Sunday, May 26, 2019

Toiling in Torah

Back in my charedi yeshivah days, the Rosh Yeshivah loved reciting the first Rashi of last week's parasha. Im Bechukosai telechu... says Rashi, surely the rest of the passuk talks about keeping mitzvos, so what does this phrase refer to? It means shetihiyu ameilim b'Torah - that you should be toiling in Torah! This fit perfectly with the hashkafah of the yeshivah, that the primary idea of doing Hashem's will is not to be doing all the mitzvos - it's to be shteiging in Gemara, learning Torah for its own sake.

Rashi's point, which is based on Midrash Sifra, is elaborated upon by R. Eliyahu Mizrachi. The verse mentions three concepts: Im Bechukosai telechu, then there is v'es mitzvosai tishmeru, and then v'asisem osam. All these three seem to be speaking about doing mitzvos, which from Chazal's perspective is superfluous. Thus, only the third part, v'asisem osam, is actually referring to doing the mitzvos. The second part is referring to learning Torah in order to know how to do the mitzvos, and the first part is referring to learning Torah for no other purpose.

But when you take a closer look, it's not at all clear that R. Eliyahu Mizrachi is giving the correct explanation of either Rashi or the Sifra.

While there may be other versions of Rashi, the version that we have reads as follows:

רש"י על ויקרא פרק כו פסוק ג
אם בחקתי תלכו - יכול זה קיום המצות כשהוא אומר ואת מצותי תשמרו הרי קיום המצות אמור הא מה אני מקיים אם בחקתי תלכו שתהיו עמלים בתורה:

Here Rashi says that it's v'es mitzvosai tishmeru which refers to keeping mitzvos. He doesn't say that it's v'asisem osam which refers to keeping the mitzvos. And the Sifra says the same:

ספרא פרשת בחוקותי פרשתא א
 אם בחקותי תלכו. יכול אילו המצות. כשהוא אומר ואת מצותי תשמרו ועשיתם אותם הרי מצות אמורות. הא מה אני מקיים אם בחוקתי תלכו להיות עמילים בתורה

Accordingly, the Sifra and Rashi are understanding that there are only two parts to the passuk, not three. The second part, v'es mitzvosai tishmeru v'asisem osam, collectively refers to doing the mitzvos. Which means that the first part, Im Bechukosai telechu, refers to toiling in Torah - but what kind of toil? Rashi explains:

 רש"י על ויקרא פרק כו פסוק ג
 ואת מצותי תשמרו - הוו עמלים בתורה על מנת לשמור ולקיים כמו שנאמר (דברים ה) ולמדתם אותם ושמרתם לעשותם:

It's talking about toiling in Torah in order to be able to know how to do the mitzvos.

All this fits with something that I noticed a few years ago. The notion that the mitzvah of learning Torah is primarily about learning Torah for the sake of learning Torah is of relatively recent origin. To be sure, there was always a concept that there is some Torah study that has no practical application, and is valuable for its own sake, such as Chazal's statements about ben sorer u'moreh. But the primary function of the mitzvah of learning Torah was seen as being in order to know how to do the mitzvos. See this post for a list of Rishonim saying this very clearly. And it seems that Rashi should be added to this list, rather than having a different view.

43 comments:

  1. Surprised you don't credit this chidush to Rabbi Lamm's "Torah Lishmah".

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  2. "כי אדם לעמל יולד" -- "לעמל", אילו ראשי תיבות של "ללמוד על מנת לעשות"

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    1. just trying to be fairMay 27, 2019 at 3:21 AM

      not roshei teivos "lilmod al m'nas lilmod"?

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  3. To be sure, there was always a concept that there is some Torah study that has no practical application, and is valuable for its own sake, such as Chazal's statements about ben sorer u'morer.

    This is not really such a great example. First of all, it's a mahloqet whether it happened or not (and why not trust Rabi Yochanan - was he a liar?). Secondly, you still need to study the topic because what happens if someone read the parsha and decides to stone his nogoodnik son? If no-one has studied the halachot then no-one can stop him.

    When the Gemara says דרוש וקבל שכר it's not answering the question 'why bother studying something that's not relevant?', it's answering the question 'why was it written in the first place if, once studied properly, you realise it's not relevant'.

