Saturday, January 3, 2009

82 a - The Last Mishna

1. My rebbe shlit"a asked me last week to look something up for him, as he was out of town and didn't have many sefarim. He asked why does our Mishna say Avraham kept all of the mitzvos if in Yoma 28b Rava says Avraham kept the entire Torah and our Mishna was not quoted. Rabi Akiva Eiger in Gilyon Hashas quotes Rashi in Kanim who points out that something from a mishna was quoted without being introduced with "detnan." It therefore seems that maybe this part of the Mishna was not in all girsaos. In fact, in the R' Kafach edition of Mishna Im Perush Harambam (Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook, 5725) does not have the last 12 lines of our Mishna. Maybe it was incorporated in our text from the Tosefta (but it's not exactly like our Tosefta either).

2. Rebi Meir says to teach your son a clean, easy profession. Later in the mishna, Rebi Nehorai says "I will put all the professions aside and only teach my son Torah." The Brisker Rav (al Hatorah, Parshas Chayei Sarah) asks that Rebi Meir and Rebi Mehorai are the same person, so how could he say contradictory things? In Brachos 35 there is a machlokes Rebi Yishmael and Rebi Shimon bar Yochai if you should have a profession or only learn Torah. The Brisker Rav says that the halacha is like Rebi Yishmael that you must have a profession. But certain people are allowed to act in accordance with Rebi Shimon. In effect he's saying the halacha is like Rebi Yishmael but that does not invalidate the opinion of Rebi Shimon. His nephew, my Rebbe zt"l, in Perach Mateh Aharon (Talmud Torah 1:8) says something very similar and in a different context.

Rambam Talmud Torah 3:10 writes: Whoever thinks he should learn Torah and not work and be sustained by tzedaka is desecrating G-d's name and deriding the Torah and extinguishes the light of the religion and is taking his life from the world to come, because it is forbidden to derive benefit from words of Torah in this world....They also commanded and said do not make it a crown to become great and not a spade to dig with them. They also comanded and said love the work and hate rabbanus and all Torah which is not accompanied with work will be nullified in the end and causes sin. And the end of this man is that he will rob others. [11] It is a great level for one who is supported by the work of his hands. It was the practice of the early chasidim. And with this one merits to all the honor and good in this world and in the world to come....

The Rambam Avos 4:7 (Perush Hamishna) is very long; he discusses "you may not make the Torah a spade to dig with" and how the greatest Tanaim worked and only after they were done went to the beis medrash. He prefaces his remarks with the following statement: "people have blinded themselves to this clear statement and rationalized it with explanations that ar enot understandable, and I will explain them, and they made theselves mertiorious on individuals and communities and made Torah leadership positions set with taxes and they snagged people with deceit that this is obligatory and we must help (support) chachamim and students and people who toil in Torah and Torah is their profession. And this is a mistake which has no foundation in Torah and has no legs on which to stand. When we understand the actions of chazal we do not find they collected [money] from people and they did not solicit gifts for the exalted and honored yeshivos and not for the Exilearch and not for judges and not to mmarbitzei torah and not to anyone who was appointed to any position or any person. Rather, we find all of them - some of them" [let me paraphrase] were terribly ipoverished, soe were very wealthy and chalila they were not generous donors, but had the impoverished opened his hand to accept [gifts or charity] they would have been filled with gold and pearls but they did not do this. They worked to be support theselves, whether comfortably or not, and they refrianed that which was in others hands because the Torah witheld it from them. We know Hillel worked as a wood chopper....

I don't have the time to quote this entire Rambam, but it is so important and I urge you to read it.

(On having a profession and secular education - they are related topics -
Rabbi Dr. Yehudah Levi's books Torah Study: A Survey of Classic Sources on Timely Issues (Feldheim) and Facing Current Challenges (Hemed, good luck finding one, it doesn't have an ISBN) are outstanding resources for more on this subject. I can hear my Rebbe Rav Ahron Soloveichik zt"l in many of the chapters of Facing Current Challenges,and why not; he was also a Rebbe of R' Levi.)

Just because someone is such a special person that he can follow Rabi Shimon bar Yochai doesn't mean he must. 2 examples: The Rambam writes in a teshuva that he had no time to respond to a question because he is so busy working, he only has time to learn on Shabbos. In Brisk, Rav Chaim Soloveichik (Brisker) did not have time to learn until late at night because he was performing acts of chesed all day. Rav Chaim was certainly muchtar b'keser shel Torah, but he "worked" by doing chesed (he was rav of the city) all day and did not learn all day. (I heard this fact, but not this application, from my rebbe, his great-grandson, as well as from a chaver of mine whose great-grandfather, R' Leizer Silver went to Brisk to learn from Rav Chaim.)

UPDATE: My brother just showed me the Meiri, Pesachim 50, that one should be careful to learn a profession so if one becomes impoverished they will have skills to be able to make a living, and not to rely on one's wife for support.

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