Torah] clothes him in humility."
Arrogance imposes barriers on
a person. He is no longer free to act in a way that is beneath his perceived dignity
and station. Furthermore, his intellectual integrity is compromised and his intellectual
freedom is limited; he cannot be open to an idea that may prove his opinion wrong
and undermine his arrogant self-image. In contrast, true humility leaves a person
unencumbered by a preconceived self-image that must be maintained, and hence he
is free to pursue all goals.
The arrogant person therefore shares the attribute
of finite size that defines physical entities, whereas the humble person has not
imposed upon himself any limitations at all, which is a characteristic of the
conceptual. Consequently, it is the humble person who is most capable of assimilating
Torah, for they both operate in the unbounded realm of the conceptual. Indeed,
Moshe Rabbeinu, who was the most humble person on earth, was more spiritual than
any other human being and he was also the most deserving of Torah, as the Rabbis
said: "Moshe said, 'Who am I that G-d should give me the Torah?' G-d said
to him, 'Since you have considered yourself minor, it will be called by your name,
as it is said: "Remember the Torah of Moshe My servant.""
and Torah are intertwined. Humility brings success in Torah and Torah wisdom brings
[Maharal of Prague] (8)
in Torah study for its own sake
.he gladdens the Omnipresent, he gladdens
Happiness flows from completeness, just as grief is the
result of loss and deficiency. Since this world was created to provide us with
opportunities to enrich our lives through Torah, it is clear that Torah brings
completeness into our lives and hence to the entire world. A person who engages
insincere Torah study gladdens the Omnipresent, for he fulfills the verse "G-d
shall rejoice in His works"(Psalms 104:31) by bringing completeness to His
works. Why does learning Torah for its own sake gladden other people? Torah perfects
every aspect of the world and hence we are glad that this person improves the
world we live in, through his Torah studies.
Maharal of Prague
"Whoever engages in Torah study
he is called "Friend, Beloved."
One who learns Torah for its own sake is called a friend of both G-d and people.
Yet, love is superior to friendship. To be a 'friend' means to associate
with another. To 'love' another means that one's very soul is bound up
with the soul of the beloved. We conclude that beloved is a higher quality
than friend, re'ah, from the verse, "And you shall love your
fellow, re'echa, as yourself."
"Rabbi Meir says: Whoever engages in Torah study for its
own sake merits many things
." (Av 6:1)
By studying Torah
for its own sake, we are demonstrating that the Torah is not only of theoretical
interest but is our sole guide for every action that we undertake. Just as everything
is determined by G-d, so too every action of the Jew is dominated by the Torah.
They very letters of the Torah -- its name (sh'ma) -- are the guiding force behind
everything that occurs. By studying Torah for its "name," by negating
oneself and subordinating one's actions to the dictates of the Torah, we merit
to perceive how the Torah is the guiding force behind all human activity.
Emes, Bamidbar 5631(6)
According to the Pnei Menachem, the "litmus
test" and best indicator that a particular individual is studying Torah for
its own sake is that he never forgets the Torah's Divine origins. While this may
seem obvious -- and especially to someone who is immersed in Torah -- it is entirely
possible that one becomes so absorbed with his own original contributions to Torah
that he may momentarily forget the Torah's Divine origins.
.He loves G-d, and [His] creatures.
He brings joy to G-d, he brings joy to the creatures
is the difference between loving G-d's creatures and bringing joy to G-d's creatures?
loving G-d's creatures is indicative of his ahavat Yisrael, his love for
his fellow Jew, including those who are referred to as mere "creatures"
without any other virtues, as the Alter Rebbe explains in Tanya chapter 32. Nevertheless,
he and the creatures remain two separate entities, despite the love between them,
since he has not yet been totally permeated by ahavat Yisrael.
when a person brings joy to G-d's creatures, since joy breaks all boundaries and
is able to permeate a person's entire being, he and the creatures become merged
into one entity, and reach true achdut Yisrael -- the total harmonious
oneness of all Jews.
(Hisva'aduyos 5646, vol. 3, p. 431) (3)
"Whoever occupies himself with Torah for is own sake merits many things"
When a Jew occupies himself with Torah, the Torah lifts him up above,
and connects him with the One from Whom emanates all things. And when
a Jew learns Torah for its own sake, i.e. for the sake of the Torah itself,
not only does he receive from the Torah, but he adds to it as well, in
the sense that he causes an additional measure of Or Ein Sof (the
Infinite Light) to be revealed in the Torah. This is a higher level of
Divine Light than was revealed up until that time, as the Sefer HaBahir
states regarding King David -- he bound the Torah above to the Holy One,
blessed is He.
