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Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
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Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
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Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
Midrash Sh'muel  Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -
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Midrash Sh'muel Pirkéi Avot - Rabi Shmuel Di Uzeda -

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  • 1. Midrash Shmuel A Collection of Commentaries on Pirkei Avot Compiled by Rabbi Shmuel Di Uzeda, of blessed memory, one of Rabbi YitzchakLima's senior disciples and author of the works Iggeret Shmuel and Lechem Dimah Translated into English by R. MOSHE SCHAPIRO and R. DAVID ROTTENBERG ‫לאינטרנט‬ ‫והוכנס‬ ‫הועתק‬ www .hebrewb ooks.org ‫תשס״ט‬ ‫היים‬ ‫ע״י‬ Jerusalem, 5754 — 1994 ‫התשנ״ד‬ ‫ירושלים‬
  • 2. ‫שמורות‬ ‫הזכויות‬ ‫כל‬ ,‫דתות‬ ‫לעניני‬ ‫המשרד‬ ‫בסיוע‬ ‫לאוד‬ ‫יוצא‬ .‫לישיבות‬ ‫המחלקת‬ ,‫תורה‬ ‫ומוסדות‬ ‫ארגונים‬ ‫אגף‬ hfkxyu tnsocuce &*.zoyh *esyxch And cbe puMtcAnon I / of a^nusaqpcs /na p*2nascl WORKS J1KL » p.0.k.60fe»a1^l€m, isyel ‫״‬ f f ‫יי‬ gyw^ammynynn ‫^זזץד‬ Yew?" jonviv jGcho ‫מ.ד‬ fax 972-2-894317 ‫פקס‬ 02-280^735 :‫טל‬
  • 3. ‫ומיוחדת‬ ‫רבה‬ ‫ברכה‬ ‫זה‬ ‫קדוש‬ ‫ספר‬ ‫להוצאת‬ ‫שיהיה‬ ‫שביקש‬ ‫התורם‬ ‫ע״י‬ ‫שם‬ ‫בעילום‬ ‫התורה‬ ‫וזבות‬ ‫בשמים‬ ‫נרשם‬ ‫שמו‬ ‫היקרה‬ ‫משפחתו‬ ‫בל‬ ‫ועל‬ ‫עליו‬ ‫תגן‬ ‫ויעליח‬ ‫ישכיל‬ ‫יפנה‬ ‫אשר‬ ‫ובכל‬ ‫תעמוד‬ ‫המחבר‬ ‫הרב‬ ‫וזכות‬ .‫ביתו‬ ‫בני‬ ‫ולכל‬ ‫לו‬
  • 4. Preface We are overjoyed to present the English Judaica-reading public with Rabbi Shmuel UzidaJ s monumental work, Mirdrash Shmuel. This sefer served as an important reference source of Torah principles, ideals and values, for many generations. Rabbi Shmuel Uzida compiled the commentaries on Pirkei Avot by the greatest Torah scholars of his day, as well as of past generations. Many of the sources he quotes — expecially those which remained in manuscript and were never published — are no longer extant. Thus, in addition to supplying us with a collection of various commentaries in a concise framework, Midrash Shmuel is also a chronicle of excerpts from rare works which have vanished from the face of the earth, never to be seen again. The name Pirkei Avot (Chapters• of the Fathers) is descriptive of the ideological significance of these six chapters of misha: The elemental structure of Torah values and ideals upon which the entire edifice is balanced. Anyone who has even the most minimal understanding of human psychology and interpersonal relations will discover new horizons as he explores the subtle ideas conveyed in this sefer. Study of Chapter of the Fathers will assist the inquisitive and creative individual perceive new insights into the meaning of life in general and Torah observance in particular. Rav Moshe Schapiro did more than merely translate Midrash Shmuel; he also condensed many of the
  • 5. explanations in such a way as to enable the modern, English-speaking reader to emerge with a clear understanding of the mishna. Through the study of this sefer, it is possible to come to terms with the trials and tribulations we all experience in our everyday existence, as well as earn a sizeable portion in the Next World. Many people today are in search of true happiness and satisfaction; they can rest assured that if they will fulfill all the ideals written in this work, they will be happy for the rest of their lives, and will infuse those with whom they come in contact with a sense of well-being. One should study this sefer carefully and review it often, for due to its complexity and depth, its message is sometimes evasive. Even after one has reached understanding, he will forget everything unless he reviews it often. Machon HaKtav, which has until today published more than 100 holy works concerning every conceivable field of Torah scholarship, continues to render important and valuable sefarim into the English, French, and Spanish languages. Joyous and blessed are the donors who have assisted us in our efforts, and who have helped support the numerous talmidei chachamim who toil in their effort to present Jews of this generation with Torah wisdom. May HaShem bless them for their efforts! May all who have contributed towards the publishing of this important work be blessed with all the blessings mentioned in the Torah!
  • 6. Translator's Introduction Rabbi Shmuel Uzida, the author of Midrash Shmuel, set for himself a most challenging goal when he decided to write this sefer. It is an anthology of commentaries on Pirkei Avot by the foremost Torah scholars of Tzfat in the years following the death of the Ari'zal, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, of blessed memory. In addition to compiling the numerous commentaries on each mishna, Rabbi Uzida also contributed his own explanation. It is clear from the great complexity of the commentaries that it must have taken Rabbi Uzida a good many years of devoted, exacting work to complete this gigantic work. There were many difficulties in translating this work. The authors use of florid, elegant Hebrew makes Midrash Shmuel a difficult text to read, and needless to say, to translate. Often, very similar ideas are repeated in the name of different commentaries, which reveals the author^ great concern for accuracy. In light of these facts, it was decided that a faithful, line- by-line translation would result in a cumbersome text that would invariably tire the reader. Instead, we chose to paraphrase only the commentaries which shed the most light on each mishna. Needless to say, it would be presumptuous of us to suggest that we are worthy of determining which explanations truly disclose the most truth. However, after much deliberation, it became clear that, for the sake of the sefer, only those commentaries which most appeal to the average Jew, s mind should be translated. It is hoped that we have made the correct choices.
  • 7. The following is an excerpt from a letter by Maimonides to Shmuel ibn Tibbon, in which he outlines the responsibilites of a translator. We have attempted to apply these principles to the best of our ability in this translation of Midrash Shmuel: One who wishes to translate from one language to another, and tries to translate word by word, maintaining the order of both the subject and the words, will find his work very difficult, and will ultimately end up with a translation that is highly questionable and confusing. Rather, one who translates from one language to another must first understand the concept. Then he should relate and explain the subject according to his understanding, providing a clear exposition in the language into which he is translating. This is impossible without transposing the order of words. Moreover, the translator will sometimes have to use many words to translate a single word, while at other times he will have to use a single word to translate many. He will have to add and delete words so that the concept may be clearly expressed in the language into which he is translating.
  • 8. 1 Midrash Shmuel Chapter One 1-1 Moshe received Torah from Sinai, and transmitted it to Yehoshuah, and Yehoshuah to the Elders, and the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets transmitted it to the Members of the Great Assembly. They said three things: "Be deliberate in judgment, sustain numerous students, and make a fence to the Torah." An explanation is required to understand why Rebbi Yehudah HaNassi chose to describe the manner in which the Torah was transmitted from generation to generation specifically in this tractate. This tractate, unlike other tractates of the Talmud, does not discuss the laws regarding any specific mitzvah. Instead, it teaches general rules of ethics and positive character traits. Scholars of other nations have also composed books regarding this subject, basing themselves on misconstrued principles fabricated by their own imaginations. Thus, in order to emphasize the difference between the principles discussed in this tractate and the false doctrines of the scholarly men of the nations, the mishna stresses that these principles were received by Moshe from Sinai. These are
  • 9. 2 CHAPTER ONE not merely hypothetical theories devised by the authors of the mishna, but are, rather, the divine revelation which Moshe received at Mt. Sinai. (Rabbeinu Ovadiah Bartenurah) Alternatively, we may offer a different answer: It is an established principle that the retention of Torah and wisdom can only be achieved by a person who fears sin. As the Tanna says, "Anyone whose fear of sin precedes his wisdom, his wisdom will endure" (Avot 3:11). The fear of Heaven is the repository where Torah and wisdom may be kept safe, as the verse says, "And he shall be the stability of your times, a store of salvation, wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is his treasure" (Yeshayahu 33:6). It was this exalted state of Heavenly fear which enabled Moshe, Yehoshuah, and the Elders to receive and transmit the Torah. Thus, by prefacing the mishna with the transmission of the Torah from generation to generation, Rebbi emphasizes that the comprehension of Torah is dependent on the attainment of Heavenly fear and ethical perfection. The mishna should have ascribed everything to either the receiver or to the giver. That is, it should have said either "HaShem gave Torah to Moshe, and Moshe transmitted it to Yehoshuah," or "Yehoshuah received Torah from Moshe, and the Elders from Yehoshuah." Instead, the mishna says "Moshe received Torah, and he transmitted it to Yehoshuah...." Were it not for Moshe Rabbeinu's successful debate with the angels, the Torah would not have been given to mortal man. Thus, by using the words "Moshe received
  • 10. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 3 Torah,‫י‬‫י‬ the mishna is attributing the reception of the Torah entirely to Moshe Rabbeinu. As the Sages say in reference to the verse "And the Lord said to Moshe, 'Write for yourself these words; for after the tenor of these words have I made a covenant with you and with Israel," — HaShem said '1 have given Torah to Israel on your merit.‫״‬ ‫י‬ The angels argued against giving the Torah to man, as the verse says, "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him?" The verse "Forever, O Lord, your word stands fast in the heavens" (Tehillim 119:89) also alludes to the debate between Moshe and the angels. The decisive claim in favor of giving the Torah to mortal man was that certain verses in the Torah are not applicable to spiritual beings, but rather specifically to humans. For example, the Torah says "You went down to Paroh and became enslaved," and "Do not kill," and "Do not commit adultery." There is an alternative answer to this question. In His infinite wisdom, HaShem foresaw that Moshe would not be able to receive the Torah in its entirety, as the verse says, "You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You do crown him with glory and honor‫י‬ ‫י‬ (Tehillim 8:6). For this reason, the mishna uses the words "Moshe received Torah": Moshe received as much Torah as his soul was able to perceive. This also explains why the mishna did not say "Moshe received the Torah," since this would imply that he received the entire Torah. Thus, the mishna says "Moshe received Torah" — as much as he was capable of receiving.
  • 11. 4 CHAPTER ONE This explanation also answers a different question: Why does the mishna say "Moshe received Torah from Sinai" and not "Moshe received Torah from HaShem"'} The answer is that, out of concern for the honor of Heaven, the author of the mishna did not want to explicitly assign an incomplete act to HaShem. Instead, he chose to attribute this imperfect act to "Mount Sinai." For this reason, the mishna says "from Sinai." Similarly, if the purpose of the mishna were to inform us of where Moshe received the Torah, it should have said "in Sinai." Instead, it says "from Sinai," which does not teach where the Torah was received, but rather, from whom it was received. Regarding this last question, Rav Avuhav offers an alternative explanation: The mishna specifically said "from Sinai" in order to teach that Moshe received the Torah directly from HaShem. The use of this form is found elsewhere in Scripture, for example: "And many people shall go and say, 4 Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the G‫־‬d of Ya, akov...for out of Zion shall go forth Torah, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Yeshayahu 1:3). "From Zion" here means "From the Sages who sit in Zion." In addition, the numerical value of the letter mem ‫מ‬ (from) is forty, which alludes to the forty days during which Moshe ascended to the divine realms, and which ultimately led to HaShem giving the Torah to the Jewish People. It also alludes to the forty generations from Moshe until Rebbi and Rav Ashi, which implies that they were also present in Sinai when the Torah was given to the Jewish People. Attributing an action to a giver implicitly accords him with more importance than the receiver. Conversely, if an action is attributed to a receiver, he is considered the
  • 12. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 5 more essential party. With this idea in mind, we may now understand why the mishna says "and Moshe transmitted it to Yehoshuah." This indicates that Moshe Rabbeinu, who imparted his knowledge, was spiritually greater than Yehoshuah, the receiver of that knowledge. In contrast, Yehoshuah, s spiritual stature was almost equal to that of the Elders and of the Prophets. For this reason, the mishna does not refer to the following generations as either receivers or bestowers. However, in relationship to the Members of the Great Assembly, the Prophets were spiritualy superior, and this is why the mishna uses the word "transmitted" once again. (Rav Moshe Almoshnino) Alternatively: Moshe Rabbeinu reached an exalted state of prophecy, his mind merging with the greater Unity of Divine Awareness. In this supremely elevated spiritual state, the notion of a giver and a receiver cease to exist. Instead, the perceiver, the perceived, and the knower all blend into one consciousness of all-knowing understanding. Thus, the mishna says "Moshe received..." ‫־־‬ beyond the ordinary exchange between a giver and a receiver, one who reaches this level of prophecy enters into an all-knowing state where knowledge suddenly becomes a part of his own consciousness. (Rav Shem Tov ben Shem Tov) Alternatively: Why does the mishna again use the word "transmitted" when referring to the Members of the Great Assembly? It would have been sufficient to say "...and the Prophets to the Members of the Great Assembly." The word "transmit" connotes a complete transfer of information. Thus, the mishna teaches that the Members
  • 13. 6 CHAPTER ONE of the Great Assembly, who were the last generation before the decline of the generations began to accelerate in earnest, obtained a transmission of the Torah which was as clear as that which Yehoshuah received from Moshe Rabbeinu. In reference to the following generations, the word "received" is used, as in "Antignos Ish Suko received....‫יי‬ The word "received" connotes an imperfect transmission of information, through which the receiver was only able to acquire as much knowledge as his capabilities allowed. This implies, then, that a large portion of the Torah that Moshe received at Sinai was forgotten by the generations following the Great Assembly. Why does the mishna say "and transmitted it to Yehoshuah," instead of saying "And gave it to Yehoshuah?" Furthermore, we know that Moshe first taught the entire Torah to Aharon, then to Aharon, s sons, then to the Princes of the Tribes, and then to the entire Jewish Members. If so, why does the mishna say that Moshe transmitted the Torah to Yehoshuah? In answer to the first question, perhaps the word "transmit" intimates that an individual should not consider his Torah knowledge as if it were his own possession, to do with as he likes. Nor is it an object to be handed down to one, s offspring as an inheritance. Instead, one must regard himself as the safekeeper of an extremely valuable object owned by the king. As it would be unthinkable to deposit such an object with an irresponsible guardian, so, too, Torah must only be transferred to a worthy keeper who, in turn, will take care to transfer it to other righteous guardians.
  • 14. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 7 The answer to the second question is as follows: In order for the Jewish People to continue to fulfill the mitzvot, they must have a leader to guide them and rule over them, as the verse says, "Her gates are sunk into the ground; he has destroyed and broken her bars; her king and her princes are among the nations; there is no Torah...‫יי‬ (Eichah 2:9). Thus, it is imperative that in every generation a suitable leader take charge over them, induce them to fulfill the mitzvot, punish the wicked, and reward the righteous. The verse "Cursed be he who does not maintain all the words of this Torah to do them" (Devarim 27:26) refers to a leader of the Diaspora who had the capability to reprimand the wicked but refrained from doing so. Yehoshuah was selected to assume the role of Leader of the Jewish Members; this was what Moshe Rabbeinu transferred to Yehoshuah. (Rav ben Shem Tov) There is a deeper explanation: Paradoxically, sometimes it is necessary to make decrees which contradict the precepts of the Torah in order to ensure its own perpetuation. As the Sages say, Jerusalem was destroyed because they did act according to the laws of the Torah.‫י‬‫י‬ Certain situations demand that the Beit Din make decrees which, although they seem to contradict the precepts of the Torah, are necessary to avoid eventual damage to the Torah and the Jewish People, as the verse says, "It is time to act for the Lord — they have made void Your Torah" (Tehillim 119:126). Of course, not every individual has the authority to make such decrees. Moshe Rabbeinu gave Yehoshuah this authority, and this is what is meant by "...and transmitted it to Yehoshuah." Yehoshuah then transmitted this authority to the Elders, and they to the Prophets, until eventually the Members of the Great Assembly were encharged with this responsibility. This
  • 15. 8 CHAPTER ONE is one of the reasons why the Oral Law was not to be written - it was to be transmitted to the next Beit Din, thereby giving them full authority to interpret it as they deemed necessary. There is another answer to the question: The mishna is not referring to the Oral Law; instead, it refers to the esoteric secrets of the Torah. Moshe did not teach the esoteric tradition to just anyone; instead, he revealed these mysteries only to Yehoshuah. In turn, Yehoshuah transmitted the esoteric tradition to the Elders prior to his death, as the verse says "And Yehoshuah called to all the Elders...." However, an explanation is required as to why Yehoshuah did not follow Moshe Rabbeinu's example and transmit the secrets to one individual, transmitting them instead it to the entire group of Elders. Two answers may be given: Perhaps he did transmit it to one of the Elders, and that Elder taught another elder, and so on. On the other hand, it is possible that he decided to teach the entire group of Elders because when HaShem decreed that the secrets of the Torah should be transmitted to one worthy individual, this was only possible when the Jewish Members were gathered together in the Desert. Once the Tribes entered Eretz Yisrael, they partitioned off the Land and separated from each other, each Tribe settling on its own portion of land. Had Yehoshuah selected an individual from one of the Tribes and transmitted the esoteric secrets only to him, tribal discord would have resulted. Thus, he saw fit to reveal the esoteric secrets to the entire group of Elders, which consisted of six representatives from each Tribe. Furthermore, had
  • 16. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 9 he only taught one individual, people would have been forced to travel great distances in order to learn from him alone. By teaching the entire group of Elders, Yehoshuah fulfilled the verse, "Judges and officers shall you make for yourselves in all your gates...and they shall judge the People with righteous judgment" (Devarim 16:18). (Rav Avuhav) Why does Tractate Avot, which deals with ethics, precede the tractates which discuss the Laws of Damages?" Regarding the Laws of Damages, the Talmud says, "One who wants to attain the trait of piousness should fulfill the Laws of Damages, and some say the Ethics of the Fathers.‫י‬ ' Thus, we see that Pirkei Avot appear adjacent to the Laws of Damages. Alternatively: There are four essential categories of Damages, referred to as the Arba Avot Nezikin, (Four categories of Damages) and the order of the Tractates implies that the study of Pirkei Avot will prevent one from committing one of the four Avot Nezikin. (Rav Yosef Nachmiash) Be deliberate in judgment The mishna warns dayanim against making a hasty deliberation of the law. Instead, they must investigate the law patiently and thoroughly, in order to avoid making faulty legal rulings, as the verse says, "Surely I shall take the appointed time; I will judge with equity" (Tehillim 75:3). Regarding this idea, Rav Baruch ben Melech quotes the verse "How is the faithful city become a harlot! It was full of judgment, righteousness lodged in it....‫י‬ ‫י‬ (Yeshayahu 1:21) That is, correct judgment will only
  • 17. 10 CHAPTER ONE result from the case being left to "lodge" overnight. In addition, Rav Moshe Alshkar explains that the mishna teaches that the disputing parties must be given ample time to reach compromise before the judicial decision is pronounced. After the decision has been made, it is no longer possible to reach further compromise. The verse "When my heart was embittered, and I was pricked in my reins; I was foolish and ignorant then; I was like a beast before you" (Tehillim 73:21) illustrates this idea. That is, when I delay my heart from pronouncing a legal ruling, then I am dumbfounded, for I realize how far I was from the truth. (Rav Shimon bar Tzemach) Alternatively, this may mean that ample time should be devoted towards ,determining the legality of an action. However, if the law is known, a Judge should not delay unnecessarily before pronouncing the ruling. Or, it is possible that the mishna warns against assuming the role of a Rabbi prematurely. As the Sages say Rabbim Chalalim Hipila — this refers to a disciple who makes legal rulings before attaining Rabbinical Ordination. The verse says, "But let him that glories glory in this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises faithful love, justice and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, says the Lord" (Yirmi'ahu 9:23). The verse is explaining that the only way to come to know HaShem is by emulating Him. Thus, regarding the Almighty, the verse says, "He judged the cause of the poor and needy, then it was well with him; was not this to know Me says the Lord" (Yirmi'ahu 22:16). (Rabbeinu Yonah)
  • 18. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 11 The mishna may also be explained in this: The claimant and defendant must make a careful assessment before deciding which dayan to appoint to preside over a dispute. Or, it is possible that the mishna teaches that a dayan should not aspire to preside over a dispute; instead, he should refuse to accept the appointment unless the parties persist in their request. Alternatively, the mishna advises the disputing parties to try to reach a compromise before coming to the Court, since people who do bring their disputes to the Beit Din often become enemies. Perhaps the mishna is also warning the disputing parties to choose their words carefully, since a persons own admission is stronger evidence then even one hundred witnesses for the opposing side. Also, a disputing party should not interrupt the other, s speech, for this is not a proper way to conduct oneself while in the presence of the dayanim. Alternatively, it is possible this refers to the witnesses — they must take care to state their testimony honestly and accurately. Also, they should not volunteer their testimony. Instead, they should wait until they are requested by one of the parties to testify, since their testimony on the behalf of one of the parties might well cause the other party to harbor hatred against them. {Rav Yitzchak Karo) The word o^inn(deliberate) stems from the word ‫מתנה‬ (gift). This implies that a dayan must not accept a bribe. Instead, he must determine the ruling free of charge, in the same manner that one gives a gift. Alternatively, the word ‫מתונים‬ stems from the word ‫מתונים‬ (readily available). That is, the dayan must consider the claim of both parties with as much care as he would devote towards formulating his
  • 19. 12 CHAPTER ONE own claim in a monetary dispute. After determining which party is liable, he must obligate that party to compensate the claimant, as the verse says: "Hear the small as well as the great; do not be afraid of the face of any man..." (Devarim 1:17). (The Ritvah) Sustain numerous students Instead of saying "Teach numerous students," the mishna chose to use the word "sustain." By selecting this word, the mishna implicitly obligates the wealthy to financially support Torah scholars, thus enabling them to devote their total concentration towards their studies. A person who supports Torah scholars is sure to be rewarded, as the verse says: "Zevulun will be joyous when he goes out." That is, as a reward for supplying the Tribe of Yissachar with all of their physical needs, thereby enabling them to study Torah without interruption, Zevulun will feel joyous and serene even when they will go out to do business. Although it is natural for people to feel trepidation at this time, the Tribe of Zevulun will feel secure in the knowledge that Yissachar, s Torah study will protect them from misfortune. This explanation is also evident from the use of the word ‫הרבה‬ (much) instead of ‫רבים‬ (many) — in addition to encouraging Sages to teach many students, the mishna also urges the wealthy to provide continuous and generous financial support to Torah scholars. Alternatively, it is possible that the author of the mishna intended to exclude Beit Shamafs opinion that "One should only teach Torah to a student who is worthy, modest, virtuous, and G-d‫־‬fearing." Instead, the way of Beit Hillel should be followed: "One should teach every person; no one who wishes to learn Torah should be rejected." This is the intention of the words "Sustain
  • 20. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 13 numerous students." However, one should not ignore the potential danger of teaching an unworthy student. It is for this reason that the mishna continues "and make a fence to the Torah." Although no one should be turned away from entering the Beit Midrash (House of Study), esoteric teachings should only be revealed to each student in accordance with his level of devotion. A sage must guard his mouth from revealing profound esoteric truths to an unworthy student. A sage must always consult his disciples before pronouncing a halachic ruling, as it says, "I have learned much from my teachers, but I have learned the most from my disciples." Having numerous disciples will also minimize the time required to arrive at a halachic decision, since a student's questions will invariably intensify the dialectic level of argumentation and deliberation. As a support for this explanation, Rav Efraim quotes the following talmudic reference: "When Rav was asked a question regarding a treifah animal, he used to gather ten people together and say, 'Whoever can prove that this animal is kosher, let him speak up!'" (Rav Shem Tov ben Shem Tov) There is a more profound concept behind this decree: Only a person who is knowledgeable in Torah is considered a creature made in the image of G‫־‬d. Thus, by educating students, one in effect creates additonal images of G‫־‬d. A practical reason to accept numerous disciples is that one never knows which student will bear fruits. The more students one has, the more likely it is that one of them will become a spiritual leader of the Jewish Members. Similarly, a father should not think, "It is sufficient that one of my children will study Torah.‫י‬ ‫י‬ It is also possible
  • 21. 14 CHAPTER ONE that the mishna is encouraging the wealthy to provide long-term accomodations for numerous Torah scholars. (R. YitchakKaro) The mishna warns not to study Torah alone, as the verse says: "A sword upon the liars, and they shall become fools; a sword upon her mighty men, and they shall be dismayed" (Yirmi'ahu 3:36). This verse refers to people who study Torah alone. The Talmud also emphasizes the importance of studying Torah with other people: "He who loves to learn in public with his Rav will reap a bountiful harvest in Torah." (Rav Matitiahu Ha'itzri) In the days of Moshe Rabbeinu, students used to stand during study and the Rav used to sit. The word ‫והעמידו‬ (sustain) in the mishna stems from the word ‫עמוד‬ (stand). This warns students to remain standing while in the presence of their Rav. Alternatively, we may answer that the Members of the Great Assembly reinstituted the attributes "The Great, Mighty, and Awesome G-d, the Supreme G-d" into the silent prayer: The directive to sustain numerous students supports the attribute "The Great," the directive to make a fence for the Torah fulfills the attribute "The Awesome," since the Torah is awe inspiring, as the verse says, "My covenant was with him for life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear with which he feared Me, and was afraid of My Name" (Malachi 2:5). The directive to be deliberate in judgment stems from the attribute "Mighty," since Judgment and might are both manifestations of the Sefirah of Gevurah. (Rav Yosef Nachmiash) And make a fence to the Torah
  • 22. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 15 The Torah says: "Therefore shall you keep My ordinance, that you do not commit any one of these abominable customs, which were practised before you, and that you not defile yourselves in them; I am the Lord, your G-d" (Vayikra 18:30). The Sages understood this to mean "Make a fence around My prohibitions." In reference to this, David HaMelech said, "I understand more than the Elders, because I keep your precepts" {Tehillim 119:100). That is, in addition to keeping the negative precepts, I will also restrain myself from acting in a manner which people find displeasing. This will distance me even further from transgressing Your precepts ‫־־‬ if peopled approval becomes important to me, then certainly I will take precautions against displeasing You. Some commentaries say that the mishna advises a sage or teacher to speak clearly and concisely. Otherwise, the listeners will grow tired, and consequently, become distracted. In this vein, David HaMelech said, "My heart overflows with a goodly matter; I relate my verses for the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer" (Tehillim 45:2) This statement teaches four elemental principles of public speaking: 1) One must think before speaking. 2) The speech should be concise and brief. 3) The subject of discussion should be of interest to the audience. 4) The speaker should be well versed in the content of the speech. Rav Menachem, of Beit Meir, writes that the importance of limiting one's speech is illustrated by Avot DeRav Natan: "The Almighty Himself limited His speech, as it says 'And
  • 23. 16 CHAPTER ONE at this House, which is high, every one that passes by shall be astonished; they shall hiss and say, "Why has the Lord done thus to this Land, and to this House?" And they shall answer, "Because they forsook the Lord, their G-d, Who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt...'' (Melachim A 9:8-10). We see that HaShem did not write in the Torah that the Temple would eventually be destroyed. Instead, the first mention of this subject is in Sefer Devarim, which was written by Moshe Rabbeinu. This teaches us that even HaShem withholds Himself from saying everything. (Rav Moshe Alshkar) The mishna obligates the rabbinical authorities to make decrees which will distance individuals from succumbing to their Evil Inclination and transgressing Torah precepts. For example, the Torah says: "Do not approach a woman when she is unclean." The Sages then decreed that, in addition to the prohibition against conducting sexual relations with such a woman, it is also prohibited to kiss or touch her in any manner. The Sages say, "A fenced vineyard is very different than an unfenced one." For this reason, a person who violates a rabbinical decree incurs public lashing. In contrast, one who fulfills these decrees is rewarded generously, as the verse says: "Moreover, by them is your servant elightened, and in keeping of them there is great reward" (Tehillim 19:12). The verse "Keep your heart with the greatest vigilance, for out of it are the issues of life" (Mishlei 4:23) also proves this idea. That is, Shlomo HaMelech said, "I will guard my heart even from the decrees which safeguard Your precepts, since they are also a source of eternal life." (Rav ben Shem Tov)
  • 24. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 17 The mishna warns every individual to take precautions against succumbing to sin, especially in areas where he feels particularly vulnerable. (Rav Yitzchak Karo) And Yehoshuah to the Elders The mishna refers to the generation of Sages which succeeded Yehoshuah as the ‫זקנים‬ (Elders), not as "Prophets,5 ' even though they preceded the generation of Prophets. There are three possible reasons for this: Before Shmuel's lifetime, prophecy was a very rare occurrence, as the verse says, "And the child Shmuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. The word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no frequent vision" (Shmuel A 3:1). Thus, although the Elders preceded the Prophets, they were not endowed with the power of prophecy. Alternatively, it is possible that they did have prophecy, but, because their prophecies were not deemed meaningful to future generations, they were not recorded in Scripture. Thus, the mishna does not refer to them as Prophets. Alternatively, it is possible that the Elders' level of prophecy actually surpassed the Prophets' state of prophetic vision: Unlike the Prophets, who were only capable of maintaining a prophetic state while in isolation, the Elders were able to do so while in the presence of others. (Rav Matitiahu Hayitzri)
  • 25. 18 CHAPTER ONE 1-2 Shimon HaTzadik was one of the last of the Great Assembly. He used to say: "The world stands on three things: on Torah, Avodah (Service), and on Acts of Lovingkindness." Shimon HaTzadik explains that the Great Assembly saw it fit to emphasize the first mishna's three principles "Be deliberate in judgment, sustain numerous students, and make a fence to the Torah," because these principles specifically represent the three pillars upon which the world stands: "Sustain numerous students" represents "Torah"; "Make a fence to the Torah" represents "Avodah"; and "Be patient in judgment" represents "Acts of Lovingkindness." Being deliberate in judgment is considered an act of kindness, since there is no greater kindness than vindicating the virtuous party in a monetary dispute, as is proven by the Sages' statement: "One who makes a correct judicial decision partner is considered a partner to the Almighty in the process of Creation," and regarding Creation, another verse says: "I have said the world is built by love; You did establish your faithfulness in the very heavens" (Tehillim 89:3). This idea was illustrated by David Hamelech himself: "And David executed judgment and justice to all his people" (Shmuel B 8:15). The King demonstrated complete impartiality when he presided over a monetary dispute, not allowing the financial status of either party to influence his decision. However, if the liable party was a destitute person, David Hamelech would pay
  • 26. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 19 his fine for him. In this manner, David practiced both justice and the performance of acts of lovingkindness. In addition, Shimon HaTzadik suggests that the world's continued existence is dependent on man perfecting himself through Torah study and the performance of righteous deeds. There are two types of righteous deeds: interpersonal acts of kindness, and the performance of the Mitzvot. Thus, "Torah" refers to the study of HaShenCs doctrines, "Avodah" alludes to the performance of His Mitzvot, and "Acts of Lovingkindness" refers to the performance of kind deeds towards others. The verse "The ways of Zion are mourning because none come to the Festival; all her gates are desolate; her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness" (Eichah 1:4) describes the consequence of disregarding these obligations in clear and unequivocal terms: "Because none come to the Festival" alludes to the pilgrims who used to flock to Jerusalem for the three Festivals whose custom it was to give generous presents to the poor. But because of the Jewish People's unwillingness to continue these acts of lovingkindness towards each other, the Almighty caused the pilgrimages to cease. Consequently, the prosperity which the pilgrimages gave to the residents of the Holy City came to an end as well. "All her gates are desolate" refers to the Houses of Learning where Torah was studied — a lack of dedication towards the study of Torah caused their destruction. "Her priests sigh" refers to the interruption of the sacrificial offerings, which resulted from disregarding the sanctity of the Temple and the laws concerning the Sacrifices.
