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

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Shmiras HaLashon י"ט אדר - Adar 19 - One-Hundred-and-Sixty-Eighth Day

© 2008 by Robert Lepor. All rights reserved.

(During a Jewish leap-year: 4 Adar II - בִּשְׁנַת הָעִיבּוּר - ד אדר בּ)

Chapter 4

In [this Chapter, we] shall Clarify Concerning the Magnitude of the Punishment for [the person] who Separates himself from [involvement in the study of] The Torah

From all of that which we have written concerning the greatness of the reward, [both] in this world and in The World to Come, [for] the [person] who involves himself in Torah [study], we are consequently able to understand [of] the enormity of the punishment [for] one who separates himself from [the study of] The Torah. [In this context, it is taught] in “Sifrei[1], [as follows]: “Just as the reward for the study of Torah is greater than [the reward for the performance of] all of the mitzvos, likewise, the punishment for being idle from [Torah study is] greater than [the punishment for performance of] all of the aveiros.”[2]

[Concerning the punishment for lack of involvement in Torah study, the following teaching] is [taught in “Pirkei] Avos”: “Rabbi Yihoshua ben Levi said, “Every day, a bas kol[3] emanates from Har Choreiv[4], and announces and says: ‘Woe to them, to the people, from the insult of The Torah…’”[5] (Pirkei Avos: Chapter 6; Mishna 2) It is also [taught] in The “Zohar Chadash[6], that The Day of Judgment that will [take place] in the future, as is written [in seferMalachi”], “For behold, the day comes, burning like an oven...” (Malachi: 3; 19), [refers to] the day in the future that Moshe Rabbeinu, Alav HaShalom, will demand [on behalf of] the insult of The Torah, and as [we have learned] in the Mishna: “‘Woe to the people [for the insult of The Torah].’” For, in truth, it is a great insult to The Torah, the root of its holiness being above all of the worlds, as is known, when people, who are formed [out of] clay, whose foundation is in dirt, separate themselves from [their involvement in Torah study].

[1] This teaching is found in “Sifrei” on ParshasEikev” in Piskah 41.

[2] The text of this section from “Sifrei” states as follows:

““…and you shall learn [of] them and you shall guard to perform them.” (Divarim: 5; 1) [This phrase] informs [us] that action [in observance of The Torah] is dependent on learning [Torah] and learning [Torah] is not dependent on action [in observance of The Torah]. Similarly, we have found that [the person] is punished in reference to [Torah] study more than [he] is punished in relation to actions [in observance of The Torah], as it says [in seferHoshea”], “Listen to The Word of HaShem, House of Israel, for HaShem has a quarrel with the inhabitants of The Land [of Israel] for there is no truth and no kindness and no knowledge of G-d in The Land.” (Hoshea: 1; 4) “…there is no truth…” – The Words of Truth are not spoken, as it says [in “Mishlei” in relation to Torah study], “Acquire truth and do not sell it…” (23; 23) “…and there is no kindness…” – The Words of Kindness aren’t spoken, as it says [in “Tehillim”], “Your kindness, HaShem, has filled the land…” (119; 64) “…and there is no knowledge…” – The Words of Knowledge aren’t spoken, as it says [in seferHoshea”], “My Nation has become silent without knowledge, for you have rejected the knowledge…” (4; 6) Similarly, it says [in seferYishayahu”], “Therefore, as stubble consumes the flame of fire and the straw of sheaves shall weaken the flame…” (5; 24) Is there really stubble which consumes fire? Rather, “straw” refers to Eisav the evildoer, for as long as [The B’nei] Yisrael weaken their hands [from lack of involvement in] the mitzvos, [Eisav] rules over them. [Similarly] it says [in seferYirmiyahu”], “Who is the man who is wise and he shall understand this, and concerning which The Mouth of HaShem spoke to him and he shall relate it; For what reason was The Land [of Israel] destroyed, made desolate like wilderness, without passerby? And HaShem said, ‘It is because they abandoned My Torah which I have given before them, and they did not heed My Voice and they did not walk walk in it [to be accustomed to it].’ (Yirmiyahu: 9; 11 – 12)” (MaLBI”M) [Similarly], it says [in “Amos”], “Such said HaShem, ‘For three willful sins of [the people of] Yehuda, and on the fourth I shall not turn back, for rejecting The Torah of HaShem, and they did not guard [to observe] His ordinances…” (2; 4) It already occurred that Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Tarfon, and Rabbi Yosi HaGalili, were feasting in Beis Aris in Lod and this question was asked before them, “What is greater [Torah] study or action [in performance of the mitzvos]?” Rabbu Tarfon said, ‘Action [in observance of the mitzvos] is greater’. Rabbi Akiva said, ‘[Torah] study is greater’. They all answered and said, ‘[Torah] study is greater, for [Torah] study brings one to [be able to] act [in observance of the mitzvos]’. Rabbi Yosi HaGalili said, ‘[Torah] study is greater, for [The Torah] preceded [the mitzvah of] challah by forty years, [the mitzvah of] ma’aser (tithes) by fifty-four [years, the mitzvah of] shimittah [years] by sixty-one [years], and the yovel [years] by one-hundred-and-three [years]. Just as one is punished more for [laxity in Torah] study than for action [in observance of the mitzvos], so too, the reward given for [Torah] study is greater than [the reward given for] action [in observance of the mitzvos], as it says [in parshasEikev”], “And you shall teach them to your children to speak of them…” (Divarim: 11; 19) What does it say [in The Torah in relation to the reward for Torah study]? “In order that your days and the days of your children shall be prolonged…” (Divarim: 11; 21) It [similarly] says [in “Tehillim” concerning the reward for Torah study], “And He has given them the lands of peoples and they shall inherit the wealth of nations. Because they have guarded [to observe] His ordinances…” (Tehillim: 105; 43 – 44)”