From Likutei Torah (3)
"Whoever occupies himself with the study of Torah
The Hebrew word oseek, translated as "occupies himself,"
relates to the Hebrew word for businessman, ba'al esek. A person's occupation
with the study of Torah must resemble a businessman's preoccupation with
his commercial enterprise. Just as a businessman's attention is never
totally diverted from his business, the Torah should always be the focus
of our attention.
he brings joy to the created beings"
This represents a higher level of behavior than the love mentioned previously.
Even though a person may love another, the two remain distinct from each other.
Happiness breaks down barriers, and enables the two to establish a more complete
Nevertheless, although joy represents a deeper bond than love, there
is an advantage to love. Because love establishes a connection between two distinct
entities, it enables a person to relate to a colleague within the latter's frame
of reference. Because of the more complete bond established by joy, the person
might feel that just as he himself does not indulge his own desires, so too, his
colleague should learn to be content with little. Love, by contrast, causes one
to appreciate what the other person desires and to extend oneself for him. Thus
both qualities -love and joy - are necessary to develop relationships to the fullest.
"The Sages taught [this chapter] in the
language of the Mishnah"
When learning, it is a mitzvah to
mention the names of the Tannaim mentioned in the Mishnah. Such-and-such
a Sage permitted, whereas such-and-such a Sage forbade it. This
Sage declared it impure, whereas that Sage declared it pure.
imagine that just as the Holy One, blessed is He, is One, so too, there ought
to be only one view expressed in the Mishnah. On the contrary - let it be known
that He Himself "chose them and their teaching." The Holy One, blessed
be He, Himself learns the Mishnah in this way, with the names of the Tannaim.
This is their portion in the Torah, and part of their souls.
One who studies
in this way, when his learning is with love and fear, attaches himself to the
Tanna - to his root and his light above, and he learns alongside him.
Shem Tov p. 88(3)
"The sages taught [this chapter] in the language
of the Mishnah"
One might ask why the study of Pirkei Avot was instituted
in such a manner that the chapter studied before the holiday of Shavuot includes
beraitot (teachings not included in the Mishnah) rather than mishnayot,
which are more authoritative.
It can be explained that the Beraita
reflects the manner in which the Torah descends into the world at large, showing
how every new idea developed by an experienced sage was in fact granted to Moshe
at Sinai. In this manner, it demonstrates the dynamic allowing for the continuation
of the chain beginning when “Moshe received the Torah…and transmitted it.” For
it shows how the Torah can be internalized within a mortal mind, and then transmitted
to subsequent generations.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe (1)
Whoever occupies himself with Torah study for its own sake, etc.
Israel Baal Shem Tov said: When a man reads the Torah and sees the lights of the
Torah's letters, then even if he doesn't understand the meanings properly, since
he reads it with great love and fervor, G-d is not strict and exacting with him
even if he doesn't say the words properly. Think of a child whom his father loves
greatly, and he asks his father for something. Even if he stammers and doesn't
speak properly, his father is greatly pleased, as he dotes on the child. Hence
when a man says words of Torah in hallowed love, G-d loves him greatly, and He
does not pay strict attention to him to note if he says them correctly. As our
Sages taught (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 2) his banner (diglo) over me is love
(Song of Songs 2:4) -- do not read it diglo (his banner) but liglugo,
"his prattle": his prattle is for Me an expression of love.
Y'karim, 1 (5)
is no freer man than one who engages in the study of Torah."
a king is not as free as one who engages in Torah, for his kingship is dependent
on his subjects and hence he is vulnerable to revolt. This thought is conveyed
in the Talmudic teaching, "Do not desire the table of kings, for your table
is greater than theirs and your crown is greater than their crown."
"Every day a heavenly voice emerges from Mount Choreb [Sinai]
and proclaims, Woe to mankind for the insult to the Torah"
If no one hears this proclamation, what is the use to proclaim it? And
how can anyone say that he does hear it, since sensory reality contradicts
him? For who can say that he actually hears the proclamations made in
Heaven? So what is the purpose of this proclamation?
Rather, the proclamation made in Heaven is not a verbal sound, for there
are no words and no speech in the spiritual worlds, which are worlds of
One has to refine oneself to be able to "read" the "signals"
of the proclamation that are taking place in one's thoughts - the pangs
of remorse that enter one's mind everyday are the effects of the proclamation.
