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Shabbat Parashat Tazria Metzora| 5770
Ein Ayah: Subject Matter for the Complete and the Incomplete
(condensed from Berachot 4:18)
Gemara: [The following took place on the day that the more welcoming Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya replaced the less tolerant Rabban Gamliel in the post of Nasi (roughly, Supreme Rabbinical Court Head).] The guard to the entrance of the beit midrash (study hall) was removed, and permission was given to students to enter, for Rabban Gamliel would announce: “Whoever’s inside is not like his outside should not enter the beit midrash”…. On that day, they studied Eidiyot (Testimonies).
Ein Ayah: This teaches us a great lesson about the importance of increasing the number of students. This is because there are many different ways of learning and not all of them require students to be on a high level.
There is a difference between a witness and a judge. A witness can testify even if he is friendly or antagonistic toward the person he is testifying about because we are not concerned that he will allow such feelings to make him lie. However, such feelings can sway the mind of the judge to unknowingly lean in the direction he desires.
Regarding the study of Torah, the same distinction exists. There are elements of Torah study in which one is like a judge, specifically regarding new halachic issues and matters that are in doubt. To take part in decisions on these matters, one has to have highly refined characteristics. Otherwise, he could be swayed to use incorrect reasoning in coming up with rulings based on his improper natural inclinations.
However, this fear should not cause us to close the doors of the study hall to those who are not of the highest caliber, for there are many elements of Torah in regard to which one is like a witness, not a judge. These include clear cut halachic matters and straightforward matters of ethics. There is no reason to suspect that one will falter or cause others to falter in these areas. In order to show the purpose of removing the guard from the study hall entrance they studied Eidiyot. That involved accepting testimony on halachic matters from people who were not of the highest level but whose testimony about how they had seen halacha implemented was nevertheless accepted in important issues (see Tosefta, Eidiyot 1:3).
What One Should Do When he Is Too Tired to Learn
(condensed from Berachot 4:27)
Gemara: When Rabbi Zeira was exhausted from learning, he would say: “I will go and sit by the opening of Rabbi Natan bar Tuvia’s study hall, so that when the rabbis pass by, I will stand up before them and thereby receive reward.”
Ein Ayah: The powers of the spirit strengthen when one’s physical powers are healthy. That is why the Rambam (Dei’ot 4:1) says that keeping oneself healthy is an element of serving Hashem. One cannot picture abstract concepts accurately when he is exhausted. Great people think about abstract concepts when infused with a spirit of holy love of the Divine, which they cannot do when they are tired. However, they do not want to waste their time just because they cannot reach their maximum. They will look for a lower form of service, such as doing mitzvot in order to receive reward, which does not require the same thought process.
Rabbi Zeira, though, still wanted the mitzva he would be rewarded for to be connected to the high levels of Torah. Therefore, he chose to stand before Torah scholars and in that way strengthen the respect for the Torah by respecting those who study it. Glorifying Torah brought about his goal of bringing love of Hashem into the world. As it says in the Sifrei (Devarim 6:6), by learning Torah one comes to recognize and appreciate He Who said and caused the world to be.
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