This and That for the Sake of Heaven (17a-17b)

I read most of yesterday’s daf during Shabbat morning services – a rather lovely experience   

We read that there are (at least) two ways in which one can be engaged in study. One can be engaged “for its own sake” and one can be engaged “not for its own sake”.  Examples of study that are not for its own sake include study that is done to accrue honor or to use it as a “weapon” in discussion with others (by showing off or being contentious). In both cases this kind of study is about arrogance.  We read that the best kind of studying is “for its own sake”. And this is true for our project here – we read the daf for “its own sake” — not to show off or be contentious, but to learn something and in the process see what that might be.

In fact all are encouraged to study – both the “learned” and the “unlearned” because “I, who am engaged in Torah study, am a creature, and my unlearned friend is a creature” — meaning a “creature ” of God and both able to discern good from evil.

We also read in today’s daf about the merit accrued to women who enable and encourage their husbands and sons to study. If you expect me to be disturbed by this I am not. It is of its time and that was the way it was. For me — each of us who support the growth and development of our beloved others accrues such merit. And that’s all there is to it.  

Also of interest in the daf are the different interpretations of the words “fierce-hearted” in the verse “Listen to Me, o fierce-hearted ones, who are far from righteousness” (Isaiah 46:12). One interpretation is that the world is sustained by God’s righteousness alone, while the fierce-hearted ones are sustained only by their own merits and strength, and therefore far from God. Another interpretation is that while the whole world is sustained by the righteousness of the “fierce-hearted” ones, the “fierce-hearted” ones themselves are not sustained by their own actions meaning they cannot make ends meet in order to survive.  Yet another interpretation is that “fierce-hearted” refers to the  wicked who have been exposed to Torah but do not embrace it. The dispute is not resolved and the varied interpretations are left to sit side by side in comfortable juxtaposition. This is the Talmud.

 

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One Response to This and That for the Sake of Heaven (17a-17b)

  1. neillitt says:

    How much richer am I that my study is supported by a beloved hevruta partner. It is truly sad that most of the husbands of the Talmudic age never experienced this.

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