Thus, whenever we are aroused in this world with some fear, we must realize
that we are being called upon from Above to connect with the Source of
this fear. Similarly, when we are aroused to rejoicing, we must connect
with the joy of serving G-d.
The Baal Shem Tov (KabbalaOnline)
My grandfather the Baal Shem Tov asked: Why does no one hear this voice,
and if no one hears it, what is its purpose? He explained: Every day,
every Jewish soul hears this voice, feels remorse, and contemplates repentance.
Yet only the wise man recognizes the Heavenly source of these feelings
and thoughts and acts on them. Everyone else is not as astute, however,
and pays them no heed.
Degel Machane Efraim (2)
"Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Every single day a heavenly voice
emanates from Mount Horeb
." (Av. 6:2)
day brings its own challenges, and sometimes even seemingly insurmountable obstacles,
along the road to Divine service. Likewise, the Evil Inclination gains additional
strength every day (cf, Succah 52b). Anticipating those developments, G-d provided
the perfect antidote -- the daily renewal of the Ten Commandments. In the Shema
we remind ourselves of this renewal, saying: that I command you today (Deut.
6:6) -- the Enochi, the word "I" with which the Ten Commandments
begins, is experienced anew every day. Moreover, this heavenly voice is imploring
us to regain our freedom by immersing ourselves in Torah study. Just as we were
liberated from Pharaoh, so we can be extricated from the clutches of the Evil
Sfas Emes (6)
.."Woe to the creatures because of the insult to the Torah..."
people do not occupy themselves with it. Just as a person involved in business
matters is preoccupied with them even when he is not actually busy with them,
so should it be regarding a person's involvement with Torah. He must be devoted
to the Torah with all his heart and with all soul, and Torah matters should affect
him to the very core of his soul. Even a person whose Torah knowledge is limited
so that he is not even able to learn by himself, if he occupies himself with Torah
he refines the radiance of his soul, so that the light of the essence of his soul
(Rabbi Yosef-Yitzchak Shneersohn - Ma'amarim 5688 p.127)
prevent an insult to the Torah, it is not sufficient to merely learn it -- one
must be preoccupied with it. As long as this is not the case, the Torah remains
To occupy oneself with Torah is obligatory for every
Jew. Every Jew must occupy himself with Torah in a manner commensurate with his
position in life. If he cannot learn by himself, he should hear Torah from others.
The mitzvah of learning Torah is fulfilled when a person knows and understands
it. One who occupies himself with Torah, in addition to learning it, aspires to
be taught it by the Torah. And he strives to achieve the aim that his learning
guide him in fulfilling everything that is written in Torah with love.
Ibid. 5700 p. 64 (3)
"The Tablets are the
work of G-d, and the writing is the writing of G-d."
G-d Himself is
written in the Torah, so to speak. For one who purifies himself can apprehend
G-dliness within the Torah. He needs no miracles or philosophical speculation
to know the truth—the Torah itself enlightens him.
Bunem of Peshischa (2)
"Only one who occupies
himself with Torah study is free"
Torah enables man to free himself of
his physical desires and master his material nature. In contrast, one who does
not occupy himself with Torah has no direction in life and becomes enslaved to
his body, and there is no greater slavery than this.
"He who learns from a
colleague a single chapter, a single Torah law, a single verse, a single statement
or even a single letter, must show him honor."
This teaching refers
to a colleague whose conduct is not above reproach. When a person's own conduct
is flawed, it is natural that despite the rational self-justifications that stem
from self-love, he would recognize his own failings and humbly look down on himself.
One may not, however, view a colleague from whom he has learned Torah concepts
in such a manner. For even when the other's conduct is unworthy, he should be
honored for the sake of the teachings he communicated.
Thus, David, King of Israel, learned only two
things from Achitofel, yet he called him his master, his teacher, and intimate
When learning Torah, it is not only important what
is learned, but also whom it is learned from. The Torah of a person, who learns
from an upright and fitting teacher multiplies and bears fruit, whereas the Torah
of one who learns from a wicked person remains as it was, neither increasing nor
Achitofel was a wicked person, and therefore the two things
which King David learned from him remained only two things, and they did not increase
and bear fruit. Nevertheless, David honored him. How much more so should this
apply to a person who learns from a saintly master - even if he learns a single
letter, but it multiplies and bears fruit, he must honor his teacher.