  • 27. 20 CHAPTER ONE "Avodah" refers to the sacrifices offered in the Beit HaMikdash. Following the destruction of the Temple, prayer replaced the sacrificial offerings, as the verse says: "O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall rehearse your praise" (Tehillim 51:17). Both wealthy and poor people are capable of performing kind deeds. For example, even offering advice to someone in need of it is considered a chessed, as the verse says: "Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart" (Mishlei 27:9). (Rabbeinu Yonah) Rav ben Shem Tov points out a difficulty: The mishna says that the entire world, which is composed of both physical and heavenly entities, stands on three pillars. However, the three pillars of the world presented here are concepts applicable only to human beings. Why would man's unwillingness to fulfill these three principles affect the well-being of the heavenly realms as well? There are various ways to answer this question: Perhaps it is true that the heavenly realms would not be destroyed. Still, the destruction of the physical world would change the face of Creation to such a large extent that it could no longer be considered a "world." Alternatively, one may posit that even the heavenly realms would suffer the fate of the physical world, since, as the Midrash teaches, the entire Creation came into being only for the sake of Man. Or, one may answer that since Man is a microcosm of the entire Universe, his destruction is, in a certain sense, the destruction of the entire Creation. Alternatively, it is possible that the three pillars refer to the three different realms of existence: "Torah" refers to the realm of supernal thought, "Avodah" refers to the
  • 28. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 21 sphere of the constellations and the luminary bodies, and "Acts of loving kindness" refers to the physical world. "Torah" refers to the areas of Torah study which specify the principles of faith and divulge the esoteric truths. "Avodah" alludes to the practical fulfillment of the Torah — Mitzvot, Sacrificial Offerings, and laws pertaining to the festivals and forbidden foods. "Acts of loving kindness'' refers to the laws regarding interpersonal relationships. (Rav M. HaYitzri) "Avodah" refers to the obligation to serve HaShem with one's entire heart, as the verse says: "And it will come to pass, that if you continually hearken to My commandments that I command you today, to love HaShem your G-d, and to serve Him, with all your heart and with all your soul" (Devarim 11:13). Even if "Avodah" is to be understood in its simple sense, referring to the Sacrificial Offerings, the intention of the person bringing the offering is nevertheless the most important factor. This idea is proven by the fact that an offering can be rendered invalid by a Cohen's inappropriate intention. (Rav Y. ben Nachmiash)
  • 29. 22 CHAPTER ONE 1-3 Antigonus Ish Suko received [the oral tradition] from Shimon Hatzadik. He used to say: "Do not be like slaves who serve the Master in order to receive a reward. Rather, be like slaves who serve the Master not in order to receive a reward; and the fear of Heaven be on you." The Ba'al HaAkeidah and Rav Yitchak Abarbanel both point out the following difficulty: What is wrong with fulfilling the Mitzvot in order to receive a reward? The Torah itself states that a person should honor his parents "in order that your days shall be lengthened." An additional proof that one may fulfill the Mitzvot in hope of getting reward is the Sages' statement: "The Almighty wanted to bring merit to Israel, and thus gave them much Torah and many mitzvot." Moreover, the Almighty said: "You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your G-d has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess" (Devarim 5:30). Thus, an explanation is necessary to understand why Antingonus discourages one from expecting reward for fulfilling Mitzvot. The difficulty may be answered in this manner: According to Rashi's commentary, it is possible to say that Antigonus' directive only refers to physical reward. It is perfectly in order, however, to perform the Mitzvot expecting spiritual reward. In the case of a person who performs the Mitzvot purely for the promise
  • 30. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 23 of physical reward, it is bound to eventually happen that he will not receive his expected reward. When this occurs, he will most likely discard the Mitzvot of the Torah, taking up the pursuit of satisfying his physical desires instead. For this reason, one must fulfill the Mitzvot without expectation of physical reward. In this manner, one's faith is guaranteed to remain unscathed in all circumstances. (Rav Y. Abarbanel) In truth, there is also a simpler answer to the difficulty. Although it is the Almighty's Will to reward those who fulfill his precepts, it would nevertheless be appropriate for His subjects to serve Him selflessly. Now, this possibility seems clearly contradicted by the Talmud's statement: "One who says T will give a selah to tzedakah (charity) on the condition that my son live and that I will inherent a portion in the World to Come' is considered a righteous person." Actually, there is no contradiction, however, since the mitzvah of tzedakah is unlike all other 14mitzvot. Regarding all other mitzvot, the verse says "Do not test the Lord your G-d" (Devarim 6:16), while concerning tzedakah the verse says "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My House, and put Me to the test with that, says the Lord of Hosts" (Malachi 3:10). In addition, the difficulty may be answered by making the following observation: In the reference quoted above, the Talmud says that such a person is "Considered a tzadik (a righteous person)"; however, it is interesting to note that such an attitude does not merit him to be considered a chassid (a pious person). Thus, we may infer that Antigonus' admonishment is directed specifically towards those people who strive to reach piousness, a
  • 31. 24 CHAPTER ONE higher spiritual level than righteousness. This is supported by the Sages' statement: "He who wishes to become a pious person should study Pirkei Avot" A further consideration will reveal an additional solution to the difficulty. The mishna uses the words ‫עבדים‬ (slaves) and ‫משמשים‬ (serve). The word ‫עבד‬ comes from the same root as the word ,‫עבודה‬ which connotes arduous labor, as in the verse: "And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage ‫קשה‬ ‫עבודה‬ in mortar, and in brick and in all manner of bondage in the field..." (Shemot 1:14). In contrast, the word ‫משמשים‬ comes from the root ,‫שימוש‬ which connotes relatively light work: The Sages say: "Service ‫שימוש‬ of the Torah is greater than the study [of the Torah,] as the verse says 4 ...here is Elisha son of Shafat, who poured water on the hands of Eliyahu' (Melachim B 3:11)." Considering that HaShem liberated us from our state of bondage in Egypt, we are, in effect, His slaves. Thus, it would be fitting that every moment of our lives be spent in strenuous effort to fulfill His Will. Regrettably, we fall far short of this goal, and instead, find it difficult to set aside any time at all to devote towards the service of G-d. Antigonus' admonishment concerns this very shortcoming: Considering that we are incapable of serving G-d as a slave serves his master, but serve him instead as a disciple serves his teacher, at the very least we should not expect to receive reward for our minimal efforts. Rather, we should be grateful that HaShem does not castigate us for our shortcomings. However, those rare individuals who do fulfill the obligation to serve HaShem as a slave serves his master are entirely justified in expecting reward for their efforts. It is interesting to note that the second clause of the mishna seems to merely repeat the first clause in the
  • 32. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 25 negative. However, this is not the case. Instead, the mishna teaches us that there are three basic attitudes that people adopt concerning their service to HaShem: 1. To serve G-d on condition that a reward is forthcoming. 2. To serve G-d unconditionally, yet nevertheless hoping to receive reward 3. To serve G-d without any ulterior motives whatsoever. The first clause of the mishna prohibits the first position. However, were it not for the second clause, one could infer that the second attitude is the ideal position. Thus, the second clause of the mishna teaches that, although there is no prohibition against adopting the second position, the third position is the ideal one. And the fear of Heaven be on you That is, even though the ideal is to serve HaShem out of love, it is still preferable to serve Him out of fear than to serve Him in hope of receiving reward. Or, perhaps the mishna teaches that if the Jewish People succeed in serving HaShem without expecting reward, the nations of the world will in turn fear the Jews, as the verse says: "All people of the earth shall see that you are called by the Name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you" (Devarim 9:10). Alternatively, it is possible that Antigonus teaches us to draw inspiration from the sun: Concerning the sun, the Sages say, "It is as painful for the sun to appear as menstruation pains are painful to women. Even so, the verse says: 'He is like a bridegroom coming out of
  • 33. 26 CHAPTER ONE his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run a race"' (Tehillim 19:6). We must also serve HaShem in this manner, no matter how difficult this may be. There is another way to explain this statement. By mentioning the Heaven, the mishna reminds us of the consequence of failing to fulfill the precepts of the Torah. As the verse "And the heaven that is over your head shall be brass, and the earth that is under you shall be iron" (Devarim 28:23) testifies, the heavens are one of HaShem, s primary means of meting out punishment to His Creation for having transgressed His Will. Although the earth is also used to mete out punishment to mankind, it is secondary to the heavens, since the principal cause of a poor crop is lack of sufficient rainfall. The Torah also relates various incidents where the heavens were used to exact punishment on mankind. For example, "Then the Lord rained upon Sedom and upon Amora brimstone and fire from the Lord, out of heaven" (Bereshit 19:24). This statement may also be understood as referring to HaShem. That is, if the Jewish People fulfill Antigonus' directive, He will fear for their well-being in the same manner as a father fears for the welfare of his children. Or, perhaps it teaches that if the Jewish People will follow the Torah, the heavens will fear them, for when Jews say, "He makes the wind blow," the winds will begin to blow, and when they say, "He makes the rain descend," the rain will immediately begin to descend. (Rav Y. Karo) After emphasizing the importance of serving HaShem out of love, Antigonus stresses the need to have fear of Heaven as well. One should not relate to G-d in the same manner as a son relates to his father. Instead,
  • 34. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 27 one should serve Him out of love and fear simultaneously. (Rav Efraim) Even after succeeding against the Evil Inclination, a person should continue fear succumbing to sin. In addition, he must constantly weigh his deeds, searching for hints of sin. Furthermore, a righteous person must accept hardships and affliction without anger. Instead, he should ascribe these unfortunate occurrences to his sins, and feel fortunate to receive his punishment in This World instead of in the Next World. (Rav Menachem the Beit Meir) Although Antigonus warns against serving HaShem for the sake of reward, one should also not act as a free agent, sometimes serving Him and sometimes not. Instead, one should consider himself a true slave. In this manner, he will come to serve Him out of love and fear. This may be achieved by pondering that it is within His capabilities to give reward; one will then come to love Him. And by pondering that He is capable of meeting out punishment, one will come to fear Him. However, one should not love Him and fear Him merely because of the promise of reward or the threat of punishment; consider how mighty and awesome He must be if he can give reward and mete out punishment to Man, and then you will become a willing slave of the Almighty. (The Ramah) Antigonus warns against learning Torah from a rav who does not fulfill the Torah for its own sake. As the verse says: "For the Priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek Torah at his mouth" (Malachi 2:7). If he is a priest of the Almighty, then one is permitted to learn Torah from him. However, if he fulfills the Torah for ulterior motives, then he is not a Priest of
  • 35. 28 CHAPTER ONE HaShem, but rather, a priest of that desire which controls his actions. Consequently, his Torah study will also be flawed, since authentic Torah study can only be attained by someone who serves HaShem with no ulterior motives. (Rav Matitiahu Yitzhari) After stressing the importance of serving HaShem out of love, Antigonus saw fit to re-emphasize the importance of having fear of Heaven. However, love of G-d is mentioned before fear of G-d because it is considered more worthy. The verse "He will charge His angels for you, to protect you in all your ways... For he has yearned for Me and I will deliver him; I will elevate him because he knows My Name" (Tehillim 91) implies that two angels protect a person who loves Him. However, a person who fears Him is only protected by one angel, as the verse says: "He encamps the angel of HaShem around those who fear Him." (Rav Yosef Nachmiash) One must serve HaShem as a member of a household serves the head of the family. Unlike a slave who tries to shirk his duties, a member of the household fulfills his obligations willingly. So, too, one must serve HaShem, as the verse says: "Please, HaShem, for I am Your servant, son of Your handmaid'‫י‬ (Tehillim 116). (Rav Moshe Alshkaf)
  • 36. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 29 1-4 Yosi ben Yo'ezer from Tzreidah and Yosi ben Yochanan from Jerusalem received from them. Yosi ben Yo'ezer of Tzreidah says: "Let your house be the sages' conference house, allow yourself to be soiled by the dust of their feet and drink in their words thirstily." Shimon HaTzadik taught that the world stands on three pillars: Torah, Avodah, and Kind Deeds. Each of the three Sages who preceded him discuss one of the three pillars in more depth. Antigonus' statement, "Do not be like slaves who serve the Master in order to receive a reward," illustrates the principle of Avodah (Service). Yosi ben Yo'ezer's directive elucidates the principle of Torah, while Yosi ben Yochanan, in the next mishna, was concerned with the concept of Kind Deeds, as is evident from the next mishnah. Perhaps this also explains why the mishnah says "received from them" and not "received from him" ‫־־‬ this tells us that they received the tradition from both Antigonus and Shimon Hatzadik. The mishnah teaches that a person who opens his doors to sages will undoubtedly merit to learn a great deal of Torah. However, this requires that he fulfill the following two conditions: 1. He must not allow himself, the host, to feel superior over the sages, his guests. Instead, he must cling to the dust of their feet and act humbly in their presence, as if they were the host and he the guest.
  • 37. 30 CHAPTER ONE 2. No matter how much Torah he hears from the sages, he must not take Torah study for granted. Instead, he should drink in their words thirstily. (Rav Y. Abarbanet) Drink in their words thirstily A person should not think that if he has already heard the sages discuss a particular subject of Torah that there is nothing to gain from hearing them once again. In truth, there is much knowledge to be gained from taking note of their choice of words and making inferences from their manner of speech. (Rav Yosef Ya'avetz) Perhaps this emphasizes the importance of studying Torah during one's youth, when the body still craves food and drink. The Torah which a person studies during this period of his life endures for many years. (Sefer Lev Avot) Allow yourself to be soiled by the dust of their feet This means that one should follow the Sages' advice and heed their decrees. This is analogous to following a person closely on a dirt road: the person who follows becomes dirty from the dust raised by the first traveler. Or, perhaps this refers to the manner in which they used to learn in the past: the students sat on the ground at the Rav's feet while he sat on a chair. (Rav Ovadiah) The mishnah also teaches that a person who subjugates himself to the Sages will eventually merit that his home is visited frequently by Torah scholars, who will come to take counsel with him and ask him for advice. In time, his willingness to submit his will to the sages' words will
  • 38. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 31 result in his becoming the foremost Torah scholar of the generation. There is another way to explain the mishnah: "Let your house be the sages' conference house" teaches that one must extend hospitality to the Torah scholars of his own city as well as to those from other cities. In reference to these out of town scholars, the mishnah says: "Allow yourself to be soiled by the dust of their feet" ‫־־‬ that is, invite them to lodge in your home. "Drink in their words thirstily" teaches that when a Torah scholar shares an original idea with someone, that person must pretend as if he has never heard the idea before, even if this is not the case. Alternatively, it is possible the mishnah teaches that a person who extends hospitality to Torah scholars will inevitably learn Torah from them. Eventually, he will grow so knowledgeable as to be able to respectfully contest their opinion. This is alluded to by the word ‫מתאבק‬ (soiled by dust), which comes from the same root as the word ,‫ויאבק‬ as in the verse "And a man wrestled ‫ויאבק‬ with him." As two people wrestling with each other cause dust to rise in the air, so, too, sages who argue in Torah study figuratively cause dust to arise. According to Rashi, this means that one should serve the Sages. One might wonder, "Serving them forces me to interrupt the study of Torah!" In answer to this, the mishnah writes: "Drink in their words thirstily" — it is beneficial to periodically take leave of one's own teachers, since this prevents one from growing indolent in his studies. After a short absence, a student will find that he is able to listen to his teachers more eagerly.
  • 39. 32 CHAPTER ONE This statement can be interpreted in two ways: Treat every sage with great honor, even in excess of what he deserves; or alternatively, the mishna is urging every person, even those incapable of comprehending a Torah scholar's Torah dissertation, to learn Derech Eretz (proper ethical conduct) or worthy personality traits from a sage's behavior. This is alluded to by the words "dust of their feet," which imply that much can even be learned even from a Torah scholar's idle talk. (Rav Menachem of Beit Meir) Let your house be the sages' conference house This means that one must make the Beit Midrash his primary residence. One who is able to achieve this goal will undoubtedly make great progress in his Torah study. (Rav Moshe Almoshninu) The Sages used to wear long garments which raised dust behind them when they walked. Thus, the mishnah employs figurative language to entreat one to "follow" the ways of the Sages. (Rav M. Yitzhari)
  • 40. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 33 1-5 Yossi ben Yochanan of Jerusalem says: "Open your house generously, and make the poor people members of your household, and do not speak excessively with women; ]if[ this refers to one's own wife, certainly it is true of another man's wife." Accordingly, the Sages said: "Whoever speaks excessively with women causes evil to himself, disturbs his Torah study, and eventually inherits Gehennom." Open your house generously, and make the poor people members of your household Rav Yossi ben Yochanan illustrates the third principle mentioned by Shimon HaTzadik: Gemillut Chassadim (Kind Deeds). In order to encourage the poor to approach the houses of the wealthy, he urges homeowners to open an entrance to their homes which is clearly visible from the main thoroughfare. These words can also be interpreted in a different way: The mishna teaches that one should care for the poor in the same manner in which he cares for his own children. Furthermore, one should give his possessions away to the poor under all circumstances, even if this will result in his own children remaining penniless. Or, perhaps the mishna teaches that in order to supply the poor with their every need, one should supply his own family members with only the bare necessities. Alternatively, it is possible that the mishna warns the members of one's household
  • 41. 34 CHAPTER ONE against behaving arrogantly towards the poor. Instead, they should consider the poor people as equals. Or, perhaps the mishna urges us to give tzedakah (Charity) to the poor with as much pleasure when we give a gift to our children, as the verse says: "Surely give him, that he will not suffer." There is good reason to feel joy when giving tzedakah, as the verse says: "The merciful man does good to his own soul, but he that is cruel troubles his own flesh" (Mishlei 11:17). That is, by giving to the poor, a person causes direct benefit to himself and to his offspring. As the Sages say, "If one is unmerciful to the poor today, in the future people will treat his offspring in the same manner in their time of need.‫יי‬ Conversely, the descendants of a person who helps the poor will, in turn, be helped in their time of need. It is possible the mishna teaches that a person who gives generously to the poor will be blessed by HaShem with wealth and plenty. This is the meaning of the words "Open your house generously" — as a reward for being generous, your house will become an open receptacle to receive HaShem‫״‬s blessings. This idea is illustrated by the verse "The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender" (Mishlei 22:7) as a reward for giving tzedakah, a person becomes wealthy. Thus, the wealthy are more indebted to the poor for presenting them with the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of tzedakah then the poor are to the wealthy for providing them with their physical needs. There is another possible interpretation: If one makes a point to invite only poor people to eat, they will feel
  • 42. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 35 embarrassed to receive handouts. However, if a person becomes renowned as a generous guest to both the poor and the wealthy alike, poor people will no longer feel they are being fed handouts. Instead, they will feel as honoured guests, equal in stature to the wealthy guests who eat at their host's table. The mishna forbids giving charity to someone who is undeserving of receiving it. In reference to this, the verse says: "He that oppresses the poor may well bring him gain, and he that gives to the rich, may nevertheless come to want" (Mishlei 22:16). That is, a person who gives charity to someone who is undeserving does not fulfill the mitzvah. The only thing he accomplishes by this empty gesture is to diminish his wealth. (R. Matiti'ahu Yitzhari) The above verse can be explained in a different manner. By giving charity to a person who does not have a legitimate need for it, one causes him untold damage, for the Sages say that someone who takes charity unnecessarily will eventually become impoverished. Conversely, one who withholds money from a poor person in a certain sense actually benefits him, for HaShem shows mercy towards those who are treated cruelly. The mishna advises to accustom one's family members to live frugally, thereby training them to accept a life of poverty. In this manner, if they become impoverished in the future, they will not suffer embarrassment over their diminished financial status or feel the need to ask for handouts. (Rav Baruch ben Melech) Do not speak excessively with women; if this refers to one's own wife, certainly it is true of another man's wife.
  • 43. 36 CHAPTER ONE Accordingly, the Sages said, "Whoever speaks excessively to women causes evil to himself, disturbs his Torah study, and eventually inherits Gehennom." After illustrating the importance of showing generosity to the poor, the mishna saw fit to warn male philantropists against conducting prolonged conversations with the poor women who are bound to visit their households asking for charity. If the Sages say that one should refrain from conducting unnecessarily lengthy conversations with one's own wife, out of concern that this will arouse one's desire, then this certainly applies to other women. Alternatively, it is possible that the mishna warns against discussing with one's wife the amount of tzedakah he should give to the poor, since women in general are naturally more miserly than men. Once his wife realizes that her husband is dependent on her advice in such matters, she will eventually dominate his life. She will naturally influence him to spend his time and money in pursuit of what she feels is important and, consequently, he will find less and less time to devote towards Torah study. (R. Yitchak Abarbanel) Women's tendency towards miserliness is derived from the Sages' interpretation of the verse "Avraham hastened into the tent to Sara and said, 'Make ready quickly three measures of Kemach Solet (fine meal), knead it and make Cckes'" (Bereshit 18:6). The Gemarra asks why Avraham said kemach (coarse flour) and also solet (fine flour). The answer is that Avraham foresaw the possibility that Sarah would object against offering their guests cakes of fine flour. Therefore, he increased his request gradually. Initially, he asked her to bake three cakes of coarse flour;
  • 44. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 37 only after she assented to this request did he instruct her to use fine flour. There is an alternative explanation to this clause. There are two common deterrents against inviting guests (hachnasat orchim): Guests infringe upon a couple's privacy by limiting their freedom to conduct lengthy conversations with each other; and, a husband may feel reluctant to invite strange men to his house out of concern that they will engage his wife in overly-lengthy conversations, during which immodest overtures might be suggested. In order to overcome the first problem, the mishna says: "Do not speak excessively with women; this refers to one's own wife." In this way, one will not become accustomed to conversing at length with his wife. Consequently, he will not be dissuaded from fulfilling the mitzvah of hachnassat orchim as a result of the first reason. In answer to the second problem, the mishna cautions the guest: "Certainly it is true of another man's wife." The fulfillment of these directives by both host and guest will ensure that the mitzvah of hachnassat orchim will prevail amongst the Jewish People. The Sages say that the recommendation against conversing excessively with one's wife is equally applicable when she is ritually pure as when she is impure. When she is impure, conversation should be limited in order to preclude the arousal of physical desire, which in turn may lead to violating the prohibition against having sexual relations with an impure woman. This is what is meant by the words "causes evil to himself — there is no greater damage one can inflict upon himself than by transgressing a Torah precept. On the other hand,
  • 45. 38 CHAPTER ONE prolonged conversations between a husband and wife, even when she is spiritually pure, take away from the time set aside for Torah study. This is what is meant by the words "disturbs his Torah study." Regarding both of these dangers, the mishna says: "eventually inherits Gehennom." Alternatively, the word "evil" (Ra'ah in Hebrew) alludes to Lillit, the female demon assigned to cause those who think unclean thoughts during the day to spill their seed at night. Shlomo Hamelech writes: "I find more bitter than death the woman" (Kohelet 7:26) — that is, death only uproots man from this temporal world, but a woman is capable of making man lose his portion in the Next World. "Whose heart ensnares and nets'' refers to a woman's innate ability to ensnare a man whom she fancies to commit sin by conducting illicit relations with her. (Rabbeinu Yonah) The word ‫שיחה‬ (speach) connotes trivial conversation, as is evident from the Sages' statement: "[Even] a talmid chachanCs trivial conversation requires study." Thus, we may infer that the mishna only disapproves of conducting lengthy conversations with one's wife if the subject discussed is unimportant. However, it is perfectly in order to discuss important subjects with one's wife at length. (Rav Menachem of Beit Meir) The verse "For by means of a harlot, a man is brought to a piece of bread" (Mishlei 6:26) teaches that unchecked lust can distort a person's common sense to the degree that he will be willing to offer a prostitute his last morsel of food in exchange for the opportunity to satisfy his desire. Moreover, a person who commits adultery demonstrates
  • 46. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 39 that he values the satisfaction of his physical desires more than his own life, since adultery carries the death penalty. (Rav M. Yitzhari) The above verse also teaches that the degree of desire increases in proportion to the gravity of the transgression. Thus, a sinner is willing to lose his wealth in exchange for living with a prostitute, as the verse says: "But he who keeps company with harlots wastes his substance" (Mishlei 29:3). However, in exchange for living with a married woman, the verse says: "And the adultress will hunt for the precious life": for this, a sinner is willing to risk his most precious possession — his very life. The word ‫שיחה‬ refers to the dialogue between husband and wife which precedes sexual relations. Thus, the mishna warns against conducting relations in excess of the guidelines established by the Talmud. (Rav Y. Nachmiash)
  • 47. 40 CHAPTER ONE 1-6 Yehoshuah ben Parchiah and Nitai Ha'arbeli received from them. Yehoshuah ben Parchiah says: "Make yourself a rav, acquire for yourself a friend, and judge people by giving them the benefit of the doubt." Yehoshuah ben Parchiah's statment is in reference to Yossi ben Yo'ezer's directives concerning Torah study. He advises against learning Torah from different rabbis. Instead, a person should choose one rav from whom to learn Torah. This is analogous to eating various types of food in one meal — the result is usually indigestion. The Talmud says that Rav Yehudah's opinion should not be relied upon for this very reason: he did not have one teacher, but instead, learned from various Sages. Alternatively, the mishna cautions against studying Torah by oneself, as the verse says: "A sword upon the liars, and they shall become fools; a sword upon her mighty men, and they shall be dismayed" (Yirmi'ahu 50:36). Preferrably, one should learn Torah from a rav. However, if one is unable to find a suitable rav, he should study Torah in the company of other scholars. Even if these other scholars delude themselves into thinking that they are more knowledgeable than he, he should subjugate himself to them and continue to study with them. This is what is meant by "Make yourself a rav": A person who does not wish to acquiesce to others to such an extent should not let this deter him from learning with other people. Instead, he should try to acquire a study partner at all costs, even monetary. This is what "Acquire for
  • 48. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 41 yourself a friend'‫י‬ means. Even if one's study partner should one day act in an unkind manner, one should give him the benefit of the doubt and not judge him harshly. This is what is meant by the last clause of the mishna. Another way to understand the mishna is as follows: It urges Torah scholars to share their Torah knowledge with people who are not able to devote their entire day towards the study of Torah. Even if a scholar does not consider himself sufficiently knowledgeable to be a teacher, the mishna hastens him to "Make yourself a rav." The mishna requires such a person to be like Shmuel the Prophet, who traveled from city to city to teach the people Torah. If people's vanity and arrogance prevent them from becoming his disciples, then he should ask of them to join him in Torah study as study partners of equal standing. This is what is meant by "Acquire for yourself a friend." Rav Yehudah Lirmah asks why the mishna did not instruct that a person acquire disciples, since the Talmud says that a person learns more from his students than he does from his rabbis. The answer is that it is not within one's own power to acquire disciples, since students themselves choose to study with the person who they believe will most enlighten them. A good friend is a very precious commodity; thus, one must tolerate his faults with forbearance. This is the intention of the verse, "He that covers a transgression seeks love, but he that repeats a matter separates close friends" {Mishlei 17:9). That is, a person who tolerates his friend's faults and forgives him for the wrongdoings he has perpetrated against him safeguards
  • 49. 42 CHAPTER ONE their relationship, thereby ensuring that it will endure for many years. Conversely, one who begrudges his friend for his wrongdoings can be assured that the friendship will soon terminate. (Rabbeinu Yonah) The mishna's exhortation, "Judge people by giving them the benefit of the doubt/' applies only to observant Jews who sometimes commit transgressions inadvertantly. However, one should not give the benefit of the doubt to a professed sinner, as the verse says: "The righteous man who considers the house of the wicked, leads the wicked astray to greater evil" (Mishlei 21:12). That is, contrary to what people believe, the righteous person recognizes who is evil and judges his actions accordingly. In addition, a righteous person realizes that even an evil person's superficially virtuous actions are, in truth, essentially evil in nature. The importance of having a rav is so great that, if one is unable to find a suitable one, he should teach his students Torah in the hope that one day he will be able to learn from one of them. (Rav Menachem of Beit Meir) "Make yourself a rav" warns unqualified Torah scholars not to deliberate halachic decisions by themselves. Instead, they should take counsel from the Sages of their generation. (Rashbam) "Acquire yourself a friend" is explained by the verse: "Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart; so does the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel" (Mishlei 27:9) ‫־־‬ as the fragrance of incense, which is exterior to a person's being, benefits that person in a way which he cannot benefit himself, so, too, a friend,
  • 50. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 43 who has an objective perspective of one's personality can benefit one more than one can benefit himself. (Rav Yosef ben Shushan) 1-7 Nitai Ha'arbeli says: "Distance yourself from an evil neighbor, do not associate with an evil person, and do not rule out the possibility of retribution." Many commentaries note that the mishna does not obligate one to distance himself from an evil person. The reason is that people naturally avoid the company of clearly evil individuals. Instead, the mishna teaches something which is not so obvious to people — to stay away from individuals who keep their evilness well-concealed. The last clause of the mishna warns that even after one has distanced himself from evil people, he should not think that he is now safe from the snare of the Evil Inclination. In fact, the opposite is true. The verse "The wicked man watches the righteous, and seeks to slay him" (Tehillim 37:32) indicates that the Evil Inclination's preferred victims are individuals who show progress towards becoming righteous. Alternatively, the mishna warns against keeping company with the following two kinds of individuals,
  • 51. 44 CHAPTER ONE each one having his particular positive traits as well as his faults. On the one hand, there is the "evil neighbor/' an otherwise righteous person who cannot help but be envious of his neighbors. On the other hand, there is the "evil person" who is essentially evil but, because of his wealth, does not feel jealousy towards others. The last clause of the mishna emphasizes the severity of associating with the latter type of individual. We are taught that we cannot expect to avoid "retribution," which alludes to the evil person's sins, when associating with him. One who thinks himself immune from an evil person's negative influence is informed that he makes a grave mistake, for, in truth, our actions are greatly affected by the environment we live in. Or, it is possible that the mishna conveys a simpler message: One who keeps within close proximity of an evil person will undergo suffering when that person is punished for his evil deeds, as the Sages say: "Woe to the evil person, woe to his neighbour." It is also possible that the mishna teaches a different idea. One who takes Yehoshuah ben Parchiah's advice to heart "Judge people by giving them the benefit of the doubt," may have difficulty distinguishing between good and evil individuals, thereby making the mistake of befriending an evil person. In order to prevent anyone from making such a mistake, Nitai Ha'arbeli explains that ben Parchiah's rule is not applicable to evil people. On the contrary, it is a mitzvah to judge an evil person unfavorably and to assume that their every action is essentially evil, even those actions which seem on the surface commendable. Therefore, regarding a person who fears the potentially dangerous outcome of cutting off
  • 52. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 45 relations with an evil person, the last clause of the mishna guarantees that the Almighty will protect anyone who strives to distance himself from evil. The last clause really means to say: "And do not rule out avoiding the company of an evil person because of the possibility of unpleasant repercussions.‫יי‬ In answer to why the mishna uses the word "distance" regarding an evil neighbor and "do not associate" concerning an evil person, Rav Moshe Almoshninu writes: It is a mitzvah to help another Jew return to the Torah. However, there is a danger that a person who attempts to fulfill this mitzvah will himself become infected with the evil person, s disease. Thus, the mishna warns that one should only undertake to fulfill this commandment if the evil person makes the initial step forward. Even then, one should remain somewhat distant from the evil person. The mishna warns emphatically, however, against making the initial contact with an evil person in hope of making him return to the ways of the Torah. This is what is meant by "Do not associate with an evil person." There is another way to explain the mishna: "Evil neighbor" refers to the Evil Inclination, which dwells within manJ s soul. The mishna warns to "Distance yourself from an evil neighbor" — that is, restrain yourself from following the advice of the Evil Inclination; instead, run in the opposite direction with all your might. But even someone who is not capable of ignoring the temptations of the Evil Inclination should not actively pursue the fulfillment of his desires, and this is what is meant by "Do not associate with an evil person." The last clause of the mishna, "And do not rule out the possibility of retribution," encourages the sinner to repent, regardless
  • 53. 46 CHAPTER ONE of the severity of his sins. The mishna actually means to say: "Do not lose hope as a result of the sins you have committed.‫י‬‫י‬ Being that HaShem is boundlessly merciful, He prefers to wait for the sinner to repent rather than punishing him. One must not associate with a wealthy or influential evil person under any circumstances, since eventually he will be punished for his sins. At that time, anyone in his immediate surrounding will also share his fate. Since it is impossible to predict when the punishment will be meted out, it is wise to avoid the company of evil people altogether. This is analogous to befriending the enemy of a mortal king — when the king will give the order to imprison his enemy, he will order his enemy, s acquaintances to be incarcerated as well. Since evil people are HaShem's enemies, one must avoid their company at all cost. (Rabbeinu Yonah) If a common wall shared by two neighbors is afflicted with negah tzara'at (a discoloration which renders the house spiritually impure, occurring as a result of the occupant violating certain transgressions), the entire wall must be dismantled and disposed of. This illustrates in a very practical manner the Sagess statement: "Woe to the Evil man, and woe to his neighbor.‫יי‬ (Rav Efraim) "Distance yourself from an evil neighbour5 ‫י‬ teaches that one must avoid even infrequent contact with an evil person. (Rav Menachem of Beit Meir) The mishna teaches that if the evil person lives in oneJ s vicinity, he is obligated to avoid all contact with that person. Regarding an evil person who does not live in one, s
  • 54. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 47 vicinity, one must also avoid all contact with him even if he is not as evil as one5 s neighbor, since it is highly unlikely that a person who lives in another vicinity will be successful in influencing the evil person to repent. The last clause of the mishna, however, teaches that one is obligated to extend a helping hand to anyone who suffers anguish, even to an evil person. As the Torah says "If you meet your enemy, s ox or his ass going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again" (Shemot 23:5). (Rav M. Hayitzri) 1-8 Yehudah ben Tabbai and Shimon ben Shetach received from them. Yehudah ben Tabbai says: "Do not make yourself as the Legal advisers (One of the Judicial Committee); when the litigants stand before you, regard them as evildoers; when they leave your presence, regard them as innocent, if they accepted upon themselves the judicial decision." According to Lev Avot, the term orchei hadayanim refers to a judge who considers himself capable of presiding over a court case alone. Although the law requires three judges to preside over monetary disputes, in order to ensure that all the aspects of the law are included in the deliberation, a judge who overestimates his abilities may consider himself exempt from this requirement. Alternatively, this refers
  • 55. 48 CHAPTER ONE to a litigant who tries to make each one of the judges believe that he personally requested to have him appointed as judge. In this context, the word Orchei connotes "to appoint/5 The Talmud seems to understand this mishna as referring to a legal advisor who assists litigants in stating their claim in the most effective manner. It relates that one of Rav Yochanan's relatives requested of him to help her formulate her claim in the Beit Din. At first he agreed; however, after reflecting upon this mishna, he decided against helping her. The problem with helping one of the litigants present his claim is that the judges5 decision will be influenced by the legal advisors strategy, rather than by the validity of the litigant's claim. Or, perhaps the mishna warns a judge against favoring an influential litigant's claim over a common person's. This rule is even applicable if one of the litigants is a member of the Judicial Committee encharged with appointing judges to the Beit Din. In this context, the mishna reads as follows: "Do not take the side of the member of the Judicial Committee." Alternatively, the mishna warns a judge against favoring the litigant who requested that he preside over the case. Instead, each one of the judges, even one who was chosen by one of the litigants, must judge both claims with total impartiality. As the verse says: "Judges and magistrates appoint for yourself — the judges were selected from every Tribe, yet they did not favor members of their own Tribe over members of the others. Another possible explanation is that the mishna is
  • 56. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 49 warning a judge against giving a litigant an indication of what is the decisive factor in the case. This is guaranteed to occur if the judge makes the mistake of considering both litigants as righteous people, since he will let down his guard and inevitably make known which is the decisive factor. Once the litigants become aware of what is the central issue in their dispute, they will then embellish their claims with falsities in hope of proving that the law sides with their claim. In order to avoid this problem, a judge should regard both litigants as evil men. Only after they accept the judicial decision upon themselves may the judge then view them as righteous people. "When the litigants stand before you, regard them as evildoers'‫י‬ refers to litigants who hesitate to accept the legal decision. In contrast, "when they leave your presence, regard them as innocent" refers to litigants who readily accept the Beit Din's ruling upon themselves. (Lev Avot) This teaches that a judge should not consider either of the litigants as a righteous or an evil person, since this notion will effectively negate his ability to judge with impartiality. "When they leave your presence, regard them as innocent" teaches that the judge should consider both litigants, including the one found liable, as a righteous people. He should assume that the litigant found liable has now repented for having made a false claim, and that he will refrain from repeating this transgression in the future. (Rabbeinu Yonah) If one hears a halachic ruling which he does not understand being discussed in the Beit HaMidrash, he should not keep silent and pretend to have understood. Instead, he should ask someone to explain the reason
  • 57. 50 CHAPTER ONE behind the ruling. (Rav Efraim) This teaches that one should refrain from answering his teacher promptly as litigants answer each other's claim while in the presence of the Beit Din. (Rav Menachem of Beit Meir) Even if a judge perceives which litigant is guiltless, he must not assist him in any way to formulate his claim. (Ramah) The mishna prohibits acting in the manner of the judges of the nations, who declare the verdict even when one of the litigants is not present. Instead, the Beit Din may only reveal its verdict in the presence of both litigants. (Rav Baruch ben Melech) 1‫9־‬ Shimon ben Shetach says: "Investigate the witnesses at length and beware of your words, lest they learn from them how to lie.'‫י‬ The mishna warns a judge against interrogating the witnesses in an unhurried manner. By doing so, the judge enables the witness to ponder over his answers and strengthen his claim. Instead, the interrogation should be conducted swiftly, leaving the witness no time to gather his wits about him. In this manner, it will be possible to verify whether or not his testimony is trustworthy.
  • 58. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 51 "Beware of your words" teaches that it is prohibited to explain to the litigants the reasoning behind a verdict, lest they use this information to lie the next time they are called to court. (The Chassid) Shimon ben Shetach emphasizes the importance of interrogating the witnesses thoroughly because of a tragic personal experience ‫״‬ he once passed sentence upon eighty women in the city of Ashkelon, sentencing them to death by hanging on the basis of false testimony. Subsequently, his son was executed by his own Beit Din on the basis of false testimony. (The Rashbam) 1‫01־‬ Shemaya and Avtalon received from them. Shemaya says: "Love your profession, scorn the holding of public office, and do not make yourself known to the authorities." The mishna teaches that a person should not despise his occupation and regard it as merely a means by which to earn a living. On the contrary, one should feel a sense of satisfaction during the performance of one's labor. Regarding this, the Sages said: "Greater is he who benefits from his handiwork than one who has Heavenly fear." The reasoning behind this statement is as follows: Everything that occurs in one's life, with the exception of one's attainment of the fear of Heaven, is decreed from Above. Thus, a person's choice of occupation is no
  • 59. 52 CHAPTER ONE coincidence, but rather, the manifestation of a Heavenly decree. By contemplating this concept, a person will eventually come to regard his work as if it were a holy task which can only be fulfilled by him. Even a talmid chacham should not feel embarrassment for earning his living through toiling in some seeminly demeaning profession. This is what the mishna means by "Love your profession, scorn the holding of public office" — the last clause of the mishna teaches that a person who does not adopt a trade runs the risk of becoming suspected of committing theft by the authorities. Alternatively, Shemaya's teaching is in reference to the previous mishna, which outlines the manner in which a judge should behave towards the litigants. He adds that a judge should become totally devoted to his profession by devoting all of his waking hours to the study of Torah. In this manner, he will become totally proficient in all the laws of the Torah and this achievement will make him a truly competent halachic authority. However, such a person is liable to become haughty and feel superior to others who are not as knowledgeable as he. Rather, one must be as Moshe Rabbeinu: Despite his uncontested position as the wisest man of the Jewish People, he continued to behave with humility and self- effacement. Regarding him, the verse says "Do not bring me to feel arrogance." The mishna warns of this danger by saying "Scorn the holding of public office." There are various ways to explain the words "And do not make yourself known to the authorities." Perhaps it is a warning to Jewish judges against becoming a judge in a non-Jewish court. This is prohibited, because joining the non-Jewish authorities effectively validates their authority, thereby indirectly increasing the respectability of idolatrous beliefs. Or, perhaps "authorities" alludes
  • 60. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 53 to the Evil Inclination, which controls man's actions and feelings. Furthermore, this appellation befits the Evil Inclination, since the main message it drills into man's heart is that he is free of any outside authority to decide his fate and free to act as he chooses. Two things lead towards man becoming completely subjugated to his Evil Inclination: idleness and arrogance. This is why the mishna warns, "Love your profession, scorn the holding of public office." One who follows this advice will not fall prey to "the authorities." The mishna teaches that a person who studies Torah half the day and works the other half is better than one who studies the entire day and does not take proper measures to provide himself with sustenance. As the Sages say, "Torah which does not have work with it will eventually be discontinued." (Rav Moshe Alshkar) The mishna teaches that a person who becomes accustomed to sit idle will find it impossible to begin working when it proves necessary for him to earn a living. As the verse says: "The desire of the lazy man kills him; for his hands refuse to labor" (Mishlei 21:25) — even when he will want to work, his hands will refuse to carry out his instructions. (Rabbeinu Yonah) Since Yehudah ben Tabbai and Shimon ben Shetach both discussed how a judge should behave towards the litigants, Shemaya saw fit to teach how to avoid monetary dispute altogether. The majority of monetary disputes are filed by lenders against borrowers who refuse to repay their loan. Thus, one who wishes to avoid monetary disputes should take up a trade. In this manner, he will not be in need of loans. (The Ritvah)
  • 61. 54 CHAPTER ONE 1-11 Avtalion says: "Sages, be careful with your words, lest they bring about the obligation of exile, and you become exiled to a place of vile waters, and the students who will follow you will drink from them and consequently die. This will result in the desecration of the Name of Heaven.'' Out of concern that Shimon ben Shetach's warning "beware of your words" (mishna 9) be misunderstood as referring exclusively to a judge, Avtalion saw fit to stress that this admonition in truth applies to every sage. Anyone who teaches Torah is obligated to weigh his words carefully in order to ensure that his message is clearly understood by his disciples. One's statements should be precise and unambiguous, leaving no room for misinterpretations. Avtalion goes on to describe the consequences of using indeterminate and enigmatic speech: The Jewish People will "become exiled to a place of vile waters." The term "vile waters" is an allusion to heretics, who will distort the words of the Sages and find in them supports for their heretical beliefs. Eventually, they will claim that their entire belief system is actually based on these Sages' opinions, thus according them a sense of legitimacy and moral esteem. The following generations of disciples will then be taught these falsities, which will cause them to die a spiritual death. Indeed, this would be a desecration of the Name of Heaven. (Rav Almoshninu) The mishna prohibits teachers from revealing the esoteric teachings of the Torah to unworthy students. As the Sages say, "Torah should only be taught to a worthy student, one who is wise and is capable of inferring one idea from another, whose heart worries within him."