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  4. Pirkey Avot 6: Rabbi Meir said: Whoever occupies himself with the Torah for its own sake, merits many things; not only that but he is worth the whole world.

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    1. Rabbi Slifkin only responds to rational evidence that supports his confirmation biases. He simply ignores evidence he doesn't like. He is no more rational than the next Charedi evolution denier.

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    2. Torah lishmah does not mean Torah for its own sake! That's an innovation of R. Chaim of Volozhin!

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    3. (Just like Averah lishmah does not mean doing an averah for its own sake!)

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    4. To put Rabbi Slifkin's point differently, what is the antecedent of "lishmah" ? Is it Torah? or Talmud Torah? The latter is the way it was understood by R. Chaim of Volozhin and in the modern yeshivah world. But traditionally the former was understood; i.e. for the sake of fulfilling the Torah Thus, Kehati on the Mishnah Lazar cites, understands 'lishmah" as "knowing the Torah and fulfilling it", i.e. knowing how to uphold the mitzvot. Avodat Yisrael understands the phrase similarly.

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    5. @Mike S Thus, Kehati on the Mishnah Lazar cites, understands 'lishmah" as "knowing the Torah and fulfilling it", i.e. knowing how to uphold the mitzvot.

      Then adding "lishmah" would be redundant and unnecessary, because "occupies himself with the Torah" as Mishna says, means by default "knowing the Torah and fulfilling it".

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    6. It's amazing how people are so set in their ways that they don't even know how to read Tanach or even understand mamarei chazal. It's kinda like the christians who see the word "mashiach" in Tanach and all they can think of is "the messiah" and ignore it's actual translation of "anointed". Indeed, "lishmah" does not mean "learning Torah for learning alone".

      The gemara in Sukkah (49b) does give some extra insight into what Torah Lishmah means:

      וא"ר אלעזר מאי דכתיב (משלי לא) פיה פתחה בחכמה ותורת חסד על לשונה וכי יש תורה של חסד ויש תורה שאינה של חסד אלא תורה לשמה זו היא תורה של חסד שלא לשמה זו היא תורה שאינה של חסד

      How is learning for learning alone any form of "chessed"? Is it because you're keeping the world afloat and helping all of humanity? The sensible approach is that Torah in order to do kindness is, according to R Elazar, the definition of Torah Lishmah. Learning Torah for just learning is most likely the exact opposite, Torah she'lo Lishmah! And that's okay. We are all hopeful that מתוך שלא לשמה בא לשמה

      While we're on the topic of Pirkei Avot, we shouldn't forget the teachings that the actual learning is not the ikar (1:17, 3:15) or that chochmah without maasim doesn't have much to stand on (3:9, 3:17).
      (btw, I am sourcing from Sefaria which divides the mishnayot up differently than most versions)

      I don't see why people get so offended by RNS's posts. In this post he doesn't bash anyone. He is just giving us the facts. If someone wants to learn Torah for just learning, go ahead. But don't delude yourself that you are learning Torah according to the way it was always meant to be, and just be aware that this is not normative authentic Judaism. Oh, and don't feed off of other people's money to do so either. Shkoyach!

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    7. @N8ZL

      Because he isn't simply pointing out facts. He is obsessed with pointing out misconceptions and issues in/with the haredi world. Go read his past 15 post; way too many of them focus on haredim.

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    8. If there are misconceptions/issues in the chareidi world, shouldn't they be brought to light and dispelled? Or do you think they should just be ignored?

      One could argue that the same is true for any other branch of frumkeit as well, but its seems that it is only the chareidim who claim to have a monopoly on truth and righteousness (to exclusion of all other believing, practicing Orthodox Jews) so it is their misconceptions/issues that are most egregious.

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    9. Who cares? Let them think that.

      Yes, we should dispel incorrect notions. But we should be mighty careful that its coming for the right place.

      They are our brothers.

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    10. @Keen Observer

      R Slifkin is an appropriate person to point out the flaws of the charedi system because he came from them. I do agree with you that he overdoes it, but that doesn't mean every post of his should be dismissed.

      While you say "they are our brothers" keep in mind that that isn't the approach in the charedi world. If someone gets up and says something that in any way suggests kefirah or that gedolim are wrong, or that the words of chazal are allegorical or even incorrect, the charedi world will not take the approach of "let's be mighty careful how we treat this person, he is our brother". Indeed they are our brothers, but "hocheyach tochiyach"still applies and we should not be silent when orthodox Judaism is being perverted.

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  5. I agree with your reading. That's how I've always read it myself.

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  6. The concept of עבירה לשמה does not refer to a transgression committed for its own sake. Rather, it refers to a transgression committed for the sake of a positive outcome (read: מצוה). It makes sense that תורה לשמה is the same -- Torah learned for the sake of a performing a מצוה (or מצוות in general).

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  7. Ha ha. That Rashi disturbs you, doesn't it? Thanks for this. You have provided wonderful inspiration in appreciating the value of the concept of "נעשה ונשמה" And just in time for Shavuos. Well, not really. But you do illustrate the converse.
    It is a perfect example of how one trapped by an agenda, will willfully distort the Torah to fall in line with his own worldview, as opposed to actually letting the words inform him- נעשה ונשמה style.

    And by the way, why just pick on the Mizrachi to humblly disagree with?
    There is also the "Beis Halevi on משפטים" , Reb Chaim Voloshner and many many other, -Tanoim, Amoroim, Rishonim and Acharonims' views in the passuk to critique?

    I'm also a little surprised you didn't even attempt to explain away the pesukim that follow, that clearly present the material rewards offered for those learning Torah- including "וחבר לא יעבור בארצם"- That must disturb you and your Rationalista Chassidim to no end.

    Here's another Rashi for you, a little later in the parsha.. I'd be interested to hear your views on it:

    להפרכם את בריתי. כּוֹפֵר בָּעִקָּר; הֲרֵי שֶׁבַע עֲבֵרוֹת, הָרִאשׁוֹנָה גוֹרֶרֶת הַשְּׁנִיָּה, וְכֵן עַד הַשְּׁבִיעִית, וְאֵלּוּ הֵן: לֹא לָמַד, וְלֹא עָשָׂה, מוֹאֵס בַּאֲחֵרִים הָעוֹשִׂים, שׂוֹנֵא אֶת הַחֲכָמִים, מוֹנֵעַ אֶת הָאֲחֵרִים, כּוֹפֵר בַּמִּצְווֹת, כּוֹפֵר בָּעִקָּר:
    I believe you're skirting between numbers 6 and 7 on the list, how do you learn?a ha. That Rashi disturbs you, doesn't it? Thanks for this. you have provided wonderful inspiration in appreciating the value of the concept of "נעשה ונשמה" And just in time for Shavuos. Well, not really. But you do illustrate the converse.
    It is a perfect example of how one trapped by an agenda, will willfully distort the Torah to fall in line with his own worldview, as opposed to actually letting the words inform him- נעשה ונשמה style.

    And by the way, why just pick on the Mizrachi to humblly disagree with?
    There is also the "Beis Halevi on משפטים" , Reb Chaim Voloshner and many many other, -Tanoim, Amoroim, Rishonim and Acharonims' views in the passuk to critique?

    I'm also a little surprised you didn't even attempt to explain away the rest of the verses that clearly present the material rewards offered for those learning Torah- including "וחבר לא יעבור בארצם"- That must disturb you and our Rationalista Chasidim to no end.

    Here's another Rashi for you, a little later in the parsha.. I'd be interested to hear your views on it:

    להפרכם את בריתי. כּוֹפֵר בָּעִקָּר; הֲרֵי שֶׁבַע עֲבֵרוֹת, הָרִאשׁוֹנָה גוֹרֶרֶת הַשְּׁנִיָּה, וְכֵן עַד הַשְּׁבִיעִית, וְאֵלּוּ הֵן: לֹא לָמַד, וְלֹא עָשָׂה, מוֹאֵס בַּאֲחֵרִים הָעוֹשִׂים, שׂוֹנֵא אֶת הַחֲכָמִים, מוֹנֵעַ אֶת הָאֲחֵרִים, כּוֹפֵר בַּמִּצְווֹת, כּוֹפֵר בָּעִקָּר:
    I believe you're skirting between numbers 6 and 7 on the list, how do you learn?

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    1. "And by the way, why just pick on the Mizrachi to humblly disagree with?"

      I'm pointing out that the text of the Midrash does not match Mizrashi's view. Do you have a counter-argument, or just insults?

      "There is also the "Beis Halevi on משפטים" , Reb Chaim Voloshner and many many other, -Tanoim, Amoroim, Rishonim and Acharonims' views in the passuk to critique?"

      Of course there are recent authorities that take a different view. That's my whole point!

      "I'm also a little surprised you didn't even attempt to explain away the pesukim that follow, that clearly present the material rewards offered for those learning Torah- including "וחבר לא יעבור בארצם"

      Well, that's because there are no pesukim that clearly present the material rewards for learning Torah.

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    2. including "וחבר לא יעבור בארצם"-

      This is the quality of your תורה לשמה? A fellow won't pass through their land?

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    3. @Sonny G
      The point of "naaseh v'nishma" (which you spelled incorrectly twice) is that the maaseh takes priority, before the nishma. It is THE epitome of examples that learning Torah just for learning it (nishma) entirely misses the point if it lacks the goal of fulfilling the actions contained within it (nishma).

      You then quote that Rashi later on in the Parsha, where you fail to zero in on the first 2 of the 7 stages "לֹא לָמַד, וְלֹא עָשָׂה". You simply cannot have learning without the goal of actual doing. And notice how the 3rd stage is someone who is "מוֹאֵס בַּאֲחֵרִים הָעוֹשִׂים" as opposed to denigrating those who are only "lomdim".

      Look, there's some wonderful inspiration for you just in time for Shavuos!

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    4. "... or just insults?"

      Seriously!?!

      Practically every post on this blog criticizes charedi Jews, either directly or as an aside.

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    5. You appear to be confusing criticism with insults. Criticisms are provided with substance. Insults are not.

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    6. No, I'm not.

      It happens to be I agree with most of your criticisms, It's just that you speak with such vitriol about them. Whether or not you can substantiate your criticism is irrelevant. The blog is supposed to be about "Exploring the legacy of the rationalist Rishonim." Not "let slifkin take revenge on the haredi world through a slew of well written and thoughtful criticism."

      You have so much to offer lay off the hate.

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    7. idiotic comment. look again at the order. he didnt learn, and he didnt do. once again, learning leading up to action or in this case the opposite . he despises others who DO, not others who learn.

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  8. So if someone is only going to learn to do and says this all someone should do when they learn Torah that person can't simultaneously say to learn Torah all day long? The practical difference would only have to be if content.

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  9. rationalista chassidMay 27, 2019 at 8:52 PM

    Oy va voy, Sonny G got the smackdown, would you like some sunny delight with those scrambled eggs?

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  10. "But the primary function of the mitzvah of learning Torah was seen as being in order to know how to do the mitzvos."

    This does not follow from the sources you've quoted. There is a difference between "knowing how to do the mitzvot" and "keeping and fulfilling the mitzvot." Learning Torah keeps one oriented on the path of Torah. To neglect Torah study is to risk becoming alienated from the path of Torah and from God. Under your formulation, I believe you are opening a pathway for people to erroneously exempt themselves from Torah study on the basis that they already know how to do the mitzvot.

    Indeed, R' Aharon Lichtenstein says this regarding Talmud Torah:

    'One's ultimate aspiration should be to focus on Torah, not kemach...Practically, it means that he should try to maximize his Torah study and his direct avodat Hashem...Talmud Torah is not just a daily obligation, but a general direction in a person's life. "You shall meditate upon it day and night" (Yehoshua 1:8). Through God's revealed word, we can come to know Him, approach Him, relate to Him. This is a value, a goal to be maximized as far as one can.' (By His Light, p. 41)

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    1. "I believe you are opening a pathway for people to erroneously exempt themselves from Torah study on the basis that they already know how to do the mitzvot."

      Either that, or a correction for people who exempt themselves from shteiging in maasim tovim and middot tovot on the basis that the world owes its existence to them simply for sitting in the beis medrash

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    2. @JD

      That can be done without minimizing the importance of learning Torah:

      1. Torah study is important, and not just primarily for learning how to do Mitzvot, but also primarily for orienting oneself on the path of Torah and God, and for continuing to keep and uphold the Mitzvot.
      2. Torah study does not exempt you from performing good deeds, and from improving your character. It also should not be used as an unsolicited service to others for which payment is required.

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    3. Agree except for your claim that RNS is minimizing the importance of Torah. He is simply putting it in proper perspective.

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  11. Women are exempt from the mitzvah of learning Torah. They only have to learn what to do. That is they only have to learn for the sake of doing. Men are obligated to learn Torah.

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    1. No one argues that learning is an obligation. The discussion is about the purpose of such learning. Besides for ללמוד על מנת לעשות, we also have ללמוד על מנת ללמד, which is actually derived from the fact that all mention of learning in a command form is actually phrased as teaching (e.g. ושננתם לבניך).

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  12. By the way, the passage in Sifra concludes:

    "אם בחקתי תלכו ואת מצותי תשמרו ועשיתם אתם"-- הלמד לעשות, לא הלמד שלא לעשות; שהלמד שלא לעשות נוח לו שלא נברא.

    The version is the Yerushalmi reads:

    הלמד על מנת לעשות ולא הלמד שלא לעשות שהלמד שלא לעשות נוח לו שלא נברא. וא"ר יוחנן הלמד שלא לעשות נוח לו אילו נהפכה שילייתו על פניו ולא יצא לעולם.

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  13. "I'm pointing out that the text of the Midrash does not match Mizrashi's view. Do you have a counter-argument, or just insults?"
    As I've said, you see what you want to see. I therefore dont see the point in presenting counter arguments. But maybe one of your readers may be more honest..

    Clearly, the Mizrachi had the full version of Rashi that includes "וַעֲשִיתֶם אֹתָם" ( And there is the same version of the Medrash as well. )
    In fact, most chumashim also have the "וגו" acronym. Do you remember what that means? Well, It means all 3 parts are now used, and hence the explanation of the Mizrachi, that "Torah Stam"- in his words, is included.
    Very,very simple.
    You however choose to disengeniously interpret it in a way that will strike the Mizrachi off the huge list of sources that disagree with your deluded positions, at the expense of insulting the Mizrachi. (I'd have thought you'd want to defend Mizrachi, if not just for his name. Also, he is known as The רא"ם which would translate as Unicorn. I'm sure you give very lomdishe shiurim on unicorns.)

    Because according to your reading, how do you explain what the Mizrachi is doing here? He didn't know the medrash? He erred on the small Rashi on which he was commentating?? I know you like to talk up the fallibility of our sages, but here as well? That's a "criticism without content" indeed.

    Also, according to you, we are left with a redundancy in the passuk. Which I'll dare claim is disadvantageous.

    "Well, that's because there are no pesukim that clearly present the material rewards for learning Torah."
    Sorry what? Its this whole parsha you're discussing?? The pesukim read "אם בחוקותי תלכו" , which rashi explains to mean עמלות בתורה - then וְנָתַתִּ֥י גִשְׁמֵיכֶ֖ם בְּעִתָּ֑ם וְנָתְנָ֤ה הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ יְבוּלָ֔הּ etc..
    And then "וישבתם לבטח בארצכם" as well as "וחרב לא תעבר בארצכם" etc and etc..
    Can't wait to see how creative you get in squirming out of that.

    "Of course there are recent authorities that take a different view. That's my whole point!"
    Well why just take on the Mizrachi then? Why not go after the Beis Halevi, Reb Chaim, and all the others, who based on innumerable sources in chazal, assert the exact opposite to you? Not as easy as your job on the Mizrachi, is it? Where all have to do is claim the text YOU have, doesn't fit?

    * Rationalista Chassidim. Here's you cue. Rush to defend!
    I'm a bit jealous of all of you..
    I wish I had a Rebbe who diligently furthers the cause of spiritual mediocrity, that I could rely on. I'd also like to take easy. But alas.

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    1. @Sonny G @Rabbi Slifkin

      Solly, I believe you are misunderstanding RNS' post. Nowhere does he aim to "strike the Mizrachi off the list". His main focus is "striking Rashi off the list", which is the concluding remark (i.e. the main message) of his article. He is showing us that we should not be dissuaded by the Mizrachi to believe that Rashi was of the opinion that "ameilim b'Torah" is applicable if it's not joined with "asiyah".

      RNS is not really saying that the Mizrachi "didn't know the Midrash" or that "he erred on Rashi". RNS is saying that MIzrachi's view does not match that of Rashi nor the midrash. I am not quite seeing why that is considered "insulting the Mizrachi".

      You said "Also, according to you, we are left with a redundancy in the passuk. Which I'll dare claim is disadvantageous."
      Here is where I can say you truly raise a good point.
      While I myself definitely side with the meforshim that redundancy is no issue, the topic at hand is whether or not Rashi holds it's an issue. Rashi clearly seems to hold redundancy is an issue because he says
      אם בחקתי תלכו: יכול זה קיום המצות, כשהוא אומר ואת מצותי תשמרו, הרי קיום המצות אמור,
      Therefore, according to Rashi we are left with a redundancy which, according to Rashi, is a problem. And I believe it is exactly based on this problem that the Mizrachi does what he does. And I think the Mizrachi is medayek in Rashi because when it comes to "ואת מצותי תשמרו" it is specifically this that he says "הוו עמלים בתורה על מנת לשמור ולקיים", and it therefore implies that "בחקתי תלכו" could refer to just plain "עמלים בתורה".

      Am I saying that R Slifkin's read of Rashi is wrong? No. I would probably agree with him. But I do have to say with honesty that the Mizrachi's opinion can still be very well rooted in Rashi's statement. If this is the case, it may be too quick to strike Rashi off the list, simply based on the Mizrachi.
      In conclusion: Rashi's position on "עמלים בתורה" is not entirely clear. While we shouldn't rush to include him on the list of rishonim who support "learning for learning", we cannot rush to put him on the list of rishonim who say "learning should only be for doing". Rashi remains a mystery, and we would need to analyze more of his statements in other places for a better picture of his position.

      In my mind what makes the most sense here, according to Rashi and even according to the Mizrachi, is that they are discussing gradual stages. First comes the person who learns Torah for himself and simply for learning (I would call this "Torah she'lo Lishma"), then that evolves into someone who learns Torah in order to learn how to do the mitzvos (Torah Lishma), and the ultimate pinnacle is the one who does the mitzvos themselves.
      So in the end of the day, even if you want to say that there is this level of "learning just for learning", it is an elementary form of Talmud Torah and should not be an entire way of life, in my humble opinion. Pesachim 68b and Sukkah 49b are a pretty good source for this concept.

      Solly G then is flabbergasted about RNS' comment that "there are no pesukim that clearly present the material rewards for learning Torah."
      Solly, RNS (and I too) would simply explain that the pesukim in the parsha are talking about schar for KIYUM haTorah, NOT LIMUD ha'Torah. Again, it is a 3 tier progression that goes from learning she'lo lishma, to learning lishma, then to KIYUM ha'Torah. The rewards are for kiyum ha'Torah. Suggesting that all these rewards are for all the 3 stages would not make sense and would be very far fetched to make as a pshat.

      I'm looking forward to a thought-out response!

      And Rabbi Slifkin, I would like to hear your thoughts on my defense of the Mizrachi. Looking forward!

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  14. "Clearly, the Mizrachi had the full version of Rashi that includes "וַעֲשִיתֶם אֹתָם" ( And there is the same version of the Medrash as well. ) In fact, most chumashim also have the "וגו" acronym. Do you remember what that means? Well, It means all 3 parts are now used, and hence the explanation of the Mizrachi, that "Torah Stam"- in his words, is included."

    It doesn't help to *also* quote ועשיתם. Once you quote ושמרתם, and say that *that* is referring to doing mitzvos, then it means that you don't have three things for different inferences.

    "Why not go after the Beis Halevi, Reb Chaim, and all the others, who based on innumerable sources in chazal, assert the exact opposite to you?"

    One post at a time. But I see the basic problem here. You are convinced that there are no revolutions in Judaism. That the Acharonim *must* have the same approach as Chazal. That's a deeply-rooted religious view, which no amount of evidence will convince you out of.

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  15. It doesn't help to *also* quote ועשיתם. Once you quote ושמרתם, and say that *that* is referring to doing mitzvos, then it means that you don't have three things for different inferences."
    I'm sorry but that is extremely dishonest. As expected.
    Your whole contention in claiming the Mizrachi is wrong you said, is because Rashi doesnt quote the "ועשיתם". - the redundancy which is the catalyst for his point. Now what? I's not true just because you say it isn't? Is this intellectual honesty?

    Also in reply to my query of how you learn the rest of the pesukim that promise material rewards including peace from, and victory over our enemies, as a reward for עמלות בתורה , as explained by Rashi, you asserted "Well, that's because there are no pesukim that clearly present the material rewards for learning Torah.
    Em.. How did you answer? Should I give you more time for some more creative thinking?

    "But I see the basic problem here. You are convinced that there are no revolutions in Judaism."
    On the contrary. I very much believe there are revolutions. There were the Tzidokim, Christianity, Reform and Conservativism, and now Open Orthodox . All of which are/were revolutions in Judaism.
    I suspect the day will come- and it's not too far, when you might just admit that Slifkinism is one of them as well.


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    1. "Your whole contention in claiming the Mizrachi is wrong you said, is because Rashi doesnt quote the "ועשיתם".

      No. It's because he DOES quote ושמרתם,

      "I very much believe there are revolutions. There were the Tzidokim, Christianity, Reform and Conservativism, and now Open Orthodox . All of which are/were revolutions in Judaism."
      Right. In other words, you consider all revolutions to be illegitimate. So you are ideologically closed to the possibility that any Gedolei Acharonim had a significantly different approach than Chazal/ the Rishonim on any topic.

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    2. No. It's because he DOES quote ושמרתם,"

      Pitiful attempt at a response. You tried pointing out that the Mizrachi doesnt match the text because there are only 2 clauses. I challenged that, that there are 3, and now you have changed your tune, pretending you haven't.

      And you try to mask that by being deliberately vague. In doing so, you're hoping that the uninitiated to your modus operandi, may think there is some content hiding in there. There isn't. You know it and I know it. You're just relying on your audience either being as intellectually dishonest as you are, or just plain ignorant.

      Also, in regard to your sad deflection, where you said:
      "you consider all revolutions to be illegitimate. So you are ideologically closed to the possibility that any Gedolei Acharonim had a significantly different approach than Chazal/ the Rishonim on any topic." , let me ask you this; According to Slifkinism, where do the Gedolei Achronim get their approaches if not from the Rishonim? They just make stuff up? Is that why you feel you can do the same?

      By the way, Im till waiting for your "revolutionary" take on how to get out of the fact that Rashi learns that עמלות בתורה brings all the brocha mentioned in the parsha. I'm expecting you to somehow claim something like "it's only Mitzvot that does so" or something of the sort like your chassidim above do. Somehow.

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    3. you are distorting what I wrote (or you misunderstood it). The Mizrachi holds that tishmoru refers to learning, Rashi says that tishmoru refers to doing. Of course Rashi *also* holds that v'asisem refers to doing!

      "According to Slifkinism, where do the Gedolei Achronim get their approaches if not from the Rishonim? They just make stuff up?"
      Where do animals get their DNA from if not from their ancestors? And yet evolution happens.
      Seriously though, you have a very naive view of history. There are all kinds of societal factors that lead to change. For a great example, just look at how different the Acharonim are from the Rishonim in how they interpret the Gemara in Pesachim about where the sun goes at night.

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    4. @Sonny G

      Contrary to what you think, I am not one of RNS' "chassidim". I never met him and barely know him. I am simply someone who learns Torah rationally and aims to make sense of it. It happens that RNS has a lot of content I agree with, but if you actually read my above comment you would see that I do disagree with him in one of his points of the article.

      I recognize it's hard for you to grasp the possibility of someone not blindly following whatever a rabbi says, which seems to be the entire basis of your religious attachments. Your bias is clear for everyone to see and it clouds the way in which you read other people's material. Indeed, as RNS put it, you are distorting his words and are utterly failing in understanding what he's saying. You are also throwing in unnecessary insults, which is a further demonstration that you are not willing to have an intellectual sensible discussion about anything. Furthermore, you completely ignored the points I brought up, while hypocritically accusing RNS for not addressing each one of your own points. So, in addition to your immature and insulting attitude, your failure to answer my comments demonstrates you lack the brains to engage in Torah conversation properly. Instead of allowing your unfettered emotions to guide your nonsensical comments, why don't you take the time to grow up, take a deep breath, go back and read what RNS and I wrote, and engage in a respectable and logical discussion. Until then, Hashem yerachem.

      @Rabbi Slifkin

      What did you think of my defense of the Mizrachi in his understanding of Rashi?

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HaRav HaRasha, Shlita

Back in 2005, Rav Aharon Feldman wrote that the ban on my books was "probably the public issue most damaging to the honor of Torah and ...