Shem Tov para.22 (3)
If one learns from his fellow-man
one chapter (of Torah), one definitive law, etc.
I heard in the name of
the Baal Shem: The Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:2-14) contain the entire Torah (by
allusion and connotation) as R. Sa'adyah Gaon showed.
Now, just as the entire
Torah is contained in the Ten Commandments, so is it contained in one word
this, only if the spirit of the master teacher with whom a person studies has
its root-source in the realm of unity. Otherwise, if his spirit is from the realm
of division and disunity, the student who learns from him will similarly receive
from him disjointed matters of learning. Hence the Mishna says here that David
learned from Achitophel no more than two things (two separate, unconnected things,
which thus did not contain the entire Torah).
Ben Porat Yosef; Tzofnat
bread with salt.."
"Go, partake of My bread,"
the verse states, referring to the Torah, which is compared to bread. Just as
bread is not eaten on its own, without any accompaniment, so too, with Torah -
it must be learned with understanding and explanation.
in small measure" - for one's own benefit, and in order to avoid danger,
one should drink water in small measure. So too, with Torah. It is best to avoid
entering the depths of the Torah's secrets, for "a stranger who comes close
Midrash Shmuel (3)
“..Eat bread with salt,
drink water in small measure, sleep on the ground, live a life of hardship..”
Even if you only have bread with salt, eat! Your eating should be as holy
as the sacrifices brought in the Holy Temple. Even if you only have water in
small measure, drink! Your drinking should be proper, like the libations on the
altar. Even if all you have to sleep in is the ground, sleep! Your sleeping should
also be as required. And even if yours is a life of hardship, live! Always be
full of joy and vitality, never ensnared by depression.
Simchah Bunem of Pshischa (2)
"Live a life of deprivation, and toil in the Torah"
Do not read this as tichye (live), but techaye
(give life). As is well-known, sparks of holiness fell into the realms of evil,
and as long as they remain there, they are in a state of great distress - "hardship".
Every person must have the intention of giving them life - by extracting them
from evil and raising them to the level of holiness.
of Mezritch's Ramzei HaTorah p.101d (3)
Both poverty and wealth
present challenges to divine service. The challenge of wealth, however, is more
severe than the challenge of poverty. The challenges presented by poverty are
for the most part external; day-to-day life is simply more difficult, and it is
harder to devote energy to divine service.
The challenges presented by wealth
are largely internal. When a person is prosperous, there is a natural tendency
for him to think. "My strength and the power of my hand achieved this bounty
for me." Such an approach runs in direct contradiction to the essence of
our relationship with the Torah, which revolves around kabbalat ol - absolute
acceptance of G-d's law. Any material success we may enjoy should be regarded
as given by G-d, and should not lead to pride.
Few of us today are beset
by the challenges of extreme poverty. We do, however, confront the challenges
of wealth. To overcome these challenges, we need self-control, and the reinforcement,
humility and strength that one person can offer a friend.
When a person contemplates the greatness of
the Infinite One, and realizes how far he is from the light of G-d's countenance,
the matter causes him grief. This is the "hardship" mentioned in the
Mishnah. But his consolation is to occupy himself with Torah, through which he
merits, "you shall be happy" - in this world." For the Torah is
G-d's wisdom, and in it is clothed the light of the Infinite One.
a person is occupied with learning Torah, he clothes himself in the ferment of
the Holy One, blessed is He, and his soul becomes unified with the Infinite One.
Likkutei Torah, Vayikra 27d (3)
"Do not seek greatness for yourself"
Do not seek the
great expansiveness, vitality, light and sweetness of Torah and mitzvot. Although
there is no greater pleasure or joy in the world that exceeds the spiritual delight
of Torah, prayer and mitzvot, nevertheless, do it all the the sake of the Creator,
to give pleasure before Him, blessed be He.
Learning more than One's Custom
The 100th time a
person reviews his studies is not essentially different from the preceding 99
times, and is not indicative of any extraordinary effort. However, the 101st time
he reviews his studies indicates that a change has taken place in his soul, and
therefore in the revelation of G-dliness in the world. From this point on, his
Divine service is very different from the way it was previously.
"Tanya", chap.15, and "Maskil l'Eitan" ad loc. (3)
By reverent fear
I heard my master and teacher, the
Baal Shem Tov of blessed memory, declare that in the physical, material realm,
where there is fear there is no rejoicing, and where there is rejoicing there
is no fear - except in the worship of G-d. There it happens that in an instance
of reverent fear there is love (of the Almighty). Afterward I found this point
in the work of Alfazi.
Toldot Yaakov Yosef (5)
"Torah is even greater than priesthood or royalty, for royalty
is acquired along with thirty prerogatives and the priesthood with twenty-four
[gifts], but the Torah is acquired by means of forty-eight qualities,
The human personality is comparable to a well; only a limited amount
of water is visible on the surface but it is infinite in its bottomless
subterranean assets. By applying the 48 methods of acquiring Torah which
correspond to the 48 "wells" mentioned in the Torah, we elicit
the tremendous wellsprings of Torah and the enormous potential to grow
in Torah learning that lies embedded in every Jew. Each time we are called
up to read the Torah, we allude to our own hidden reserves of spirituality,
to these hidden wellsprings of Torah that we all possess, by proclaiming,
and implanted eternal life [of Torah] within us" [from
the blessing upon reading from the Torah] - our connection to Torah lies
Sfas Emmes 
"Royalty is acquired with thirty distinctions and the priesthood
with twenty-four, but for Torah he must have forty-eight."
The three offices of royalty, priesthood and Torah leadership were symbolized
in the Holy Temple by three sacred articles, each of which was graced
by a "crown" of gold work surrounding the upper border. These
are: the Shulchan (Table), the Mizbei'ach HaZahav (Golden Altar), and
the Aron (Ark).
The crown upon the Table, which carries the show-bread, corresponds to
the crown of kingship, because it is the king's role to ensure the nation's
sustenance. The smallest perimeter of any plane of the Table is thirty
tefachim (240cm), corresponding to the thirty prerogatives of the king.
The crown upon the Incense Altar corresponds to the crown of the priesthood.
The upper surface of the Altar has a perimeter of twenty-four tefachim,
corresponding to the twenty-four privileges of the priesthood.
The crown upon the Ark containing the Ten Commandments corresponds to
the crown of Torah. The perimeter of the upper surface is forty-eight
tefachim, corresponding to the forty-eight qualities of Torah listed in
The Maharal of Prague (8)
"...the Torah is acquired by means of forty-eight qualities,
In the Midrash we find a dispute whether Avraham was 3 or 48 years old
when he renounced Terach's idolatry and recognized G-d (Nedarim 32a; Pesikta
Rabbati 21:18). These opinions may reflect various stages in Abraham's
development and correspond to different character traits associated with
Abraham. In particular, we may assume that at age 3, Abraham had already
acquired the three attributes later associated with him and his disciples
- the traits of a good eye, a humble spirit and a meek soul. By the age
of 48, Abraham had already completed the 48 which are prerequisites for
Torah acquisition, cited in this Mishnah.
Imrei Emet, Maggidei HaEmet (6).
Torah is acquired
I heard my master and teacher, the Baal Shem Tov of blessed memory, declare
that in the physical, material realm, where there is fear there is no
rejoicing, and where there is rejoicing there is no fear - except in the
worship of G-d. There it happens that in an instance of reverent fear
there is love (of the Almighty). Afterward I found this point in the work
Toldot Yaakov Yosef (5)
by a minimum of sleep"
and sleep are two opposites. The Torah is the Tree of Life, whereas sleep is the
Tree of Death. If a person enjoys sleeping, and he indulges himself in it, even
when he is awake he will have difficulty in learning.
Midrash Shmuel (3)
Torah is acquired by...limited pleasure.."
Physical indulgence counters the acquisition of wisdom.
However, the expression "limited pleasure" implies that some pleasure
Although the Rabbis extolled the virtue of a life of "bread
and salt" in baraita 4, the benefit arises only if there is no alternative.
There is no benefit to be had if he can continue to learn without giving up normal
comforts. On the other hand, he should avoid extra physical pleasures, for that
goes against the nature of Torah, and that is the practice of limited pleasure.
The Maharal of Prague (8)
Whoever says a thing in the name of he who
said it [originally] brings redemption to the world.."
who said it" refers to the Holy One, blessed is He, Who gave us the Torah.
When a Jew learns Torah, it must be immediately recognizable that he is learning
G-d's Torah. When he quotes something, the He who said it must be evident.
"Brings redemption to the world" - the word "world" in Hebrew
(olam) comes from the word (he'elem) - concealment, for in the process
of creation, the Creator hides Himself from the creation. When a person learns
Torah in the proper manner, he reveals G-dliness in the world, and through this
he brings redemption to the world.
Lubavitcher Rebbe (3)
Torah is acquired by means of forty-eight qualities
repeating a saying in the name of the one who said it
final attribute through which Torah is acquired involves much more than merely
crediting a source. It implies that certain Torah thoughts are destined to be
disseminated through a collaborative effort. The initiator of the thought, whose
role is to develop this novel thought but not to teach it to a broader audience,
is joined in his efforts by the disseminator, who is capable of relating this
insight to others. It is through collaborative efforts such as these that the
Final Redemption will be hastened.
Imrei Emes, Maggidei HaEmes (6)
"Quoting a concept in the name of its author brings redemption to
We find that Torah sages frequently relate concepts
they have heard from others without mentioning the name of the author. To cite
an obvious example: Our sages comment that Rabbi Eliezer ben Horkenus never communicated
a teaching unless he heard it from one of his masters. Nevertheless, we find many
teachings from Rabbi Eliezer in which his sources are not mentioned.
a student is able to fully comprehend and internalize a teaching he received,
he is required to quote it in the name of its author, for the concept still “belongs”
to the teacher. Once he has grasped it completely, however, it is his own; he
has acquired it by means of his comprehension, and it is now a product of his
The Lubavitcher Rebbe (1)
"Great is Torah, for it confers life upon it's
practitioners, both in This World and in the World to Come
This mishna seems to contradict the renowned principle that we are not
rewarded in This World. While ordinarily this is the case, someone who integrates
Torah into the material world (ose'ha) deserves to be rewarded in This World.
Moreover, one whose existence is inseparable from Torah merits that even his fate
in This World will be conducted on the basis of Torah and not defined solely by
the natural laws of the universe
(Adapted from Sfas Emes, Kedoshim 5636).
"Great is Torah, for it confers life upon its practitioners, both
in This World and in the World to Come
By stating explicitly
that Torah provides life in both This World and the World to Come, the mishna
is offering assurances to two different types of Jews. To the learned Jew who
is far more predisposed to the spiritual values of the World to Come than to the
material demands of This World, the Torah gives strength to cope with This World.
On the other hand, the simple, unlearned Jew may feel quite comfortable in This
World but can only merit a portion in the World to Come by developing a close
relationship with Torah and its teachers
(Imrei Emes, Maggidei HaEmes)
“Great is the Torah, for it gives life to those who practice it”
who practice it” refers to individuals who observe the mitzvos. By saying
“great is the Torah”, the beraisa emphasizes that Torah study surpasses
observance of the mitzvos. And it explains why: “for it gives life”. It is possible
that even a person who is fastidious in observing mitzvos will do so listlessly.
Torah study inspires an understanding of the bond with G-d that is established
through the observance of mitzvos, and thus infuses one’s observance with energy
The Lubavitcher Rebbe (1)
"It is a tree of life to those who take hold
The Torah sustains the Jewish people, but only to the extent that
the Jews "take hold of it" and recognize its life-giving property.
Rav Yehudah Leib of Gur, the Sefas Emes (2)
"R. Shimon ben Yehudah said in the name of R. Shimon ben Yochai:
Beauty, strength, wealth, honor, wisdom, old age, ripe old age and children etc.."
eight qualities descibed in the beraita are neutral qualities. They enhance
the righteous and become tools for the betterment of the world in their hands.
In the hands of the wicked, however, they can harm their's and the world's well-being.
are pleasing for the righteous and pleasing for the world."
In an extended sense, the term "children" refers to one's students -
in many ways the ultimate influence on one's environment. For through students
(who themselves become teachers), the truths one shares become ingrained both
in the present and in the future.
is the way of Torah: Eat bread with salt
If a person is
very wealthy and can afford a comfortable life, then the lifestyle suggested in
this bareita will not help his studies. The way of Torah is to sacrifice the physical
for the spiritual, but if one can afford to eat meat, then eating bread and salt
is not a sacrifice for the sake of Torah. What can a wealthy person sacrifice,
which will enhance his pursuit of Torah? He can give up all involvement with his
investments, and dedicate all of his time and attention to Torah study.
"Before [literally, 'against'] His elders
shall be glory"
Most of the temptations of man's youth become subdued
in his old age. However, the desire for glory and honor continues to work "against"
him with its full intensity.