  • 62. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 55 The word "exile," ,‫גלות‬ stems from the word "reveal," .‫גילוי‬ Thus, the mishna in essence says: "Beware of your words, lest you come to sin by revealing the innermost metaphysical secrets of the Torah. This, in turn, will lead you to reveal the Torah to the "evil waters." "Evil waters" alludes to unworthy disciples, from whom future generations will derive their wisdom. The Sages' teachings will soon be distorted by these sordid individuals, who will feed future generations their misconstrued and heretical ideas, eventually resulting in their spiritual demise. There is no greater desecration of Heaven than this. (Rav Y. Abarbanet) Alternatively, the mishna serves as a reminder that one who preaches to others should first make sure that he himself fulfills his admonitions. If he disregards this warning, those whom he teaches will soon perceive his shortcomings and hypocrisy. Since they consider him to be insincere, this will give them a sense of justification for disregarding his words of rebuke. Thus, a sage who does not take heed of this mishna will ultimately be found responsible for the sins of his followers, and it is he who ultimately causes them to suffer punishment for their sins. There is another way to understand this mishna: "Be careful with your words" can be understood as referring to rabbinical decrees which the Sages established in order to protect people from transgressing Torah precepts. The mishna teaches that even a talmid chacham, who because of his great Torah knowledge might consider himself exempt from rabbinical decrees, is obligated to fulfill these decrees, as much as any other Jew. The consequence of disregarding rabbinical decrees is that eventually the person will transgress Torah precepts. Furthermore, such an individual will sooner or later commit the gravest sins of the Torah.
  • 63. 56 CHAPTER ONE This is the meaning of "Lest they bring about the obligation of exile.‫י‬‫י‬ The Talmud says that three sins bring about the exile of the Jewish People: idolatry, sexual transgressions, and bloodshed. "Exiled to a place of vile waters" describes the misery and anguish which the Jewish People will suffer during their exile amongst the nations, "and the students who will follow you will drink from them and consequently die" reveals the length of the Exile; that is, the Exile will outlast your students, which refers to the following generation. This will be a terrible desecration of the Name of Heaven, for the nations will see the Jewish People, s suffering and say, "Where is your G-d?‫י‬ 5 Such is the consequence of disregarding rabbinical decrees. 1-12 Hillel and Shammai received from them. Hillel says: "Be one of the disciples of Aharon ‫״‬ love Shalom and pursue Shalom, love people and bring them close to Torah.'5 This mishna teaches that one must pursue Shalom regardless of whether the other party in the dispute reciprocates, as the verse says: "Seek Shalom and pursue it." "Seek Shalom" corresponds to Hillel's statement "Love Shalom," while "pursue it" corresponds to the words "pursue Shalom" First one must strive to achieve
  • 64. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 57 harmony and peace within one's own home; after experiencing the taste of Shalom and growing to appreciate its importance, one will be capable of helping others attain harmony in their lives. "Love people and bring them close to Torah'5 teaches that one must not do as Shammai, who refused to teach the entire Torah to anyone "while standing on one leg." His refusal implies that Torah study is not easily accessible to ordinary men, but is rather a highly complex set of rules which may only be comprehended only by an elite group of specially gifted individuals. Hillel, on the other hand, was intent on presenting the Torah as something which can be understood by everyone. This approach gave people much-needed encouragement to persist in their studies, and it is his approach which is responsible for the propagation of Torah study amongst the Jewish People. The Sages relate that Aharon HaCohen used to induce sinners to change their ways by befriending them. After becoming his friend, the sinner would think, "If Aharon would know that I violate this precept, he would close his eyes in order not to look at me. I must cease to violate this precept!." (Rav Menachem of Beit Meir) One must pursue Shalom for its own sake, and not in order to receive acclimation. He must bring people close to the Torah because all things other than Torah are falsities and untruths. (The Chassid, Rav Yosef ben Shushan)
  • 65. 58 CHAPTER ONE 1-13 He used to say: "As a result of the name his name is lost, and he who does not add will be terminated, and he who does not learn incurs death, and he who makes use of the crown has been uprooted." This mishna comes on the heels of the previous mishna's statement "Hillel says: 'Be one of the disciples of Aharon — love Shalom and pursue Shalom, love people and bring them close to Torah.‫י‬ ‫י‬ ‫י‬ It teaches that one who continues the tradition of Aharon is sure to attain people's respect to the same degree that Aharon was respected by the Jewish Nation. Concerning Aharon's death, the verse says: "All the House of Israel mourned him." The Sages say that "all the House of Israel" teaches that Aharon, unlike Moshe, was mourned by both the men and the women of Israel, and that this was due to his continuous efforts to help restore harmony between husbands and wives. Thus, one who follows Aharon's example will also be missed and mourned by many, and this is what is meant by "his name is lost" — that is, people will feel his death as a personal loss. The mishna then teaches the consequence of refraining from mourning a person of such worthy character as required: "he who does not add will be terminated" — that is, he who does not mourn him profusely will himself die prematurely. As the Sages say: "He who does not shed tears for a righteous man's death deserves to be buried alive."
  • 66. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 59 "He who does not learn incurs death, and he who makes use of the crown will be uprooted" teaches that two type of individuals incur the punishment of death: one who does not follow Aharon's course, and one who benefits from his influential position. Only if a person acts modestly and unpretentiously will the Almighty make his name known far and wide. This is what is meant by "As a result of the name his name is lost" ‫־־‬ how can one acquire a good name for himself? By becoming so humble that his former personality will cease to exist. Then HaShem will grant him with a new name, which will be respected by everyone. According to this explanation, the mishna should read "A good name results by erasing the old one." Similarly, it is possible that the mishna applies this concept to the Jewish Nation as a whole. Although the status of the Jewish People while in exile amongst the nations is at its lowest, one must remember that the redemption from Egypt also took place when the Jewish People were in their lowest spiritual level. Thus, in the very depths of Exile lie the seeds of Redemption. One must never lose hope in the impending Redemption, for it is soon to occur. Accordingly, the mishna should read: "Israel's name will grow precisely when the nations will consider its name extinguished." Alternatively, "he who does not add will be terminated, and he who does not learn incurs death" refers to two of the Jews' essential obligations: to fulfill the Mitzvot and to study Torah. "He who does not add" refers to the former and "he who does not learn" refers to the latter. The next clause of the mishna is a warning directed towards an individual who fulfills these two obligations, but for the wrong reasons — in order to increase his standing in
  • 67. 60 CHAPTER ONE the community, to be called "Rabbi," or to make use of the Holy Names mentioned in Kabbalistic texts for attaining worldly goals. Such a person is not only subject to the death penalty, but he is also considered as if already dead. This is why the mishna uses the past tense, "has been uprooted." The commentaries explain that "As a result of the name his name is lost" means that a person who strives after power and authority will not only be unsuccesful in his efforts, he will even lose his present position. The Chassid explains "he who makes use of the crown has been uprooted ‫חלף‬ as follows: Although the word ‫חלף‬ in the context of this mishna means "has been uprooted," it also has a secondary meaning: "to perform a transaction." Thus, the mishna teaches that one who uses his Torah learning for his worldly needs in effect trades his portion in the World to Come for temporal benefits. "He who does not learn incurs death" teaches that a Torah scholar must never feel satisfied with the Torah knowledge he has mastered. Instead, he must continuously strive to increase his knowledge in Torah until his very last day. The only purpose for Man's existence is the study of Torah; thus, an individual who feels that he has realized his potential in Torah knowledge is declaring that there is no purpose left to his life. For this reason, the mishna says that such a person incurs death. (Rabbeinu Yonah) One who does not review the Torah he has learned will eventually forget it. It is a man's lost Torah learning which incurs death if he fails to review his studies. (Rav Efraim)
  • 68. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 61 "He who does not add will be terminated" means the following: A person who studies Torah and does not associate one law with the next, but instead learns each law as a disjoined entity, will eventually forget his learning. In order to remember one's learning, it is necessary to connect the many opinions and details of each set of laws into a pattern of thought. As the Sages say: "A person should [first] learn and then contemplate the reason for the law.‫י‬ ‫י‬ One who refrains from doing so is akin to a farmer who sows seeds and then neglects to harvest the crops. (Rav Yosef Shushan) 1-14 He used to say: "If I am not for myself, who is for me? And when I am for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?." The most important stage of a persons service to G‫־‬d is during his youth. This is the most difficult time in one's life to overcome physical desires and compel one's body to follow the advice of his soul. Consequently, man's ability to comply to the Mitzvot during his youth merits for him the greatest eternal reward. In contrast, old age is the easiest time to repent for one's sins. Face to face with the prospect of imminent death, thoughts of the impending Day of Justice fill one's thoughts, compelling a person to change his ways before it
  • 69. 62 CHAPTER ONE is too late. In addition, the wary body, no longer healthy and supple, does not demand the satisfaction of its desires with the same intensity as it did during its youth. It follows that a person who repents during his old age does not merit to the same reward as one who does so during his youth, since the reward one receives is proportional to the effort expended. This is what is meant by "If I am not for myself, who is for me?" If I wait to repent until I reach old age, when my physical self will lose its vigor, who will come to my defense in front of the Heavenly Court? The prosecutor will claim that my repentance is not meaningful, that my repentance is not as a result of my resolve to vanquish the Evil Inclination within me. Instead, it will be attributed to the fact that my Evil Inclination simply ceased to exist in my old age. In contrast, if I will do repentance "when I am for myself" — during youth, when Man5 s Evil Inclination is strong — my repentance will be accredited to my determination to overcome the Evil Inclination. This is the meaning of "what am I": If I succeed to conquer the Evil Inclination during my youth, how great are my achievements! Thus, it is essential to embark on this task immediately, for "if not now, when?." There is an alternative explanation to the mishna: One must not take pride in his wealth or the number of his children, since death is constantly waiting to remove Man from this world. Thus, one should make the following logical deduction: "If I am not for myself, who is for me?" — that is, if I am not even in control of the continuing existence of my own physical body, then certainly my hold on my worldly possessions is tenuous indeed. Even during my youth, "when I am for myself," I must keep in
  • 70. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 63 mind that death can nevertheless strike at any moment, as the mishna says: "what am I?" And if I am temporarily granted the gift of life, then I must take full advantage of it, for "if not now, when?" The mishna also warns against becoming overly dependent on one's peers to identify one's faults. Instead, one should rely on his own ability to introspect and thereby detect his own faults. This is what is meant by "if I am not for myself, who is for me?" Paradoxically, even a person who does not rely on others for self critique must take care not to neglect his obligation to give rebuke to his peers. This is the meaning of "and when I am for myself, what am I?" Alternatively, the mishna warns against making use of another sage's disciple. The logic is simple: Since every Jew is HaShem's slave, a person is not permitted to neglect his service of G-d for the sake of fulfilling his own needs. If so, one may certainly not ask the disciples of another scholar to interrupt their service of G-d to serve him. This is the meaning of "If I am not for myself, who is for me?" One who neglects to serve G-d in this manner fails to justify his very existence, for it is for this purpose that Man was created. This is the meaning of "and when I am for myself, what am I?" This ability to serve the Creator is only possible in This World, for in the World to Come there are no Mitzvot — this is the meaning of "and if not now, when?" It is also possible to explain the mishna in the following manner: According to the Zohar, the word ‫מי‬ (Who) refers to the Almighty, as the verse says "Who created those?" The mishna teaches that a person who is incapable of
  • 71. 64 CHAPTER ONE identifying his own faults will ultimately be abandoned by HaShem. This is the meaning of the words "and when I am for myself, what am I?" However, an individual who maintains a sense of objectivity concerning his negative traits will merit having the Holy Countenance dwell near to him. It is also possible the mishna teaches this lesson: If an individual neglects his physical desires for the sake of the pursuit of spiritual growth, he will merit to have Divine assistance in helping him realize his goal. This is the meaning of the words "If I am not for myself, Who (referring to HaShem) is for me." In contrast, "I am for myself" refers to a person who seeks to satisfy his physical desires. Such an individual will not receive Divine assistance, but instead, will have to rely on his own capabilities to survive, which is the meaning of "What am I?" Because Man is obligated to constantly serve HaShem, every moment that a person ceases to serve Him is, in effect, stolen time. As the law regarding thefts dictates, the thief is obligated to return the stolen object. However, since every available moment of time has already been reserved for this purpose, it is impossible to return the stolen time. Thus, the mishna warns "if not now, when?" Alternatively, this last clause teaches that one who succumbs to his indolent nature even once will suffer greatly in the future, since it is a self evident fact that man rapidly becomes accustomed to bad habits. (The Chassid in the name of Rav Y. ben Shushan) "If I am not for myself, who is for me?" teaches that Man is free to choose his own destiny. This freedom of
  • 72. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 65 choice is what elevates the Jew above the angels, since his righteous deeds are entirely attributed to his willingness to fulfill the precepts of the Torah. In contrast, the angels do not choose their deeds, but instead, merely execute the commands they are given. This is the meaning of "When I am for myself, what am I?'‫י‬ — that is, when I exercise my freedom of choice and choose to follow the righteous path, how exalted is Man! (Rav Moshe Alshkar) "And if not now, when?" can be explained in this manner: Just as a young sapling's growth can be easily rectified by bending its trunk in the proper direction, so, too, a young person's faults can be readily corrected. However, it is extremely difficult for an older person in order to remold his personality. (Rabbeinu Yonah) 1-15 Shammai says: "Make your Torah constant, say little and do much, and receive each person with a friendly countenance." Shammai teaches that the power of Torah is greater than that of tefilah (prayer). Rav Shimon's statement "Do not make your prayers constant" warns against assuming that one's prayers will be accepted by HaShem. However, Shammai teaches that on the basis of one's Torah study one may assume that his prayers will be answered.
  • 73. 66 CHAPTER ONE "Say little and do much" cautions against making vows to give charity, as the verse says: "Guard the utterings of your lips.‫י‬‫י‬ Instead, one should refrain from making vows, but, nevertheless, give generously to charity. Or, it is possible the mishna teaches us to follow the example of Avraham the Patriarch, who initially said to his guests, "I will fetch a morsel of bread and comfort your hearts" (Bereshit 18:5); only afterwards does the verse report: "Avraham ran to the herd, fetched a tender and good calf, and gave it to the young man; and he hurried to prepare it" (ibid. 7). If one is not financially able to provide his guests with such delicacies, he should at least serve them in a genial manner. This is the meaning of "receive each person with a friendly countenance.'‫י‬ There is another way to interpret this last clause: Even a person who dedicates all of his time towards the study of Torah must guard himself from behaving in an arrogant manner with other people who are not capable of studying Torah the entire day. It is also possible to explain the mishna within the context of the verse "But his delight is in the Torah of the Lord, and in His Torah he meditates day and night" (Tehillim 1:2). At first glance, it would seem that the verse is needlessly repetitious, since the word "Torah‫י‬5 is mentioned twice. The answer is that Torah study can be subdivided into two categories: the esoteric connotations of verses and mitzvot, and the revealed laws of the Written and Oral Torah. The verse refers to the first category as "the Torah of HaShem" and to the second category as "His Torah.*' Unlike the second category, the attainment of esoteric revelations are not dependent on an individual's diligence in study. Instead, these revelations are granted to worthy individuals selected by the Almighty, such as Rav Shimon
  • 74. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 67 bar Yochai. In contrast, the mastery of the second category is totally dependent upon the degree of devotion with which an individual studies Torah. This is implied by the words "and in his Torah he meditates day and night." Regarding the revealed laws of the Torah, Shammai said, "Make your Torah constant" — that is, devote all of your days and nights towards the study of Torah, for it is within your capability to master this area of study. Yet, out of concern that an individual who fulfills this edict will come to feel superior over others, he warns, "receive each person with a friendly countenance" — treat everyone as if he were your equal in Torah knowledge. This mishna appears in a slightly different version in Pirkei DeRav Natan: "Make your Torah constant, that you should not become lenient towards yourself and stringent towards others, or become lenient towards others and stringent towards yourself. Rather, your Torah should be constant for yourself as well as for others." This version obligates one to concern himself over the Torah study of others to the same degree as he concerns himself with his own Torah study. Alternatively, the mishna informs us that one who wants to be listened to by other people should speak little and do much. (The Rashbatz) It is also possible that the mishna warns against verbalizing one's intention to perform specific mitzvot. For example, "Today I will learn five chapters of Talmud," or "Today I will perform this mitzvah." Once an intention to perform a mitzvah is expressed, chances are that the Evil Inclination will attempt to place stumbling blocks in the individual's path. Experience shows that people who declare their good intentions usually do not get to carry them out. The mishna can also be explained as follows: Regardless of how knowledgeable a person may be in Torah, he should
  • 75. 68 CHAPTER ONE never consider this knowledge sufficient. Instead, he should continuously strive to increase his Torah knowledge, as well as to review what he has learned in the past. This is what "say little and do much" means — one should consider the amount of time he has devoted to Torah study as too little; consequently, he should add more hours of Torah study to his schedule. However, one who follows this advice must not become over-zealous. He must learn to distinguish between situations which require that he interrupt his Torah study and those that do not. As an example, the mishna says: "receive each person with a friendly countenance," even if this requires one to interrupt his Torah study. (Rav Y. Lirmah) Regarding "Say little and do much," the verse says: "Guard the utterings of your lips." Why did the Torah use "guard" and not "fulfill?'' In order to warn against retracting one's promise. For example, if a wealthy person assures a poor person that he will loan him money to enable him to purchase expensive merchandise, he should not renege on his promise. For this reason, people would do well to limit his speech. (Rav Y. ben Shushari) 1-16 Rabban Gamliel says: "Make yourself a Rav, and avoid doubt, and do not resort to taking tithes by estimate." The Talmud says that because Rav Yehudah learned his Torah from various different teachers, his opinions should not be relied upon for determining practical halachah. The
  • 76. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 69 mishna emphasizes the need to have one principal teacher by using the singular, "A Rav." By complying with this rule, one will avoid having to integrate the opinions of various teachers, which can prove to be a very confusing task. This is why the words "avoid doubt" follow the first clause of the mishna. "Do not resort to taking tithes by estimate" means the following: One of the essential foundations of a solid Torah education is the development of the student's ability to adopt and recreate his Rav's thought patterns and general approach in study. However, this advanced level of education is only possible to attain if the student has one principal teacher. A student who is taught by various teachers will invariably adopt different techniques from each of his teachers. As a result, his decision making process will not be a congruent system, but rather an amalgamation of different and sometimes opposing logical systems. This is what is meant by "do not resort to taking tithes by estimate" — do not assemble a tithe of knowledge from one Rav and some more from another, and on the basis of this hybrid, make a halachic decision, for this is akin to relying solely on conjecture. This mishna differs from the previous ones, since it does not begin with the words "he received from them.'' It is also interesting to note that the title Rav (Master) is used for the first time. The reason is that the previous mishnayot were authored by the generations preceding Hillel and Shammai, the Zuggot (pairs of learning partners), who were recipients of the Oral Tradition in its original state. Following Hillel and Shammai's generation, several interpretations of the Oral Tradition evolved; representing the beginning of a new era in the study of the Oral Law. Instead of relying
  • 77. 70 CHAPTER ONE on traditional mishnaic sources, the Sages began to apply their logic and argumentative skills to interpret the Oral Law. Consequently, this era is characterized by dispute and fierce debate between the Sages. This is why the title "Rav" began to emerge: the word in Hebrew comes from the same root as the word ‫ריב‬ (struggle). (Lev Avot) As a result of this new era of Torah study, the mishna stresses the importance of selecting a rav from whom one may learn the ability to think logically. However difficult it may seem, one should not forego the need to make a halachic decision by opting to follow the most stringent opinion. Instead, the mishna warns: "Do not resort to taking tithes by estimate" - ‫־‬ that is, do not make halachic decisions in the same manner as a person who is not certain of how much ma'aser (tithes) to separate, taking more than is actually required. Rather, there is an obligation on the Rav to deliberate and determine which opinion is the correct one. Alternatively, the mishna teaches that one should choose a rav who he will come to respect. Preferably, he should be markedly superior in Torah knowledge and learning skills. He should be the type of person that can be relied upon to make a correct halachic decision. In contrast, one should avoid choosing a Rav whom he will come to distrust. This is the meaning of "make yourself a Rav and avoid doubt.‫יי‬ The last clause of the mishna is also explained by Rav Moshe Alshkar: Do not pretend to be an expert in halachah, who does not need to even glance in the Sefarim, formulating the answers on the basis of his own ideas instead.
  • 78. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 71 1-17 Shimon his son says: "All my days I grew amongst the Sages, and I have never found anything more beneficial for the body than silence," and "The study [of Torah] is not the essence, but rather the performance of deeds," and "Anyone who speaks excessively brings on sin." The "Shimon" referred to by the mishna is Rabban Shimon, who was one of the Ten Sages who died as martyrs at the hands of the Romans. Apparently he made these statements before he was appointed as Nassi (Head) of the Sanhedrin. (The Rashbatz) The meaning of "I have never found anything more beneficial for the body than silence" is as follows: The Sages say: "The verse 'And His loved ones are as the rising sun' refers to a person who hears insults hurled at him and nevertheless refrains from reciprocating in kind." This refers to the well known Midrash which relates that the moon complained to the Almighty that it is improper for "two kings to share one crown." The sun withheld itself from responding to the moon, s taunting, and, as a result, the moon was commanded to reduce itself to its present state. So, too, a person who overcomes the natural urge to answer an insult with an insult causes the instigator to become reduced in stature. In the context of a student teacher relationship, this principle is primarily directed at the student. He must
  • 79. 72 CHAPTER ONE learn to keep silent while in the presence of his teacher. This admonition is especially applicable to an advanced student, since he is most likely to feel justified in arguing with his teacher. In contrast, a teacher must speak as much as he feels is necessary in order to convey the lesson to his students. Even so, the mishna advises a teacher to limit his words, in order not to confuse his students. This is the meaning of "anyone who speaks excessively brings on sin." According to this understanding, several questions remain unanswered: In numerous references, the Sages emphasize the important role of discussion and argumentation in the study of Torah. In addition, prayer, by definition requires speech. What, then, is the meaning of the statement "I have never found anything more beneficial for the body than silence?" Furthermore, is it not self evident that deeds are more important than theoretical study? The explanation is as follows: Rabban Shimon made his statement after he was appointed Nassi of the Sanhedrin, and his aim was to teach the following principles: First, the necessity to show deference to the Sages. Although he was the Nassi of the Sanhedrin, he regarded himself as a subordinate of the other Sages. Second, to limit one's speech as much as possible when in pursuit of worldly objectives. This admonition does not apply to Torah study, however, since it is impossible to study Torah effectively without speaking. This is the meaning of "I have never found anything more beneficial for the body than silence" — the best way to approach one's physical requirements is by maintaining one's silence as long as possible. Third, "deeds," which refers to
  • 80. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 73 rabbinical decrees, should not become overshadowed by the sometimes lengthy introductory speeches which accompany their pronouncement. Instead, the decree should be announced as concisely as possible, and the scholarly dessertations explaining the need for the decree should be brief. Further discussion should be postponed until a later date. Alternatively, the mishna teaches that the admonition to keep one5 s silence does not only apply when inside a Beit Midrash. In truth, the essential obligation applies even when one is outside the Beit Midrash, while busy with the mundane tasks of everyday life. This explains why the statement "The study [of Torah] is not the essence, but rather the performance of deeds" follows the admonition to keep silent. The mishna teaches that the best way to influence others to adhere to the principles of the Torah is by personal example. Words, however, do not have a lasting effect, which is the meaning of "I have never found anything more beneficial for the body than silence...The study [of Torah] is not the essence, but rather the performance of deeds." (Rav M. Hayitzri)
  • 81. 74 CHAPTER ONE 1-18 Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: "The world is sustained by three things: Justice, Truth, and Shalom, as it says: *You shall administer truth, justice and peace in your gates'" (Zechariah 8:16). There is an obvious similarity between this mishna and the second mishna of this chapter. However, it is interesting to note that the two 2mishnayot differ slightly. This one lists the three things upon which the world is 2sustained, while the previous mishna enumerates the three things upon which the world a 2stands. Rabbeinu Yonah explains that the previous mishna comes to list the principles which induced 2HaShem to create the world, while this mishna enumerates the principles which contribute to the world's continuing existence. Accordingly, Shimon HaTzadik authored the earlier mishna when the 2Beit Hamikdash was still standing, while Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel wrote this mishna after the destruction of the Temple. It teaches that although one of the three reasons for the world's creation, the Temple Service, has been taken away from us, the world continues to exist on the merit of these three principles. In light of Rashi's commentary on the second mishna of this chapter, however, there is a difficulty with Rabbeinu Yonah's explanation. A close study of Rashi reveals that the three principles listed by Shimon HaTzadik do not explain the reason for the creation of the world, but rather, why the world continues to exist. If so, the question remains unanswered: How does this mishna differ from the previous mishna?
  • 82. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 75 The answer is as follows: Shimon HaTzadik enumerates the three principles which contribute to the world's continuing existence. After the destruction of the Temple, one of these three pillars, the Temple Service, was uprooted from the world. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel teaches that Justice, Truth, and Shalom serve as substitutes for this missing pillar. In actuality, these three principles effectively illustrate the three categories of sacrifices which are offered in the Beit HaMikdash: l.The 2Chatat and 2Asham (sin-offerings) offerings were brought in order to atone for unintentional transgressions. This offering atoned for the sinner's guilt and also spared the transgressor from having to suffer punishment and affliction as a consequence of having performed the sin. Now that we do not have the ability to offer sacrifices, the only way to hold the Forces of Retribution at bay is by stringently enforcing the precepts of the Torah. If the 2Beit Din is successful in meting out Justice with due impartiality, then the Heavenly 2Beit Din will not be required to inflict punishment on Mankind. This is what the mishna means by "Justice." 2.2Nedarim and 2Nedavot (gift-offerings) required that an individual who vowed to bring an offering be true to his word. Nowadays, this trait is demanded of a person who vows to contribute a specified sum of money to charity. As the Sages say: "One who gives charity to a poor person is considered as if he offered a sacrifice." This is what the mishna means by "Truth." 3.2Shelamim (peace-offerings) were brought in order to engender peace between G-d and Man. Nowadays, it is also within our capabilities to effect peace between G-d
  • 83. 76 CHAPTER TWO and man by the simple expedient of increasing our efforts to conduct peaceful interpersonal relations. When peace is restored between people, peace between G-d and man will also increase. This is what the mishna means by "2Shalom." Alternatively, the mishna serves as an admonishment to judges who preside over monetary disputes: "Justice" demands that the judge implement the rules of the Torah in his verdict; "Truth" requires that he be absolutely impartial to the disputing parties; "2Shalom" describes the result of a fair verdict: restored peace between the disputing parties. 2-1 Rebbe says: Which is the right course that a man should choose for himself? One which is a credit to the person who chooses it and which also earns him respect from his fellow man. Be careful to perform a minor mitzvah in the same manner as a major one, for you do not know the reward for each mitzvah. Consider the loss incurred in the performance of a mitzvah against the reward secured by its observance, and the gain received from a sin against the loss which will be suffered. Reflect upon three things and you will not fall into the hands of sin: Know what is above you ‫־־‬ an Eye that sees, an Ear that hears, and a Book in which all your deeds are recorded.
  • 84. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 77 Rebbe's statement should not be misinterpreted to imply that the Torah is only one of various legitimate paths one may follow, G-d forbid. Instead, it stresses the importance of regarding the fulfillment of all Mitzvot with equal veneration. Even so, an individual is allowed to make certain choices concerning the fulfillment of Mitzvot. There are two basic categories of Commandments: First, the obligations between man and G-d which do not involve other people — for example, Sukah, Lulav, Mezuzah, and the like. Second, the obligations between man and G‫־‬ d which demand the performance of deeds for other individuals ‫־־‬ for example charity, acts of lovingkindness, visiting the sick, and the like. This second category is described by the mishna as mitzvot "Which are a credit to the person who chooses it and which also earn him respect from his fellow man." This is easily understood, since an individual who performs acts of lovingkindness will derive direct benefit from his actions, for example, a philanthropist will invariably be regarded in high esteem by those people whom he helps. Concerning this second category, Rebbe says, "Which is the right course that a man should choose for himself?" He teaches that one may choose to fulfill one of the mitzvot of this second category with more punctiliousness than the rest, since it is possible to foresee which will yield the most benefit. Even so, it is preferable to regard the fulfillment of all Mitzvot equally and not to value one over the other. However, one who wishes to choose between Mitzvot may only do so within this second category not within the first category of mitzvot ~ those exclusively between man and G‫־‬d — since regarding these mitzvot the mishna says: "Be careful to perform a minor mitzvah in the same manner as a major one, for you do not know the reward for each mitzvah."
  • 85. 78 CHAPTER TWO Alternatively, it is possible that the mishna teaches a different principle: Some mitzvot are easy to fulfill, while others only present themselves at rare intervals. It is natural that a person will feel great anticipation and excitement before performing an uncommon mitzvah. Yet the mishna teaches that one should feel this way before the performance of all Mitzvot, since we do not know the reward which each mitzvah brings. If one fails to take heed of this advice, it is likely that he will never even fulfill the mitzvot which he considers commonplace. Lack of excitement will eventually lead to total disregard for "ordinary" mitzvot, which, in turn, will weaken that individual's faith. In due course, his resolve to fulfill uncommon mitzvot will also fade. Moreover, the principal "Be careful to perform a minor mitzvah in the same manner as a major one" is even applicable if one knows for certain that the reward for a specific mitzvah is less than that of others. It is for this reason that the Almighty chose to conceal the reward of Mitzvot to induce people to fulfill every mitzvah of the Torah and to dissuade them from choosing to fulfill only those mitzvot which yield the greatest reward. This is analogous to a king who instructs his servants to plant a wide variety of trees in his private gardens. In order to ensure that his orders are executed according to his specifications, he does not reveal which kind of fruits each tree will yield. In this manner, his servants will consider every tree equally valuable, and will consequently care for all of them with the same degree of concern. Reflect upon three things and you will not come to fall into the hands of sin.
  • 86. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 79 The mishna uses the term "the hands of sin'‫י‬ in order to illustrate the consequence of disregarding the admonishment "Perform a minor mitzvah in the same manner as a major one" — just as a handle is required in order to carry a vessel, so, too, "light" transgressions are the "handles" by which the Evil Inclination grabs hold of a person. Know what is above you — an Eye that sees, an Ear that hears, and a Book in which all your deeds are recorded. The human eye's function is limited by physical factors such as availability of light, obstructions, and contrast of colors and shadows. In essence, the human eye acts as a receiver which is only able to receive signals from a source of transmission. In contrast, that entity which we call "HaShem's Eye" is the source of all vision and light. Its ability to discern is not limited by physical conditions; it is able to see even in the depth of darkness. This concept is alluded to by the Sages: '"And G-d called the light Day and to the darkness He called Night.' The verse does not say 'And G-d called the darkness Night,' because HaShem did not wish to associate His Name with darkness." ...and a Book in which all your deeds are recorded. This can be understood as referring to the Pentateuch, which contains the instructions of how Mankind should behave. One who studies the Torah will certainly be dissuaded from committing transgressions, since the commandments of the Torah are clearly accessible for anyone who wishes to study them.
  • 87. 80 CHAPTER TWO One which is a credit to the person who chooses it and which also earns him respect from his fellow man. R. Ovadia derives from this the importance of following the intermediate path. A person who is miserly benefits himself financially, but derives no respect from others. On the other hand, one who is overly generous with his money becomes greatly respected by others, yet deprives himself of comfort. Thus, the mishna teaches to pursue the middle path. 2-2 Rabban Gamliel, the son of Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi, says: "The study of Torah combined with Derech Eretz (a worldly occupation) is a virtuous thing, for the energy needed by both keeps sinful thoughts out of one's mind. Any study of Torah when not accompanied by a trade must fail in the end and become the cause of sin. Let all those who occupy themselves wfth the affairs of the community do so only for the sake of Heaven, for then the merit of their fathers will help them, and their righteousness will last forever. And as for you, I credit you with great reward as if you had achieved it all." Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi commends the combination of Torah and Derech Eretz because the practice of each of
  • 88. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 81 these principles benefitted the Jewish People throughout their history. The study of Torah forestalled Heavenly punishment on the People when idol worship was prevalent in Eretz Yisrael. Harmony amongst the Jewish People, another sense of Derech Eretz, also postponed Heavenly punishment. Aside from the necessary combinations, the mishna also teaches the importance of Torah study. To devote less time to Torah study than one devotes towards his worldly occupation is considered "virtuous," compared to someone who does not devote any time whatsoever towards Torah study. On the other hand, one who devotes as much time to Torah study as he does towards his worldly pursuits achieves the higher level of keeping sinful thoughts out of his mind. Yet a still higher level is reached by one who devotes most of his time to the study of Torah and only minimal time towards earning a livelihood — this is the meaning of "Torah...accompanied by a trade.‫יי‬ The mishna warns against renouncing work altogether, however. One who does so will eventually become destitute, and, as a result of his desperate situation, he will not have the time to establish a business or learn a trade. Consequently, he will be forced to devote his entire day towards work, leaving no time at all for the study of Torah. Or worse still, he will come to commit theft in order to provide sustenance for his household, and consequently his Torah study will become meaningless. "Any study of Torah when not accompanied by a trade must fail in the end and become the cause of sin." Some commentaries say that "a trade" does not refer to
  • 89. 82 CHAPTER TWO one's worldly occupation, but rather, to the performance of Mitzvot. The mishna teaches that a person who does not study Torah in order to fulfill the Mitzvot properly, but instead, does so in order to become well-respected and esteemed by his community, will eventually succumb to sin. Such an individual's sin is more serious after he has studied Torah than it would have been considered had he sinned before he learned Torah, for then he could have claimed ignorance. Let all those who occupy themselves with the affairs of the community do so only for the sake of Heaven, for then the merit of theirfathers will help them, and their righteousness will last forever. And as for you, I credit you with great reward as if you had achieved it all. The mishna admonishes the representatives of the community to perform their duties for the good of the community, rather than in order to derive personal benefit or honor. Although the successful attainment of the community's needs are due to the merit of its forefathers and not to the efforts of its representatives, they are nevertheless rewarded for their efforts by the Heavenly Court. {The Ramah) 2-3 Be cautious of the ruling authorities, because they only befriend a person for their own interests. They appear as friends when it is to their own advantage, but they do not support one in the time of his distress.
  • 90. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 83 This mishna's lesson is a continuation of the principle taught in the tenth mishna of chapter one: "Love your trade/ profession, scorn the holding of public office, and do not make yourself known to the authorities." A person who does not hold public office can fulfill the admonishment "do not make yourself known to the authorities.'‫י‬ However, a person who holds a position of responsibility in the community has no choice but to circulate amongst those in power. It is often necessary for the representative of a community to distribute gifts to influential people in order to induce them to satisfy the needs of his community. Regarding this, Rabban Gamliel warns the leaders of communities against becoming overly generous with the community's money. Although the representative may well reason that a generous supply of gifts will ensure a particular influential person's support in the future should a difficult situation arise, the mishna teaches that this reasoning is based on faulty premises. The assumption that today's generosity will be reciprocated by tomorrow's support is not true, since the amiable appearance the authorities assume when they accept gifts does not reflect sincere devotion to the Jewish community's needs. In actuality, their acceptance of these gifts is purely selfish. Their agreement to receive the gifts does not imply a stronger devotion to solicit for the community's needs. Also, if a difficult situation should arise in the future which requires an influential person's support, additional gifts will be required to induce him to help. Thus, there is no justification for spending the community's money to those in power without careful consideration. It is also possible to explain the mishna in a totally different way. The word ‫רשות‬ (generally translated here as "authorities") can also mean "permission." In light
  • 91. 84 CHAPTER TWO of this understanding, the mishna teaches that it is not sufficient for a person to fulfill the laws explicitly stated in the Torah; one must also abstain from enjoying even permitted physical pleasures in excess. The mishna teaches that these pleasures serve no other purpose than to gratify one's animal drives, as was exemplified by David HaMelech's failure to withstand the test with Batshevah bathing on the roof. It was revealed to David that he would soon be caused by HaShem to undergo a test of his desire. He prepared himself by conducting relations with his many wives and concubines, reasoning that satisfying his desire to such an extensive degree would result in the weakening of his physical cravings. This reasoning proved to be false, however, when his craving for Batshevah overcame his preparations and resolve. In retrospect, it is apparent that the numerous sexual relations he conducted with his wives and concubines served no other purpose than to gratify his desires. So, too, one should not reason that fulfilling one's desires today will enable him to control his cravings tomorrow. 2‫4־‬ He used to say: Do the Will of G-d as if it were your own, so that He will do your will as if it were His Will. Nullify your will for the sake of His Will so that He will nullify the will of others for your sake.
