 7) escorting the dead to burial, 8) an in-depth look at tefillah (prayer), and 9) instilling peace between one person and his fellow, are also mitzvos for which the person receives a reward in this world, in addition to receiving his complete reward in The World to Come. It is 10) Torah study which we learn is equivalent to these other great mitzvos which are listed. The mishna in masechesPeah” only lists the first three mitzvos noted above and the mitzvah of Torah study.

[2] This chapter in seferIyov”, focuses on, among other things, life in The World to Come, which Targum Yonasan ben Uziel makes clear through his commentary. Iyov is describing some of those who enter The World to Come. Targum Yonasan, on this pasuk, writes, “Ya’akov who is called “the young student”, and Avraham who is called “the old one”, are over there [in The World to Come], and [this is the case of] Yitzchak, the servant of HaShem, who went free from the prison stocks, from his master.” (3; 18) Perhaps Targum Yonasan is referring to the fact that Yitzchak was free of his Yetzer HaRa after a certain point in his life. This would follow the teaching from masechesBava Basra” (17a) that states that the Yetzer HaRa didn’t “rule within” Avraham, Yitzchak, Ya’akov, and some say King David. Tosfos on this gemara, quotes masechesYoma” (38b) that once a person constantly overcomes his Yetzer HaRa for most of his life, then they are assured that they won’t sin for the rest of their life. Therefore, since the Avos continually pushed themselves to distance themselves from sinning, once they had lived most of their lives, HaShem made it so that the Yetzer HaRa would no longer rule within them. As Tosfos notes, it must be the case that the Avos had to overcome their Yetzer HaRa’s earlier in life, for otherwise they would have been unable to receive their rewards in The World to Come, as there would have been no challenge to overcome to avoid sinning and to fulfill the mitzvos. We can see from this pasuk, as explained by the Chofetz Chaim, and Targum Yonasan, that the person who studies Torah in this world, and acts as a slave to The Torah, thereby helping free himself from the Yetzer HaRa in this world, will merit to receive a portion in The World to Come, where Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov, who overcame their Yetzer HaRa’s, reside. (The fact that involvement in Torah study ensures that one will not be given over into the hands of the Yetzer HaRa is found in masechesKiddushin” (30b) on B’reishis (4; 7).)

[3] The entire pasuk states, “Sages shall inherit honor and the fools shall raise up disgrace.” (Mishlei: 3; 35)

RaLBa”G explains that the “Sages will inherit honor” as they will be honored by people. MaLBI”M explains that it The Wisdom of The Torah itself that brings honor to the Sages, for the honor of the soul shines within them and raises them above the lowliness of the soul, that being the lowly desires of the soul, they being a disgrace. This honor that the Sages receive is eternal. Ibn Ezra explains that HaShem will cause the Sages to inherit money and wealth.

[4] In this mishna, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi teaches that a person must show honor to one who has taught him Torah, even if he taught him one chapter, one halacha, one pasuk, one word, or even one letter of Torah. The example brought in the mishna is of King David who referred to Achitofel as his “Rebbe” – “teacher” even though he only taught him two matters. (Tehillim: 55; 14) The conclusion of the mishna, in support of this teaching, subsequent to the section of the mishna quoted by the Chofetz Chaim, states, ““…and the upright shall inherit good.” (Mishlei: 28; 10), “good” only reffering to [The] Torah, as it says, “For I have given you a good acquisition, do not abandon My Torah.” (Mishlei: 4; 2)”

[5] The conclusion of this mishna states, “and The Master of your work is trustworthy that He will pay you the wage for your work”.

[6] This teaching is quoted in the name of Rabbi Yehuda who quotes Rabbi Simon.

[7] The entire pasuk states, “His Thighs are pillars of marble situated on supports of fine gold, His Appearance is like Lebanon, choice like cedars.” (Shir HaShirim: 5; 15)

RaSh”I, on this gemara, explains that this pasuk from “Shir HaShirim” is preceded by a pasuk which states “…black like a raven.” (5; 11) From here we can see that one who first blackens himself in this world through his involvement in the study of Torah, comparable to the raven, will be comparable to Lebanon and its cedars, as his countenance will shine in The World to Come.

The GR”A (Gaon Rabbi Eliyahu – Vilna Gaon) explains that “his appearance is like Lebanon” refers to Ba’alei Teshuvah (Masters of Teshuvah) who are white like the Forest of Lebanon. (i.e. they are pure) The Vilna Gaon notes that “choice like cedars” refers to the righteous who, from the time of their birth are careful to avoid transgressing prohibitions, they being strong like the cedars.

