Sunday, January 8, 2012

The merits of learning

I had another study session with my chavrusa.  Always fun.  (It's funny, I started learning with a chavrusa to get closer to Orthodoxy.  Boy, did THAT one backfire!)
We were discussing the need to work.  I think that one can easily fulfill the mitzvah of "learning night and morning" by attending a Daf Yomi shiur before work, and then looking over the daf after dinner.  On Shabbos, of course, learning can go into much greater depth.  There are a few (emhasis on "few") great minds who can learn all day, but for at least 99.99% of the learning boys warming a bench in yeshiva--get a damn job, guys!  After all, some of the greatest Torah minds in history worked full-time.  Also, there are how many references again in the Torah, Mishnah and Talmud that state the need to earn a living.  Let's start with the curse of Adam: You shall earn your bread by the sweat of your brow.  Since childbirth still hurts like hell (G-d's curse to the female half of the population), I'm guessing that part one is still in effect.  Then there are the lines in Pirkei Avos about Ein kemach, Ein Torah (When there is no flour, there is no Torah), or something about study without work is meaningless.  And then, there is that great line from the Talmud: Whoever does not teach his son a trade teaches him to steal.  (Unfortunately, we've seen the truth of that statement a few too many times in recent history.)
Finally, let's look at some of the great Torah minds.  People like Rashi and the Rambam.  More recently, the Chofetz Chaim.  One could state that they worked only a minimum number of hours and then spent the rest of the time learning.  But the point is, they worked!  They didn't knock on stranger's doors looking for a handout.  They didn't commit felonies, violating the very Torah they purport to love.  They pulled their own weight and still became some of the greatest Torah scholars in history.

1 comment:

  1. Well first you have to remember that "Chazal said so!" is only really applied when the person using the line actually agrees with Chazal. Point out all the statements that Chazal said about the importance of working for a living and you'll get "Well we don't hold like that nowadays".
    Secondly, one can fulfill one's Torah obligation by reciting kiras Shema morning and night. That's the absolute minimum but it is enough if necessary.
    Finally there is the statement by Chazal: it is better to tan hides in the marketplace than to live off of charity. Seems pretty specific.
    You'd very much like a book on this called "Torah Study" put out by YU. Hard to find but worth the effort.


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