  • 92. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 85 The mishna urges to spend money on Mitzvot with the same magnanimity as one does when purchasing worldly luxuries. One who follows this advice will be generously rewarded with wealth and Heavenly assistance. His enemies will be vanquished, and he will live a peaceful life. (Rabbeinu Ovadiah) Others say that the mishna encourages the study of Torah regardless of whether one's intentions are purely for the sake of Torah study or for the pursuit of honor. By pursuing one's desire for honor within the field of Torah study, the mishna's admonishment "Do the Will of G-d as if it were your own" is fulfilled. In return, "He will do your will as if it were His Will." That is, eventually your pursuit of honor will metamorphosize into a sincere desire to understand the sublime truth of the Torah. This is what the Sages said: "One should study the Torah even if his intention is not purely for the sake of Torah study, since one who does not initially study for the sake of Torah study eventually will come to study for its sake alone." The mishna also teaches a deeper idea. Most people's nature is essentially good; deep down, their soul longs to serve its Creator. However, the Evil Inclination subverts this good intention and distracts Man from his real purpose. Similarly, HaShem is a merciful G-d, and His Will is to bestow untold goodness onto Mankind. However, Man's sins impede Him from bestowing His goodness. Thus, the mishna urges Man to do the Will of G-d in accordance with his elemental desire to serve his Creator. In return, He will be justified in manifesting His desire, which is to fulfill Man's needs. Regarding those few people who do have an essentially evil nature, the mishna says
  • 93. 86 CHAPTER TWO "Nullify your will for the sake of His Will so that He will nullify the will of others for your sake. In addition, the mishna teaches the principle derived from the verse "Know Him in all your ways." Even when performing one's physical needs, such as eating or conducting sexual relations, one's intention should be to serve HaShem. One's intention while eating should be to strengthen his body in order that he may continue to perform Mitzvot. Sexual relations are necessary in order to fulfill the mitzvah to be fruitful and multiply. HaShem will regard as Mitzvot even the physical actions of the person who achieves this degree of adherence to the Torah. This is the meaning of "He will do your will as if it were His will." An even more exalted level of adherence is to perform every physical action for the sole purpose of serving HaShem. One who nullifies his natural hunger for pleasure and, instead, allows his actions to be guided by his will to serve G-d, will receive an even greatpr reward — "He will nullify the will of others for your sake." This is alluded to by the Sages' expression: "HaShem dictates a decree and the righteous person nullifies it."
  • 94. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 87 2‫5־‬ Hillel said: "Do not separate yourself from the community; do not be sure of yourself until your last day; do not judge your fellow man until you have been in his position; do not say anything unless its full meaning and implications are understood immediately; and do not say, 'When I have leisure time I will study/ for you may never have leisure.'‫י‬ This mishna warns against separating from one's community. An individual must rejoice as well as mourn along with his community. The Sages say that a person who does not mourn along with his community during sorrowful times will not merit to rejoice with them during joyful occasions. (Rabbeinu Ovadiah) Ostensibly, isolating oneself from society would seem a very spiritual act. In such a situation there would be few distractions and obligations to interrupt one's Torah study; one could devote himself totally to the service of HaShem. Many of the negative character traits one must correct would simply not exist in a life of isolation. For example, one would never feel jealousy, arrogance, or lust. This line of reasoning is exactly what the mishna comes to exclude, as the verse says: "It is not good for Man to be alone." The reason for this is that no individual is capable of fulfilling all of his own needs. Also, an individual must have a point of reference; every person subconsciously needs to compare himself with others in order to gauge his
  • 95. 88 CHAPTER TWO own achievements and allow himself to create an image of his own personality. Furthermore, the lack of interpersonal relationships will also ultimately elicit extreme depression. Thus, it is apparent that even though isolation precludes committing most of the commonly transgressed sins, it nevertheless entails other shortcomings. In addition, it negates the performance of the numerous mitzvot between man and his fellow. The mishna also obligates every individual to contribute his share of the community's taxes. This is derived from the verse "I (HaShem) am with him (the Jewish People) during his suffering." If HaShem joins Israel in their suffering, then certainly a mortal man should join in his community's suffering. (R. Shem Tov ben Shem Tov) There are four reasons why an individual might want to leave his community, and the mishna refutes each one: 1. One may consider himself more righteous than the majority of people in his community. The mishna counters this by admonishing: "Do not be sure of yourself until your last day." 2. An individual may regard the majority of the people in his vicinity as sinners. The mishna refutes this claim by saying: "Do not judge your fellow man until you have been in his position.." 3. A Rav who feels that his congregants do not heed his words might threaten to leave the community unless they listen to his words. To this the mishna says: "Do not say anything unless its full meaning and implications are understood immediately." This admonishes the Rav against placing the fault with his congregants, since it is very probable that much of the blame can be traced to his inability to deliver his message properly. Forcing them to accept his opinion only results in a further loss of esteem
  • 96. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 89 in the eyes of his congregants. 4. A person who serves the community may want to leave in order to lessen the burden of his time-consuming responsibilities. He might reason that by doing so, he will have more leisure time during which to study Torah. Against this, the mishna warns: "And do not say, 'When I have leisure time I will study', for you may never have leisure.‫יי‬ That is, although your time will not be occupied by the community's needs, it is possible that other unforseen distractions will occupy your time. Thus, it is better to learn less Torah and work for the community, since at least this is a mitzvah, than to become occupied with other matters, which are not even mitzvot, and still learn just the same amount of Torah as before. Yochanan the Cohen Gadol illustrates the fate of someone who disregards the dictum "Do not be sure of yourself until your last day." After serving many years as Cohen Gadol, he became a heretic. It is also possible that the mishna teaches that when praying, one should phrase his prayers for the Jewish People in general and not specifically for himself. In this manner, his prayers will be accepted- the Sages say "One who prays for the sake of his friend is answered first." "Do not say anything unless its full meaning and implications are understood immediately" warns against stating one's opinion when still in doubt over its veracity. One should not depend on people to evaluate his statement. Since they will rarely do so, there is a great chance that his words will be misunderstood, and consequently, people may come to unwittingly commit transgressions, or worse, believe heretical ideas, as a result of his ambiguous messages. (Rambam)
  • 97. 90 CHAPTER TWO "Do not say anything unless its full meaning and implications are understood immediately" also refers to the study of Torah; one should never say regarding a Torah discourse or treatise "It is impossible to understand its full meaning and implications." The Sages say, "If someone says T toiled and I did not find Torah understanding', do not believe him. If he says T toiled and I have found', believe him." (R. Moshe Almoshninu) The literal translation of the third clause of the mishna is as follows: "Do not say something which cannot be heard." According to this translation, it is possible that the mishna warns against speaking Lashon Harah. It teaches that one should not repeat a derogatory remark made against someone else in his presence. Just as one would not repeat it in the presence of the subject of the insult, so, too, he should not repeat it in anyone else's presence. The Sages say that Lashon Harah kills the speaker, the listener, and the subject. "And do not say, "When I have leisure time I will study," for you may never have leisure." After learning the mishnayot which extol the importance of work, this mishna clarifies that the study of Torah nevertheless takes priority over earning one's livelihood. One should not begin his day by working and leave the remainder of the day for Torah study. After all, it is quite possible that there will not remain enough time to study Torah. Rather, one should first study Torah and then work the remainder of the day. David HaMelech said of himself: "And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts" (Tehillim 119:45). He did not go out to the streets of the city to make his purchases until after studying HaShem's Laws.
  • 98. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 91 2-6 He used to say: "An uncultured person can have no fear of sin, an uneducated person cannot be pious, a bashful person cannot learn, and a person without patience cannot teach; not every person who is deeply involved in business will become a scholar; and where there are no men, strive be be a man.'‫י‬ An uncultured person can have no fear of sin. At first glance, this mishna seems to contradict R. Chanina ben Dosa's statement: "If one's fear of sin precedes his wisdom, his wisdom will endure.'' In truth, however, these two mishnayot are not contradictory. This mishna teaches that even though a person may decide to fulfill the Mitzvot of the Torah, if he does not learn what is prohibited and what is permitted, he will not be able to fulfill the Mitzvot. R. Chanina ben Dosa, on the other hand, teaches that even if a person studies Torah extensively, his wisdom will not endure unless he makes a decision to subject himself to the laws of the Torah. Alternatively, it is possible that R. Chanina ben Dosa and Hillel are teaching the same message. A person's ignorance is itself indicative of his lack of conviction to fulfill Mitzvot. R. Chanina ben Dosa emphasizes that the attainment of wisdom is dependent upon the fear of sin, while Hillel stresses that it is impossible to have fear of sin without applying oneself to the study of Torah. However, they both agree that a person who accepts the yoke of Mitzvot will merit Divine assistance in his studies. His
  • 99. 92 CHAPTER TWO scholarly achievements will progress unexpectedly well, out of proportion to the hours of study he actually invests. This also explains the statement "An uneducated person cannot be pious‫י‬‫י‬ - the fact that he is uneducated indicates that he is not a pious man, since a truly pious man would have merited the attainment of great Torah knowledge. The mishna enumerates three types of people who, although pious, are nevertheless unable to learn Torah. This inability to learn Torah, in turn, is attributed to other shortcomings: 1. A bashful person. 2. A person who was taught by an impatient person. 3. One who is too involved in business. Concerning this type of person, the mishna says: "Not every person who is deeply involved in business will become a scholar.‫יי‬ Unlike the other two categories, there are accounts in the Talmud of people who were involved in business and were nevertheless able to study Torah, such as R. Eliezer ben Charsom and Ilfah. In the other two categories, however, there are no exceptions to the rule. The explanation of the statement "One deeply involved in business cannot become a scholar‫י‬‫י‬ is as follows: The pursuit of Torah knowledge is incompatible with the pursuit of money. Torah study causes a person to become humble, while wealth makes one arrogant. Thus, in order to attain Torah knowledge, one must cease to seek wealth. "Where there are no men, strive be be a man" This refers to a person who lives amongst non-orthodox people. Since they may not keep Mitzvot and, thereby, fail to fulfill their purpose as human beings, one must take care not to become affected by their behavior, he must continue to fulfill his own purpose as a Jew. Even if they mock him
  • 100. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 93 for fulfilling Mitzvot, he should not feel embarrassed, since the embarrassment a sinner's soul feels in the Next World is much stronger than any ridicule one can suffer in This World. 2-7 He saw a skull floating on the surface of the water and he said to it: "They have drowned you because you drowned others, and those who drowned you will themselves be drowned." This mishna teaches the exactness of Divine Providence. It does not say "They have drowned you because you killed others," but rather, "They have drowned you because you drowned others." This same fate also awaits those who murdered the murderer. Hillel derived what crimes the drowned person committed from the form of death which he met. However, there are two difficulties which must be asked concerning this mishna: First, there are many murderers who do not die at the hands of others. Second, logic dictates that at some point in the past the original victim of this chain of murders did not himself murder another man. For example, Able died at the hands of Kain even though he himself did not kill another man.
  • 101. 94 CHAPTER TWO The answer to the first difficulty is as follows: Even though there are murderers who die a peaceful death at a ripe old age, HaShem causes their soul to reincarnate in the future so that they may receive their due punishment and die at the hands of a murderer. The answer to the second difficulty requires a closer investigation of Abel's deeds. The Sages say that Abel reached an exalted state of spiritual perception. He pondered the most profound mysteries of Creation; he ultimately reached a state of perception that no man is permitted to behold. When man violates the limits of perception imposed upon him by the Almighty, he causes untold damage to the world. The Holy Countenance ‫־־‬ the Shechinah — recoils when its mystery is revealed to mortal man. Thus, Abel, in effect, caused the world to undergo a type of spiritual death, for the world devoid of the Holy Countenance's presence is like a body without a soul. With this understanding in mind, it becomes apparent that Abel's death at the hands of his brother was a just punishment for his sin. Those who drowned you will themselves be drowned. One might wonder why the murderer of someone who is sentenced to death is nevertheless considered guilty of having committed a crime. The answer is that only the Beit Din has the authority to implement the death penalty; an individual cannot take the law into his own hands. If HaShem, s Will is that the murderer should die at a specified time, then that is when his death will occur.
  • 102. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 95 The exactness of Divine Providence is also illustrated by the verse, "If you will leave him_it for one day, he_it will leave you for two days." The Sages derive from this verse that for each day a person neglects the study of Torah, he loses two days' worth of knowledge. At first glance, this seems unjust. However, this impression is only due to our limited understanding. In truth, every Jew has two levels of existence: the body and the soul. When one sins, both of these aspects of the self are held accountable for having committed the sin. In light of this understanding, the perfection of Divine Providence becomes apparent. (A Disciple of the Ritvah) One may wonder how Hillel foresaw that the murderers of the corpse would eventually suffer the same death. The Sages say that a person's future is written on his forehead. It is possible that Hillel knew how to read the future from a person's forehead, and he saw the fate of the murderers written on the corpse's forehead. 2-8 He used to say: "The more flesh, the more worms; the more property, the more worry; the more wives, the more superstition; the more maidservants, the more lewdness; the more men- servants, the more robbery; the more Torah study, the more wisdom; the more counsel, the more understanding; the more charity, the more
  • 103. 96 CHAPTER TWO peace. One who has acquired a good name, has acquired it for himself; one who has acquired the knowledge of Torah, has acquired eternal life for himself." Following the previous mishna, which described the grim state of the floating corpse, this mishna emphasizes that everyone faces a similar fate: the decay of the body in the grave. One must keep in mind that all bodily pleasures are transitory. Thus, a person would do well to minimize his bodily pleasures and learn Torah. The mishna teaches that this can be achieved by imagining one's body decomposing in the grave. This will naturally induce a person to lessen the amount of fat in his body, as well as to abstain from enjoying physical pleasures in excess. (R. Y. ben Shushan) There are four material pleasures which men seek in this world: Food and drink, wealth, sex, and honor. Concerning the first, the verse "All of her people were afflicted" relates that the people of Jerusalem were punished for their excessive desire for food and drink. They became excessively concerned over feeding their bodies and neglected the needs of their souls. Regarding the pursuit of wealth, the verse says "Do not belabor yourself to make rich." It does not say "to become rich,'' but rather, "to make rich." This teaches that a person who amasses great wealth in effect labors for others, since in the end he will die and his fortune will be distributed amongst his inheritors. Furthermore, such a person spends his entire life worrying about his
  • 104. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 97 possessions. If he hears of business opportunities which escaped his attention, he becomes worried; if he hears of rising prices, he worries; if he hears that prices are dropping, he worries. In short, his entire life is spent worrying. Perhaps this is why money is referred to as .‫נכסים‬ This word stems from the root ‫־־‬ ‫כיסיו‬ a covering, in the sense of a guise ‫־־‬ although at first glance wealth seems beneficial, in truth, it is a curse. The mishna lists four corresponding spiritual goals which have the opposite effect of these four material pleasures: l.The desire for food and drink causes one's body fat to increase. In essence, this will make the decay of his body in the grave that much more repugnant. The study of Torah, on the other hand, gives life to the person who delves its depths — as the verse says: "It is the Tree of Life to those who hold to it." 2.Instead of pursuing monetary wealth, the mishna advises to gather numerous disciples. Unlike a person who constantly worries over his possessions and consequently lives a miserable life, one who is troubled by the difficulties encountered in the study of the Torah will feel joy and delight. 3.A person who seeks sexual gratification by marrying numerous wives will inevitably become dull-headed. Each of his wives will vie for his attention and court him with promiscuous sexual nuances. The way to combat this is by following the mishna's advice: "The more counsel, the more understanding." In this manner, he will gain
  • 105. 98 CHAPTER TWO wisdom which will enable him to extricate himself from his decadent situation. 4.One way to gain honor is by having numerous servants. One who feels compelled to seek honor in this manner should hire poor and destitute Jews. In this manner, he will help the poor. Furthermore, the Sages say that one who gives sustenance to a poor person makes peace in the Heavens, for when a poor person goes hungry, he complains to HaShem. One who gives him sustenance causes him to stop complaining to HaShem, thus causing peace in the Heavens. 2‫9־‬ Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai received the tradition from Hillel and Shammai. He used to say: "If you have learned a great deal of Torah, do not pride yourself in it, because you were created for this purpose." One should not attribute his ability to learn Torah to either his devotion or natural intelligence. Instead, each person's achievements in Torah study are decreed before he is even born. As the Sages say: "The angels ask each other at the time of a person's conception, 'What will be of this drop [of semen?] Will he be wise or foolish?'" Alternatively, the mishna warns against ever considering oneself sufficiently knowledgeable in Torah. Instead, one must continue to strive forward and learn more Torah.
  • 106. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 99 You were createdfor this purpose This is evident from the fact that the human body has two hundred and forty eight limbs and three hundred and sixty five sinews, corresponding precisely to the number of positive and negative Mitzvot, respectively. 2-10 Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai had five disciples, whose names were: Rabbi Eliezer ben Horkenos, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananyah, Rabbi Yosi the Cohen, Rabbi Shimon ben Netanel, and Rabbi Elazar ben Arach. He used to enumerate their merits: "Rabbi Eliezer ben Horkenos is a cemented cistern which does not lose a single drop. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya -‫־‬ happy is she who bore him. Rabbi Yosi the Cohen is pious. Rabbi Shimon ben Netanel is one who fears sin. Rabbi Elazar ben Arach is like a spring which steadily increases its flow." He used to say: "If all the Sages of Israel were on one side of the balance and Eliezer ben Horkenos on the other, he would outweigh them all. Abba Shaul said in his name: If all the Sages of Israel including Eliezer ben Horkenos were on one scale of the balance, and Elazar ben Arach on the other, he would outweigh them all."
  • 107. 100 CHAPTER TWO By stating that Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai listed his disciples' positive traits, the mishna implicitly reveals the degree of humbleness his disciples reached. Were it not that their teacher publicized their merits, they would have remained unknown to the majority of people. Rabbi Eliezer ben Horkenos is a cemented cistern which does not lose a single drop. Ostensibly, the words "Which does not lose a single drop" seem superfluous, since the analogy to a cemented cistern includes the aspect of not losing a single drop. Thus, it is apparent that Rabban Yochanan added these words in order to convey an additional message: Although the analogy to a cemented cistern implies positive traits, it also has negative connotations: everyone knows that the taste of cistern water does not compare to fresh well water. Thus, Rabban Yochanan's analogy might be misunderstood as both a praise and a criticism of his disciple- although Rabbi Eliezer had the positive quality of remembering everything he was taught, he was not an original thinker. In order to avoid this interpretation of his analogy, he added the words "Which does not lose a single drop" in order to stress that the analogy to a cistern was only used to illustrate this particular aspect of his disciple. The analogy does not reflect Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai's opinion concerning Rabbi Eliezer's other traits. His ability to generate original ideas is demonstrated by the type of disciples who Rabbi Eliezer produced: Rabbi Akiva and his circle of scholars. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya- happy is she who bore him. Rabban Yochanan praised his disciple for his extraordinary devotion to fulfill the mitzvah of "Honor
  • 108. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 101 your father and mother." While most people fail to fulfill this obligation in its entirety, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya succeeded in doing so. It is interesting to note that Rabban Yochanan said about himself that, since his father died before his birth and his mother died during his birth, he did not have the opportunity to fulfill this mitzvah whatsoever. The Talmud Yerushalmi has a slightly differently version of this mishna: "Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya — happy is she who bore him, for she used to bring him to different Beit Knessets in order to accustom him to the sound of Torah. (R. Efraim) Rabbi Yosi the Cohen is pious. Rabbi Shimon ben Netanel is one who fears sin. Rabbi Shimon's outstanding quality was his ability to restrain himself from sinning, despite his natural disposition to want to do so. Thus, Rabbi Shimon's test was very different than Rabbi Yosi's, whose natural inclination was to subject himself to the rules of the Torah. An individual like Rabbi Shimon receives a greater reward than someone like Rabbi Yosi, since conquering one's Evil Inclination through great effort and struggle is a more remarkable achievement than establishing protective boundaries to prevent oneself from committing transgressions. (R. Yehudah Lirmah) Rabbi Elazar ben Arach is like a spring which steadily increases its flow. This analogy illustrates Rabbi Elazar's unnatural intelligence and ability to discern. The laws of nature
  • 109. 102 CHAPTER TWO confirm that the flow of a spring steadily decreases as it proceeds away from its source. In contrast, a river increases in strength as it collects its tributaries on its downstream course. Thus, this analogy conveys the unnatural qualities of Rabbi Elazar. He used to say, "If all the Sages of Israel were on one side of the balance andEliezer ben Horkenos on the other, he would outweigh them all" Abba Shaul said in his name: "If all the Sages of Israel including Eliezer ben Horkenos were on one side of the balance and Elazar ben Arach on the other, he would outweigh them all." It would seem that Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai differs in opinion with Abba Shaul, since Rabban Yochanan considers Eliezer ben Horkenos greater than all the other Sages while Abba Shaul regards Elazar ben Arach greater than Eliezer ben Horkenos and all the other Sages. However, this is not necessarily true. It is possible that Rabban Yochanan considered Eliezer ben Horkenos to have surpassed all the other Sages in the particular ability to retain information learned from one's teachers. Abba Shaul, on the other hand, singled out Rabbi Elazar ben Arach for his outstanding intellect and powers of reasoning. According to this interpretation, Rabban Yochanan and Abba Shaul do not differ in opinion, but instead, discuss different aspects of scholarly achievement. {Rabbeinu Yonah)
  • 110. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 103 2-11 He said to them: "Go out and see which is the proper way to which a man should cling." Rabbi Eliezer said: "A good eye." Rabbi Yehoshua said: "A good friend." Rabbi Yossi said: "A good neighbour." Rabbi Shimon said: "One who considers the consequences of an action." Rabbi Elazar said: "A good heart." He said to them: "I prefer the words of Rabbi Elazar ben Arach to yours, because your words are included in his words." He said to them: "Go out and see which is the evil path from which a person should distance himself." Rabbi Eliezer said: "An evil eye." Rabbi Yehoshua said: "A bad friend." Rabbi Yossi said: "A bad neighbor." Rabbi Shimon said: "One who borrows and does not repay. Borrowing from man is the same as borrowing from G-d, as the verse says 'A wicked person borrows and does not repay, but a righteous person deals graciously and gives'" {Tehillim 37:21). Rabbi Elazar said: "An evil heart." He said to them: "I prefer the words of Rabbi Elazar ben Arach to yours, because your words are included in his words." He said to them: "Go out and see which is the proper way to which a man should cling. The use of the words "Go out" requires an explanation. It is possible that R. Yochanan ben Zakai chose these words in order to define his question more precisely; that
  • 111. 104 CHAPTER TWO is, his question was not which traits righteous people such as his disciples should strive to attain, but rather, what traits average people should endeavor to acquire. This is what is meant by "Go out" — do not view this question from your own perspective, but try to think objectively of which character traits would be most essential for an average person to attain. It is self-evident that a person should strive to attain all the character traits enumerated in the mishna. The essential lesson taught by the mishna is that a person should concentrate on attaining one positive character trait and then try to perfect it. By perfecting one particular positive character trait, a person constructs a sturdy platform to support him during his struggle to attain other positive character traits. This greatly increases one's ability to develop other positive character traits. (Rabbeinu Yonah) Rabbi Eliezer said: "A good eye." Rabbi Yehoshua said: "A good friend." Rabbi Yossi said: "A good neighbor." Rabbi Shimon said: "One who considers the consequences of an action." Rabbi Elazar said: "A good heart. Each one of R. Yochanan ben Zakai's disciples selected the character trait which he felt to be most essential for attaining the attribute which Rabbi Yochanan attributed to him in the previous mishna: For example, according to R. Yochanan ben Zakai, Rabbi Eliezer ben Horkenos' outstanding feature was his ability to retain Torah knowledge — "A cemented cistern which does not lose a single drop." R. Eliezer attributed this ability to remember Torah knowledge to the trait of "A good eye," and for this reason he chose it as the most
  • 112. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 105 important trait a person should strive to attain. But now it is still necessary to explain why attaining the trait of "A good eye" helps a person to retain his Torah knowledge. There are two possible explanations: First, it is possible that the relationship between "A good eye" and a good memory is specifically applicable to Torah teachers. A conscientious teacher who does not withhold any of his knowledge from his students ‫־־‬ has a good eye for them — will, as a reward in kind for his dedicated effort, merit to remember all of his learning. Secondly, it is possible to explain this link in a more general sense: "A Good Eye" stems from the trait of being satisfied with one's situation in life. One must also adopt this attitude towards one's Torah studies and refrain from setting overly ambitious study goals for himself, since the Torah is compared to wine: A small amount has a beneficial effect, yet an excessive amount will cause a person to become drunk. So, too, one who feels satisfied with his achievements in Torah study is more likely to remember what he has learned than a person who never feels good about his progress. This concept is alluded to in the verse: "Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty" {Tehillim 130:1). [To continue our explanation of how the traits discussedin this mishna lead to the attributes of the previous mishna:] Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai said of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya "Happy is she who bore him. This statement also requires explanation: The Talmud
  • 113. 106 CHAPTER TWO refers to Esther as "the ground of the world." This means that a woman is, figuratively speaking, as the ground: The quality of a crop is dependent on the type of soil in which it grows. Arid land will yield thorns and weeds, while fertile soil will produce a bountiful harvest. So, too, a righteous woman will bear G-d‫־‬fearing children, while an evil-natured woman will very likely give birth to children of a similar nature. Thus, when R. Yochanan ben Zakai witnessed the extent of R. Yehoshua's piousness, he attributed this to his mother's righteousness. For this reason, R. Yehoshua chose the trait of being "A good friend," which refers to choosing a righteous woman for a wife. Rabbi Yosi the Cohen, who was referred to by his rabbi as a "pious" man, chose the trait of "A good neighbor." This is because good neighborliness requires that one help and be friendly towards all of one's neighbors, including even those who antagonize and disturb one's peace of mind. This type of behaviour requires one to exercise the attribute of piousness, implying going beyond the letter of the law. Rabbi Shimon ben Netanel is described by his rabbi as having the attribute of fearing sin. Consequently, he chose the ability to "consider the consequence of an action," for one who foresees the natural consequences of an action will inevitably realize that the result of committing a transgression is to receive a just punishment. In turn, this individual will become more fearful of sin and more aware of transgressions he inadvertently commits every day. Rabbi Elazar ben Arach is described by his rabbi as "A spring which steadily increases its flow." This is in
  • 114. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 107 reference to his extraordinary intellectual and analytical abilities. For this reason, Rabbi Elazar chose "A good heart" as the most important trait a person should strive to attain — "A good heart" is synonymous to a sharp mind, which can only be achieved by constant study of Torah. It is in regard to this trait that Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai said: " I prefer the words of Rabbi Elazar ben Arach to yours, because your words are included in his words.‫יי‬ That is, a person who develops his intellect will naturally learn to consider the consequences of his actions, become a good neighbor, choose good friends, and act generously towards others. "A Good Heart5 ‫י‬ can also be understood to be synonymous with tolerance. R. Yochanan understood that a person who is able to tolerate those who have committed injustices against him must surely possess many additional positive character traits. (R. Lirmah) He said to them: "Go out and see which is the evil path from which a person should distance himself." One might wonder why R. Yochanan asked his disciples this question, since the answer seems self-evident: The opposite of each of the positive traits listed above is precisely the evil path from which a person should distance himself. However, the real answer is that by asking this question, R. Yochanan teaches that the lack of a positive trait is not necessarily considered to be a negative trait. Only an active deed which unequivocably indicates that the individual possesses negative character traits is considered to actually be a negative trait. It is also possible that R. Yochanan asked this question
  • 115. 108 CHAPTER TWO in order to determine the degree of righteousness each of his disciples reached. A person who attains a high level of righteousness inevitably develops a deep loathing for evil deeds and evil people. He should feel no sympathy in his heart for evil people, and should despise their manner of behavior in earnest. Thus, the manner in which his disciples would answer his question would indicate whether they achieved true righteousness. The fact that each one of his students considered the opposite of the positive traits to be a negative trait gave him an indication that his students did, indeed, reach a high level of righteousness. Rabbi Shimon said: "One who borrows and does not repay. Borrowing from man is the same as borrowing from G-d, as the verse says, 'A wicked person borrows and does not repay, but a righteous person deals graciously and gives'" (Tehillim 37:21). At first glance, it would seem that this negative trait is not the opposite of the positive trait "One who considers the consequences of an action." However, a deeper analysis of Rabbi Shimon's words reveals that this negative trait is, in fact, the opposite of the above mentioned positive trait. It is well-known that the entire world was created in order to enable the Jewish People to perform Mitzvot and study Torah. In this context, "One who borrows and does not repay" can be understood as referring to a transgressor of sins, who benefits from the material pleasures of This World without realizing that, eventually, he will be forced to pay for every unit of pleasure with a greater amount of suffering. This is alluded to by the mishna (Avot 3:16): "Everything is given on pledge, and a net is spread out over all the living. The shop is open and the hand
  • 116. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 109 records therein. Whoever wishes to borrow, let him come and borrow. But the collectors make their regular, daily rounds and take payment from man whether or not he realizes it." The repayment of this "loan" is inevitable. However, of his own volition, the transgressor may decide to repay the loan by repetitive fasting and self-flagellation. Yet, if he does not, the many agents of retribution which exist in this world will exact the payment from him against his will. In contrast, the righteous man realizes that he is undeserving of every pleasure he derives in This World, for, as the verse says: "There is no righteous person who does only good and does not sin." Consequently, a righteous person is careful to curb his desires and refrain from taking more than is absolutely necessary for his physical survival. In addition, he willingly chooses to afflict himself with frequent fasts and self-denial in order to repay his debt. Thus, one who transgresses sins and, in effect, "borrows and does not repay," is the opposite of one who "considers the consequences of an action." Borrowing from man is the same as borrowing from G-d. Ostensibly, it would seem that "borrowing from G-d,'' a profound concept which has been explained at length above, is very different than borrowing from Man. In order to understand how borrowing from men is similar to borrowing from G-d, it is necessary to examine the reason why people lend money to each other: Since Man is naturally selfish and self-striving, lending his possessions to others is contrary to his nature — by
  • 117. 110 CHAPTER TWO doing so, he incurs the risk of losing his possessions. It is clear, then, that Man's willingness to lend his property to others can only be the result of his inherent desire to fulfill the Will of HaShem. For this reason, one who borrows from a man is considered as if he borrows from HaShem, since the only reason the loan was made available to him is because HaShem decreed that Man should loan his property to others. 2-12 They each said three things: Rabbi Eliezer said: "Your friend's honor should be as precious to you as your own, and do not be easily moved to anger. Repent the day before you die. Warm yourself by the fire of the Sages, but beware of their glowing coals so that you will not be burned: their bite is like that of a fox, their sting is like that of a scorpion, their hiss is like that of a serpent, and all their words are like fiery coals." All the commentaries offer an answer to the obvious question: Rabbi Eliezer said more than three things! The Rambam explains that "Your friend's honor should be as precious to you as your own" is one statement, "Do not be easily moved to anger" is a second, and "Repent the day before you die" is the third. The other statements
  • 118. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 111 were authored by other Sages, who taught them to Rabbi Eliezer, and who, in turn, included them at the end of the mishna. It is also possible that although "Your friend's honor should be as precious to you as your own, and do not be easily moved to anger" appears to be two statements, it is actually one: Rabbi Eliezer's intention was to stress the importance of avoiding anger, and a practical method of achieving this is by considering a friend's honor as precious as one's own, since the principal reason why a person becomes angry with another is because of his lack of respect for him. Conversely, Rashi explains that Rabbi Eliezer's intention was to stress the importance of considering a friend's honor to be as precious as one's own. In order to attain this trait, it is necessary to avoid anger, since one who becomes angry with another person will inevitably insult him and hurt his feelings, thus failing to consider the other's honor as precious as his own. A practical way to fulfill Rabbi Eliezer's rule, "Your friend's honor should be as precious as your own," is to stand up in defense of a fellow Jew when he is being insulted by someone. However, while a person takes up a friend's defense, he should also keep in mind Rabbi Eliezer's other rule: "Do not be easily moved to anger." Still, although one should not become angered easily, there is a time when orQ is required to show anger — when the person hurling the insults refuses to stop doing so. In this case, a Jew is obligated to show anger in order to defend the honor of his fellow.
  • 119. 112 CHAPTER TWO Repent the day before you die. A transgressor should not feel that his repentance will not be accepted by HaShem, for in truth, HaShem will accept his repentance even on his last day of his life. Moreover, one never knows when his death will occur. Since there is an obligation to repent before one's death, one must repent every day of his life, for every day may very well be his last. The logical sequence of the mishna can be understood in this manner: Your friend's honor will become as precious as your own if you will avoid anger. However, if you are unsuccessful at curbing your anger because your Evil Inclination is too strong, think of your death — this will surely weaken the grasp of your Evil Inclination and give you the opportunity to repent. If you are still unable to overcome your Evil Inclination, go and learn Torah — this is the meaning of "Warm yourself by the fire of the Sages." Concerning the study of Torah, the mishna teaches that it is prohibited to contradict the words of the Sages. The consequences of doing so are listed explicitly: "Beware of their glowing coals so that you will not be burned ‫־‬ - their bite is like that of a fox, their sting is like that of a scorpion, their hiss is like that of a serpent...." It is prohibited to contradict the words of the Sages in the following three areas of study: Midrash (Homoletical analogies), Monetary Laws, and the Laws Concerning Forbidden Foods. The mishna describes the consequences of disputing the Sages' opinions in each of these three areas:
  • 120. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 113 "Their bite is like that of a fox" describes the type of punishment incurred by a person who disputes the authenticity of midrashic literature. Since the midrashic teachings often do not have practical ramifications in Halachah, the punishment incurred by a person who rejects these teachings is akin to the bite of the fox: although it is painful, it is not life-threatening. In contrast, disregarding the Sages' interpretations of Monetary Laws leads to very practical consequences: the liable party of a monetary dispute will be acquitted, and the wronged party will not be compensated for his loss. Thus, the mishna likens the punishment of such a person to the sting of a scorpion: even though the scorpion is poisonous, if the wound is treated properly, the victim stands a good chance of recovering. So, too, a person who rejects the opinions of the Sages concerning Monetary Laws and, as a consequence, judges a monetary dispute unjustly, can make amends by ordering the wronged party to be compensated for his loss. However, the punishment of one who disregards the opinion of the Sages concerning the Laws of Forbidden Foods is compared to the hiss of a serpent, whose bite is always fatal, since a person who eats forbidden food has no way to retract the act. Warm yourself by the fire of the sages, but beware of their glowing coals so you will not be burned...and all their words are like fiery coals. A fire has two components: the flame and the coals. Likewise, the words of the sages convey meanings which vary according to the level of the student's understanding. Their words can be understood on a simple and straightforward level, but it is also possible to derive mystical and esoteric truths from them. The
  • 121. 114 CHAPTER TWO mishna encourages a person to warm himself from the flame of the fire, which refers to the simple understanding of the sages5 words, but it also warns against preoccupying oneself excessively with the esoteric implications of their statements, which is likened to the coals of a fire. The Talmud teaches that the death of a scholar is merely a physical death, yet his spiritual self continues to live forever. Thus, the mishna teaches that one must be careful how one speaks about a deceased sage, since he is able to perceive what is said of him. This is why the sages are compared to glowing coals: In the same manner that a glowing coal which is buried in the earth retains its heat for a prolonged period of time, so, too, a sage who passes away and is buried in the earth remains alive forever. (R. Yehudah Alshekar) 2-13 Rabbi Yehoshua says: "The Evil Eye, the Evil Inclination, and hatred of other people, shorten a person's life." The term "Evil Eye5 ' is equivalent to feeling jealous of another person's material and spiritual superiority. The mishna teaches that when a Jew harbors negative feelings against another person, this is tantamount to cursing that person with ill fortune. The consequence of these ill feelings is that, eventually, the individual will be visited by calamity and affliction - this is what is meant by
  • 122. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 115 "Hatred of other people shorten a person's ife." Similarly, the "Evil Inclination" feels jealousy towards the righteous man. It consequently lies in wait to ensnare him in its trap in order to cause him to commit transgressions, which also shortens his life. Indeed, the Evil Inclination actually prefers righteous people over regular transgressors as its prey, as the verse says: "The wicked man watches the righteous, and seeks to slay him" (Tehillim 37:31). Similarly, we could say that "Hatred of other people" refers to society's hatred of righteous individuals, who separate themselves from the mundane worries of society and choose, instead, to pursue Torah study and a greater comprehension of the ways of the Creator. This hatred will eventually cause the righteous person to flee from people, abandoning society altogether, and the subsequent suffering and loneliness he will experience will shorten his life. Or, it is possible the mishna describes the method employed by the Evil Inclination to bring a person to commit transgressions, which shorten his life: First, the eye looks at prohibited sights, which in turn arouse the desires of the heart. The heart is the dwelling place of the "Evil Inclination," as this is the source of all forbidden desires. It is thus evident that the eye is the essential catalyst which causes man to sin. Hatred of Mankind is the opposite of "Love your neighbour as yourself," which, according to Hillel, is the cornerstone of the entire Torah. Thus, one who harbors hatred toward others in effect violates all the principles of the Torah.