[3] A “bas kol” refers to a Heavenly Voice.

[4] “Har Choreiv” is another name for “Har Sinai” – Mount Sinai.

[5] Subsequent to teaching of all of the benefits that the person receives for involvement in Torah study, including the fact that the entire world was created for such a person, this person thereby significantly improves his relationship with HaShem and people, readies him to attain great character traits, including humility, righteousness, piety, uprightness, and trustworthiness, The Torah also distances the person from sin and brings him closer to the performance of meritorious deeds. This person, through his involvement in Torah study, also acquires many great types of wisdom. (Rabbi Meir in Chapter 6, Mishna 1) The second Mishna of this chapter states that the person who is involved in Torah study receives positions of leadership, the ability to investigate the law, he has the secrets of The Torah revealed to him, is modest and slow to anger, overcomes his negative inclinations, and is raised up over all of Creation.

This section of “Pirkei Avos” states as follows:

“Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said, ‘On every single day, a Heavenly Voice goes out from Har Choreiv and announces and says, ‘Woe to the people from the insult of The Torah, for all of those who do not involve themselves in Torah [study are] called “reprimanded” – “נזוף”, as it says [in seferMishlei”], “A gold ring in the nose of a pig, [so] is a beautiful woman who is lacking reason.” (11; 22) [In addition, the pasuk in parshasKi Sisa”] states, “And the tablets, they are the work of G-d, and the writing is the writing of G-d, engraved upon the tablets”. (Shmos: 32; 16) Do not read [the word as] “charus” – חָרוּת – “engraved”, rather [read the word as] “cheirus” – “חֵרוּת”, for you don’t have one who is free except one who is involved in Torah [study], for all of those who involve themselves in Torah [study] ascends [in in greatness – RaSh”I], as it says [in parshasChukas”], “And from Matanah to Nachaliel and from Nachaliel to Bamos.” (Bamidbar: 21; 19) RaSh”I on this mishna, quoting from masechesEruvin” (54a), explains that first, as the previous pasuk stated, The B’nei Yisrael traveled from Midbar to Matanah – which refers to the place that The Torah was given. They then traveled to Nachaliel, which can be broken up into two words which mean that their “inheritance is G-d”, as HaShem had brought us into His Portion, once our portion was HaShem, we ascend to greatness.”

On the section of this mishna that the Chofetz Chaim quotes, we learn that The Torah suffers an insult when people don’t involve themselves in studying it.

[6] This teaching is found in “Midrash Osios D’Rabbi Akiva”, chapter 94, or chapter 18.

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