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, February 12, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon ט"ז אדר - Adar 16 - One-Hundred-and-Sixty-Fifth Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

(During a Jewish leap-year: 1 Adar II - בִּשְׁנַת הָעִיבּוּר - א אדר בּ)

[Concerning] one who does not have the opportunity to constantly study Torah, at the very least, [that person] is obligated to establish [set] times for Torah [study], for our Sages of Blessed Memory have said [in masechesShabbos” (31a), as follows]: “At the time that they bring a person to judgment, they ask him: ‘Have you conducted business honestly?[1] Have you set times for [the study of] Torah?”[2] Even if [the person] is poor, he is also obligated to establish [set] times for his [study of The Torah], as is written in [maseches] “Yoma” (35b), [as follows]: “Our Rabbis taught [in a Baraisa], “A poor person, a rich person and an evildoer come to judgment. To the poor person, they say: “For what [reason] did you not involve yourself in [the study of] Torah?” If he says, “I was poor”, they say to him [in response]: “Were you any poorer than Hillel The Elder?” Concerning Hillel The Elder, it was said…”[3] Similarly, [the halacha] was rendered in “Yoreh Deah”, siman 246 (sif 1), [as follows]: “Every man of Israel is obligated [to involve himself] in the study of Torah, whether he is poor or rich, whether he is complete in his body, whether he has many afflictions, whether he is a young man or is very old. Even a poor person who goes to people’s doors [to collect money], even if he has a wife and children, he is obligated to set times for himself to study Torah during the daytime and during the nighttime, as it says [in seferYihoshua”], “…and you shall contemplate in it day and night…” (Yihoshua: 1; 8)”[4]

The matter of establishing [set times for Torah study] is that [the person] will designate a known time for [involvement in] Torah [study], not to miss [out from studying Torah in] that [designated] time under any circumstances, even if he thinks he will [amass a] great profit [in that time period], as is written in [the] “Shulchan Aruch”, “Orach Chaim”, siman 155 (sif 1)[5].

[1] This translation follows the commentary of the “Aruch LaNer” on masechesNiddah” (70b) where he writes that the person is first asked in Heaven whether they were honest in their business dealings, for if they acted dishonestly in business in order to profit a great deal, then they would be held more accountable for their lack of involvement in Torah study. The “Aruch LaNer” writes that the person is also queried whether they studied Torah during many periods throughout the day.

RaSh”I explains that this refers to relying on people that they
RESPONSA RTFproperly separated their ma’aser (tithes). Tosfos explains that this teaching in the gemara relates to the person who plants his crops while placing his trust in HaShem.

[2] The text of the gemara states as follows:

“Rava said, ‘At the time that they bring the person for judgment, they say to him, ‘Were you honest in your business dealing? Did you establish [set] times for Torah [study]? Did you involve yourselves in procreation? Did you await The Redemption? Did you [involve yourselves] in sharp analysis of [Torah] wisdom? Did you understand one matter from another matter?’ Notwithstanding [the above], if “…fear of HaShem is his treasure-house” (Yishayahu: 33; 6), [then] he will [succeed in the aforementioned matters, and] if not, [then he] won’t [succeed in maintaining the aforementioned attributes]. This is analogous to a person who said to his messenger, ‘Bring me up a kor [measure] of wheat to the attic’. [Thereupon, the messenger] went and brought up [the wheat] for him. [The person then said to his messenger], ‘Did you mix [the wheat] with a kav [measure] of chumton (salty earth that protects fruit from becoming infested – RaSh”I)?’ [The messenger] said to him, ‘No’. [Thereupon, the one who dispatched him] said to [the messenger], ‘It would have been better had you not brought up [the wheat to me at all]’.

[3] The text of the gemara states as follows:

“Our Rabbis taught, [as follows]: ‘A poor person and a wealthy person come to [Heavenly] judgment. They say to the poor person, ‘For what reason did you not involve yourself in Torah study?’ If he says, ‘I was poor and busied with [matters related to] sustenance’, they [then] say to him, ‘Were you any poorer than Hillel?’ It was said concerning Hillel the Elder, that on every single day he would earn and hire himself out for a Tarp’eek (1/2 dinar or 96 p’rutos – approx. = $1.40), half of which he would give to the guard of the beis midrash (study hall) and half of it [would be] for his sustenance and for the sustenance of the people of his household. One time he did not find that with which to hire himself out and the guard of the beis midrash [consequently] didn’t allow him to enter. [Hillel then] ascended and hung on and sat by the sky-light in order [so] that he would be able to hear The Words of The Living G-d (i.e. Torah) from the mouths of Shimayah and Avtalyon.’ [The Rabbis] said: ‘That day was Erev Shabbos (the day preceding Shabbos), and was [during] the season of Teves (i.e. winter – during the three months of Teves, Shevat, and Adar, lasting from sometime in December or early January to sometime in March or April – “Midrash Tehillim” – chapter 19, tenth paragraph), and snow fell on him from The Heaven. Once Amud HaShachar (the first light on the horizon) rose, Shimayah said to Avtalyon, ‘My brother, Avtalyon, every day the [study-hall] lights up and today it is dark, perhaps it is a cloudy day? They [thereupon] peered upwards and saw the form of a person in the sky-light. They [then] ascended and found the height of three amos of snow upon him (approx. five feet). They removed [Hillel from the snow] and washed him, and rubbed him with oil, and sat him down by the bonfire. [Thereupon, Shimayah and Avtalyon] said, ‘This one is fitting to have the Shabbos desecrated on his account’. They say to the wealthy person, ‘Why didn’t you involve yourself in Torah study?’ If he says, ‘I was wealthy and was busied with my property, they [then] say to him, ‘Were you any wealthier than Rabbi Elazar?’ [The Rabbis] said concerning Rabbi Elazar ben Charsom that his father left [an inheritance of] one-thousand towns for him on dry-land, and corresponding to them, [gave him] one-thousand ships on the sea. Every single day, [Rabbi Elazar] would take a leather [bag full] of flour upon his shoulder and would walk from city to city and from country to country [in order] to learn Torah. One one occasion his servants found him and made him work for the head of the town (that being him, as his servants didn’t recognize him and figured that he was a resident of that town and therefore obligated to work – RaSh”I). [Thereupon, Rabbi Elazar] said to them, ‘I plead with you, release me and I will go to study Torah’. [His servants then] said to him, ‘By the life of Rabbi Elazar ben Charsom that we will not release you’. [His servants didn’t recognize him, as] for all of his days he didn’t go and see them, rather, he was sitting and involved in Torah [study] all day and all night.’ They say to the evildoer, ‘Why didn’t you involve yourself in Torah [study]?’ If he says, ‘I was handsome and was busied with my [evil] inclination’, they would say to him, ‘Were you any more handsome than Yosef?’ It was said concerning Yosef HaTzaddik [that] on every single day the wife of Potiphar would entice him with [her] words [to have relations with her], the clothes that she wore for him in the morning, she didn’t wear for him during the evening. She said to [Yosef], ‘Listen to me [to have relations with me]’, he said to her, ‘No’. She [then] said to him, ‘Behold, I will imprison you in the prison’. [Yosef] said to her, ‘“…HaShem releases those who are imprisoned” (Tehillim: 146; 7)’. [She then said to Yosef], ‘I shall cause your stature to [become] bent’. [Yosef replied], ‘“…HaShem straightens those who are bent…” (Tehillim: 146; 8)’. [She said], ‘I shall blind your eyes’. [Yosef replied], ‘“HaShem opens [the eyes of those who are] blind…” (146; 8)’ She [then] gave [Yosef] one-thousand kikar’s of silver (approx. $16,000,000) [in order to encourage him] to “…lie with her, to be with her, to be with her” (B’reishis: 39; 10), and he didn’t want to listen to her. “…To lie with her…” [refers to] in this world, “…to be with her” [refers to being with her in] The World to Come. We [see from the above teaching] that Hillel makes those who are poor liable, Rabbi Elazar ben Charsom makes the wealthy liable, [and] Yosef makes the evildoers liable [for lack of involvement in Torah study].”

[4] The “Shulchan Aruch” notes that one who is unable to learn, whether due to his complete lack of knowledge or due to preoccupations which drain him of his time to learn (assuming he is unable to break away from those preoccupations), should support others who learn Torah. The RaM”A points out that when someone is in a really pressing situation whereby he is precluded from learning Torah, then his recitation of the “Shema” in the morning and evening suffice to fulfill his obligation of Torah study during the daytime and nighttime. The RaM”A adds that the person who is unable to learn but supports others in their study of Torah is considered as if he had learned Torah himself. (Tur) In addition, the person can stipulate with his fellow that he will financially support the other person’s future Torah learning in exchange for a share in the merit of his Torah study. (Rabbeinu Yirucham ben Mishulam on masechesSotah”)

[5] This halacha also states that the person should enter the beis midrash from the shul in order to study Torah. The RaM”A quotes the Ra”N on the first chapter of masechesB’rachos”, that the person should enter the beis midrash even if they do not know how to learn Torah or should establish a set place in the beis midrash in order to learn the little that he is capable of, contemplate what he has learned, and cause fear of HaShem to enter his heart. The Chofetz Chaim, in the “Mishna B’rurah”, comments on this passage from the “Shulchan Aruch”, that the person should really learn Torah at every possible opportunity that they have during the day and night. However, when we learn that a person should establish set times to study Torah, that refers to at least one designated time to study Torah during which he will never miss out on Torah study. If he were to miss studying Torah during that time, he should make it up by learning extra when he has an opportunity, that night, if at all possible, similar to one who incurs a debt who is obligated to pay it off. The Chofetz Chaim also says that if a person is really pressed and doesn’t have much of an opportunity to learn Torah in the morning, they should at least learn one pasuk or one halacha before he leaves the beis midrash.

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