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

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon י"ז אדר - Adar 17 - One-Hundred-and-Sixty-Sixth Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

(During a Jewish leap-year: 2 Adar II - בִּשְׁנַת הָעִיבּוּר - בּ אדר בּ)

It is not for naught that The Torah is compared to bread, as it is written [in seferMishlei”], “Go eat My bread…”[1] (Mishlei: 9; 5) [The above pasuk comes to] inform you, that just as bread satisfies the heart, as it says [in “Tehillim”], “…and bread will satisfy the heart of [the] person”[2] (Tehillim: 104; 15), [so too Torah study satisfies the person’s soul]. If [the person] would not eat bread for one or two days, his heart would [consequently] be weakened, all the more so, his heart would be exceedingly weakened if he were to not eat bread for a week, it [subsequently] being difficult for him to reattain the strength that he had lost by [having refrained from eating bread. The aforementioned] is precisely [the case] regarding [the person’s] study of The Torah, [The Torah which the person studies is that which] satiates the holy soul that [resides within] the Jewish man. If [the person] will not study [Torah] for a given [number of] days, [or] all the more so for an entire week, [his soul] will [consequently] be exceedingly weakened. [In light of the above, the person] must be exceedingly careful to not abrogate [his] set time to study [Torah] even [if it is only] for one day. Aside [from the fact that missing out on a given day from one’s involvement in Torah study] impairs the subsequent [Torah study on the] second and third days, for it is almost certain that he will similarly not learn [Torah on those days. This follows that which] our Sages of Blessed Memory have said[3] concerning The Torah’s dictum which states [as follows]: “If you will leave me for one day, I shall leave you for two days.”[4] Subsequent [to his having refrained from Torah study for a given period of time, it is [consequently] exceedingly difficult for him to overpower his [evil] inclination from anew and to designate time for [the study of] Torah. [In addition], even on those days on which he studies [Torah], if the set times [of Torah study] are not regularly [taken advantage of, then] the spirit of holiness does not reside [to] such [a great] extent upon that [Torah] study, this not being the case if [the person does take advantage] of his designated times [of Torah study] on a regular basis, [for in such an instance], a great and awesome holiness resides on every single [occasion that he] studies [Torah].* Consequently, if it is due to a greatly pressing circumstance that it becomes necessary [for him] to abrogate [from] his set Torah study on a given day, [then the Torah study that he had to skip] will be [considered] just as a debt, [concerning which] he should quickly repay by the same time the following day, as is [taught] in [maseches]Eiruvin” (65a), concerning Rav Acha bar Ya’akov who would borrow during the day and repay [the Torah learning that he had missed], during the night, as RaSh”I explained over there [on the gemara].[5]

*[Chofetz Chaim’s note: [A greater degree of holiness rests on one’s Torah study if it is studied on a regular basis than if it is not studied with regularity], for aside from that which is an obvious matter in and of itself, [we] similarly [learn] in a number of holy sifarim with respect to a various matters [that regular involvement is superior to casual involvement. However, in reference to our teaching, the following teaching from maseches] “Shabbos” (11a), will be sufficient [in explanation of our teaching]:
Rabbi Yochanan said: ‘[We] only learned [that one should not cease from their involvement in Torah study in reference to people] such as Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his colleagues, for their [involvement in] Torah [study] is their [occupation]. However, [concerning people] such as ourselves, we interrupt [from our study of Torah], whether [it is] for The Recitation of Shema, or for Shemonah Esrei.’[6] [The above teaching] appears to be astounding, [for] if it is true that [study of] The Torah, is in and of itself greater than prayer, [then why is it that due to the fact that] we act improperly in one matter [by not involving ourselves in Torah study as much as is possible that] we should also now act improperly [by interrupting from Torah study in order to pray]? Rather, according to [the aforementioned teaching], it makes sense [that we are obligated to hold off on studying Torah in order to pray], for since we don’t [study] Torah constantly, it not being loved by us to such [a great] extent, the proof being that we [put our Torah study on hold in order to involve ourselves in] our profession, [consequently] the power of the holiness [of our Torah study] is not [so] great to the extent that we can thereby abolish [our involvement in] the mitzvah of prayer [in favor of Torah study.]

[1] The entire pasuk states, “Go eat My bread, and drink the wine that I have poured”. (Mishlei: 9; 5)

Metzudas David explains that this pasuk is teaching us that the bread and wine referred to in the previous pasuk refer to the wisdom of the Torah which is pleasant and lightens up the eyes and bestows knowledge to those who contemplate The Torah. This pasuk is teaching us that The Torah is inviting the individual to learn it. If his heart is hidden from wisdom, then The Torah is what HaShem has bestowed us with in order to tap into it and gain knowledge.