RaSh”I explains that “his appearance is like Lebanon” refers to the person who looks at and contemplates The Words of The Torah will discover flowers and blossoms like this forest which blossoms. These flowers and blossoms in the forest are comparable to the study of The Torah, for one who learns Torah will come up with chiddushim (innovative Torah insights). RaSh”I notes that “choice like cedars” teaches that one who is involved in the study of Torah is comparable to the cedar which is choice to use for building, for strength, and for height.

Targum Yonasan ben Uziel explains the pasuk as follows:

“And the righteous are the pillars of the world, who’s bases are on supports of high-quality gold, they being The Words of The Torah which they are involved in [studying], and they rebuke The Nation of The House of Israel to perform [HaShem’s] Will, and He [then] is full of mercy upon [The B’nei Yisrael] as is an old man, and He whitens the sins of The House of Israel like snow, and is prepared to perform victory and war against the nations who transgress His Will, as a young man who is strong like galm’sheen (apparently a cedar tree).”

[8] This teaching is found in “Shir HaShirim Rabbah”, on (Shir HaShirim: 5; 11) in sif 5.

[9] This pasuk states, “His head shines like a treasure of fine gold, his braids are hanging, black like a raven.” (Shir HaShirim: 5; 11)

In the context of “Shir HaShirim Rabbah”, “black as a raven” is positive, in that it refers to those who have blackened themselves in this world to study The Torah and will thereby shine in The World to Come.

Targum Yonasan ben Uziel on this pasuk explains that the person who follows the laws of The Torah will be “white like snow”, while those who do not follow The Torah are black like the wings of ravens. Similarly, the Sforno explains that “black like ravens” refers to the evildoers, such as those who lived in The Generation of The Mabbul (flood), in The Generation of The Dispersion (Dor HaPalagah), the people of Sodom, and others who are evil.

The Vilna Gaon explains “black like ravens” in a similar manner as does “Shir HaShirim Rabbah”, in that the righteous during the sinful generations, such as Noach in The Generation of The Mabbul, were in a state of trouble and were therefore “black like a raven”. Perhaps if one were to take the Vilna Gaon’s commentary along with the teaching from “Shir HaShirim Rabbah”, we could understand that those who study Torah, though they might be in a state of trouble, as the generation is not supporting their Torah study to the proper extent, or perhaps even trying to undermine it, those who study The Torah nevertheless continue to study Torah, perhaps even in the face of hardships. Though the countenances of many of those who study The Torah, may darken somewhat in this world due to all of their challenges, midah k’neged midah (measure for measure), their countenances will shine in The World to Come.

[10] The entire pasuk reads, “At the outlying areas, the chariot shall drived in a crazed manner, the clanging of their weapons shall be heard in the streets, their appearances are like flames, they run like lighting.” (Nachum: 2; 5) This chapter refers to the massive army of Sancheriv of Assyria who were threatening to attack and conquer Yirushalayim, but were miraculously wiped out in a plague, the night before their planned attack. (Milachim II: 19; 35)

[11] The entire pasuk reads, “They will be satiated from the fatness of Your House, and You shall give them to drink of the stream of Your delicacies.” (Tehillim: 36; 9)

Metzudas David explains that the people will be satiated from the good that comes to them from Heaven, and they shall drink of the waters of the stream that flows from Eden, in other words, they shall have a great abundance. RaDa”K explains that the reward described in this pasuk is that which the person will receive in The World to Come, and the “delicacies” referred to is the attainment of the knowledge of HaShem, that being the good which is not followed by evil and is comparable to one who is satiated and has drank sufficiently though he is never again in need of drinking or eating. These “delicacies” are like a flowing stream, in that they are abundant, and HaShem will “give them to drink”, as He will help them attain The Kowledge of The Torah. Ibn Ezra teaches that these people who are blessed by HaShem in such a manner are those who are those who are alone in their homes in order to serve HaShem, that Service of HaShem being that which fattens the soul and they shall benefit from knowledge of HaShem as a stream that never stops. MaLBI”M explains that the souls of people are the members of HaShem’s Household who eat bread on His Table. This bread is not physical bread, rather, it is bread of the angels, and their drinks are from the stream of the Upper Eden. This food and drink is analogous to The Spiritual Abundance from HaShem, His Torah, His Commandments, The Oneness of His Shechinah (Divine Presence), and The Abundance of prophecy, to the point that one can attain all of the spiritual levels.

No comments: