YESHIVAT HAR ETZION
ISRAEL KOSCHITZKY VIRTUAL BEIT MIDRASH (VBM)
Introduction to the Study of Talmud
by Rav Michael Siev
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Key words and phrases in Hebrew and Aramaic are marked in blue, and their translation/explanation can be seen by placing the cursor over them.
From time to time, the shiur will include instructions to stop reading and do some task on your own. This will be marked by a
Within the quoted texts, my explanations and additions are also noted in red.
Our mishna on 39b discussed the issue of divine reward, and the gemara opened its analysis of that topic by quoting the famous mishna at the beginning of Massekhet Pei'a. The gemara we will study today, in our final shiur of this academic year, returns to discuss that mishna. We begin with the two dots, four lines into the medium-sized lines on 40a.
Rava raised a question to Rav Nachman:
We learned in a mishna: "These are the things that a person does
and eats their fruit in this world and the principal remains for him in the World the Come;
these are they: honoring one's father and mother, bestowing kindness,
bringing peace between man and his friend; and Torah study is equal to them all."
Regarding honoring one's father and mother it says:
"In order that your days be lengthened and that it will be good for you."
Regarding bestowing kindness it says: "One who pursues righteousness and kindness shall find life, righteousness and honor."
And regarding bringing peace it says: "Seek peace and pursue it,"
And Rabbi Abbahu said: "It comes from 'pursuing,' 'pursuing;'
it says here: 'Seek peace and pursue it,'
and it says there: 'One who pursues righteousness and kindness.'"
Regarding Torah study, it is written: "For it is your life and the length of your days."
רמי ליה רבא לרב נחמן:
תנן: אלו דברים שאדם עושה אותן,
ואוכל פירותיהן בעולם הזה והקרן קיימת לו לעולם הבא,
אלו הן: כיבוד אב ואם, וגמילות חסדים,
והבאת שלום שבין אדם לחבירו, ותלמוד תורה כנגד כולם.
בכיבוד אב ואם כתיב:
למען יאריכון ימיך ולמען ייטב לך.
בגמילות חסדים כתיב: רודף צדקה וחסד ימצא חיים צדקה וכבוד.
ובהבאת שלום כתיב: בקש שלום ורדפהו,
וא"ר אבהו: אתיא רדיפה רדיפה,
כתיב הכא: בקש שלום ורדפהו,
וכתיב התם: רודף צדקה וחסד.
בתלמוד תורה כתיב: כי הוא חייך ואורך ימיך.
The gemara quotes Rava, who asks a question based on the mishna in Pei'a. The mishna states that four mitzvot are extraordinary in that one receives reward for their performance in this world and in the next world as well: honoring one's parents, bestowing kindness, making peace between people and Torah study. Rava continues by explaining the sources for this teaching. With regard to honoring one's parents, the verse states, "In order that your days be lengthened and it will be good for you" (Devarim 5:15). As Rashi here points out, the double promise serves as the source of the mishna's statement: "In order that your days be lengthened" refers to the World to Come, while "it will be good for you" in this world.
Similarly, with regarding to bestowing kindness (chesed), the verse states: "One who pursues righteousness and kindness shall find life, righteousness and honor" (Mishlei 21:21). "Life" refers to eternal life in the World to Come, while the bestower of chesed will find "righteousness and honor" in this world.
The source for the inclusion of the mitzva of making peace "bein adam la-chavero," literally, "between a man and his fellow," is slightly more complicated: the verse states, "Seek peace and pursue it" (Tehillim 34:15). The word for "pursue" is rodfehu, which is from the same root as the word rodef in the verse from Mishlei cited above; Rabbi Abbahu thus links the two pesukim through a gezeria shava derivation, and applies the dual promise of the pasuk in Mishlei to the pasuk about making peace.
The final source is for Torah study, regarding which the pasuk states: "For it is your life and the length of your days" (Devarim 30:20).
We can now proceed to Rava's difficulty.
Regarding chasing away the mother bird it also states: "In order that it will be good for you and you will live a long life;"
include that also!
[The Tanna of this mishna] taught and left over.
The Tanna taught "These are the things," and you say, "He taught and left over?"
Rava said, "Rav Idi explained to me: '"Say to the righteous person who is good, that they will eat the fruit of their labors" -
is there a righteous person who is good and a righteous person who is not good?