MaLBI”M explains that bread is comparable to The Wisdom of The Torah by way of which the person can abandon foolishness, the wine being comparable to understanding which the person can use to understand the depths of The Torah’s wisdom, thereby abandoning his lack of thought.

[2] The entire pasuk states, “And wine shall make the heart of man happy, to lighten up faces from oil, and bread shall support the heart of the person”. (Tehillim: 104; 15)

[3] This teaching from “Migillas Chasidim” is found quoted in the Talmud Yirushalmi at the end of [maseches] “Birachos”, Chapter 9, Halacha 5, as well as in RaSh”I in parshasEikev” (Divarim: 11; 13), where he quotes “Sifrei” on Divarim, piskah 48.

[4] The text from Talmud Yirushalmi, states as follows:

“Rabbi Elazar said, ‘Just as this baby needs to nurse during every hour of the day, so too, every Jewish person needs to weary himself in Torah [study] during every hour of the day’. Rabbi Yonah said in the name of Rabbi Yosi ben G’zeirah, ‘All chatter is evil and the chatter of Torah is good. All falsehoods are good and [stating that which is] false [in the context of The] Torah is evil’. Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said, ‘It is found written in “Migillas Chasidim” [in reference to Torah study], “[If] you abandon me for one day, I shall abandon you for two days”. [This teaching from “Migillas Chasidim” is analogous] to two people who left [their respective cities], one [left] from Tiberias and one [left] from Tziporin (probably Tzzipori) and they both met each other at one dwelling. They had barely left one from the other by the time that this one had walked a mil (1,049 yards according to Rav Chaim Na’eh and 1,258 yards according to the Chazon Ish) and this one had walked a mil, thereby they were two mil distant from one another. [Similarly], a woman who sits and awaits a man [to come and marry her], as long as it [remains] in his mind to marry her, she would sit and await him. Once his mind becomes distant from her, she went and married another [man].”

Concerning the above teaching that “All falsehoods are good and [stating that which is] false [in the context of The] Torah, is evil”, the “Pinei Moshe” explains that the text should really read the converse, “All falsehoods are evil and the falsehoods [relating to The] Torah, are good”. He explains that, for various reasons, we learn that a person is permitted to lie for, among other things, when asked about how much Torah they had learned. However, the person is required to be honest in general, and thereby, “all lies are evil”. The commentary “Chareidim” explains that, as the text in the “Yirushalmi” states, “All lies are good”, as Aharon lied concerning general matters, in order to restore people between people. However, with respect to Words of Torah, it is evil to lie, as one is supposed to be very careful to speak Words of Torah without deviating from the truth. He quotes the pasuk from seferMalachi”, which states, “The Torah of truth was in his mouth, and crookedness was not found in his lips…” (2; 6), this being in the context of the kohanim, specifically explained in reference to Aharon HaKohein (see RaSh”I and Ibn Ezra) who, when he taught Torah, he was careful to relate it in a truthful manner. However, “…with peace and uprightness he walked with Me, and he brought back many from sin”, teaches that Aharon lied in respect to mundane matters, for the sake of bringing peace between people.

[5] RaSh”I explains that Rav Acha bar Ya’akov had a set time during the daytime to learn a given number of chapters of Torah. RaSh”I points out that at times Rav Acha would be busied working towards earning money for his sustenance during the daytime and would miss out on his set period to learn during the daytime and would therefore make up that missed Torah study during the nighttime.

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

“If they had began [involvement in Torah study, entering a bathhouse, or the process of tanning, sitting down for a meal, or involvement in a court case], they do not cease [to pray, though those people] do cease [from involvement in those preoccupations] for The Recitation of The Shema: Didn’t we learn in the beginning of the mishna that we do not cease [from these preoccupations]? The end of the mishna is coming [to teach] concerning [study of] Words of Torah, for we have learned in a Baraisa, “Torah scholars who were involved in Torah [study] cease [from their involvement in Torah study] for The Recitation of The Shema, [but] they do not cease [from their involvement in Torah study] for Tefillah (Shemoneh Esrei)’. Rabbi Yochanan said: ‘[We] only learned [that one should not cease from their involvement in Torah study in reference to people] such as Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his colleagues, for their [involvement in] Torah [study] is their [occupation]. However, [concerning people] such as ourselves, we interrupt [from our study of Torah], whether [it is] for The Recitation of Shema, or for Shemonah Esrei.’ [But] didn’t we learn in a Baraisa that just as we do not cease for [the recitation of The] Shemoneh Esrei, so too we do not cease for The Recitation of The Shema? When [the above] was taught, it was [in reference to those involved] in determing whether to make the year a leap-year, for Rav Ada bar Ahava said, and similarly, the elders of Hagronia taught, Rabbi Elazar bar Tzadok said, ‘When we were involved in determining whether the year should be made into a leap-year [when we were] in Yavneh, we would not cease [from this work] neither for The Recitation of The Shema [or] for Tefillah

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