  • 123. 116 CHAPTER TWO Alternatively, it is possible R. Yehoshuah's statement comes to explain the reasoning behind R. Eliezer's statement, "Your friend's honor should be as precious to you as your own, and do not be easily moved to anger. Repent the day before you die. Warm yourself by the fire of the Sages, but beware of their glowing coals so you will not be burned: their bite is like that of a fox, their sting is like that of a scorpion, their hiss is like that of a serpent, and all their words are like fiery coals." That is, a person who does not honor his friend will eventually develop a similarly unfavorable outlook towards others. Consequently, he will become easily angered, which will then make him fall prey to other enticement of the Evil Inclination. Finally, his misanthropic outlook will be directed against the Sages themselves, which will result in his ultimate demise. The mishna also describes a natural sequence of events: Jealousy causes a person to desire another's possessions. Eventually, he will attempt to seize these objects, which will cause people to despise him. They will then punish him severely for his actions, causing him to die before his time.
  • 124. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 117 2-14 Rabbi Yossi says: "Your friend's property should be as precious to you as your own; discipline yourself to study Torah, because the knowledge of Torah does not come to you by inheritance; and all your deeds should be done to honor G‫־‬ d." This mishna gives practical advice as to how to cure oneself from the three negative traits listed in the previous mishna: l.An individual who has become accustomed to regarding others with an Evil Eye should try to consider that his friend's property is as precious as his own. This outlook will negate the harmful effects which his Evil Eye has on others. 2.One who wishes to loosen the grip of his Evil Inclination should discipline himself to study Torah, as the Talmud says: "Should this hoodlum (referring to the Evil Inclination) assault you, take him to the Beit Hamidrash" When HaShem created the Evil Inclination, He also created the cure against it: Torah. Furthermore, the mishna stresses the need to apply oneself energetically towards the study of Torah and not expect to acquire it effortlessly, as one acquires an inheritance. As the Talmud says: "(If one should say to you) '1 have found it (Torah wisdom) without exerting myself,' do not believe him." 3.The trait of misanthropy may be uprooted by ceasing to feel spite against one's enemies for the injustices
  • 125. 118 CHAPTER TWO perpetrated against him. Instead, one should embrace the maxim: "All your deeds should be done to honor G‫־‬ d." That is, one should only judge others according to their level of adherence to the Mitzvot. (R. Moshe Alshekaf) This mishna may also serve to emphasize the principles mentioned in the first mishna of this Tractate: "Be deliberate in judgment, sustain numerous students, and make a fence to the Torah." "Your friend's property should be as precious to you as your own" is a warning to the judges presiding over a monetary dispute to care for the litigants' money as if it were their own. The decree "sustain numerous students" is reaffirmed by the statement "discipline yourself to study Torah." The mishna repeats the edict "Make a fence to the Torah" by saying "and all your deeds should be done to honor G-d." The term "discipline yourself to study Torah" can also be understood to mean that one should abstain from enjoying material pleasures, since the pursuit of satisfying physical desires prevents one from comprehending the subtle principles taught by the Torah. As the Talmud says: "This is the way of Torah: eat bread with salt, and live a life of affliction." Alternatively, this teaches the necessity of studying ethical values before applying oneself to the study of the Torah. This is alluded by the verse: "Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not" (Mishlei 8:33). That is, first "Hear instruction," (ethical values) and only afterwards "Be wise." "And refuse it not" teaches that one who reverses this order and studies Torah before ethics will not succeed in his studies. The prayer "A redeemer shall come to Zion, and to those of Jacob who repent from willful sin.... My words
  • 126. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 119 that I have placed in your mouth shall not be withdrawn from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring said HaShem" implies that if a family keeps the Torah for three consecutive generations, their offspring are certain to keep the Torah forever. This seems to contradict the mishna's statement "The knowledge of Torah does not come to you by inheritance." Thus, we are forced to say that R. Yossi's statement is only applicable to individuals whose predecessors did not keep the Torah for three consecutive generations. It is also possible that this mishna encourages those who were not born with exceptional intellect to strive, nevertheless, to realize their full potential. People born with exceptional intellect are considered to have "inherited" the Torah, while those of average intelligence need to work very hard to earn every bit of knowledge. Thus, even though an average person cannot hope to reach the level of Torah knowledge which a person of exceptional intelligence can achieve, the mishna encourages every person to study Torah diligently, since the reward a person receives is directly proportional to the effort he expended. It is very probable that a person of average intelligence who must work hard in order to understand the Torah will receive a greater reward than a person of exceptional intelligence who does not need to expend great effort. It is also possible that "discipline yourself to study Torah, because the knowledge of Torah does not come to you by inheritance; and all your deeds should be done to honor G-d" teaches the need to study secular sciences. This secular knowledge is necessary in order to refute heretical arguments which challenge the principles of the
  • 127. 120 CHAPTER TWO Torah. This is what is meant by "the knowledge of Torah does not come to you by inheritance" — that is, discipline yourself to learn the torah (secular science) which you did not inheret from your forefathers, which is foreign to you. Still, the mishna stresses that this task should only be undertaken by a person who will take heed of the warning: "All your deeds should be done to honor G-d." During the performance of every deed, no matter how mundane, one should have the intention to sanctify G-d. For example, one should not simply eat in order to satiate his hunger. Instead, a person should eat for the sake of strengthening his body and sufficiently maintaining his health in order to enable him to continue to study Torah and fulfill the Mitzvot. One should only eat delicacies during the Shabbat and Yom Tov festive meals, and even then, only for the sake of fulfilling the obligation to honor the Shabbat and Yom Tov. The act of eating during Shabbat and Yom Tov should be performed with the same reverance as one feels while fasting during Yom Kippur. One should sleep for the sake of improving his Torah learning- resting the body increases mental alertness. One should wear clean clothes in order to honour the Torah, since a Sage who wears dirty or ragged clothes causes people to lose respect for the Torah, as the Talmud says: "A Sage who wears a frayed garment deserves death." A person who works for a living should have the intention that he is doing so in order to avoid resorting to accepting tzedakah or stealing. One who saves money should have the intention that he is doing so in order to be able to buy sacred books, do Mitzvot, and leave his children an inheritance which will enable them to study
  • 128. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 121 Torah without interruptions. Even a conversation with another person can be performed for the sake of Heaven — one should try to increase the other person's adherence to the Mitzvot and strengthen his fear of Heaven. Even when relieving oneself, one should intend to fulfill the mitzvah of "Do not defile yourselves." Occasionally, it is necessary to take walks in order to restore inner peace. Since emotional harmony is a necessary component of Torah study, this too can be a mitzvah if one's intention is only for the sake of Heaven. Similarly, the Talmud says: "When the Sages became tired, they would exchange witticisms." This is why much of Aggadatah (talmudic parables) follows some of the most difficult portions of talmudic dilectical argumentation. A Sage may even pursue honor if his intention is to increase the honour of the Torah, as Rav Nachman said: "If it were not for the Torah, I would just be one of the many Nachmans in the marketplace." In summary, every action can be considered a mitzvah if it is done solely for the sake of Heaven.
  • 129. 122 CHAPTER TWO 2-15 Rabbi Shimon says: "Be careful in reading the Shemah and the Shemoneh Esreh. When you pray, do not regard your prayer as a fixed routine, but as an appeal for mercy and grace before G-d, as it says, *For He is gracious and full of mercy, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, and relenting of the evil decree' (Yoel 2:13). And do not consider yourself a wicked person. Be careful in reading the Shemah and the Shemoneh Esreh. The mishna emphasizes the importance of reciting the Shemah punctually at the prescribed time. On the other hand, it warns against regarding prayer as a fixed routine. This may be interpreted to mean that one should not regard prayer as a tedious debt which one is obligated to repay in daily installments. Alternatively, it means that prayer should not be recited in a reserved and detached manner. Instead, one should beseech HaShem with all his heart in an emotional and impassioned way. (Rabbeinu Ovadiah) The verse "He that gathers in summer is a wise son, but a son that sleeps in harvest brings shame" (Mishlei 10:5) illustrates the lesson of this mishna. The "wise son" refers to a person with foresight who is not satisfied with stocking his home with the bare essentials. Instead, he goes out in the heat of summer to gather fruits in order to provide his household with delicacies. In contrast, the "son that brings shame" refers to a short-sighted, insipid person who fails to even harvest the essential food products needed
  • 130. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 123 for sustaining life. So, too, there are some people who, in addition to fulfilling the regular daily mitzvot, constantly look for the opportunity to perform more mitzvot. In contrast, there are some people who even fail to fulfill the mitzvot which one is obligated to perform on a regular basis. The mishna admonishes individuals who belong to the second category to at least recite the Shemah and the Shemoneh Esreh on time, which are two of the most important mitzvot which one is obligated to perform on a regular basis. The author of the mishna saw it fit to stress the importance of these two mitzvot because they must be performed early in the morning, when it is most difficult for people to overcome their laziness. In summer, it is difficult to rise out of bed early because the nights are shorter, while in winter it is difficult because of the cold weather. Thus, the mishna warns: "Be careful in reading the Shemah and the Shemoneh Esreh" — that is, make a special effort to overcome your laziness during all four seasons of the year. The following prayer is recited every morning: "These are the precepts whose fruits a person enjoys in This World, but whose principal remains intact for him in the World to Come. They are: Honoring one's father and mother, acts of kindness, early attendance at the House of Worship...." It is possible that the words "Be careful in reading the Shemah and the Shemoneh Esreh" also convey the importance of early attendance at the House of Worship. The reason why such importance is attributed to this act is because the Jewish People were found lacking in precisely this quality when they received the Torah on Mount Sinai. The Jewish People should have
  • 131. 124 CHAPTER TWO congregated before daybreak at the foot of Mount Sinai to await the giving of the Torah. Instead, they were still in their tents when HaShem appeared on Mount Sinai to give them the Torah. They were so ashamed of themselves that they could not get themselves to come out of their tents and go to the mountain. Moshe Rabbeinu had to convince them to come out and gather at the foot of Mount Sinai. Thus, the act of rising early to go to the Beit Haknesset serves to rectify the deficient conduct of the Jewish People at Mount Sinai. When you pray, do not regard your prayer as a fixed routine, but as an appeal for mercy and grace before G-d, as it says, "For He is gracious and full of mercy, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, and relenting of the evil decree." Every person knows how difficult it is to maintain one's concentration on the words he recites during prayer. A person might justifiably conclude that the acceptance of one's prayers by HaShem is conditional on maintaining concentration throughout the recital of the Shemoneh Esreh. However, the mishna teaches that this is an incorrect premise. Instead, it warns not to assume that one's prayer will be automatically accepted by HaShem even if it is recited with concentration. In actuality, the acceptance of one's prayers is entirely dependent on HaShem^ mercy; if his prayer is accepted, it is not due to his righteousness or capacity to pray, but instead, to HaShem's compassion and benevolence. The Midrash illustrates this concept poignantly: "When Moshe Rabbeinu ascended to the divine realms, HaShem showed him various treasure houses. One
  • 132. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 125 contained the reward for individuals who study Torah, another the reward for those who perform kind deeds. However, one treasure house surpassed all others in size and magnificance. Moshe Rabbeinu asked, 'Who is this treasure for?' HaShem answered, 4 From here I will give to those who do not have their own.‫י‬ ‫י‬ ‫י‬ "Those who do not have their own" refers to people who do not rely on their own merit, but instead, recognize that they are undeserving of reward, and that everything they receive is due to HaShem*s mercy. For this reason, the Torah says that Moshe Rabbeinu "begged the Lord" (Devarim 3:23) — he asked to receive from the treasure house of "those who do not have their own" Nevertheless, the importance of concentrating on the words one utters during prayer cannot be overemphasized. Prayer without concentration is akin to a body without a soul. Unfortunately, many people are guilty of praying without concentrating on what they say. "Do not regard your prayer as a fixed routine" also teaches that one should not devote all of one's time to prayer. All that is required is that one "be careful" to pray within the prescribed times. However, there is no requirement to pray more than three times a day or to pray for excessively long periods of time. Instead, the majority of the day should be dedicated towards the study of Torah. The Sages say that HaShem finds repugnant the prayers of a person who considers prayer more important than the study of Torah. This idea is referred to by Shammai in the first chapter of Avot (1:15): "Make your Torah constant, say little and do much, and receive each person with a friendly countenance." This same concept may be inferred in this mishna: "When you pray, do not regard your prayer as a fixed routine."
  • 133. 126 CHAPTER TWO The mishna also explains why one should not pray excessively: "for He is gracious and full of mercy, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, and relenting of the evil decree." Were it not that HaShem is gracious and merciful, it would indeed be necessary to stand in prayer constantly. Thus, the act of praying for long periods of time indicates that the individual lacks a firm belief in HaShem's benevolence. And do not consider yourself a wicked person. The Rambam explains that a person who has a low self-image of himself will not feel remorse for having committed transgressions, since his actions are congruent with his self-image. Consequently, he will not consider repenting for his sins, but will, instead, continue to commit transgressions. On the other hand, one should not consider himself as a righteous person even if everyone says that he is so. Instead, he should consider himself an average person, who sometimes commits transgressions and sometimes mitzvot. "Do not consider yourself' means that one should not act selfishly, as if he were the only person in the world. A person who acts in such a manner will inevitably desist from caring for others, an attitude that will eventually cause him to become an evil person. (R. Efraim) The mishna refers to a person who finds himself in a situation which makes it impossible for him to pray with a minyan. Although the prayers of a congregation of Jews are guaranteed to be heard by HaShem, if an individual is forced to pray by himself, he should not assume that his prayers will be rejected outright. Instead, the mishna
  • 134. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 127 teaches that a person who offers his prayer in the form of an "Appeal for mercy and grace before G‫־‬ d" will be heard by HaShem, even if he prays alone. In addition, it teaches that a righteous person's prayers are answered even before he utters the words. "Do not consider yourself also teaches that a person can never hide from HaShem. Although it is possible to conceal oneself from people, one cannot hide his actions from HaShem. Thus, even when a person is alone, he should not violate the precepts of the Torah and thereby become evil, for all his actions are recorded in a Book. One who reaches this degree of fear of Heaven will receive great reward, as the verse says: "Oh, my dove, who hides in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice; for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is comely" (Shir Hashirim 2:14). HaShem said to Israel, "Fulfill my mitzvot even when you hide from others, as a dove's nest is concealed in the crevice of a rock, and then the verse "let me hear your voice" will be fulfilled, for then I will comply to your every request." Alternatively, the mishna warns a person contemplating a transgression that his actions will not only cause untold harm to himself, but it will also harm the entire Jewish People, since every Jew is responsible for every other Jew's actions. It is for this reason that the Torah warns the Jewish People to destroy the evildoers who dwell amongst them, lest the entire congregation incur the punishment of these sinners. That it why it is natural for a Jew to feel distress when he sees another Jew commit a sin. The mishna also warns a wrongdoer against thinking
  • 135. 128 CHAPTER TWO that, since he is merely one individual amongst the multitudes of people who inhabit the earth, his deeds are of no consequence. This is indeed a mistaken premise, since each individual's deeds cause the scales of Heavenly Judgment to incline towards the side of merit or, Heaven forbid, to the side of guilt. One must regard the scales of Justice as if they were swaying exactly in the middle, with the entire world's fate hanging in the balance, and one's own actions as being the decisive factor for the world's acquittal, or Heaven forbid, its conviction. It is also possible that the mishna refers to the mishna discussed previously: "Rabbi Yehoshua says, 'The Evil Eye, the Evil Inclination, and hatred of Mankind shorten a person's life'" (Avot 2:13). Here, R. Shimon prescribes how to cure oneself of these three traits which contribute to a person's premature death: "Be careful in reading the Shemah" is the way to cure oneself from the Evil Eye and the Evil Inclination. The third section of the Shemah includes the verse "and it shall constitute Tzitzit for you, that you may see it and remember all the Commandments of HaShem and perform them, and not search after your heart and after your eyes, after which you stray, so that you remember and perform all My Commandments, and be holy to your G-d" (Shemot 15:38-40). The remedy against feeling "Hatred for Mankind" is to recite the Shemoneh Esreh with concentration. Since all the supplications of the Shemoneh Esreh are in the plural form, one who recites the Amidah with concentration in effect prays for all Jews. This, in turn, will have the effect of increasing that individual's sense of responsibility for his brethren, which will ultimately cause him to feel true affection for other Jews.
  • 136. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 129 Furthermore, the mishna teaches an additional way to rid oneself of the trait of "hatred for Mankind": "Do not consider yourself a wicked person." That is, do not isolate yourself from the rest of the congregation. Alternatively, this mishna refers to the earlier mishna: "He said to them: 'Go out and see which is the evil path from which a person should distance himself.' Rabbi Eliezer said: 'An evil eye.'O Rabbi Yehoshua said: 'A bad friend.' Rabbi Yossi said: 'A bad neighbor.' Rabbi Shimon said: 'One who borrows and does not repay. Borrowing from man is the same as borrowing from G-d, as the verse says 'A wicked person borrows and does not repay, but a righteous person deals graciously and gives' {Tehillim 37:21). Rabbi Elazar said: 'An evil heart.' He said to them 'I prefer the words of Rabbi Elazar ben Arach to yours, because your words are included in his words." ' A person who borrows without intending to repay the loan cannot claim "I had no choice!," since he could have beseeched HaShem through prayer to provide him with his needs. This Heavenly "loan" could then have been "repayed" by unifying His Name through recitation of the Shemah Israel with great intent, and by acknowledging the numerous miracles He performs for us each day through reciting the Shemoneh Esreh with concentration. However, the mishna warns that one cannot "repay" this loan as one would repay an earthly loan, for the borrower is required to "appeal for mercy and grace before G-d."
  • 137. 130 CHAPTER TWO 2-16 Rabbi Elazar says: "Be diligent in the study of Torah, and know what to answer a apostate, and know before whom you toil; Your Employer is trustworthy and will pay you the reward for your labor. Be diligent to study the Torah. The mishna teaches that the study of Torah should precede all of one's other daily actions. This idea is derived from the order in which the Torah describes the construction of the vessels of the Tabernacle, for the Torah first commanded to build the Aron (the Holy Ark), which contained the Tablets of the Law. The Aron represents the Torah — it acts as a conductor of Torah wisdom, relaying the profound mysteries of the Torah from the heavenly realms to the Jewish People. Next, the Torah commanded to construct the Shulchan (the Table), upon which the Lechem Hapanim (Sacrificial Bread) was placed. The Shulchan represents material wealth ‫־־‬ heavenly decrees calling for an abundant food supply and material affluence are channeled through it. So, too, a person should lead his life in the same order as the Tabernacle was constructed: the study of Torah takes precedence over material issues. Know what to answer a apostate. This injunction is only suggested for individuals of extraordinary intelligence and scholastic ability, who have the capability to grasp study material in significantly less
  • 138. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 131 time than their peers. During their extra time, they should study Midrash and Aggadatah (Homilitic passages of the Talmud) so that they will know how to answer a heretic. Since the mishna says "Know what to answer an apostate," we may infer that one should not initiate a debate with an apostate, but only answer him if he verbally attacks the principles of the Torah. Even so, it is an obligation to be sufficiently prepared at all times to overcome such a debate, since one cannot foresee when an apostate will confront him. In order to defeat an apostate in a debate, it is necessary to fully comprehend the arguments which undermine his premises. Someone who thinks that it is sufficient to commit answers to memory without first exploring their full meaning will surely lose in a debate against an apostate. Similarly, the mishna warns against answering an apostate with answers which he overheard from others. Instead, one should formulate his own answers to refute the arguments of apostates, since this forces him to grapple with the relevant concepts and organize them into a coherent train of thought. (R. Almoshninu) The mishna also warns against consenting to an apostate in order to avoid getting involved in a heated debate. Instead, one should ponder before Whom he toils, and that he will receive eternal reward for his efforts. It is also possible that the mishna warns against engaging in a debate with an apostate unless it is certain that the debate will take place before an impartial judge. Otherwise, one's efforts will be in vain. This is what is meant by "Know before whom you toil" — do not engage
  • 139. 132 CHAPTER TWO in an involved debate with an apostate unless you know that the listeners in attendance are impartial to both sides. Know before whom you toil This clause offers encouragement to the less-than- average student. Even though one may feel that he is less gifted than his peers, he should keep in mind that HaShem rewards a person in proportion to how much effort he has expended towards the study of Torah. An individual who is not especially gifted and yet tries hard receives more reward than a highly gifted person who is able to comprehend the concepts of the Torah with little effort. This is the meaning of "know before whom you toil": HaShem is aware of each person's abilities, and He rewards those who overcome their shortcomings and strive to reach higher levels of understanding of the Torah. This is the meaning of "He will pay you the reward for your labor" — that is, you will not be rewarded solely for your accomplishments, but also for the toil that you invested toward the study of Torah. The mishna also teaches that a person who prepares all his life to "Know what to answer a apostate'' in the hope of sanctifying the Name of Heaven may never be presented with the opportunity to do so. Even so, the mishna gives an assurance that he will receive the same reward as if he had been presented with the opportunity to sanctify the Name of Heaven, for HaShem perceives a person's good intentions and rewards him as if he had actually performed the mitzvah. Or, it is possible that the mishna teaches that one must discipline himself to study Torah diligently before
  • 140. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 133 attempting to study the secular sciences, which will help him to defeat the arguments of apostates. This explains why the Sages say, "Withhold your sons from studying logic," rather than "Withhold yourselves from studying logic.‫יי‬ One, s sons should not study logic before they have reached proficiency in the study of Torah, because if they will study the secular sciences prematurely, it is possible that their faith in G-d will be weakened, making them susceptible to heretical beliefs. However, a mature person who has studied Torah for many years and, consequently, has a solid understanding of his faith, may study logic in order to know what to answer an apostate. This also explains why the Sages said "Cursed is he who teaches his sons Greek wisdom," and not "Cursed is he who studies Greek wisdom.‫י‬‫י‬ (R. Israel) 2-17 Rabbi Tarfon says: "The day is short, the task is great, the workers are lazy, the reward is great, and the master is insistent." He used to say: "You are not expected to complete the work and yet you are not free to evade it. If you have studied a great deal of Torah, you will be given great reward and your employer can be trusted to pay you the reward for your work, but know that the reward of the righteous will be paid in the World to Come. The day is short
  • 141. 134 CHAPTER TWO The fact that the mishna said "the day is short" and not "time passes by quickly" proves that the subject of the mishna is the brevity of man's life. A person's life resembles a short winter day, which ends in darkness after only a few brief hours of sunlight. One who ponders this thought will certainly become inspired to repent for his sins. Alternatively, the mishna said "the day is short" and not "time is short" in order to emphasize how little time we have during our lives to study Torah. During most of a person's life, he is distracted from the study of Torah by all kinds of worries and tribulations. This is especially true during our present, bitter Exile. The mishna regards these turbulent periods of one's life as nighttime. In contrast, the few calm and tranquil periods in life, when one is accorded the opportunity to study Torah in an atmosphere of peace and inner harmony, are analogous to daytime. The task is great This teaches that the size of our assignment is not proportional to the time we have been alloted to complete it; it is objectively enormous, even if a large portion of time were available to perform it. Furthermore, "the workers are lazy" does not refer to indolent people who desist from devoting themselves to the study of Torah, but to Torah sages who dedicate their entire beings towards fulfilling the will of HaShem. Even they are considered lazy in the face of the overwhelming task which awaits completion. When righteous people who fulfilled the Mitzvot punctilliously during their entire lives pass away, they witness the full extent of their eternal reward. In
  • 142. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 135 face of this great reward, their souls become embittered because they did not fulfill even more mitzvot. This is alluded to by the words "the reward is great." The master is insistent "The master" refers to HaShem, the Master of the world. If a person refuses to complete the task he has been assigned, HaShem will cause him to suffer all kinds of affliction and suffering. This punishment will continue until he repents for his sins and decides to execute the task entrusted to him. Practically, this obligates everyone to devote as much time as possible to the study of the Torah. One might feel overwhelmed from the immensity of the task assigned to him, as the mishna says: "The task is great," and, as a result, he might decide to abandon the Torah altogether. In order to prevent this type of reaction, the mishna says: "You are not expected to complete the work.‫י‬‫י‬ Instead, one is only expected to do as much as he is capable of doing. When one considers the extent of the eternal reward he will receive for studying Torah, he may begin to feel as do the diamond cutters — because they earn so much money every hour, they work very few hours each day. So, too, one who studies Torah may wrongly conclude that if he studies a few hours each day, his portion in the World to Come will be proportional to the hours he devoted to Torah study, and that this amount of eternal reward will be more than sufficient. However, this is not true, as the mishna says: "If you
  • 143. 136 CHAPTER TWO have studied a great deal of Torah, you will be given great reward" — only a person who devotes a great deal of his time towards the study of Torah will receive the great reward promised to those who study the Torah. Furthermore, a person who wastes time which could have been dedicated towards Torah study is guilty of committing the transgression of Bitul Torah (failing to study Torah when the opportunity to do so was available). Thus, we see that only a person who studies Torah at every given opportunity will merit to receive a great reward. Nevertheless, he should not expect his reward in This World; he should know that "the reward of the righteous will be paid in the World to Come." The verse "How great is Your goodness, which you have concealed for those who fear You" teaches that HaShem conceals the eternal reward of those who truly fear Him in the Next World. However, those who serve Him for ulterior motives, such as to become honored amongst people, will receive their entire reward in This World. Those who serve HaShem for external appearances will receive their reward in this temporal, external world, while those who serve Him with true fear and devotion will receive their portion in the eternal World to Come. The workers are lazy. It is interesting to note that this phrase alone was stated in the plural. Perhaps the plural was used in order to emphasize the power of the Evil Inclination: It is able to cause people to become lax in the service of G-d, even when they are in the presence of others, but, when the opportunity to commit a transgression presents itself, as was the case with the Golden Calf, the Jews were very
  • 144. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 137 quick to strip off their jewelry, as the verse says: "And I said to them, *Who has any gold? They broke it off and gave it to me, then I threw it into the fire, and there came out this calf {Shemot 32:24). (Some commentaries are of the opinion that Aharon himself ordered the Jews to take off their golden jewelry in order to enable him to construct the false god that they desired. Nevertheless, this does not correspond with the simple understanding of the verses in the Torah, which imply that when Aharon recounted to Moshe Rabbeinu the events which led to the sin of the Golden Calf, he was attempting to prove his innocence. But, according to these commentaries, this was not an apology, but rather an admission of guilt. In truth, Aharon explained to Moshe Rabbeinu that he only asked, "Who has any gold?" in the hope that the men would turn to the women and request their golden jewelry. He surmised that the women, who did not support the idea of building the Golden Calf, would reject the men's request and subsequently make them come to their senses. However, his plan did not take into account the great zeal of the men, who immediately tore off their own gold jewelry.) Some commentaries explain that "the workers are lazy" refers to the physical body. Since the body is driven by its basic animal drives, it tends to feel heavy and unmotivated when it is asked to exert itself for the sake of mitzvot, which are purely spiritual in nature. Thus, the mishna teaches that one can overcome this obstacle by placating the body through contemplating the extent of the reward he will receive for fulfilling Mitzvot. However, it also warns that this reward may only be obtained by forcing one's body to comply with his soul's demands. According
  • 145. 138 CHAPTER TWO to this explanation, "the master is insistent" refers to a person's Good Inclination. The workers are lazy, the reward is great, and the master is insistent These three statements are interconnected and progress in logical sequence. There are two reasons why workers do not work with enthusiasm: either because they are underpaid, or because the supervisor fails to encourage them to work harder. Both these factors are also present in the service of G‫־‬d, as the mishna says: "Tte reward is great and the master is insistent." The reward is extensive as well as eternal, and the "Master" — HaShem - - is insistent. For if the Jews desist from fulfilling His Commandments, he urges them forward by making them undergo affliction and suffering. This is the reason they were evicted from their Homeland to wander about in bitter exile. He also rebukes them for their shortcomings through his prophets, who were commanded to pronounce their prophecies in public. Thus, the mishna teaches that, concerning the service of G-d, "the workers are lazy," even though "the reward is great and the Master is insistent." If you have studied a great deal of Torah, you will be given great reward Ostensibly, the mishna could have said "you will be paid your due wages." Instead, the word "reward" was used, which implies that the compensation which man receives for fulfilling the Mitzvot is far more generous than he deserves. However, this may not be such a comforting thought, since everyone knows that there is no obligation to give a gift. Concerning this, the mishna teaches: "and
  • 146. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 139 your employer can be trusted to pay you the reward for your work" — although HaShem gives man a much greater reward than he deserves, He gives it as if it were an obligatory payment. A person might mistakenly think that the supplementary portion of the reward is what necessitates that the reward only be received in the Next World, but that if one were willing to forgo this extra portion, then perhaps the portion which he deserves could be received in This World. To this, the mishna says: "But know that the reward of the righteous will be paid in the World to Come" — both the reward -the supplementary portion- and the portion which man rightly deserves may only be received in the Next World. And your employer can be trusted to pay you the reward for your work. Since the mishna said "You are not expected to complete the work," one might conclude that if one fails to complete a mitzvah, the incomplete portion will be deducted from the reward he deserves for having initiated the fulfillment of the mitzvah. The mishna refutes this by saying "And your employer can be trusted to pay you the reward for your work" ‫״‬ that is, even though your employer completed your work, and, in general, the rule is that a deed is attributed to the one who completes the action, HaShem will nevertheless reward you as if you had performed the entire action!
  • 147. 140 CHAPTER THREE 3-1 Akavia ben Mahalalel says: "Consider three things and you will not come into the clutches of sin: Know where you come from, where you are going, and before whom you will have to give account and reckoning. From where do you come? From a putrid drop. Where are you going? To a place of dust, decay and maggots. Before whom are you destined to give account and reckoning? Before the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed Be He." In a previous mishna, Rebbi said: "Reflect upon three things and you will not fall into the hands of sin: Know what is above you — an Eye that sees, an Ear that hears, and a Book in which all your deeds are recorded" (Avot 2:1). Ben Mehalel does not necessarily disagree with Rebbi's opinion, but rather is suggesting additional ideas which will prevent one from falling into the hands of sin. The three principles suggested by Rebbi are included in Ben MehaleFs third principle, "Know ... before whom you will have to give account and reckoning." One who considers this thought will unavoidably have to acknowledge that there is "an Eye that sees, an Ear that hears, and a Book in which all deeds are recorded.‫י‬‫י‬ One may wonder why ben Mehalel found it necessary to give a numeric value to the ideas which he suggested, since three statements is not a large enough number to warrant a tally. The answer is that he wanted to teach us that one must ponder all three ideas simultaneously,
  • 148. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 141 or else the procedure will not yield the desired effect. If one only considers that he comes from a putrid drop, he may wrongly conclude that he is not to blame for his sins, since his origin is of such a wretched nature. For this reason, ben Mehalel advises to also ponder "where you are going," an allusion to a person's impending death. Entertaining such a thought will surely dissuade a person from committing transgressions. However, these two ideas alone are not sufficient to keep a person from sinning, because focusing on the decomposition of the body in the grave may cause one to doubt the existence of an afterlife. For this reason, ben Mehalel taught the third concept, "before whom are you destined to give account and reckoning? Before the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed Be He." Consider three things andyou will not come into the clutches of sin The mishna did not say "and sin will not confront you," but rather, "you will not come into the clutches of sin." This is in order to demonstrate the strength of will one can attain by considering the three ideas suggested by the mishna, since more strength is required to confront temptation head-on and and overcome it than it is to avoid temptation altogether. The Sages say that a ba'al teshuvah (repentant) is only considered to have achieved complete repentance when an opportunity to commit past transgression presents itself and, nonetheless, he succeeds in overcoming this temptation. Thus, the mishna teaches that one who considers these three things will not only succeed in avoiding temptation altogether, but will also succeed in overcoming temptation when confronted by it.
  • 149. 142 CHAPTER THREE The mishna also addresses the three factors which cause Man to sin: conceit and consequent antipathy towards others, excessive desire for physical pleasures, and insufficient belief in the existence of an ultimate Judge who will eventually pass judgment on one's deeds. Contemplating "where you come from" is the remedy against conceit. In order to relate to physical pleasures with due sobriety and self-restraint, the mishna advises to contemplate "where you are going." Lastly, one who ponders "before Whom you will have to give account and reckoning'‫י‬ will not lose sight of the day of Final Judgment. Other commentaries reject this explanation, arguing that the mere knowledge that one comes from a putrid drop does not necessarily preclude feeling conceit. On the contrary, the knowledge that everyone comes from the same putrid drop and, nevertheless, some people are more successful than others strengthens the theory that an individual's success is a direct result of his inherent superiority. Instead, these commentaries contend that the mishna combats one of the principal factors which lead a person to sin: light- headedness. Pondering these three thoughts at length causes one to realize the frailty of Man's existence and the futility of pursuing wealth and other temporal goals. This will inevitably cause a person to become pensive and solemn, which, in turn, will prevent him from becoming light-headed, and consequently, from sinning. Before whom are you destined to give account ‫דין‬ and reckoning ?‫חשבון‬ Ostensibly, the word ‫חשבון‬ (literally "calculation")
  • 150. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 143 should precede the word ‫דין‬ (judgment), since a court of law first weighs the evidence against the accused and only then passes judgment on him. The mishna reversed the order of these two words in order to teach a profound truth: When a person passes away, his soul ascends to the Heavenly Court where he is taught all the laws of the Torah and the punishment incurred for violating these laws. This is what is meant by "Before Whom are you destined to give account ‫־‬ ‫דין‬ before Whom you will be taught how to determine what punishment each transgression carries. Afterwards, a long list of transgressions will be placed in froi^t of him, and he will be asked to state what punishment the perpetrator of these sins should receive. After answering this question, he will be informed that He is the transgressor under discussion, that he has transgressed all these sins, and that he has in fact passed judgment on himself. This is what is meant by "...and reckoning .‫חשבון‬ 3‫2־‬ Rabbi Chanina, the Deputy to the Cohen Gadol, said: "Pray for the welfare of the Malchut (government), because if people had no fear of it, they would swallow each other alive.,, In addition to its common meaning, the word Malchut alludes to the lowest of the ten Sefirot, which, in a certain sense, feels the pain of the Jewish People.
  • 151. 144 CHAPTER THREE It is due to our sins that this Seflrah was appointed to guard over us, necessitating that it venture away from its holy abode into This World, which, in comparison to the Next World, is a form of exile. Were it not for the protective role of the Seflrah of Malchut, we would have ceased to exist long ago. Hence, it follows that we must pray for its welfare, since our existence is dependent on its well- being. (Ritvah) It is also possible that the three things which Akavia said to ponder are not sufficient to steer a person away from sin, since man's evil tendency dominates his life. Thus, in addition to pondering these three things, it is also necessary to appoint an official body to enforce the laws of the Torah by punishing those who transgress its Commandments. The knowledge that the violation of a precept of the Torah will have painful consequences instills a sense of fear in people, which deters witless people from committing transgressions. Without this sense of fear, the effectiveness of Akavia's three ideas would not endure for long. The mere knowledge that every person comes from a putrid drop does not necessarily deter one from feeling superiority over others. This is alluded to by the words, "They would swallow each other ‫רעהו‬ alive" — the word ‫רעה‬ connotes that, although everyone comes from the same origin, the fact is that some people are more successful than others. This would, then, seem to strengthen the premise which is the root of all conceit — that an individual's success is a direct result of his inherent superiority. Pondering one's death and the inevitable Day of Judgment will not prevent a person from sinning for long,
  • 152. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 145 since man naturally tends to live for the moment and to ignore future consequences of his actions. Thus, the importance of an official body to enforce the laws of the Torah is of utmost significance in preventing people from sinning. It is therefore worthwhile to pray for the welfare of these official bodies, since it is the fear of punishment which holds Man's evil nature at bay. Akavia did not attach great importance to this official body because, in his time, people served HaShem out of love. Unfortunately, in later times people stopped serving HaShem out of love, and it became necessary to instill a feeling of fear. This mishna also teaches that a person should pray for the welfare of the entire world, and must empathize with the pain which others experience. (Rabbeinu Yonah) One must pray for the governments of the nations as well as for the ruling bodies of the Jewish People. This is alluded to by the seventy sacrificial bullocks offered during Sukot, which represent the seventy nations of the world. (R. Menachem of Beit Meir) Some commentaries explain that the previous mishna advises righteous people how to go about avoiding sin, while this mishna teaches what steps to take in order to prevent evil people from sinning.