Rather, one who is good toward heaven and to [his fellow] creatures - this is a righteous person who is good;
[one who is] good toward heaven and bad toward [his fellow] creatures - this is a righteous person who is not good.
Similarly, you say: 'Woe to the evil person who is bad, for the payment of [the actions of] his hands will be done to him" -
is there an evil person who is bad and one who is not bad?
Rather, bad to heaven and bad to [his fellow] creatures - he is an evil person who is bad;
[one who is] bad to heaven and is not bad to [his fellow] creatures - this is an evil person who is not bad.'"
בשילוח הקן נמי כתיב: למען ייטב לך והארכת ימים;
ליתני נמי הא!
תני תנא אלו דברים, ואת אמרת תנא ושייר!
אמר רבא, רב אידי אסברא לי: אמרו צדיק כי טוב כי פרי מעלליהם יאכלו -
וכי יש צדיק טוב, ויש צדיק שאינו טוב?
אלא, טוב לשמים ולבריות - זהו צדיק טוב,
טוב לשמים ורע לבריות - זהו צדיק שאינו טוב.
כיוצא בדבר אתה אומר: אוי לרשע רע כי גמול ידיו יעשה לו -
וכי יש רשע רע, ויש שאינו רע?
אלא, רע לשמים ורע לבריות - הוא רשע רע,
רע לשמים ואינו רע לבריות - זהו רשע שאינו רע.
Having explained the sources for each of the four mitzvot that help one attain reward in this world and the next, Rava asks his question: regarding the mitzva of shiluach ha-ken (chasing away the mother bird in order to take her eggs or chicks), the Torah uses language that is practically identical to the language regarding honoring one's parents, promising goodness and long life; why doesn't the mishna in Pei'a include this mitzva on its list?
At first, the gemara suggests that, in fact, the question is fundamentally correct, and shiluach ha-ken does earn one both temporal and eternal reward; the reason it is not mentioned in the mishna simply reflects the fact that the mishna in Pei'a is not all-inclusive. This answer is rejected, based on the wording of the mishna: the mishna states, "These are the things," which implies that the list is all-inclusive.
Rava himself answers the question based upon a teaching of Rav Idi. The pasuk in Yeshayahu (3:10) literally says, "Say to the righteous person that [it] is good (ki tov), that they will eat the fruit of their labors." The gemara interprets this verse slightly differently, as though kit tov refers to the tzaddik (righteous person) himself, and should be rendered, "Say to the righteous person who is good, etc." Based on this understanding, the question begs to be asked: is it not true that every righteous person is by definition "good?" Rav Idi explains that there are, in fact, two types of people who might be viewed as tzaddikim: one who excels in areas of religion that do not involve other people, for the most part the ritual aspect of religous observance (bein adam la-Makom), but is not "good" to other people, is a "tzaddik who is not good." One the other hand, one who also excels in the area of interpersonal relations (bein adam la-chaveiro) is termed a "good" tzaddik.
Conversely, one can explain the following pasuk in Yeshayahu in a similar vein. The pasuk refers to a "bad rasha (evil person);" this term appears to be repetitive, as all evil people are "bad." The gemara explains that a rasha is someone who is derelict in his obligations that are bein adam la-Makom. If he is also poor in his interpersonal relations, he is termed a "bad rasha;" if he excels in the area of bein adam la-chaveiro, he is called an evil person who is not bad.
How does this answer the question about the exclusion of shiluach ha-ken from the list of mitzvot for which one earns reward both in this world and the next? Rav Idi's teaching stresses the importance of mitzvot that are bein adam la-chaveiro; the implication is that only such mitzvot belong on the list of mitzvot in the mishna in Pei'a. Since shiluach ha-ken is not a mitzva that is bein adam la-chaveiro, it does not earn one a double reward, and does not belong on our list.
|Why should it be that mitzvot that are bein adam la-chaveiro earn reward in both this world and the next while mitzvot that are bein adam la-Makom do not?|
The commentators offer several possible approaches to this issue. Rambam, in his commentary on that mishna in Pei'a, actually distances the discussion from the issue of divine reward entirely. In his view, the reason that mitzvot bein adam la-chaveiro earn a person goodness in this world is because, simply, when one acts with kindness and understanding toward others, they tend to reciprocate; in time, an entire society can be permeated with a general feeling of goodwill. Thus, acting kindly toward others engenders positive attitudes on the part of others toward oneself.