Rav Avraham of Slonim (2)
"The Torah of Your mouth is worth more to me
than thousands in silver and gold."
The Hebrew word for "thousands"
also means "learning."
Thus, says David HaMelech, the Torah of Your
mouth, i.e., Torah study for the sake of G-d, is worth more to me than learning
for silver and gold, for the sake of monetary reward.
Rav Yehudah Leib of Gur, the Sefas Emes (2)
"..at the time of a man's death, neither silver, nor gold, nor
precious stones nor pearls escort him, but only Torah study and good deeds.."
person consists of body and soul. The body, of course, is substance. The soul
is form: It animates the body, imparts character and provides the ability to live
purposefully. Both the body and the soul of a human being merit the afterlife.
Only good deeds provide the kind of bodily substance that continues into
the World to Come, and only Torah provides the kind of spiritual substance
that carries into the World to Come.
The Maharal (8)
This implies that if the silver and gold were used for Torah and good
deeds, then they do also accompany him!
of Kosov (2)
"..do you wish to live with us in our place.."
R. Yosay refused the man's offer because the man intimated that R. Yosay
would be welcome as an advisor, subordinate to the community - "come live
with us, in our place." Had the man offered him the position of leader,
R. Yosay would have accepted (Maharal).
"..I would give you
a million golden dinars, precious stones and pearls."
offered Rabbi Yosei, "I will give you a million golden dinars in addition
to precious stones and pearls." Rabbi Yosei listened carefully to his words
and wondered, ""Why does he say 'I will give you' and not the
community? It is not the individual that pays the Rabbi but the community? Moreover,
no community in the world pays a Rabbi such a phenomenal salary. Why couldn't
they get a Rabbi for much less? Obviosly, this person is looking for someone to
be his Rabbi, free him of all his obligation to Torah and mitzvot,
and cerify everything he is doing as 'kosher.'" To such a desire Rabbi Yosei
ben Kisma responded, "I would rather live in poverty in a place of Torah
study than sell myself for money."
possessions did the Holy One, Blessed is He, acquire for Himself in His world,
and they are: Torah, one acquisition; heaven and earth, one acquisition; Avraham,
one acquisition; Israel, one acquisition; the Beit Hamikdash, one acquisition
The purpose of these acquisitions is to enable mortals, who are
so removed from G-d's infinite sanctity, to develop a relationship with Him. By
marveling at the infinite symmetry of heaven and earth, G-d's handiwork; by following
the sterling example of Avraham Avinu who brought many of his contemporaries closer
to G-d; by appreciating and benefiting from the unique role of the Beit Hamikdash
and Eretz Yisrael -- the Jewish people can acquire an intimate relationship with
Sfas Emes (6)
Holy One, blessed is He, made five possessions His very own in His world."
The world for "world" in Hebrew is olam, which has the
connotations of he'elem -- concealment and hiddenness of G-dliness,
which is a product of the process of creation. Through each of these five
possessions, which are each "one possession," the revelation
of the absolute Oneness of G-d is revealed and the concealment is nullified.
Then the world is clearly seen to be "His world."
'Pirkei Avot (3)
The Torah, One Possession.
Torah is still whole and perfect. No one has ever diminished it or subtracted
anything from it. When a person settles himself to study Torah with pure faith
and a reverent fear of Heaven, the light of the Torah restores the spirit and
brings new strength into his comprehension of the grandeur of G-d. Then of course
the Torah remains whole and perfect. No human being has ever yet damaged it or
taken anything away from it.
18 Elul 1943 - vol 45, p.44 (5)
"Since it is written: 'Until Your people pass over
O L-rd, until this people You acquired pass over;' and it says: 'To the Holy people
who are in the land, and the noble ones in them, is all My delight'"
The beraisa mentions two proof texts with regard to the Jewish people. The first
explicitly states that the Jews have been acquired by G-d, but describes the Jews
when they lived in the desert and were being cared for overtly by G-d's miraculous
Since, as explained above, the purpose of the beraisa is to highlight
how each of these possessions establishes oneness in the world at large, a second
proof text is necessary. The latter verse, although it does not emphasize G-d's
ownership of the Jews as clearly, describes them as they function "in the
land" - within the natural order of day-to-day existence.
"Five Possessions Did the Holy One, Blesses
Be He, Make His Very Own"
Five - The framework of spiritual
existence consists of four different realms. These are limited frameworks of existence
which do not reveal G-d entirely. The number five points to an even higher domain,
where infinite G-dly light is revealed without definition. G-d desired to make
all these realms…
His Very Own - to draw down His essential light
within them, revealing how all existence is…
His World - at one
with Him. This concept is also indicated by the expression…
Is One Possession
- which is used in all five instances, i. e., all these entities express G-d's
oneness. Although all five entities mentioned by the beraisa express G-d's oneness,
in this context the Torah is the most fundamental. (And therefore this beraisa
is included in the chapter which focuses on the greatness of Torah.) For the Torah
is the medium which, though totally at one with G-d, extends itself into material
reality, making it possible that this world can become a dwelling for Him.
Lubavitcher Rebbe (1)
Did the Holy One, Blesses Be He, Make His Very Own - The Hebrew word kinyan,
translated as "possession," also implies the means of acquisition through which
an entity is transferred from one person's ownership to another's. The five things
mentioned are all mediums that enable G-d's ownership of all existence to become
openly manifest. This concept is also emphasized by the expression "in His world,"
which highlights the ultimate intent - that it become clear that our world is
His world, united with Him. This intent is also reflected in the expression used
with regard to each of these five possessions - "one possession" - indicating
that the purpose of each is to express G-d's oneness throughout the world.
The Tzemach Tzedek (2)
"Five possessions has the Holy One, blessed be He, acquired as His
own in His world
Every Jew can attain spiritual fulfillment
through these possessions, each according to his level. Some learn and teach Torah.
Others do not possess much Torah but attain true fear of G-d by contemplating
His greatness, as exhibited in the heavens and the earth. Some emulate our forefather
Avraham, drawing Jews to Torah and mitzvos. Others love their people Israel so
much that they would give their lives for their fellow Jew. And even if one has
none of these qualities, he can lament the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and
the "exile" of the Divine Presence, and long for G-d's salvation. Even
by virtue of these acts, one can achieve spiritual perfection and merit life in
the World to Come.
Rav Shlomo of Radomsk (2)
"All that the Holy One, blessed be He,
created in His world, He created solely for His glory."
to express G-dliness is not merely one of the purposes served by these entities;
it is the sole reason for their existence. Therefore a person should not shy away
from worldly involvement. On the contrary, in whatever he does and wherever he
finds himself, he should seek to find a means of honoring Gd. For example, new
developments in technology and communications need not be ignored, or used only
for commercial enterprise. The real purpose of their existence is that they be
employed to express G-d's honor.
(Sichot Shabbat Parshat Nitzavim, 5728;
Parshas Balak, 5741)
"Whatever the Holy One, blessed be He, created in His world,
He created only for His glory."
A heretic once came to Rabbi Akiva and demanded proof that G-d created
the world. "Come back tomorrow," Rabbi Akiva told him. The next
day, when the heretic returned, Rabbi Akiva asked him what he was wearing.
"A garment," the man replied. "Who made it?" the Rabbi
asked. "The tailor," was his answer. When Rabbi Akiva demanded
proof, the heretic demanded, "How can you not know this?" Said
Rabbi Akiva, "And what about you? How can you not know that G-d created
the world?" Our Sages commented: "Just as a house indicates
a builder, a garment indicates a tailor, and a door a carpenter, so too
does the world tell of the Holy One that He created it."
of Heaven is experienced in all four spiritual worlds, Atzilus, Beriah, Yetzirah,
Assiyah, as is hinted at in the verse, "All that is called by My Name, for
My glory (Atzilus) I created it (Beriah), formed it (Yetzirah), and made it (Assiyah)."
is true that in the world of Assiyah (the spiritual counterpart of this world)
we see that the aspect of evil has gained the upper hand, and that "man's
inclination is evil from his youth." Nevertheless, we should be aware that,
"G-d shall reign forever and ever." In the future, G-d will clearly
be seen to be One, and His Name One, and His glory will be evident even in the
world of Assiyah.
Midrash Shmuel (3)
G-dliness is seldom openly revealed in our world. Nevertheless,
this lack of manifestation does not change the reality. Everything, even
those entities which appear totally secular in nature
Lubavitcher Rebbe (1)
"Whatever the Holy One, blessed
be He, created in His world, He created solely for His glory etc."
is "hidden" in this world in order to allow man the free will to choose
good, thereby transforming evil into good and revealing G-d's light. Thus, even
G-d's "hiddenness" is ultimately "solely for His glory."
Baal Shem Tov(2)