  • 153. 146 CHAPTER THREE 3-3 R. Chananya ben Teradyon says: "When two people sit together and words of Torah are not exchanged between them, they are considered as a band of scorners, as the verse says: 'And he never sat with a band of scorners' (Tehillim 1:1). But when two sit together and discuss words of Torah, the Holy Countenance is with them, as the verse says: 'Those who feared G-d then spoke one to another, and G-d listened and heard, and in His presence a record was written of those who fear G-d and think about His Name' (Malachi 3:16). This refers to two people. How do we know that even if one person sits and studies the Torah, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, sets aside a reward for him? Because it is said: 'Though he may sit alone in thoughtful meditation, yet he receives that which was set for him" ‫י‬ (Eichah 3:27). There are several questions concerning this mishna which require an answer: For example, why did the mishna use the term "words of Torah are not exchanged between them" in reference to two people, while in regard to one person it used the term "sits and studies the Torah''? Secondly, the mishna implies that a person who refrains from exchanging words of Torah with others is automatically considered a scorner. Why is this so? Does silence indicate that one is a scorner? Lastly, the verse which the mishna brings as a proof does not refer to two
  • 154. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 147 people, but to only one, as is evident from the words "and he...." The answer is that "two people" refers to people who study Torah with great devotion, their only fault being their reluctance to exchange words of Torah with each other. Their reluctance stems from arrogance and the low opinion they have for each other's Torah knowledge. Each one doubts whether the other person has any information or novel ideas which he is not already familiar with; thus, each one remains secluded in his particular field of study, and the opportunity to discuss Torah with another Jew is not taken advantage of. The disdain with which both people regard each other is what merits them the title of "scorner." In contrast, when two people exchange words of Torah and engage in lively argumentation with each other, each one's grasp of the concepts discussed increases tenfold. New insights suddenly become revealed to both partners of the discussion, which in turn, helps to clarify ambiguities in other areas of study. It is then understandable why the mishna says concerning two people who exchange words of Torah "the Holy Countenance is with them." "Those who feared G-d then spoke one to another ‫נדברו‬ teaches that when two people study Torah together, they should listen to one another's opinion, and not just give voice to their own thoughts. This is the intention of the verse "The fool does not seek wisdom, but only to reveal his heart." The words "one to another" imply that even two people who are each perfectly capable of studying by themselves, and who are equally knowledgeable, should, nevertheless, study with each other. If both of them will
  • 155. 148 CHAPTER THREE value each other's opinion and regard their relationship as an important component of each one's growth in Torah, then HaShem will reciprocate, and the verse "...And G-d listened and heard, and in His presence a record was written of those who fear G-d and think about His Name" will be fulfilled. This verse specifies the great reward awaiting those who fulfill the directive of this mishna: At first, the verse says "those who feared G‫־‬ d then spoke one to another, and G-d listened and heard..." — at the beginning of their exchange, they will receive merit only for their spoken words of Torah. Once their exchange increases in intensity, however, they will be rewarded for their mere thoughts, as the verse says: "And in His presence a record was written of those who fear G-d and think about His Name" — the "record" could only have been written by G-d, for only He can know man's thoughts. In light of this explanation, the mishna's question "How do we know that even if one person sits and studies the Torah, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, sets aside a reward for him?" can be better understood. How do we know that just as two people who exchange words of Torah will receive their reward from HaShem Himself, so, too, one person who studies Torah will receive his reward directly from HaSheml The mishna answers by quoting the verse, "Though he may sit alone in thoughtful meditatioij, yet he receives that which was set for him .‫עליו‬ ‫נטל‬ The words ‫נטל‬ ‫עליו‬ can be understood to mean "He takes upon himself." In other words, a person who studies alone will merit that HaShem assumes direct responsibility for providing him with all his needs. In order to answer why, regarding two people, the
  • 156. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 149 mishna said "sit together'',‫יושבים‬ and in reference to one person, it used the phrase "sits and studies" ,‫ועוסק‬ ‫יושב‬ it is necessary to establish the meaning of these words. The word ‫עוסק‬ (literally "To labour") conveys strenuous effort. The mishna teaches that one individual who studies Torah with all his strength deserves reward equal to that earned by two people who study together without exerting themselves. Their lack of exertion alone does not earn them the derogatory label "Scorner." This term is only applicable to two people who refuse altogether to exchange words of Torah with each other. However, when two people sit and exchange words of Torah with each other, they merit to receive the Holy Countenance, even if they do not exert themselves. The mishna brings a proof to this from the verse "Those who feared G-d then spoke one to another, and G-d listened and heard, and in His presence a record was written of those who fear G-d and think about His Name." The word "then" implies that even when words of Torah are exchanged in a reserved and restrained way — in much the same manner as one would react to an acquaintance who one meets at infrequent intervals — both people nevertheless merit to see the Holy Countenance. The reward of one person who accepts the yoke of Torah upon himself is even greater, as the verse says: "He receives that which was set for him" — he need not concern himself about earning a livelihood, for he is assured of receiving all his physical needs from Heaven. Concerning two people, the mishna uses the word ,‫יושבים‬ while the term ‫עוסק‬ ‫יושב‬ is used in reference to one person. It is evident that the mishna teaches two different lessons: "One person" refers to a Torah scholar who dedicates all
  • 157. 150 CHAPTER THREE his time to study Torah. "Two people" refers to working folk who dedicate themselves to earning a livelihood. Thus, the mishna stresses the importance of exchanging words of Torah while conducting business transactions. According to this understanding, the term "exchanging words of Torah" implies a discussion concerning topics which are relatively easy to understand, such as Midrash, Agadata (Talmudic homolitical accounts), and verses from Scripture. In contrast, the term "Sits and studies the Torah" connotes in-depth, analytical examination of the text. Thus, the mishna warns that if two people do not even engage in a light discussion of Torah, they, in effect, scorn the Torah. This concept is illustrated by the following analogy: If a person is given permission by the king to enter the royal treasure house and take as much gold and silver as he wishes, his refusal to take anything will surely cause the king to become enraged. Similarily, HaShem, the King of kings, grants every Jew the opportunity to study Torah and thereby merit to a portion in the World to Come. If he refuses to take advantage of this opportunity, he demonstrates that the Torah is not valuable in his eyes. (The Chassid) How do we know that even if one person sits and studies the Torah, the Holy One, Blessed Be He, sets aside a reward for him? Because it is said: "Though he may sit alone in thoughtful meditation, yet he receives that which was set for him" This refers to a righteous person who is the only G-d- fearing person of his generation, such ap Avraham Avinu. The verse assures him that HaShem will protect him and
  • 158. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 151 guide him in the proper path, and that he will not fall to despair as a result of his loneliness. Moreover, he is promised a great reward for his efforts. Since the existence of the entire world is conditional on the fulfillment of the Mitzvot and the study of Torah, a righteous person who is the only G‫־‬d‫־‬fearing person in his generation will receive the merit which would normally be distributed amongst all the righteous people of the entire generation. This is analogous to a group of guards who are paid a specific sum by the king to guard his fortress; if a portion of the guards should decide to quit their assignment, the remaining guards will receive a larger portion of the total sum given by the king. Although this will require of them to work longer shifts, the larger reward which awaits them makes the effort worthwhile.
  • 159. 152 CHAPTER THREE 3-4 Rabbi Shimon says: "If three people ate together at a table without speaking words of Torah, it is as if they had eaten of sacrifices offered to the dead, as the verse says: 'All their tables are full of filth without room' (Yishayahu 28:8). But if three ate at a table and spoke words of Torah, it is as though they had eaten from the table of G-d, as the verse says: 'He said to me, "This is the table which is in the presence of G‫־‬ d"' (Yechezkel 41:22)." The Sages say that before the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Altar upon which the offerings were sacrificed atoned for the Jewish People's sins. After the destruction, the table in each person's home atones for his sins. However, the table only atones for a person's sins if the meal is accompanied by words of Torah, which have the power to transform a mundane object such as a table into a holy one. This is what is meant by "it is as though they had eaten from the table of G-d." On the other hand, if words of Torah are not spoken during the meal, in addition to lacking atonement for his sins, the individual is considered to have committed an additional transgression: He is considered an idolator, and his meal, a sacrifice to the idol. This is what "it is as if they had eaten of sacrifices offered to the dead" means. Some authorities are of the opinion that the obligation to speak words of Torah during the meal is fulfilled by reciting Birkat Hamazon. (Rabbeinu Ovadiah)
  • 160. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 153 The previous mishna taught that two people who refrain from exchanging words of Torah with each other are considered scorners. It is evident from this mishna that three people are judged more stringently than two, since being considered an idolator is a harsher condemnation than being considered a scorner. The reason for this is that it is conceivable for two people to forget to exchange words of Torah, but it is much less likely for three people to forget. The mishna therefore teaches that the severity of the transgression increases in proportion to the number of people gathered together, since it is highly unlikely that an entire group of people would forget such an elementary obligation. Conversely, the obligation to sanctify G-d increases in ratio with the number of people who are present to witness the act. It is for this reason that three people who eat bread together are obligated to recite the Zimun prayer before reciting Birkat HaMazon. This also explains why Pinchas received such a generous reward for killing Zimri, who desecrated G-d's name in public by conducting sexual relations with a Midianite woman directly outside the Tabernacle: In addition to halting the public desecration of G-dJ s Name, he also caused His Name to be sanctified in the eyes of the entire Jewish People. If three people ate together at a table without speaking words of Torah, it is as if they had eaten of sacrifices offered to the dead The existence of the entire Creation is dependent on the fulfillment of Mitzvot and the study of Torah by the Jewish People. HaShem provides sustenance to Man in order to enable him to serve his Creator. Thus, a person
  • 161. 154 CHAPTER THREE who eats food merely in order to satiate his hunger but who fails to utilize the nourishment it provides to study Torah, is found guilty of extinguishing the spiritual essence of that food. Moreover, he reduces the profound nature of the entire universe by regarding food as merely a source of sustenance for the transient body. Physical matter is thereby rendered lifeless, for eventually the body will whither and die. Thus, even when it is alive, it is, in a certain sense, dead. This is what "it is as if they had eaten of sacrifices offered to the dead" means. According to this explanation, the verse which the mishna quotes is a very poignant proof: "All their tables are full of filth without room" ‫־־‬ "without room" conveys the idea that the filth referred to is not actual physical filth, but a descriptive analogy of the diminished spiritual state of physicality. In contrast, someone who uses the sustenance derived from food for the study of Torah fulfills the essential purpose of the entire Creation. In this manner, he gives food and all physical matter an eternal aspect, since he utilizes them for the purpose for which they were created: to enable man to fulfill the Mitzvot and study Torah. Thus, even after physical matter perishes, it is, nevertheless, considered alive.
  • 162. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 155 3‫5־‬ Rabbi Chanina ben Chachinai says: "He who keeps awake at night, or travels alone on the road and makes room in his heart for idleness, causes harm to himself. He who keeps awake at night...causes harm to himself. Because evil spirits are prevalent during nighttime, one who stays awake during the entire night risks his physical and emotional well-being. (Rabbeinu Ovadia) The mishna teaches that a person who does not rise out of bed during the night to study Torah because he is asleep is not found at fault, since he is unable to overcome his need for sleep. However, a person who is not asleep at night and nevertheless refrains from studying Torah is considered at fault. The most ideal time to study Torah is at night. At this time, a person is free from his work, and the loud sounds that one hears during the day subside. Thus, a person who wastes this ideal opportunity to study Torah is considered as if he has killed himself, for he has deprived himself of a great reward. (Rabbeinu Yonah) This mishna warns against thinking that, since everything is "in the hands of Heaven," there is no need to care for one's health. Instead, one must take care to get the proper amount of rest and sleep which he needs in order to remain healthy. (Rav Menachem of Beit Meir)
  • 163. 156 CHAPTER THREE He who... travels alone on the road and makes room in his heart for idleness causes harm to himself. There are two different versions of this mishna: One version has the words "makes room in his heart for idleness‫יי‬ as a separate clause, while according to the second ve/sion, it appears that these words are in connection with the previous clause, "He who... travels alone on the road." According to the latter version, the mishna teaches the following: One who travels alone and does not think of Torah risks his life, since learning Torah guards one from the many dangers a lonely traveler is bound to encounter during his trip. (Rabbeinu Ovadia) According to the former version, the clause "Makes room in his heart for idleness" is independent of the next clause. The mishna warns of the serious consequences of idleness: A person who is constantly idle will eventually fall into a state of melancholy. In turn, this emotional state of depression can lead to thoughts of suicide. {Rabbi Menachem of Beit Meir) When two people travel together, it is almost impossible to ignore the other person. Thus, if a Torah scholar travels with an ignorant person, it is very likely that the conversation will not concern Torah topics, which will make it very difficult for the scholar to think about Torah study. Because of the difficulty of the situation, the scholar is not considered accountable for having wasted an opportunity to study Torah. In contrast, a person who travels alone has no disturbances to distract him from thinking about Torah study. Accordingly, the mishna teaches that if a lone traveler does not think about Torah, he is considered guilty of having wasted an opportunity to study Torah.
  • 164. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 157 Alternatively, the words "Who travels alone on the road" is an allusion to a Torah scholar who secludes himself from people and refrains from sharing his knowledge with others. The mishna teaches that this attitude is not in accordance with the spirit of the Torah, for every Jew is obligated to help his brethren reach higher spiritual heights. One who shirks this responsibility will be judged harshly by Heaven. David HaMelech understood that there are three types of people in the world: Those who are righteous when they are by themselves, but who are easily influenced by sinners, those who are able to stand firm even in the presence of sinners, and lastly, those who are capable of making sinners repent for their sins and return to the fold of Torah. He offered prayers for all three types of individuals. 3‫6־‬ Rabbi Nechunya ben Hakanah says: "Whoever accepts the yoke of Torah will be relieved from the yoke of government and the yoke of life. But whoever throws aside the yoke of Torah will be burdened with the yoke of the government and the yoke of secular Hie." It must be pointed out that the mishna could have been written more uniformly. For example, it could have said: "Whoever accepts the yoke of Torah..., but whoever does not accept the yoke of Torah....'‫י‬ Or, it could have said:
  • 165. 158 CHAPTER THREE "Whoever does not throw aside the yoke of Torah..., but whoever throws aside the yoke of Torah.../' What, then, does the mishna teach us by using this style? The answer is that there are three levels of "Accepting the yoke of Torah": First, there is the individual who commits himself anew every day to study Torah with ever-increasing dedication and sanctity. In addition to not increasing the number of distractions which interrupt his Torah study, HaShem rewards this type of person by actually decreasing the amount of distractions he must encounter every day. Second, there are individuals who not only fail to increase in devotion towards Torah study, but actually recede backwards. To them, HaShem adds additional distractions to those which they must already face every day. The third level is the intermediate stage between these two extremes: a person who neither accepts additional responsibility nor decreases his level of devotion. Accordingly, he neither merits to have less distractions nor is punished with more. Although the mishna did not explicitly refer to this third type of individual, it may be clearly inferred. What is the reward one receives for accepting the yoke of Torah? "The yoke of government" refers to governmental taxes and fines, while "the yoke of life" refers to an individual's responsibility to provide his family with a livelihood. Being relieved of the "yoke of life" is a greater reward than being exempt from taxes and
  • 166. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 159 fines, since the responsibility to provide sustenance for one's family is assumed to be a law of nature. The "yoke of government," on the other hand, is imposed upon individuals by their governments; thus, it is a lesser miracle to become exempt from these man-made laws than it is to become exempt from a basic law of nature. The mishna also teaches that a person who accepts the yoke of Torah will merit to earn his livelihood without needing to devote large amounts of time and effort towards this goal. Instead, HaShem will provide all his needs, and other people will complete his menial tasks in his stead. This idea is evident from the verses concerning the Exodus from Egypt. With the exception of the Tribe of Levy, the entire Jewish People became Paroh's slaves. When HaShem redeemed them from Egypt, the yoke of slavery was removed from them. Then, when they left Egypt and entered the Desert, the responsibility to provide their families with sustenance was removed as well, for the Jewish People were given the Manna. When they entered the Promised Land, they found waiting for them houses in which to live and storehouses replete with food. But eventually, they removed the yoke of Torah from themselves, and, as a consequence, they went into Exile, as the verse says: "Why is the Land lost? Because they abandoned My Torah." In Exile, both the yoke of government and of secular life were returned to the Jewish People. "But whoever throws aside the yoke of Torah will be burdened with the yoke of the government and the yoke of secular life." This teaches that when a person throws off the yoke of government, the yoke of government will first be returned to him. If this punishment does not
  • 167. 160 CHAPTER THREE induce him to take stock of his situation and begin the process of introspection and repentance, then the yoke of life will also be imposed on him once again. Alternatively, "the yoke of government" (‫)מלכות‬ refers to the Seflrah of Malchut, which governs the earth and its inhabitants. A righteous person who accepts the yoke of Torah is exempt from the rules which govern the rest of humanity. Moreover, there are some individuals who are even capable of revoking evil decrees made by the Heavenly Court. This is the meaning of "Whoever accepts the yoke of Torah will be relieved from the yoke of government.‫יי‬ A righteous person also has the power to rescind rules of nature which were established during the creation of the world. For example, Shmuel the Prophet ordered the rain to fall during the summer, and Eliyahu the Prophet decreed that the rain should fall only according to his command. This is the meaning of "the yoke of life." In contrast, a person who discards the yoke of Torah is subject to the decrees which govern the rest of humanity. After considering the opinions of the Sages mentioned previously in this chapter, Rabbi Nechuniah decided that the study of Torah is the best method by which to avoid sin. The opinions of Akaviah ben Mehalelel and Rabbi Chaninah are nonetheless valid if circumstances make the study of Torah impossible. As mentioned above, a person who accepts the yoke of Torah is exempt from "the yoke of life" — man5 s responsibility to provide his family with sustenance. The verse "And he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, that bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not whither. And in whatever he does, he shall
  • 168. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 161 prosper" (Tehillim 1:3) illustrates this concept. Ostensibly, a tree which is not planted in the earth eventually grows weak and thin. It sheds many leaves and certainly does not have the ability to give forth fruit. Despite this, the verse says that it shall "bring forth its fruit in its season." So, too, a person who devotes himself fully tp the study of Torah is given all his needs by HaShem, even though, according to the laws of nature, he should not have any food whatsoever. (The Chassid) There are some mitzvot which are clearly beyond human understanding, while other mitzvot resemble administrative laws which governments impose on the citizens of a nation. The mishna teaches that one must regard all mitzvot, even those which we feel we understand, as the "Yoke of Torah." That is, we must come to the realization that we cannot fathom the reason behind the mitzvot, but must accept them as a yoke. A person who fulfills this requirement will merit being free of the yoke of government. However, one who thinks that the Mitzvot resemble administrative laws imposed by governments will be punished by having the yoke of government imposed upon him. (Lev Avot)
  • 169. 162 CHAPTER THREE 3‫7־‬ Rabbi Chalaftah ben Dosa, of the village of Chananyah, says: "When ten people sit together and study Torah, the Presence of G‫־‬d is among them as it is said: *G-d stands in a congregation of the Almighty' (Tehillim 82:1). How do we know that this applies even to five? Because it is said: 'His band He has founded upon the earth' (Amos 9:6). How do we know that this applies even to three? Because it is said: 'He judges in the midst of judges' (Tehillim 82:1). How do we know that it applies even to two? Because it is said: 'Then those who feared G-d spoke one with another and G‫־‬d listened and heard' (Malachi 3:16). How do we know that it applies even to one? Because it is said: 'In every place where I have uttered my Name, I will come to you and bless you'" (Shemot 20:24). One might wonder why the mishna did not simply say that even when one person studies Torah, the Presence of G‫־‬d is with him. This would eliminate the need to teach that G‫־‬d5 s Presence also appears among larger groups of people. There are several answers to this question: Although even one person who studies Torah merits the Presence of G‫־‬d, larger numbers of people merit to a greater revelation of His Presence. For when ten people intend to study Torah together, G‫־‬d, s Presence appears even before the arrival of the study group. This is alluded
  • 170. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 163 to by the verse: "G-d stands (‫)ניצב‬ qin a congregation of the Almighty.‫י‬‫י‬ The word ‫ניצב‬ connotes waiting in advance for someone else. In addition, when ten people study together, G-d "stands," so to speak, amongst the study group. However, when five people study Torah together, the Holy Countenance appears after the arrival of the study group, as is alluded to by the verse: "His band He has founded upon the earth" — first "His band," a reference to the study group forms, and only then "He has founded upon the earth," which refers to the revelation of the Holy Countenance. Three people who study Torah together do not merit having the Holy Countenance await their arrival, nor that It stand in their presence. This is implied by the verse: "He judges in the midst of judges" — judges always sit in judgment, but they do not stand. So, too, HaShem sits, so to speak, since he sits in judgment along with the other judges. Two people who study Torah together do not merit to have the Holy Countenance sit amongst them, since the verse says: "Then those who feared G-d spoke one with another and G-d listened and heard" — the implication is that He sits at a distance from them. There is another answer to this question. Concerning a single individual who studies Torah, the verse says: "I will come to you and bless you.‫י‬‫י‬ The implication is that the Holy Countenance will appear, bless the individual, and then immediately leave. This is akin to a king who travels to a faraway province to collect an object. As soon as the object is in his possession, he makes haste to return to his palace. Regarding three people who study Torah, the verse says: "He judges in the midst of judges." This
  • 171. 164 CHAPTER THREE implies that He stays for only enough time to preside over monetary disputes between his subjects, as a king listens to his subjects while mounted on a restless horse. Concerning five people who study Torah, the verse says: "His band He has founded upon the earth." The word "founded" suggests a longer stay. Regarding ten people who study Torah, the verse says: "G-d stands in a congregation of the Almighty.‫יי‬ This intimates that he stays in the midst of the study group as a king resides amongst his advisors in his palace. In every place where I have uttered my Name, I will come to you and bless you The verse should have said "In every place where you shall utter my Name I will come to you and bless you.‫י‬ ‫י‬ The answer is that without HaShem's help, no individual could withstand the temptations of the Evil Inclination. Thus, the verse attributes the victory over the Evil Inclination to HaShem, whose help enabled the individual to utter His Name. The verse teaches that, in comparison to the role HaShem's help plays in the struggle against the Evil Inclination, an individuaFs efforts to study Torah and keep mitzvot constitute only a small component of this struggle.
  • 172. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 165 3‫8־‬ Rabbi Elazar of Bartosa says: "Give Him what is His, because you and all that you have are His. This was also expressed by David, who said: 'All things come from You and we have given You only what is Yours."‫י‬ Give Him what is His, because you and all that you have are His. All of Man, s possessions, in essence, belong to HaShem, for it is He Who decrees whether a man will be rich or poor. Thus, the mishna teaches that one should not hesitate to give money to charity, since in actuality, it all belongs to HaShem. In addition, the mishna teaches a deeper concept: One's very soul does not belong to oneself, but to HaShem. Thus, if a person should ever find himself in a situation which requires him to give up his life for the sanctity of G-d's Name, he must not waver, since even his life does not belong to himself, but rather, to HaShem. The verse "For everything is from You, and from Your Hand they gave everything" sheds light on this mishna. The intention of the verse is that even before we have received our sustenance, while it is still in HaShem9 s Hand, we should, nevertheless, donate it to support the poor. This refers to poor people who give charity from their meager earnings despite the difficulties inherent in such an act. The verse "Those who tearfully sow will reap in glad song" refers to such individuals — the size of their reward will be proportional to the difficulty of their deeds.
  • 173. 166 CHAPTER THREE Occasionally, we see that people who give a large portion of their earnings to charity remain as poor as ever. The verse "He who bears the measure of seeds walks along weeping, but will return in exultation, a bearer of his sheaves" (Tehillim 126) applies to such individuals. That is to say, if he will overcome the difficulties of his test and continue to give charity, he will merit to so much reward that he will have to return numerous times to collect the reward. Alternatively, the mishna teaches that the ownership of material possessions is akin to guarding a sum of money for a depositor. When the depositor receives his money back from that person, he is not required to thank him for not having stolen his money. Nevertheless, when HaShem deposits material possessions with us, He rewards us generously for returning the money to Him. 3-9 Rabbi Ya'akov says: "One who walks on the road while he is studying and interrupts his study by saying 'How beautiful is this tree! How fine is this field!', the Scripture regards him as if he sins against himself. "One who walks on the road" teaches that even a person who studies at irregular intervals must refrain from
  • 174. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 167 interrupting his Torah study with idle conversation. All the more so, this certainly applies to an individual who designates a certain number of hours each day for the study of Torah. (R. Menachem of Beit Meir) The admonishment of the mishna applies equally to people who study in a Beit Midrash. The mishna chose to speak of a traveler on a road because many more distractions occur during a journey than occur inside a House of Study. (Rashbam) Or, it is possible that the admonition refers specifically to travelers. This would answer an obvious difficulty: Ostensibly, it would seem that the pronouncement "Scripture regards him as if he sins against himself is excessively harsh for such a seemingly mild transgression. Furthermore, it is very possible that if a person who is in the midst of Torah study were to suddenly make a comment regarding the overwhelming beauty of Nature, that expression would stem from a new insight into the wonders of the Creation. Thus, it is indeed curious that the mishna regards this exclamation with such severity. The answer is that since all roads are dangerous places, the forces of Heavenly Judgment investigate a traveler's deeds to determine whether he deserves to arrive at his destination unscathed. Therefore, even a slight transgression is judged with utmost severity. However, one who studies in a Beit Midrash is not judged in such a severe manner. David HaMelech recognized the inherent difficulty in keeping one's mind centered on Torah thoughts while traveling on a journey, as the verse says: "Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the Torah of the Lord" {Tehillim 119:1). This refers to those who keep
  • 175. 168 CHAPTER THREE the Mitzvot of the Torah, despite the difficulty of doing so while traveling on unsafe roads. Or, it is possible the mishna teaches that one cannot expect to embark on an intellectual investigation of the Torah unless he subdues the natural desire to satiate his physical senses. Moreover, it is necessary to utilize and incorporate all of one's senses in the pursuit of intellectual gains. Otherwise, the individual will not succeed in revealing Truth. (Rabbi M. Yitzhari) The mishna teaches that although appreciating the magnificent beauty of G-d's handiwork is in general a praiseworthy act, it is considered a transgression when compared to the importance of Torah study. This is why the mishna says *'the Scripture regards him as if he sins against himself" rather than the more definitive "he causes harm to himself," as in the mishna "He who keeps awake at night or travels alone on the road, and makes room in his heart for idleness, causes harm to himself" However, a person who interrupts Torah study, not with an exclamation of praisefor G-d's handiwork but with mere idle conversation, is considered to have "caused harm to himself" (Rabbi M. Alshkar) One who interrupts his Torah study with an exclamation such as "How beautiful is this tree" commits two transgressions. First, he is guilty of having allowed mere physical beauty to interrupt the eternal beauty of Torah. This act alone is not so severe, since the transgression is not manifested outwardly. However, once this thought is articulated, the transgression becomes much more explicit. Even so, the mishna says: "Scripture regards him as if he sins against himself."
  • 176. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 169 The mishna did not use the more definitive pronouncement "causes harm to himself,'' as in the mishna "Rabbi Chanina ben Chachinai says: 'He who keeps awake at night, or travels alone on the road and makes room in his heart for idleness, causes harm to himself.'" This is because Rabbi Chanina ben Chachinai refers to a person who has the opportunity to study Torah, yet fails to take advantage of this opportunity. Instead, he squanders his time on trivialities. This is why he is deserving of a harsh punishment. In our mishna, however, Rabbi Ya'akov refers to a person who exerts himself to study Torah while traveling, despite the difficulties inherent in doing so. Thus, although he is found at fault for allowing himself to be distracted from his Torah study, it is not as severe a transgression as the case discussed by Rabbi Chanina. (Rabbi M. Almoshnino) Ostensibly, this mishna could have been included in Rabbi Chanina ben Chachinai's. It could have said: "He who keeps awake at night or travels alone on the road, and makes room for idleness or interrupts his study...." The answer is that Rabbi Chanina's mishna teaches that one should take advantage of the opportunity to study Torah at times when there are few interruptions, such as late at night or while traveling. At both these times, there are less people in one's vicinity who are likely to disturb one's thoughts, for solitude allows him to become absorbed in his thoughts. Thus, one should prepare himself to think of Torah thoughts prior to embarking on his journey. The problem of becoming distracted by beautiful sights is not addressed by him, however, since it is not applicable to a person who stays awake at night.
  • 177. 170 CHAPTER THREE 3-10 Rabbi Dostai bar Yannai says in the name of Rabbi Meir: "Whoever forgets even one word of his studies, Scripture regards him as if he had sinned against his soul, for it is said: 'Only take care and guard your soul diligently that you do not forget the facts which your eyes have seen' (Devarim 4:9). Does this also apply to a person who has forgotten because his study was too difficult for him? The Torah concludes: 'And lest they be removed from your heart all the days of your life' (ibid.). Accordingly, he is not guilty unless he deliberately removes these teachings from his heart." One who forgets his studies as a result of his failure to review is considered by Scripture as if he had sinned against his soul, since forgetting one's studies will eventually cause one to confuse a prohibited action with a permitted one. Or, it is possible the mishna means that previously his knowledge of Torah protected him from misfortune. Once the individual forgets his Torah study, however, it no longer protects him. (Rabbeinu Ovadiah) It is possible that Rabbi Ya'akov, the author of the previous mishna, referred to this verse when he said "Scripture regards him as if he sins against himself." He understood that the verse "And lest they be removed from your heart all the days of your life" warns against interrupting the study of Torah even momentarily, and that this is why he said that "One who walks on the
  • 178. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 171 road while he is studying and interrupts his study by saying 'How beautiful is this tree! How fine is this field!', Scripture regards as if he had sinned against himself." Thus, the reason why the Torah is so stringent about even small interuptions is because they eventually lead to longer interruptions, as the Sages say "A transgression brings another transgression in its wake." R. Yannai disagrees with this interpretation. He understood that the verse "And lest they be removed from your heart all the days of your life" is not a stringency, but a leniency. It would seem from the first clause of the mishna that forgetting one's studies is a transgression, regardless of the reason. But the aforementioned verse comes to teach us that one is only considered guilty of forgetting his studies if he actively removes them from his heart. If he fails to remember his studies due to the difficulty of the subject matter, he is not held liable. The mishna said "Whoever forgets" and not "One who forgets" in order to include people who must work the entire day in order to provide sustenance for their families. Even this is not a legitimate excuse, since HaShem is the source of all sustenance. He is capable of providing a person's needs regardless of whether the person works two hours more or two hours less every day. Thus, it is proper to set aside some time during the day to study Torah, and to have faith that HaShem will provide him with the same amount of money as if he had worked during this period of time. In addition, there would be no need to devote such long hours to earning a living if the individual would feel satisfied with the bare necessities of life. Therefore, since it is his appetite for more possessions that causes his forgetfulness, the individual is held liable for forgetting his studies.
  • 179. 172 CHAPTER THREE The reason why forgetting even one word of one's studies is regarded with such stringency is because each word of Torah is a microcosm of the entire Torah. Thus, one who forgets even one word is considered as if he had forgotten the entire Torah. Furthermore, this even includes a person's own thoughts concerning his studies. 3‫11־‬ Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa says: "Anyone whose fear of sin precedes his wisdom, his wisdom shall endure. But one whose wisdom precedes the fear of sin, his wisdom shall not endure." The first clause seems to contradict the second, since the first clause requires that the fear of sin precede wisdom, while the second clause seems to allow for the possibility that fear of sin and wisdom can emerge at the same time and, nevertheless, endure. It merely informs us that if wisdom precedes the fear of sin, then it will not endure. A possible answer is that the mishna teaches that there are two ways to attain wisdom: through natural means, or by Heavenly assistance. One who studies Torah out of fear of Heaven does so in order to learn which actions the Torah permits and which it prohibits. The mishna guarantees this type of student that, regardless of his naturally endowed capacity to retain material, he will remember all of his studies as a result of Heavenly assitance. In contrast,
  • 180. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 173 the second clause warns that an individual who studies Torah purely as an intellectual pursuit will certainly forget his studies regardless how intelligent he is. However, we may infer from the last clause that someone who studies Torah for both these reasons will be left to his own resources. If he is naturally intelligent and capable of retaining large volumes of information, then he will retain his studies; if he is not naturally endowed with these abilities, then he will forget. It is no coincidence that this mishna was chosen to follow the previous mishna. After studying the previous mishna, one might wonder why a person should be held liable for forgetting his studies, since one is not in control of what he remembers and what he forgets. This mishna gives an answer to this question: The premise that forgetfulness is not in one's control is false, as the mishna says: "Anyone whose fear of sin precedes his wisdom, his wisdom shall endure." It is also possible that Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa disagrees with Rabbi Yannai's opinion that one who forgets his studies because of their difficulty is not held responsible. According to Rabbi Chanina, anyone who forgets his studies is held responsible, since forgetfulness only occurs to those "whose wisdom precedes [their][ fear of sin." If his fear of sin had preceded his pursuit of wisdom, he would not have forgotten his studies. Thus, whoever forgets his studies is held responsible. Hillel's statement, "An uncultured person can have no fear of sin; an uneducated person cannot be pious" (Avot 2:6), seems to contradict Rabbi Chanina's statement, "Anyone whose fear of sin precedes his wisdom, his
  • 181. 174 CHAPTER THREE wisdom shall endure," since, according to Hillel, it is impossible for a person who has no wisdom to have fear of sin. The answer may be that this mishna only refers to a person who is somewhat knowledgeable about the statutes of the Torah, but not to someone who is totally ignorant. The mishna teaches that if such an individual will show concern for fulfilling those laws with which he is familiar, then his knowledge will grow and he will not forget what he has learned. Hillel teaches a different lesson: An ignorant person cannot hope to attain the level of fear which protects one from committing any transgressions, since this requires a mastery of all the laws of the Torah. Alternatively, it is possible that Rabbi Chanina referred to a different aspect of "Fear of Sin" than did Hillel. Rabbi Chanina meant "Fear of Sin" in the general sense — the knowledge that everyone is HaShem's servant, and that every one of the six hundred and thirteen Mitzvot which He commanded must be fulfilled with the utmost devotion. If this awareness precedes wisdom, the individual will not forget his studies. Hillel's statement, however, related to the fear of committing specific transgressions, which necessarily requires an in-depth familiarity with the laws of the Torah. Another possibility: It is possible for a well-learned person to master various areas of study, yet never be presented with the opportunity to actually perform some of the mitzvot he has learned about. Each individual merits the opportunity to perform Mitzvot according to Heavenly decree, for it is beyond Man's control to create situations which require the performance of a mitzvah. Rabbi Chanaina teaches that the primary factor which
  • 182. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 175 determines whether an individual will be presented with opportunities to perform mitzvot is whether or not his Torah study is for the sake offulfilling mitzvot. If his main reason for studying Torah is for the sake of performing mitzvot, then he will merit to implement his studies. This is what is meant by "Anyone whose fear of sin precedes his wisdom, his wisdom shall endure" — the word ‫מתקיימת‬ also means "to practice." However, a person who studies Torah for reasons other than for the sake of fulfilling mitzvot will not merit opportunities to perform them. This is the meaning of the clause "But one whose wisdom precedes the fear of sin, his wisdom shall not endure" — that is, he will not merit to implement his knowledge in the performance of mitzvot. It is also possible the term "Anyone whose fear of sin precedes his wisdom" refers to individuals who regard the development of fear of sin as more important than increasing their wisdom. According to this explanation, the word "precedes" means "takes priority over." Another possible explanation: The Sages say that the level of an individual's intelligence is decreed in Heaven forty days before conception. The Heavens do not decree, however, whether a person will be righteous or wicked; every individual has the choice to determine that decision. Ostensibly, one would think that the Heavenly decree is the sole determining factor which dictates how intelligent a person shall be, and that man's actions cannot influence that decision. In other words, that which has been left for Man to decide ‫־־‬ how righteous he will be — does not affect the Heavenly decree which dictates how intelligent he will be.
  • 183. 176 CHAPTER THREE This reasoning is exactly what the mishna comes to correct: If even a highly intelligent person fails to develop Fear of Sin, he will forget his studies and underachieve, which in effect renders his superior intelligence ineffective. Conversely, a person of low intelligence who increases his level of Fear of Sin will merit to remember his studies beyond his natural capacity. Rav Moshe Alshkar offers a very similar explanation: Some people are endowed with more Fear of Sin than others, yet lack the capability to study a discipline. On the other hand, some people master the most complex disciplines with the greatest ease, yet lack Fear of Sin. The mishna teaches that an individual who is naturally endowed with Fear of Sin will benefit from the few disciplines which he has mastered, for he will stay clear of sin. On the other hand, one who naturally grasps disciplines but lacks Fear of Sin will have studied in vain, since his knowledge cannot protect him from sinning. Alternatively, the mishna teaches that when a person is visited by ill fortune, his initial reaction should be to examine his deeds and determine whether he has committed a sin for which he must repent. Only then should he begin to think of a practical plan of action to solve the problem. This is what the mishna means by "Anyone whose fear of sin precedes his wisdom, his wisdom shall endure'5 ‫־־‬ A person who reacts to a distressing situation by first investigating his deeds and repenting for his sins is guaranteed to think of a succesful plan of action to resolve his problem. In contrast, "One whose wisdom precedes the fear of sin, his wisdom shall not endure" teaches that a person whose initial reaction to a distressful situation is to formulate a plan of action is bound to fail in overcoming his problem.
  • 184. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 177 Man is by nature indolent. Moreover, the physical body resists intellectual exertion. It is especially difficult to begin the study of a new discipline, since it demands a high level of mental exertion and does not immediately provide satisfaction. The mishna teaches that unless the student of Torah begins the pursuit after wisdom with a firm basis of fear of Heaven, he will not have the necessary drive to persist in his struggle. (Rabbi Moshe Almoshnino) 3-12 He used to say: "Anyone whose deeds exceed his wisdom, his wisdom will endure, but anyone whose wisdom exceeds his deeds, his wisdom will not endure. One "whose deeds exceed his wisdom" refers to a person who observes all mitzvot with equal devotion, regardless of the extent of his knowledge concerning the specific laws of each mitzvah. This lack of knowledge necessarily implies that the individual make a difficult decision each time he performs a mitzvah: to be overly lenient or overly stringent when in doubt over what is required by the Torah. One who chooses to be stringent is considered someone whose "deeds exceed his wisdom." In contrast, an individual who fails to fulfill the minimal requirements of mitzvot with which he is familiar is destined to forget his knowledge, since the only purpose wisdom serves is
  • 185. 178 CHAPTER THREE to enable one to fulfill mitzvot in the manner the Torah decreed. This type of individual is considered one "whose wisdom exceeds his deeds." Alternatively, the mishna refers to a person who constantly looks for ways to perform more and more mitzvot. Unlike most people who wait until the opportunity to perform a mitzvah presents itself, this type of individual actively seeks opportunities to perform mitzvot. In addition, he looks for opportunities to perform mitzvot which occur at infrequent intervals. This is why he is referred to as someone "whose deeds exceed his wisdom‫5י‬ ‫־־‬ as a fitting reward for his efforts, this individual will merit to many more opportunities to perform mitzvot than even he ever hoped for. In contrast, a person who could have more opportunities to perform mitzvot if he would make a small amount of effort, but as a result of his indolence refrains from doing so, will surely lose all his wisdom." There is an obvious difficulty which must be asked: How can a person perform deeds which he does not yet know how to do? The answer is that the mishna encourages us to follow the advice of the Sages, regardless of whether we comprehend the rationale behind their decision. It teaches that someone who does this is considered to have fulfilled the entire Torah, since he acquires the same attitude which the Jewish People adopted at Mt. Sinai — "First we will do, and then we will understand." This is the meaning of the words "Anyone whose deeds exceed his wisdom." (Rabbeinu Yonah) Because it is impossible to know the true nature of a persons soul, the mishna teaches how to determine
  • 186. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 179 whether someone has Fear of Sin: If a person^ deeds exceed his wisdom, this is a sure sign that he has Fear of Sin. Although he also pursues the attainment of wisdom, he only does so in order to know which actions are prohibited and which are permitted. However, the pursuit of wisdom is of secondary priority to his main concern ‫־־‬ to refrain from committing transgressions. (Rabbi M. Almoshnino) A person who wishes to influence others to increase their fear of G-d must do so by personal example: He must fulfill the ideals which he preaches to others. This is what is meant by "Anyone whose deeds exceed his wisdom, his wisdom will endure": If his own deeds will match the ideals which he preaches to others, then his listeners will follow his advice. (Lev Avot) Alternatively, the mishna refers to the study of Torah. A person who relies on his natural intelligence and does not toil during the study of Torah will eventually forget his studies, since wisdom can only be earned by strenous effort. Wisdom does not follow as a natural consequence of intelligence, as one would inherit an estate. This teaches that only wisdom which is acquired through exertion will follow one to the Next World. 3-13 He used to say: "He who is pleasing to his fellow men is pleasing also to G-d, but he who is not pleasing to men is displeasing to G-d." Perhaps this refers to a person who gave spiritual
  • 187. 180 CHAPTER THREE guidance to others during his lifetime. According to this explanation, the word "pleasing" refers to the eternal reward which he helped people earn. Since every Jew5 s soul emanates from the Heavenly realms, the pleasure experienced by those individuals who earn a portion in the World to Come is experienced vicariously, so to speak, by the the Divine realms. This concept of a continuum which originates in the Heavenly Realms and concludes in Man's soul is apparent in the verse "And I will give My dwelling within you, and My (G‫־‬d5 s) Soul will not repel you (the Jewish People)5‫י‬ : It is a law of nature that the fragments of a greater entity tend to unite with that greater whole. Thus, it follows that if G‫־‬d5 s Presence were to dwell amongst the Jewish People, their souls would instinctively leave their physical bodies and return to their place of origin, the Heavenly Realms. Even so, the verse says "My soul will not repel you55 — HaShem gave an assurance to the Jewish People that He would alter the rules of nature in order to ensure that His Presence would not draw their souls out of their bodies. According to this explanation, the last clause of the mishna, "but he who is not pleasing to men is displeasing to G-d,5 5 teaches that a person who refuses to please others also withholds pleasure from G-d, so to speak. One may wonder why the author of the mishna saw it necessary to repeat the first clause in the negative. The answer is that if only the first clause had been written, one could infer that even though people might disapprove of an individual's deeds, his deeds might, nevertheless, still be pleasing to G-d. The mishna teaches that this is not so. Even if someone leads a life of privation and sacrifice for the sake of serving HaShem, his deeds are not pleasing
  • 188. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 181 to the Creator if most people in his generation disapprove of his behavior. On the other hand, if the mishna had only taught the last clause, one could infer that, although people approve of his deeds, this does not necessarily mean that his deeds are pleasing to HaShem. It is possible that his pious behavior is only for external appearances, but HaShem perceives the insincerity in his heart. The mishna teaches that this is an impossibility: his success in acquiring the approval of others is an accurate indication that his deeds are also pleasing to G-d, and that his piousness is not merely a deception. Even so, Rabbi Yosef ben Nachmiash points out that the mishna said "He who is pleasing to his fellow men," but it did not say "He who is pleasing to all men." This teaches that if only a minority of people disapprove of his deeds, his deeds are, nevertheless, pleasing before G‫־‬ d. 3-14 Rabbi Dosa ben Horkinos says: "Morning sleep and midday wine, children's talk and sitting in the meeting places of the ignorant shorten a man's life." The actions mentioned in the mishna represent the
  • 189. 182 CHAPTER THREE various stages in a person's life. "Morning sleep" alludes to a person's youth: One must guard against wasting his years of youth on meaningless pastimes. Instead, he should channel the energy which comes with youth towards the performance of kind deeds and repentance. "Midday wine" refers to adulthood. "Children's talk and sitting in the meeting places of the ignorant" alludes to old age, when people enjoy engaging others in lengthy conversations. (Rabbi M. Alshkar) Youth is characterized by the term "morning sleep" because the Evil Inclination's hold on a youngster is not as yet very strong; only a minimal effort is required to stir the youngster to repentance. As the young person matures, however, the Evil Inclination increases its hold on him. During teen-age years it distorts one's perception of reality — for this reason the mishna refers to it as "midday wine." Much effort is required to influence a teen-ager to change his ways once he has been affected by the Evil Inclination. It is necessary to explain why these four actions shorten a man's life. "Morning sleep" refers to the trait of indolence, which keeps one from earning enough money to sustain his needs. Once a man becomes poor, he is likely to give in to the temptation to commit theft. As a consequence, people will hate him and eventually murder him. In addition, physicians say that excessive sleep causes the body's temperature to rise, which, in turn, brings on illness. Morning sleep is also harmful to the soul, since one who sleeps until late in the morning does not fulfill the mitzvah of reciting the Shemah at the required time, which is from sunrise until the third hour of the morning.
  • 190. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 183 "Midday wine" is harmful to the body because it causes one to become drunk, as the Sages say, "Wine which one drinks with his meal does not make one drunk/' The negative effects of wine are well-known: It harms eyesight, lowers the body's natural temperature, disturbs the nervous system, and brings on disease. In addition, alcoholic addiction often brings about poverty as a result of the individual's inability to stay sober for prolonged periods of time, and because of the large sum of money squandered on purchasing drink. "Children's talk" refers to the use of coarse language. The consequence of using crude words against people is explicitly illustrated by the events which led to the splitting of the Kingdom of Israel. Following Shlomo HaMelech's death, people began to complain about the high taxes levied by the government. Rechav'am, one of Shlomo's sons who came to power following his death, asked the royal advisors for their advice. The group of older advisors urged him to speak kindly to the people and so, to win their trust. The group of younger advisors recommended that he speak in unambiguous terms and show the people his unwavering determination to collect the taxes as specified by the government. He followed the advice of the young advisors, and soon afterwards the Kingdom was split in two. "Children's talk" may also be understood literally. The mishna teaches that a parent's responsibility to educate his children includes rebuking them for using foul language. If he refrains from doing so, he himself will be held liable for their transgression. As a consequence, his life will be shortened, since the lifespan of a person who is guilty of committing transgressions is shortened.
  • 191. 184 CHAPTER THREE "Sitting in the meeting places of the ignorant" is a reference to individuals who sit in groups and joke about other people. This shortens a man's life for two reasons: First, the subjects of this group's ridicule will eventually take vengeance against them, and second, one who spends his time in this way loses the opportunity to study Torah, which is the source of life. Thus, one who refrains from studying Torah is considered as if he were partially dead. Another possible explanation is that the mishna refers to the three aspects of a Jew's soul. Each of the three daily prayer services we recite is designed to perfect one of these three aspects of the soul. For this reason, the mishna considers one who fails to recite these prayers during their prescribed time as if he had died a spiritual death. 3‫51־‬ Rabbi Elazar HaModayi says: "He who profanes sacred things, degrades the Festivals, puts his fellow man to shame in public, and violates the covenant of our father Avraham, and he who interprets the Torah contraryto the Halacha, even though he is learned in Torah and possesses good deeds, has no share in the World to Come." "He who profanes sacred things" could refer to a person who renders a sacrificial offering unfit for consumption by
  • 192. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 185 slaughtering it while thinking improper thoughts, or, by leaving it uneaten for a longer time than is permitted. The punishment of losing one's portion in the World to Come is a just punishment for one who commits this sin, since rendering a sacrifice profane helps sustain the Forces of Evil, which draw their sustenance from holiness which has been made profane. The act of rendering holiness profane is contrary to HaShem's Will, as is evident from the Sages' explanation of the verse: "And G-d saw that the light was good..." ‫־־‬ HaShem saw that the Supernal Light which emanated at the beginning of Creation was entirely composed of good, containing no evil whatsoever. Thus, He deemed it improper that this Supernal Light shine upon this world where good and evil are intermixed. Instead, He preserved this Light for the righteous souls in the World to Come. Evidently, it is G‫־‬d's Will that good remain totally separate from evil. With this understanding, it is logical why one who makes sacred things profane is punished so harshly. This also explains why one who degrades the Festivals deserves the same punishment ‫־־‬ the prohibitions of Choi Hamo'ed indicate that some of the holiness of Yom Tov is retained during the week of the Festival of Pesach and Sukot. A person who disregards these prohibitions in effect equates this holiness with the profane quality of a regular weekday. It is also possible that "He who profanes sacred things" refers to someone who humiliates Torah scholars. According to this understanding, "sacred things" is a reference to scholars themselves. The term "degrades the Festivals" could also be understood as referring to someone who humiliates Torah scholars. The Sages
  • 193. 186 CHAPTER THREE are called "Festivals" because one of the duties of the Sanhedrin was to declare the new moon, the beginning of the New Month. Consequently, the date of the Festivals was also determined by the Sanhedrin. "Violates the covenant of our father Avraham'‫י‬ refers to a person who refuses to circumcise himself, or, to a person who was circumcised but now wishes to stretch his skin back over the place of circumcision. The literal translation of the Hebrew term "puts his fellow man to shame" is "whitens the face of his fellow man" The explanation of this phrase is as follows: When a person feels embarrassment, his initial reaction is to feel rage; this is why his face becomes red. If he is unable to think of something to say in order to deflect the embarrassment from himself, the blood on the surface of his skin will recede and his face will suddenly become pale with worry. {Rabbi Ovadiah) Or, one who "Violates the covenant of our father Avraham'5 refers to a person who refuses to circumcise himself. The Midrash says that Avraham the Patriarch sits by the gates of Gehenom and prevents anyone who underwent circumcision from being thrown in. We may make an inference from this Midrash — anyone who did not circumcise himself during his lifetime will not be allowed into Gan Eden. This obviously does not include people who were not able to circumcise themselves, such as the third male child of a family whose two previous male children perished following circumcision. It only refers to people who refused to circumcise themselves out of rebellion against G-d and His Torah. "He who interprets the Torah contrary to the Halacha"
  • 194. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 187 refers to one who believes that the Mitzvot in the Torah were never intended to be taken literally, but are merely analogies which teach moral and ethical principles. For example, such a person would claim that the prohibition against eating pork is not to be taken literally, but is only a symbolic way of teaching the importance of acquiring praiseworthy character traits and avoiding vulgar habits. However, if such an individual would admit that it is prohibited to eat the flesh of a pig, then he would not be found at fault. (Rabbi Menachem of Beit Meir) Or, "He who interprets the Torah contrary to the Halacha" refers to a person who establishes a halachic ruling which contradicts the principles decreed by the Mishna and Gemorrah. One who "puts his fellow man to shame in public" loses his portion in the World to Come because this act resembles the act of murder. When a person feels embarrassment, his initial reaction is to feel rage; this is why his face becomes red. If he is unable to think of something to say in order to evade embarrassment, the blood on the surface of his skin will recede and his face will suddenly become pale with worry. This is the meaning of the verse "One who spills the blood of man in man" ‫־־‬ that is, he causes the blood of his fellow man to be spilled inside his own body. The punishment fits the transgression, for in the same manner as the physical body is sustained by its blood, so, too, the soul in the Next World is sustained entirely by the reward received for the performance of mitzvot. Thus, one who causes his fellow man's blood to spill within his body deserves to lose the eternal reward which his soul requires for its existence.
  • 195. 188 CHAPTER THREE 3-16 Rabbi Yishmael says: 'Be yielding to your superior and cordial to the young, and receive all men cheerfully Rabbi Yishmael prescribes what attitude one should adopt towards the ruling establishment of a country, "Be yielding to your superior" warns that one should swiftly comply with the wishes of a senior official. "Be... cordial to the young" advises to acquiesce also to junior officials. "Receive all men cheerfully‫5י‬ teaches that one must receive every person, no matter his importance, with a friendly countenance. "Be yielding to your superior" refers to HaShem, while "The young5 ' is a reference to the Prophets and to the righteous individuals of each generation. The Hebrew word for young ‫תשחורת־־‬ stems from the word ,‫שחור‬ which means black. This alludes to the righteous individuals who "blacken their face" with the exertion of Torah study. (Rabbi Moshe Alshkar) According to this explanation, it is possible the lesson of the mishna is that one must "Be yielding55 to HaShem under all circumstances, even when undergoing suffering and anguish. Furthermore, even in the midst of one's distress, he must hide his pain from others and receive them cheerfully. Alternatively, the mishna stresses the importance of accepting the pain of the Exile in a positive manner. The words "your superior55 refer to the ruling authority of the
  • 196. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 189 country in which one is presently residing. According to this understanding, "receive all men cheerfully" teaches the necessity to regard all men, even the self-professed enemies of the Jewish People, as envoys who execute the Heavenly decree. 3-17 Rabbi Akiva says: "Jesting and levity accustom a man to lewdness; tradition (Oral Law) is a protective fence about the Torah, the tithes are a protective fence for wealth, vows are a protective fence for voluntary abstinence; a protective fence for wisdom is silence.'' Why did the mishna not state the first clause in the same form as the rest of the mishna? It should have said "Solemnness and seriousness are a protective fence around lewdness.‫יי‬ The answer is that had the mishna stated this principle in this manner, one could infer that, although jesting could' theoretically lead to lewdness, it does not necessarily do so. For this reason, Rabbi Akiva used the emphatic form, "Jesting and levity accustom a man to lewdness" — that is, an individual who jests with women will invariably commit so many sexual transgressions that he will eventually become accustomed to doing so. This is the way of the Evil Inclination — today it persuades
  • 197. 190 CHAPTER THREE one to commit a trivial transgression, and eventually it will induce one to commit idolatry, murder, and sexual transgressions, the three most serious sins in the Torah. It is also possible Rabbi Akiva came to clarify the meaning of the previous mishna, which was authored by his contemporary, Rabbi Yishmael, who taught: "Receive all men cheerfully." Rabbi Akiva warns that there is a fine line between a cheerful reception and lewd behavior, and that one must be careful to stay well within the bounds of the former, since the failure to do so may result in the violation of a Torah precept. Most people are naturally reluctant to violate the precepts of the Torah; the Evil Inclination, however, cunningly accustoms people to commit transgressions bit by bit. At first it induces one to commit "light" infractions, eventually raising the stakes to include even the most serious sins written in the Torah. The Snake employed this method to ensnare Eve to commit the first recorded transgression in history. In answer to the Snake's suggestion that she taste the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, Eve explained that G-d prohibited her to even touch the Tree. Knowing full well that it was Adam, not G-d, who prohibited Eve from touching the Tree, the Snake proceeded to push her against the tree. This act accustomed Eve to the concept of committing a sin, and soon afterwards, she violated the only mitzvah she and Adam were commanded to fulfill. (The Chassid) Tradition (Oral Law) is a protective fence about the Torah. Even though the Sages made a decree to permit the Oral Law to be written down, the enduring quality of
  • 198. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 191 the Oral Law cannot be attributed to the written record of the Law. Rather, it is a direct consequence of the oral tradition of the Law, which effectively transferred the authentic version of the Mishnayot from generation to generation. When something is written down, a person naturally tends to rely on the fact that the written record is readily accessible, thus eliminating the need to memorize the data. In contrast, when the mishna and gemorrah were transmitted orally, the need to memorize every word became evident to everyone. Alternatively, this alludes to the rule which prohibits an individual from formulating a new law which he did not hear from his teacher, as the Holy Zohar says: "We did not hear, and therefore we will not speak." This regulation is what preserves the authenticity of the Torah. The Oral law is a protective fence about the Torah because it is impossible for anyone to derive the numerous and meticulous details of every law written in the Torah without the oral tradition which Moshe Rabbeinu received on Sinai. (Rabbi Moshe Alshkar) This refers to the variations in spelling of certain words in the Torah. For example, the word "Sukot" is twice spelled without the letter Vav and once with. From this variation, the Sages derived the permissible measurements of a suka: one complete and two partially complete walls. (Rabbeinu Ovadiah) Tithes are a protective fence for wealth. Although "common sense" dictates that donating money to charity should decrease one's wealth, the
  • 199. 192 CHAPTER THREE opposite is true. This is the intention of the verse: "surely take tithes," which the Sages interpret to mean "take tithes in order that you should become wealthy." Should a person choose to save his money and refrain from donating to charity, he will eventually lose all his possessions. Only by giving charity will he maintain his wealth. This may also be the explanation of the verse, "HaShem is your guardian; HaShem is your shade at your right hand" (Tehillim 121) - when one opens his hand, the shade formed by his hand follows suit; when one closes his hand, his shade also closes. HaShem is likened to a shade ‫־־‬ when one gives generously to charity, HaShem grants that person wealth and prosperity; when he closes his hand to charity, HaShem withholds affluence from that person. In the Talmud Yerushalmi, there is a slightly different version of this mishna: "Tithes are a protective fence for Torah.‫י‬ ‫י‬ This can be explained as follows: The Torah considers the Cohanim and Levi'im to be the teachers of Israel. In part, this is due to the fact that they are not required to earn their sustenance, but are sustained by the other Tribes' tithes. This gives them ample opportunity to study the Torah and become proficient in its laws, to the degree that they can teach it to others. The knowledge of the Cohanim and Levi'im is the protective fence for Torah, and it is only made possible through the giving of tithes. Or, it is possible that the Yerushalmi version refers to all the Tribes of Israel: Ma'aser Sheini must be taken from every crop of grain, and its value may be redeemed onto a coin. The Torah dictates that the money used to redeem Ma'aser Sheini may only be spent in Jerusalem. This law,
  • 200. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 193 in effect, forces every Jew to spend time in Jerusalem and to get away from his daily toil and preoccupations. This setting of spirituality will invariably instill in him a strong desire to study Torah, which he will be able to fulfill for at least a few days. As a result, he will become spiritually rejuvenated, a feeling which will carry him through until the next time he comes to Jerusalem. This is how tithes protect the Torah. (Rabbi Y. Nachmiash) Vows are a protective fence for voluntary abstinence. The mishna comes to exclude the opinion that voluntary vows are harmful in all circumstances. This opinion is based on the premise that once an individual makes a promise not to commit a certain sin, the severity of that transgression increases, that the Evil Inclination, aroused by the increased destructive potential of the transgression, immediately intensifies its efforts to entice him to commit that transgression. Rabbi Akiva, however, teaches that vows are only detrimental to individuals who have not yet managed to dominate their Evil Inclination. People who have attained a degree of saintliness and are, to a certain extent, immune from the enticements of the Evil Inclination, may make vows, for it increases the quality of their service to G-d. Thus, the Sages' statement "One who makes a vow is considered as if he had built an altar [to false gods] is not a contradiction to this mishna. The Sages' statement pertains to the average person, while this mishna instructs individuals who have become masters over their Evil Inclination. The Hebrew word for "fence" ‫גדר‬ can also mean a "definition." According to this understanding, the mishna informs us that the willingness to make a vow
  • 201. 194 CHAPTER THREE is indicative of that person's growing mastery over his Evil Inclination, since it is contrary to human nature to create more prohibitions for himself than those written in the Torah. Thus, the mishna should read as follows: "Vows are an indication that an individual has mastered his Evil Inclination, for he imposes voluntary abstinence on himself." A protective fence for wisdom is silence. Were it not for this mishna, one would think that the pursuit of truth demands animated argumentation and enthusiastic exchange of opinions. However, the mishna teaches that the attainment of wisdom is only possible if one maintains his silence. This mishna reasserts the principle mentioned in an earlier mishna by Shimon ben of Rabban Gamliel: "Shimon his son says: 'All my days I grew amongst the Sages, and I have never found anything more beneficial for the body than silence." Moreover, the mishna phrased this clause differently than the other, in order to teach that the only protective fence for the attainment of wisdom is silence. In contrast, the other subjects mentioned have additional protective fences than the ones listed by the mishna. This principle does not apply to the revealed sections of the Torah, however, since the mastery of these areas of study does demand argumentation and discussion. Instead, the mishna refers to individuals who dedicate themselves to the study of the esoteric teachings of the Torah, such as Kabbalah and the mystery of the Merkavah. It prohibits teaching these esoteric secrets to unworthy students. (Rabbi M. Alshkaf)
  • 202. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 195 3-18 He used to say: "Beloved is man, for he was created in [the holy] image. It is indicative of a greater love that it was made known to him that he was created in G‫־‬d's image, as the verse says, Tor in the image of G‫־‬d He made man." ‫י‬ Two questions may be asked: Why did the mishna bring a proof from this particular verse, since it could have used two earlier verses which convey the same message: "Let us make Man in our image and form," and "And G- d created Man in His image, in the image of G-d He created him." Secondly, why was it necessary to write the first sentence? Ostensibly, the mishna could have simply said, "Man is beloved in the eyes of G‫־‬d, for he was created in the [oly] image, as the verse says: Tor man was created in G‫־‬ d's image." importance attached to his resemblance to G-d's image was not made evident. This explanation implies that the Heavenly love of Man extends equally to the entire species, since the basis for Man's importance is attributed to his physical resemblance to the Spheres of Divinity. The use of the word "Man" as opposed to "Israel" would also seem to corroborate this premise. Still, there is another way to answer the first question: The Hebrew word for "image" is ,‫צלם‬ a term used in kabbalistic sources in reference to the sublime glow about a person's head, which indicates the presence of the Life
  • 203. 196 CHAPTER THREE Force. This sublime radiance, which only occurs amongst the Jewish People, is entirely spiritual in nature, originating in the most exalted Divine spheres. The Sages say that when this radiant Life Force parts from the individual, it is a sure sign that he will die in a very short time. However esoteric this may seem, the phenomenom can be understood simply. The radiance is the Presence of G-d which stands in guard over every Jew, protecting him from physical and spiritual danger. When the Holy Presence abandons him, he is once again susceptible to the lurking dangers which were held at bay by G-d's Presence. Consequently, his death occurs soon afterwards. Sages such as Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai had the capability to discern this radiance and detect its presence; in this manner, they could determine whether a person was a righteous individual or a sinner, since the radiance is not present amongst evildoers. On the contrary, the presence of the nefarious forces of the universe attach themselves to evildoers. Thus, the word ‫צלם־־‬ G-d's image -- does not refer to Man's physical form, but rather to the radiance described above. This would imply that the Divine love discussed in the mishna extends only to the Jewish People, the only nation which merits to have the Presence of G-d standing guard over each and every one of its people. In light of this explanation, we may now understand why the mishna used the term "Man" and not "Israel." "Man" is a reference to Adam HaRishon, the first man, who, in relation to our present state, was an entirely spiritual being.
  • 204. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 197 I asked Rabbi Chaim Vital (the ArizaPs most senior student) if the words "beloved is man" refers to all of Mankind, or only to the Jewish People. He answered that the name "Adam" is a reference to an exalted state of purity within the spiritual continuum, which is only accessible to the Jewish People. The souls of the Jewish People and of righteous gentiles draw their life force from this level of divinity called "Adam"; evildoers, on the other hand, draw their source of energy from the evil entities of the universe. This is the intention of the Midrash: "You (The Jewish People) are called Adam, but the nations of the world are not." This sheds new light on the words of the mishna: "He was created in G-d's image" teaches that a Jew draws his life source from Divinity itself. Rabbi Chaim Vital explained further: In light of this midrash, one might wonder why the Torah decreed that one who murders a non-Jew deserves the death penalty. The answer is that the stringency of the punishment is not due to the importance of the murdered gentile, but of the potential righteous converts who would have come from his seed in the distant future. This concept is illustrated by the Sages' interpretation of the verse "And he (Moshe) turned here and there and he saw that there was no man": Moshe looked into the future to see if any righteous converts would come from the seed of the Egyptian. Only when he ascertained that no such converts would ever emanate from his seed did he proceed to kill him. This sheds light on the verse: "Who sheds the blood of the man (Adam) within the man..." — that is, one who kills a gentile is guilty of killing the Adam — the potential righteous convert ‫־־‬ which will eventually emerge from his seed.
  • 205. 198 CHAPTER THREE I pointed out a difficulty to him: If this is the reason why murdering a gentile carries the death penalty, then the implication is that every gentile carries within him a future descendant who will become a righteous convert. He answered that this is not a correct inference, since the murder of a gentile is only punishable by death if the act is witnessed by at least two witnesses. HaShem knows which gentiles carry within them the seed of future righteous converts; He causes those gentiles who do carry such seed to be killed in the presence of witnesses, while those who do not carry seeds are murdered out of people's sight. It is also possible that the mishna refers to the physical benefits Mankind gains from having been created in the image of G-d. For example, the reason why most animals in the world do not attack humans, even those of greater physical size and prowess than Man, is because they recognize the form of G‫־‬dliness inherent in his shape. Otherwise, it is impossible to explain this natural phenomenom. This idea is evident from the verse: "Let us make Man in our image and form, and he shall descend to the fish in the sea and the foul of the heavens, and to the beasts...." HaShem created Man to stand upright in order to give him an external characteristic which distinguishes him from all other animals in nature. His upright posture is a physical manifestation of Man's inherent spiritual superiority over all other living creatures, for it conveys his bond to the Heavenly Realms. In contrast, the bent-over posture shared by all other creatures indicates that their existence is linked with the earth, not with the heavens. This external quality is one aspect of that entity we call "G-d's image," a quality shared by all of Humanity.
  • 206. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 199 However, there is another facet to the term "G-d's image": The Brit Milah — ritual circumsicion — is a physical mark that serves to distinguish between the Jewish People and the nations in the same manner as Man's upright posture distinguishes him from the animals. The act of circumsicion connotes a willingness to comply with G‫־‬ d's Will even at the cost of abstaining from the natural instincts ingrained in Mankind, since the Sages say that circumsicion reduces sensual pleasure. The reward we are given for performing this act, which runs contrary to human nature, is the ability to accept and fulfill the precepts of the Torah, a set of divine laws which are beyond Man's understanding. This and the next two mishnayot must be understood as three components of the same theme. In this mishna, Rabbi Akiva defined the physical qualities which differentiate all of Mankind from the animal world. The next mishna teaches how the Jewish People differ from the nations, while the third mishna reveals the consequences of this difference — our ability to comprehend and adhere to the precepts of the Torah. Our spiritual superiority over the nations is in proportion equal to Mankind's intellectual superiority over the animal kingdom. Rabbi Yitzchak offers a different explanation of this mishna: Rabbi Akiva disagrees with Akavia ben Mahalelel's opinion, who said earlier in this chapter: "Consider three things and you will not come into the clutches of sin: Know where you come from, where you are going, and before Whom you will have to give account and reckoning." Rabbi Akiva is of the opinion that Akavia's advice is unwise, for it is bound to lead to emotional depression. Instead, Rabbi Akiva suggests that looking at
  • 207. 200 CHAPTER THREE the positive aspects of life will inspire a person to strive to fulfill his spiritual potential. For example, when one ponders where he comes from, he should consider that he was created in the image of G‫־‬d, not that he comes from a putrid drop. Similarly, thinking of one's physical death should not evoke images of decay and maggots, but rather, the realization that an eternal afterlife awaits him, where his soul will bask in the holy radiance of HaShem. The Torah alludes to the existence of an afterlife in the verse: "You are sons to HaShem... do not make a cut between the eyes of your deceased" — if no afterlife exists after the demise of the body, why would the Torah prohibit making an incision in the corpse? Thus, it is evident that every member of the Jewish People has a portion in the World to Come, and for this reason the Torah prohibits the defacing of a Jewish corpse. Lastly, Rabbi Akiva qualifies Akavia's suggestion that one consider "Before whom you will have to give account and reckoning." Such thoughts will be ineffective unless the individual comprehends the reason HaShem gave Israel Mitzvot. He must understand that mitzvot were not given to the Jewish People in order to load them with responsibilities, but in order to give them the opportunity to accumulate merit and thereby earn a portion in the World to Come. As the Sages say: "Chananyah ben Akashah said: The Holy One, Blessed Be He, wanted to give merit to Israel; therefore, He gave them abundant Torah and mitzvot..."
  • 208. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 201 3‫91־‬ Beloved is Israel, for they are called children of G-d. It was an act of special favor that it was disclosed to them that they are called the children of G-d, as it says: *You are the children of G‫־‬d' (Devarim 14:1). At first glance, it would seem that the second clause of the mishna is repetitive. This is not the case, however. Instead, the mishna teaches that HaShem's love for the Jewish People is manifested in a most explicit manner: First, by referring to Israel as G-d's children, the verse reveals the extent of HaShem's love for His People. Secondly, G-d's concern for His people is not relegated to mere words, but is manifested through actions; G- d makes His concern for the Jews' welfare known to all the nations through the numerous miracles which he performs for them daily. This "special favor" is derived from the verse quoted by the mishna, which prohibits a mourner from cutting his skin as an expression of his grief over the death of his father. The reason this is prohibited is because HaShem is like a father to the Jewish People; thus, even when someone's physical parent dies, he should not feel as if he has no parents, for HaShem is the Jewish People's Father. If a person feels so much anguish following his parent's death that he feels impelled to scratch himself, this indicates that he does not perceive the special relationship between HaShem and the Jews.
  • 209. 202 CHAPTER THREE 3-20 Beloved is Israel, for a precious instrument was given to them which was used to create the world, as it is said: "I have given you a good teaching: do not forsake my Torah' (Mishlei 4:2) Beloved is Israel, for a precious instrument was given to them... The reason why the Torah is described as a "precious instrument" is as follows: The more one understands the Torah, the more he desires to gain a deeper understanding of its secrets. Even so, even if man were to live a thousand years, he would not attain complete understanding of the entire Torah. For this reason, it is called a "precious instrument'5 — in the same way a poor man's desire for a precious stone is not diminished by his poverty, so, too, a Jew aspires to master the entire Torah, despite the immensity of the task. Alternatively, the two clauses of the mishna allude to the two aspects of Torah study, the revealed and the esoteric. The first clause — "Beloved is Israel" — refers to the revealed laws of the Torah which the Jewish People study daily. The second clause — "Beloved is Israel, for a precious instrument was given to them" — refers to the esoteric secrets of the Torah with which HaShem created the universe. Because the esoteric secrets of the Torah are more exalted than its revealed laws, the mishna refers to this area of study as a "precious instrument." This is the knowledge which the Sages say was transmitted to Betzalel, who was encharged with building the Tabernacle,
  • 210. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 203 a microcosmic model of the universe. He merited to fathom how HaShem created the world with the countless permutations of His Holy Name. With this knowledge, he constructed the Tabernacle, thus emulating the handiwork of the Creator of the universe. This understanding of the mishna is intimated by the verse: "I have given you a good teaching" ‫־־‬ HaShem transmitted the revealed teachings to the Jewish People, but the esoteric secrets remain "My Torah.'' Or, it is possible that the Torah is called a "precious instrument" because the angels longed to receive it. They argued that it would be improper for mere mortals to receive something as holy as the Torah; instead, it should be given to spiritual beings like themselves. Moshe Rabbeinu succesfully argued against the angels' claim, offerring various reasons why it would be more fitting for the Torah be given to the Jewish People. Yet, despite the final decision to give the Torah to the Jews, the angels' desire to receive the Torah never waned; this is why it is called a precious instrument, and why the Jewish People are called a beloved people. The Torah is also called a precious instrument because, according to the Sages, HaShem looked into the Torah when He created the world. Or, in a similar vein, it is called a precious instrument because the purpose behind the Creation is that the Jewish People accept the yoke of the Torah and fulfill its every precept. As the Sages say, "Tn the beginning, G-d created the heavens and the earth' — for the Torah, which is called "The beginning," He created the heavens and the earth." This is analogous to a wealthy man who leaves land
  • 211. 204 CHAPTER THREE and possessions to his children, yet to his favorite child, he leaves the secret tool which earned him his fortune. So, too, HaShem gave the Torah, the device with which He created the universe, to Israel, His favorite child. (The Chassid) 3‫12־‬ Everything is forseen, yet freedom of choice is given. The world is judged according to [Man's] goodness, and the judgment is according to the scope and magnitude of Man's actions. The Rambam explains that although HaShem sees the future actions of man, the choice whether to be righteous or wicked is left to each and every individual. Consequently, the mishna says: "The world is judged according to [man's] goodness" — were it not for this freedom of choice, it would not be just to punish the wicked. They could justifiably claim that their evil deeds do not stem from a conscious decision to do evil, but are only the consequence of the evil nature with which Heaven decreed they be born with. However, since Man has the freedom to choose, he can be held responsible for his actions, receiving reward for his righteous deeds and punishment for his evil actions. Thus, "And the judgment is according to the scope and mangitude of man's actions" teaches that a person who performs a righteous act frequently is
  • 212. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 205 judged more favorably than one who does so at infrequent intervals. For example, it is more virtuous to give a small sum of money to charity every day than to give a large sum periodically. The concept that HaShem foresees everything and yet allows man to choose his deeds presents a paradox which must be resolved: If HaShem knows whether a person will be righteous or wicked, how can the possibility exist that he will be any different? And if this possibility does exist, then this indicates that G-d's perception was mistaken, Heaven forbid. To answer this difficulty by admitting that some things are hidden from G-d is just as untenable, because the philosophical consequence of such a statement would be in discord with the principals of the Torah. The Rambam answers this paradox by emphasizing that G-d and His ways are beyond the boundaries of human logic. Thus, even though in human terms it would seem paradoxical to maintain that HaShem foresees everything, yet nevertheless permits man to choose his own destiny, it is not paradoxical from G-d's perspective. And it is as much a component of faith to believe in these two apparently contradictory concepts as it is to believe other principles of faith which are beyond our total comprehension. There is also a way to resolve this dilemma without making it an article of faith. The fact that HaShem foresees a person's future does not necessarily contradict that individual's freedom of choice, since all it may mean is that HaShem already knows what choices every individual will eventually make. G-d's view of future events does not, however, have any bearing on what choices that individual will make.
  • 213. 206 CHAPTER THREE Rabbi Moshe Almoshninu offered a similar explanation using the following analogy: One who sees someone else running may justifiably assume that that person is indeed running; however, it would be unreasonable to assume that the reason why he is running is because one sees him run. So, too, HaShem's view spans the future and the past as one, and He sees all events as one flowing continum of time. However, the events which He sees do not occur as a consequence of His foresight, but are determined by the individuals who are given the freedom to choose their own destiny. The great Sage Rabbi Shimon ben Doran of blessed memory offered a different explanation: Everything in the world has positive and negative aspects, as the Sages say: "He who is born when the planet Mars dominates the constellations is bound to be either a murderer, thief, butcher, bloodletter, or ritual circumciser." It is up to Man to channel his potentially negative character traits to perform positive deeds. The mishna teaches that HaShem perceives every person's inherent nature and the potentially negative character traits it may engender. However, He does not decree whether a person will succeed or fail in molding those inbred qualities into positive traits, for this is entirely dependent on Man's will to do so. Or, it is possible that "Everything is forseen, yet freedom of choice is given" teaches that HaShem enables the wicked to commit transgressions even though He is fully aware of their actions. Unlike a corporeal king, who will mercilessly execute a minister for the slightest sign of insubordination, HaShem is merciful to everyone, even to the wicked. Moreover, He is compassionate with them and lets them live long lives in hope that they will eventually repent, as
  • 214. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 207 the mishna says: "The world is judged according to [with] goodness.‫יי‬ However, His compassion is not an indication that He overlooks the transgressions of the wicked, as the Sages say: "Anyone who says that HaShem disregards [the iniquities performed against Him,] his life will be disregarded., ‫י‬ Instead, the mishna explains that G-d judges an individual "according to the scope and magnitude" of his actions. If the majority of his deeds are iniquitous, then G-d is generous to him in This World and excludes him from the Next. On the other hand, if the majority of his deeds are in accordance with the laws of the Torah, then G-d gives him a portion in the World to Come and causes him to undergo a degree of suffering in This World in order to cleanse him of his sins. Alternatively, the term "everything is foreseen" is not in reference to G-d, but to Man: When a person will eventually stand in judgment before of the Heavenly Court, he will not be able to claim that he did not know his acts were sinful, since the verse says explicitly: "Behold, I have placed in front of you today life and goodness, and death and evil." This also explains why this mishna is adjacent to the previous one, which says: "Beloved is Israel, for a precious instrument was given to them" — the precious instrument refers to the guidance which the Torah gives on how to live a righteous life. "The world is judged according to [Man5 s] goodness" teaches that although each person is judged individually, HaShem is merciful and judges the entire Jewish Nation as a whole. He does this in order to prevent the instant demise of the wicked, for were He to judge them on their merit alone, they would immediately become consumed by the forces of Heavenly retribution. Instead, by judging them
  • 215. 208 CHAPTER THREE as members of the entire Jewish Nation, their wickedness is mitigated by the righteousness of those who fulfill the Commandments of the Torah. However, HaShem's merciful judgment of the wicked requires that "the scope and magnitude of man's actions" -‫־‬ the Jewish People's deeds — is for the most part, virtuous. Otherwise, the wicked will all be judged on an individual basis, which will surely result in their demise. "The judgment is according to the scope and magnitude of man's actions" means that when HaShem sits in judgment of the Jewish People, He does not consider whether the majority of Jews are righteous, but whether the quantity and quality of righteous acts performed by the Jewish People outweigh the number of transgressions they performed. This is truly merciful of Him, since this makes it possible for Israel to be judged favorably even when most Jews do not behave righteously. It enables the righteous individuals to help absolve the entire Jewish People from punishment. Alternatively, we learn that although man would fall prey to his Evil Inclination were it not that HaShem helps him overcome it, he nevertheless is rewarded as if he had vanquished his Inclination without Divine assistance. HaShem does not detract from an individual's eternal reward, but instead, attributes his success over the Evil Inclination entirely to "the scope and magnitude of man's actions." This teaches us that HaShem evaluates the merit of an act in proportion to the difficulty experienced by the individual in overcoming his Evil Inclination. A righteous deed performed by a person with an evil nature is more
  • 216. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 209 meritorious than the worthy act of an individual who is naturally G‫־‬d‫־‬ fearing. (The Chassid) The verse says: "And G-d saw everything He created, and behold, it was exceedingly good." The Sages derive from this verse that "Everything that HaShem does, He does for the [ultimate] good," If grief should befall a person, he must recognize that since HaShem is the Master of the world, even this painful experience must be for his ultimate benefit. This is the intention of the words "The world is judged according to [Man's] goodness." However, the mishna explains that there are exceptions to this rule. For example, from our limited perspective it is difficult to discern how it is for a person's ultimate benefit to be born blind or lame. Thus, the mishna says that "The judgment is according to the scope and magnitude of man's actions" ‫״‬ as G-d judges man according to the majority of his deeds, so, too, man must "judge" G-d's handiwork according to the majority of His deeds, which are unquestionably for the ultimate benefit of the individual. (Rabbi Israel) "The judgment is according to the scope and magnitude of man's actions" only refers to the manner in which HaShem determines whether to bless a particular nation with physical rewards. He determines whether the Jewish People should enjoy wealth and prosperity by taking into account the collective deeds of the entire Nation as a whole, righteous and wicked alike. If the Heavenly decree calls for prosperity, this is an indication that the deeds of the righteous outweigh the deeds of the wicked, and if the heavenly decree calls for poverty and famine, this indicates the opposite. In this type of judgment, it is evident that the righteous share the same fate as do the wicked. On the other hand, when HaShem determines who merits
  • 217. 210 CHAPTER THREE to receive a portion in the World to Come, He looks only at the deeds of that particular individual. (Rabbi Israel) It is also possible that this mishna comes to clarify a point raised by the previous one, which quoted the verse "...do not forsake My Torah": Instead of saying "the Torah," the verse said "My Torah," in order to stress that the Torah must be studied for the sake of sanctifying His Name. However, it is impossible for Man to determine whether a person studies Torah with this principle in mind. In answer to this question, the mishna says "Everything is foreseen" — HaShem knows what people's intentions are. The simple understanding of the words "The world is judged according to goodness" is that G‫־‬d judges Man according to the goodness of his actions. However, this statement can also be understood in the following manner: Since the majority of Man's deeds are wicked, G-d must judge the world with mercy — that is, "With the goodness of His actions." The mishna then continues to explain the reason why the world must be judged mercifully by HaShem: "The judgment is according to the scope and magnitude of Man's actions," which are, for the most part, wicked. Therefore, were it not for HaShem's mercy, the world would not survive Heavenly judgment.
  • 218. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 211 3‫22־‬ He used to say: 'Everything is given on pledge, and a trap is laid over all the living. The shop is open, and the merchant sells merchandise on credit, and the ledger lays open, and the hand writes, and whoever wants to borrow, let him come and borrow. And the collection agents do their rounds daily, and they collect the debt from Man with and without his consent, and they have what to rely upon. The judgment is a true judgment, and everything is readied for the festive meal. The intention of this mishna is to clarify the meaning of Parshat Bechukotai. One may mistakenly conclude from this parsha that unless a person fulfills every single mitzvah in the Torah, he will not merit to receive the blessings enumerated therein. As a result, the individual will become disheartened, and eventually he will cease to fulfill all mitzvot. The mishna teaches that this is an incorrect interpretation of the parsha, and that in truth, "Everything is given on pledge." That is, HaShem extends all the blessings enumerated in the parsha to the righteous even if they have only fulfilled one mitzvah. This is analogous to a merchant who is willing to sell merchandise on credit to a trustworthy customer in exchange for his assurance of payment. So, too, HaShem showers the righteous with blessings even though they have not fulfilled all the Mitzvot in the Torah, because He perceives that this is their true aspiration.
  • 219. 212 CHAPTER THREE "A trap is laid over all the living'‫י‬ is a reference to the Evil Inclination. The mishna teaches that even if an individual merits to fulfill one mitzvah and consequently does receive the blessings enumerated in Parshat Bechukotai, he should not fool himself into thinking that he will likewise succeed in fulfilling the remainder of the Torah's Mitzvot. In truth, the path to this end is fraught with treacherous tricks and unforseen entrapments laid out by the Evil Inclination. It does not seek to ensnare transgressors to sin, since they are already considered dead. Instead, it assails those individuals who show promise of becoming righteous Jews and presents them with temptation after temptation, as the Sages say: "The greater the individual, the bigger his Evil Inclination.‫יי‬ "The shop is open, and the merchant sells merchandise on credit ]‫[מקיף‬ is an analogy to the transient world. Its shelves are lined with every conceivable physical desire, and its merchandise is readily available to anyone who wishes to make a purchase, as the Sages say: "He who wishes to become impure, the way is opened before him." Moreover, the merchant — the Evil Inclination ‫־־‬ is not satisfied with the volume of clientele which frequents his store; therefore, he leaves his store in order to offer his wares in the public marketplaces and the main thoroughfares. In this way, he transports his arsenal of earthly temptations to his prey? s territory, thus catching them off guard. The mishna issues a warning to every individual, even those who have never actively sought the fulfillment of a physical desire, to prepare themselves for battle against the Evil Inclination, since eventually it will even try to ensnare them to commit a transgression. This interpretation is suggested by the use of the word ‫־־‬ ‫מקיף‬ although this word generally means "to lend on credit," its literal translation is "to circulate."
  • 220. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 213 "The ledger lays open" warns that although the merchant has left his store in order to sell his wares, he has left an envoy in charge of his merchandise. This envoy will record the identity of anyone who will purchase the iniquitous merchandise on sale in the store. This analogy is a reminder that Man's every action is revealed to HaShem, and that an eternal price will have to be paid for violating the precepts of the Torah. "Whoever wants to borrow, let him come and borrow" is what the Evil Inclination says to a poor man who does not have sufficient money to commit a transgression. It assures the individual that any money spent for the purpose of commiting a transgression will be repaid in full. "The collection agents do their rounds daily" is a reference to the pain and suffering which man experiences in his life. The anguish he experiences atones for the sins which he has committed. It is an act of mercy that HaShem extracts a small portion of the payment every day instead of eliciting it all at once. "They collect the debt from Man with and without his consent" teaches that Man is punished for the transgressions he has perpetrated, regardless of whether he knew that the act he committed was prohibited. "And they have what to rely upon" attests to the fact that man is punished even for actions he did not know were prohibited, for the Sages say that a person cannot claim ignorance of the laws of the Torah if he never applied himself to study these laws. Instead, such an individual's unintentional transgressions are considered as if he had transgessed knowingly.
  • 221. 214 CHAPTER THREE "Everything is readied for the festive meal" teaches that the process of judgment which this mishna illustrates is for the sole purpose of purifying Man's soul to a sufficient extent that he will be able to partake of the Festive Meal which will be served to the souls of the righteous in the World to Come. There is an alternative way to understand this mishna: "Everything is given on pledge'' is a reference to the Torah, which was given to the Jewish People on condition that they act as guarantors to each other. This means that every member of the Jewish Nation must assume responsibility for every other Jew's actions. Consequently, even a righteous person is liable to be punished for transgressions committed by other Jews. The words "and a trap is laid over all the living" is a reference to this mutual responsibility between Jews. The mishna views this duty as a trap because, even though a righteous person may try to influence another individual's behavior, this is ultimately beyond his control. This explains the use of the words "all the living" — it is an allusion to the righteous, who must suffer the collective punishment brought upon the entire Nation by the evildoers. "The shop is open, and the merchant sells merchandise on credit" teaches that even though evildoers are prevalent in every generation, and according to the principle "All Israel are guarantors to each other" G-d should withhold His blessing from the Jewish People, He nevertheless bestows His blessing upon them. He does so in the hope that, in time, Israel will reciprocate this kindness by repenting for their sins, fulfilling the Mitzvot of the Torah, and performing kind deeds.
  • 222. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 215 "The ledger lays open and the hand writes" emphasizes that there has never been a generation which earned the right to receive HaShem's blessings as a result of their righteous deeds. Instead, Mankind has always had to rely on G-d's mercy for its continuing existence. However, one should not make a mistake and think that G‫־‬d gave undeserving Mankind its sustenance as a gift. Rather, the sustenance He provided Mankind generation after generation was given on loan, which must eventually be paid back. "Whoever wants to borrow, let him come and borrow‫5י‬ reveals how HaShem's ways differ from Man's: A person would never request a loan from someone who he has previously borrowed from and not yet repaid, because he would surely turn him down. HaShem, however, extends additional loans to Mankind despite the fact that they have, not yet repaid previous loans. Moreover, He gives the loan even before the individual has a chance to verbalize the request, as is alluded by the fact that the mishna says "whoever wants to borrow" and not "Whoever comes to borrow." This aspect of HaShem‫׳‬s kindness is also apparent in the verse: "Open your hand, and He fulfills the will of all living creatures." "The collection agents do their rounds daily, and they collect the debt from Man, with and without his consent" is a reference to the ministering angels, which present Man with opportunities to perform mitzvot and kind deeds. When a person takes advantage of these opportunities to repay his debt to G‫־‬d and fulfills the mitzvot which the angels have provided for him, the ministering angels take the spiritual merit of his deed to the Heavens and repay that individual's debt. This process occurs during
  • 223. 216 CHAPTER THREE the performance of all mitzvot and kind deeds, regardless of whether the individual intended to fulfill that particular mitzvah or kind deed. For example, if a coin falls out of a person's pocket and is later found by a poor person, the person who lost the money is considered as if he had fulfilled the mitzvah of charity intentionally. 3-23 Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah says: "If there is no Torah, there is no Derech Eretz; if there is no Derech Eretz, there is no Torah. If there is no wisdom, there is no fear of G-d; if there is no fear of G-d, there is no wisdom. If there is no knowledge, there is no understanding; if there is no understanding, there is no knowledge. If there is no flour, there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is no flour. "If there is no Torah, there is no Derech Eretz; if there is no Derech Eretz, there is no Torah. At first glance, Rabbi Elazar seems to contradict himself: At first he states that Torah is a prerequisite to correct behavioral traits, and in the very next statement he informs us that without proper behavioral traits, it is impossible to study Torah. Also, reality seems to pose a difficulty to this mishna, since we know of many Gentile scholars,
  • 224. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 217 who, although ignorant in Torah, nevertheless display exemplary behavior in their interpersonal relations. The first difficulty may be resolved by comprehending that there are two ways to arrive at an acceptable code of behavior: Through the human intellect, or by following the principles outlined in the Torah. Rabbi Elazar teaches that, although human-formulated ethics pale in comparison with those revealed in the Torah, in order to attain the most perfect behavior, both aspects are necessary: Torah principles must be studied and attained, for otherwise, intellect-generated ideals will eventually disintegrate. On the other hand, a person who is totally devoid of what is commonly considered correct behavior will never be capable of disciplining himself to study Torah. In light of this explanation, the answer to the second question is self- evident. The mishna discusses how to attain perfect, G-dly behavioral traits, which can only be attained through the study of Torah, not merely rules of "common courtesy." Alternatively, the words Derech Eretz may be translated literally as "the way of the land," or in other words, "the natural process of the world." According to this understanding, Rabbi Elazar comes to teach us the severity of the punishment incurred for Bitul Torah (refraining from studying Torah when one has the opportunity to do so): If it should ever occur, G-d forbid, that an entire generation is absolutely devoid of Torah study, then it is certain that it will suffer utter destruction, for even Derech Eretz (the natural process by which the world runs) will cease to exist. Similarly, the Sages say, "If a man sees that tribulations have visited him, he should evaluate his
  • 225. 218 CHAPTER THREE deeds. If he evaluated his deeds and he did not find (that he committed transgressions which justify such severe punishment), he should assume that it is because of Bitul Torah" The reason why the punishment for refraining from learning Torah is so severe is that the existence of the entire world is dependent on Torah study. This is why the Sages say that Torah study outweighs all other mitzvot. Or, the term Derech Eretz can be interpreted to mean "an occupation/' "If there is no Torah, there is no Derech Eretz" teaches that if a person works to earn a living but refrains from studying Torah, his handiwork will not be blessed, and he will not gain profit from his efforts. For the possessions of individuals who apply themselves to the study of Torah are blessed, and sooner or later, he will prosper and become wealthy. On the other hand, it is not proper to study Torah all day and refrain from working for a living, for as the mishna says, "All Torah which is not accompanied by a trade, eventually, it will become nullified." If there is no wisdom, there is no fear of G-d; if there is no fear of G-d, there is no wisdom. This teaches us that wisdom and fear of G-d are interdependent. Just as meat needs salt to preserve it and protect it from decay, so, too, wisdom (Torah) serves to preserve the fear of G-d a person has acquired over the years. The converse is also true: The wisdom a person has attained through his studies will only endure if he preserves it with the fear of G-d. Otherwise, he will forget everything he knows.
  • 226. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 219 Thus, if an individual finds, despite the great effort he devotes to his studies, he is not progressing as much as he would have expected, he should attribute this to insufficient fear of G-d. For if an individual believes in a philosophy which is foreign to the principles outlined in the Torah, then Torah knowledge will be repelled by these thoughts, and it will not remain in his mind for long. Of course, this is only applicable to an individual who has truly devoted himself to study, for as the Sages say, "If you have toiled in your studies and have not found understanding, do not believe that you have truly studied." However, if an individual knows he has studied diligently and yet failed to progress, than he must assume that the cause of the problem is a lack of Heavenly Fear. Of course, the converse is also true. A person can be the most G‫־‬d‫־‬fearing individual on earth, but if he does not apply himself to his studies, his piety will eventually fade. If there is no knowledge, there is no understanding; if there is no understanding, there is no knowledge. Knowledge (Da'at) is the ability to make a correct, logical decision. It implies the recognition of logical ideas, and the willingness to discard incorrect ideas. Understanding (Binah) is the ability to infer one idea from another. Hence, if one does not have the capacity to distinguish true ideas from false, his ability to infer one idea from the next will prove useless. But, on the other hand, if one is incapable of inferring one idea from another, all the truth in the world will not help him, for principles must be applied to different and varying situations.
  • 227. 220 CHAPTER THREE If there is no flour, there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is no flour. This teaches us that we must take steps to provide a sufficient livelihood for ourselves and our families. However, if we do not study Torah, what purpose do our material gains have? Wealth must only be regarded as a means to sustain the physical self in This World in order to enable the soul to gain as much Torah and mitzvot as possible. Otherwise, one risks losing both worlds: He will not gain a honorable portion in the World to Come, and HaShem will strip him of his material possessions in punishment for squandering his opportunity to study Torah. 3-24 He used to say: "Anyone whose wisdom exceeds his good deeds, to what is he compared? To a tree whose branches are numerous, but whose roots are few. Then, the wind comes and uproots it upside down, as it says, "And he shall be an isolated tree on a plain, and shall not see when good comes; he shall dwell on parched soil in the wilderness, on a salted, uninhabited land" (Yermiyahu 17:16). But one whose good exceeds his wisdom, to what is he likened? To a tree whose branches are few, but whose roots are
  • 228. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 221 numerous. Even if all the winds in the world were to come and blow against it, they could not budge it from its place, as the verse says, "And he shall be like a tree planted by waters, spreading its roots towards the stream, and it shall not notice the heat's arrival, and it foliage shall be fresh. It shall not worry in the year of drought, nor shall it cease from yielding fruit" (Yirmiyahu 17:8). To a tree whose branches are numerous, but whose roots are few. Why does the mishna compare man to a tree? A tree's root are inside the earth, a place which cannot become ritually impure, while its branches extend outwards to areas where impurity exists. So, too, Man comes from a pure source, but when he is in This World, he is exposed to impurity. Just as a a tree's roots are underneath the earth in order that it draw nourishment and, thereby, continue to exist, so, too, Man draws his spiritual essence from the Heavens. The 248 positive commandments of the Torah are the water provide man his spiritual nourishment. Evidently, the mishna compares wisdom to branches and good deeds to roots. Ostensibly, it would seem that the opposite is true, since our intellect — wisdom ‫־־‬ is what guides our actions, while our limbs simply carry out its commands. Furthermore, the Sages say, "An empty- headed person cannot have fear of sin, nor an ignoramus be devout." Similarly, our Sages say that, "Learning leads to practice." Why, then, are good deeds considered the
  • 229. 222 CHAPTER THREE roots to one's spiritual being, while wisdom is merely the branches? The answer is that there are two expressions of Heavenly Fear: The acceptance to fulfill new laws which one as yet does not know as soon as he will learn them, and the will to comply with Torah precepts which he is familiar with. Concerning the first type of fear — the willingness to fulfill laws which one is not yet familiar with — the active element is not one's intellect, but rather his fear of G-d. About this type of fear the verse states, "The beginning of all wisdom is fear of G-d." This is what our mishna refers to as good deeds. However, when it is time to actually perform the mitzvot one already knows about, it is the intellect which plays the leading role in calculating how to fulfill the obligation. Regarding this type of fear, the Sages say, "An empty-headed person cannot fear sin." Thus, we see that the first type of Heavenly fear is what initiates the process of serving G-d, for the acceptance to follow His Will is the first step towards fulfilling mitzvot. Only then, when it is time to actually perform the mitzvah, does the intellect step in. This is why good deeds are considered the roots of the tree, while the intellect is only the secondary step — the branches. Thus, when a person's good deeds exceed his wisdom, this is a sign that his branches are disproportionately developed in comparison with his roots. Such a person's soul will eventually topple over. However, when a person's wisdom exceeds his good deeds, his spiritual roots are firm, thus enabling him to persevere in his faith even amidst disturbing circumstances.
  • 230. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 223 Then, the wind comes and uproots it upside down. The wind is metaphor for the Angel of Death. It uproots Man from This World, and then turns him upside down. Now, there are two ways wind can topple over a tree: One is to snap its trunk, thus causing its upper half to topple over while its roots remain firmly implanted in the earth. The other way is to cause the entire tree to topple over, roots and all. This leaves the roots protruding through the earth's surface and the branches buried under the ground. The mishna refers to the second way. By pondering this image of an overturned tree, many lessons concerning the punishment awaiting one whose wisdom exceeds his good deeds can be inferred: Just as the tree's roots — which are normally hidden from the human eye — are now starkly visible, so, too, a person whose wisdom exceeds his good deeds will have all of his shortcomings exposed in public after his death. HaShem does this for two reasons: In order to make people realize that this scholarly person's outwardly pious appearance was pure deception, and that in reality, he had few if any mitzvot to his credit. As a matter of fact, his death was brought about as a result of his sins. And secondly, in order to prevent the desecration of G‫־‬d's Name — if people would be allowed to continue to believe that he was truly pious, they will wonder why G-d decreed that he die such an untimely death. By having all his sins exposed, no one will have this question.
  • 231. 224 CHAPTER THREE 3-25 Rabbi Elazar ben Chisma said: "The laws of bird offerings, and laws regarding the beginning of menstrual periods ‫״‬ these are essential laws. Astronomy and mathematics are condiments to wisdom." The laws of bird offerings, and laws regarding the beginning of menstrual periods ‫״‬ these are essential laws. Both the laws concerning bird offerings and menstrual cycles are extremely stringent: If voluntary bird offerings become confused with obligatory ones, then these birds must be replaced with other ones. This also entails that the person who originally brought the offering and the Cohen who is then serving in the Temple make certain declarations. Concerning the laws of menstrual cycles, there are situations which obligate a woman to immerse herself ninety- five times! Rabbeinu Yonah explains that the difficulty in laws regarding menstrual cycles is determining from which section of the womb the blood came. There are three sections in the womb, and the law regarding a discharge depends upon which section the blood came from. By discussing these obscure laws, the Tanna wants to teach the importance of studying Torah for its own sake. Often, people are inclined to study the laws which are the most pertinent to them. However, the disadvantage to this is that when a question is raised about uncommon topics, one's ignorance becomes self-evident. In contrast,
  • 232. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 225 when one studies Torah for its own sake, equal emphasis is placed on pertinent and obscure areas of study. Thus, the Tanna refers to the laws of menstrual cycles, which are extremely relevant in a Jew's everyday life, together with the laws concerning sacrificial birds, which, due to the fact that the Temple has not been rebuilt, are totally irrelevant to our everyday lives. This teaches us that we must study every section of Torah with equal diligence. Astronomy and mathematics are condiments to wisdom. This statement admonishes not to study first those subjects which will raise our standing in the eyes of the Gentile scholars. Instead, one must first learn the principle laws of the Torah, for they are the essential knowledge by which one lives his life as a Jew. Only after having mastered the most important laws of the Torah may one begin to delve in the secular sciences. (Rabbi M. Alshakar) 4-1 Ben Zoma says, "Who is wise? He who learns from all men, as it is said, "From all my teachers I gained wisdom" (Tehillim 119:99). Who is mighty? He who conquers his Evil Inclination, as it is said, 'He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who controls his will is better than the one who conquers a city' (Mishlei 16:32). Who is rich? He who rejoices with his portion, as it is said, 'When you enjoy the work of your
  • 233. 226 CHAPTER FOUR hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you' (Tehillim 128:2): 'Happy' -‫־‬ in This World; 'And it will be well with you' ‫־־‬ in the World to Come. Who is worthy of honor? He who honors his fellow-man, as it is said, 'Those who honor Me, I will honor, and those who despise Me will be held in contempt'" (Shmuel 1, 2:30). The mishna's statement "Who is wise? He who learns from all men" may be understood as follows: Our Sages say that the extent of a person's intelligence is predetermined by HaShem prior to his conception. From this, one might conclude that wisdom can only be attained by a person who HaShem had already decreed would be wise. The mishna, however, teaches us that this is not the case: Wisdom is actually accessible to anyone who is prepared to seriously dedicate himself to the study of Torah and to being a student of all men. The mishna then quotes the verse "From all my teachers I have gained wisdom," which is the source of this secondary requirement — the need to learn from all men. It conveys the message that exposing oneself to mentors and teachers enlightens one and increases his wisdom to the same degree as if he had totally immersed himself in Torah study. An explanation is required as to why the mishna specifically chose these four qualities: Wisdom, Might, Wealth, and Honor. It is possible that Ben Zoma wanted to teach principles about the meaning of which people are commonly mistaken. For example, Wisdom is an attribute commonly ascribed to someone whose knowledge is complete. According to this definition, someone who is willing to learn from all men could not be considered wise,
  • 234. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 227 but merely a student. The mishna teaches, however, that the opposite is the truth ‫־־‬ it is only he who is prepared to learn from all men who merits true Wisdom. Similarly, the mishna defines the quality of might differently than the common understanding of this word. Might is not an attribute achieved by military strength, physical prowess, or the ability to totally vanquish one's adversaries. Instead, Ben Zoma comes to a different conclusion: He who overcomes his Evil Inclination is truly mighty. So, too, a person is commonly considered wealthy when he has amassed a sizeable fortune of precious items, and when he lacks sufficient means to live comfortably, he is considered poor. The Tanna, however, teaches us the opposite: A truly wealthy person is he who is content with his portion. This idea is supported by the verse "When you enjoy the work of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you." A person is commonly considered worthy of Honor when he is in fact honored by others. When others act humbly in his presence, this indicates that he is honored by them. Once again, Ben Zoma teaches us differently: Only one who bestows honor on others is truly worthy of honor. The wise man is one who realizes that wisdom is to be sought from all men. He acknowledges that just as the service of G-d's Will is infinite, so, too, the pursuit of wisdom is endless. Even if one were to live for thousands of years, he would be unable to claim that he has achieved the ultimate of Torah understanding or even to deem himself
  • 235. 228 CHAPTER FOUR wise. Instead, the wise man is one who recognizes that he is constantly lacking sufficient understanding. Therefore, he is prepared to learn from everyone, for he recognizes that he requires knowledge from every source available. Thus, the individual who constantly strives to attain knowledge which he lacks is truly wise. As a wise person's wisdom grows, he will have an even greater impetus to advance to greater plateaus of scholarship and understanding. In contrast, a person who believes that he has accomplished all that there is to acquire of Wisdom will soon lose the desire to attain further knowledge. This will result in distancing himself even further from the source of all wisdom — the Torah. In light of this concept, we gain a deeper appreciation of the term commonly used for our Sages, Talmidei Chachamim. Talmidei Chachamim means literally students of scholars. We now understand that it would be inappropriate to refer to a Torah scholar without mentioning in some way his role as a student of others. Whoever believes that he is no longer a student cannot be considered a scholar, for he does not take steps towards futhering his knowledge. It is possible to be a student without attaining the status of scholar, but it is inconceivable to be a scholar without retaining the attitude of a student. David HaMelech therefore attributed his scholarly prowess to this idea. He believed that the halachah followed his opinion rather than that of those who opposed him. It was precisely because he adhered to this principle. In Ben Zoma's proof regarding the definition of Might,
  • 236. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 229 a question may be asked: The verse quoted refers to one who withholds his anger from becoming manifested outwardly, not to one who altogether overcomes his Evil Inclination. Yet, according to Ben Zoma, only the act of thoroughly eradicating one's Evil Inclination reveals true Might, not the mere restraint of outward anger. It is possible to answer that the Tanna understands Ben Zoma's proof as follows: If the verse states that one who merely controls his anger is considered mightier than one who possesses physical strength, then certainly a person who has total control over his character and has overcome his Evil Inclination is worthy of being considered a mighty individual. The mishna defines who is truly wealthy: One who takes pleasure in exerting himself for his basic needs and has no interest in luxuries is regarded as truly wealthy. Regarding this idea, Shlomo HaMelech says: "Do not strive to amass a fortune." Rather, the verse says: "When you eat of the labor of your hands, you will experience true fortune and pleasure." In This World, one should consider himself fortunate if he does not need to beg for charity, but is able to provide for himself through his own toil. In addition, such a person will derive even greater pleasure in the World to Come, for all his physical toil was only in order to provide his most basic needs. Thus, he was able to devote most of his time in the temporal world towards the study of Torah.
  • 237. 230 CHAPTER FOUR 4-2 Ben Azzai said: "Run to perform perform a 'minor" mitzvah, and flee from sin. For one mitzvah leads to another mitzvah, and one sin leads to another sin — for the consequence of a mitzvah is a mitzvah, and the consequence of a sin is a sin." There is a reason why this mishna follows the previous one: We are taught that one should not be discouraged in challenging the Evil Inclination. The way to achieve this is by having a good start. That is, be eager to do even a simple mitzvah, and thereby, escape the temptation to sin. Once a mitzvah is performed, everything else will automatically fall into place. This is what is meant by "the consequence of a mitzvah is a mitzvah. Rabbeinu Yonah teaches two reasons why one mitzvah leads to the fulfillment of another: Fulfilling one mitzvah reinforces good habits and causes one to have divine assistance. Furthermore, he writes that it would be inappropriate to expect reward in This World for the fulfillment of mitzvot — the essential reward for mitzvot is given in the Next World. In This World, however, we are rewarded for having fulfilled mitzvot by being given the opportunity to fulfill even more mitzvot. Similarly, when one commits a transgression, the result of his action is, G-d forbid, exposure to one's own Evil Inclination. The inevitable result of this is the performance of even more sins.
  • 238. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 231 4-3 He used to say: "Do not be scornful of any person, and do not be disdainful of anything, for there is no person without his hour, and no thing without its place." Abarbanel explains that this second mishna by Ben Azai both completes and proves the ideas he set forth in the previous mishmnah: There is a hidden reward for one who fulfills the mitzvot, and a hidden punishment for one who fails to do so. Although a complete understanding of this principle is beyond our reach, this mishna sheds more light on the matter. It teaches us that there are hidden elements not only in spiritual matters, but even in physical matters, that even the most trivial natural phenomena are beyond our comprehension. Therefore, the mishna warns us against despising any man or object, for they too have their lucky moment. If this is true in regard to mundane physical matters, it is certainly true concerning spiritual matters, such as the observance of Mitzvot. G-d's Commandments are not to be taken lightly, regardless of how trivial they may seem from a superficial point of view. For there are numerous and awesome secrets behind each one of G-d's Mitzvot which are beyond our understanding. Rabbeinu Yonah understands this mishna as cautioning against the misuse of speech. One should always keep in mind that improper statements will most probably result in harmful consequences. The Midrash Shmuel explains that improper speech has the potential of damaging the
  • 239. 232 CHAPTER FOUR heavenly Realms, and that, eventually, these harmful words will come before G-d Himself. There is an explanation of the verse, "Do not profane your word; everything which comes out of your mouth, fulfill it" that emphasizes this point: One should not profane his speech through foul language or cynicism, for every word that escapes our lips, whether good or bad, will leave an everlasting imprint above, in the Heavenly Realms. 4-4 Rabbi Levitas of Yavneh said: "Be exceedingly humble in spirit, for the only end that Enosh (mortal Man)may anticipate is maggots." Rav Almoshnino does not understand how anyone could possibly wait in anticipation for the gruesome end of maggots. The explanation is as follows: The mishna uses the word Enosh. Unlike the term Adam, the word Enosh does not refer to the perfected state of Mankind, but to an imperfect state. In this imperfect state, man pursues the gross physical desires — eating, drinking, sexual relations. The pursuit of these desires shorten a person's life, and soon afterwards, decomposition of the body in the grave sets in. This gruesome end is certainly not what the person who pursued material pleasures had in mind. Thus, the author of the mishna stresses that one should srive to be humble, thereby preventing his animalistic instincts the opportunity to gain the upper hand. Should
  • 240. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 233 those instincts gain control over one's being, it will motivate him to pursue gratification of the basic animalistic desires, thereby speeding his way to the grave and physical decomposition ‫-־‬ maggots. The distinction between the terms used by the mishna — Enosh, which refers to imperfect man, Adam, a reference to perfect man, and Ish, the most exalted state a man can ever reach — is evident in Scripture: In YechezkeFs first prophecy, he envisioned the form of Adam sitting on HaShem's Throne. In reference to Moshe Rabbeinu, the most humble of men, the Torah uses the designation Ish. The term Enosh, however, is alludes to man burdened by life's travails. As the Radak explains, the term Enosh is a derivative of the phrase ,‫ענושה‬ ‫מכתו‬ which literally means "His wound is mortal." According to this explanation, the lesson taught by the mishna is quite clear: Seek to become exceedingly humble, for otherwise, materialism will deal one a mortal blow. If one remains on the level of Enosh, the lowest level of mankind, his existence will cease when he dies and his body decays. However, the soul of one who reaches the level of true humility will live forever.
  • 241. 234 CHAPTER FOUR 4-5 Rabbi Yochanan ben Berokah said: "Whoever desecrates the Name of Heaven in secret, they will extract punishment from him in public; unintentional or intentional, both are alike regarding desecration of the Name.'‫י‬ The Abarbanel states that the relationship of this mishna to the previous one is the following: Although humility is an unquestionably positive quality, if it is used to deceive people, it is tantamount to desecrating the Name of Heaven. The severity of the punishment such a person will receive will surely be in proportion to the seriousness of the transgression. For example, a man who displays false modesty will eventually have his arrogance revealed for all to see. The Abarbanel also explains what is meant by unintentional or intentional, both are alike regarding desecrations of the Name: One who commits other transgressions unintentionally is excused for his forgetfulness or ignorance. In contrast, one who desecrates the Name of Heaven is held responsible regardless of whether he intended to do so — regarding G-d's honor, negligence is equated to a deliberate act. On the contrary, the mishna teaches that ignorance is the underlying principle behind the desecration of G-d's Name. One must meditate on the seriousness of this transgression, and submit himself to the Will of G-d. Only in this way will he avoid desecrating HaShem's Name, both intentionally and unintentionally.
  • 242. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 235 4-6 Rabbi Yishmael bar Rabbi Yose said: "One who studies Torah in order to teach is given the means to study and to teach; and one who studies in order to practice, he is given the means to study and to teach, to observe and to practice. When the mishna says, "One who learns in order to teach," it does not mean to exclude a person who teaches Torah and fulfills mitzvot. Rather, it excludes one who studies Torah and does not intend to perform mitzvot — this is an unacceptable position. "Studying in order to teach" means that one's primary concern is to teach, but of course, when a situation which demands that he put his knowledge into practice presents itself, he does so without hesitation. This person's chief interest is to gather numerous disciples, thereby bringing upon himself honor and satisfaction. This attitude is still considered Torah Lishmah" — Torah for its own sake — which can be defined as studying Torah for the sake of the inherent mitzvah. Such a person will receive heavenly assistance, and thereby, will succeed in reaching his goals. A person should always be prepared to fulfill mitzvot even for ulterior motives, since, eventually, this will lead him to fulfill them for the correct reasons. In contrast, one who studies for the express purpose of performing mitzvot in accordance with G-d's Will will receive heavenly assistance to not only learn, but also to teach and practice.
  • 243. 236 CHAPTER FOUR There is an alternative approach to explain this mishna: It teaches that there are three acceptable attitudes with which one may approach the study of Torah: The first is to spend one's time developing his own study skills. One's efforts are essentially directed in advancing his personal development. This person reasons that, were he to spend part of his time teaching, his own growth would suffer. The Tanna teaches that the opposite is true — sharing his knowledge with others will accelerate his personal development. A second, higher level is reached by a person whose principal motivation to study Torah is his desire to teach others. His wish is that others should benefit from his knowledge of Torah. Rabbi Yishmael guarantees that such an individual will not only succeed in teaching others, but that his personal growth in learning will not suffer as a result of sharing his knowledge with others. In fact, through the dialectic method of Talmudic study, his students will actually enhance his own knowledge. This is what is meant by "One who studies Torah in order to teach is given the means to study and to teach" The highest level is acheived by one who studies Torah for the sole purpose of putting into practice the principles of the Torah. Were it not for the lesson of the mishna, one might reason that performing time-consuming mitzvot such as burying the dead and visiting the sick would naturally compromise his efforts to gain knowledge through the study of Torah. Instead, the mishna teaches us that the opposite is true: Since the principal purpose of studying and teaching Torah is to practice its precepts in accordance with G-d's Will, one who takes time from the study of
  • 244. MIDRASH SHMUAEL 237 Torah in order to fulfill mitzvot is guaranteed success in his studies, in his teaching, and in the fulfillment of the Torah precepts. 4-7 _ Rabbi Tzadok said: "Do not make the Torah a crown for self- glorification, nor a spade with which to dig." So, too, Hillel used to say: "He who exploits the crown [of Torah for his own benefit] shall fade away." From this you derive that whomever seeks personal benefit from the words of Torah removes his life from the world. One might wonder how to reconcile this mishna with the Sages' statement: "One should study Torah even for ulterior motives, for eventually they will lead him to study it for its own sake." The answer is that• the mishna refers to the person who has been studying Torah for some time, while the Sages' statement is addressed to the individual who has just begun studying Torah. We are taught that we should not dissuade a novice from studying Torah for ulterior motives such as gaining fame, for there is always the hope that the study of Torah will induce him to study it for its own sake. On the other ha