Rosh, in his commentary to that same mishna, offers a different view: in his opinion, mitzvot bein adam la-chaveiro are simply of greater value that mitzvot bein adam la-Makom. One might point out that since acting kindly toward others is a fulfillment of a mitzva, every mitzva bein adam la-chaveiro is simultaneously a mitzva bein adam la-Makom. Since these mitzvot are the fulfillment of the Divine Will in a way that is advantageous to other people, they are more significant than mitzvot that are only bein adam la-Makom, and it is only they that bring a double reward.
Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, in his Meshekh Chokhma (Bamidbar 25:12), suggests a third possibility: the reward one receives parallels the type of accomplishment that one has achieved. A mitzva that is bein adam la-Makom is an accomplishment in a purely spiritual sense; thus, the reward is given only in the spiritual world. A mitzva that is bein adam la-chaveiro brings good to the temporal, physical world; therefore, one is rewarded in this world in addition to the World to Come.
|Do all of the mitzvot mentioned in the mishna in Pei'a fit the explanation offered by the gemara? Which of the mitzvot mentioned does not seem to be like the others? Why do you think it might fit in nonetheless?|
At first glance, the mitzva of Torah study does not seem to fit in to the paramenters set forth in our gemara. The mitzvot of honoring parents, bestowing kindness and peacemaking are all clearly mitzvot that are bein adam la-chaveiro; however, Torah study seems to be purely bein adam la-Makom! In light of the gemara's explanation of why these mitzvot attain a reward in both this world and the next, it is unclear why Torah study makes this list.
The commentators offer different explanations of this issue as well; as we discuss them, see if you notice any parallels to the explanations we quoted in our previous discussion! Many commentators assert that Torah study is actually subsumed under the rubric of chesed. Some limit this inclusion, and the mishna in Pei'a, to Torah that one studies in order to teach others; thus, the study itself sets the stage for directly helping other people. Rambam, in the same comment we quoted above on that mishna, claims that Torah study is included because it teaches us the rules of positive interpersonal behavior. With regard to this view as well there is room to argue that not all Torah study is considered to be chesed; only studying the areas of Torah that actually relate to interpersonal relationships fits the description.
Rav Aharon Kotler (Mishnat Rabbi Aharon, vol. 1, p. 25) takes a more mystical view of the issue and claims that studying any part of Torah is considered to be a chesed. He bases this claim on the idea that it is Torah study that holds up the world and allows it to continue to exist. In fact, the Gemara (Avoda Zara 3a) claims that had the Jewish people not accepted the Torah at Sinai, the whole world would have instantly ceased to exist. Some commentators extend this view and argue that in an ongoing sense as well, if there would be even one instant without Torah learning, the world would come to an end (see Rav Chaim of Volozin's Nefesh ha-Chaim, 4:11). Therefore, Rav Kotler argues, Torah study is actually a chesed in that it ensures the continuation of the entire world.
Other commentators, based upon the Yerushalmi on that mishna, take a different track entirely. They argue that Torah study is not necessarily a mitzva that is bein adam la-chaveiro, but it nevertheless brings reward in this world and the next because it is simply more important than other mitzvot. Just as mitzvot that are bein adam la-chaveiro are especially important and therefore bring a special level of reward, the mitzva of Torah study is also of supreme importance. In fact, the conclusion of the mishna in Pei'a, which states that "Torah study is comparable to all of them," is understood to mean that Torah study is as important as all of the other mitzvot put together - including those that are bein adam la-chaveiro! Thus, if mitzvot bein adam la-chaveiro attain reward in both this world and the next, Torah study certainly attains the double reward as well. This theory is advanced by Rav Shimshon of Shantz, one of the Tosafists, in his commentary on the mishna in Pei'a, as well as by Rav Chaim Kanievsky in his commentary on the Yerushalmi.
This concludes our course of study for this year. One of the central goals of this shiur is to help the student improve his independent learning capabilities; to that end, it would be quite helpful to review the sections that we have studied this year and to practice reading and analyzing them from a standard Gemara text.
Best wishes for a wonderful summer.