The Beth Jacob V’Anshei Drildz Congregation




17 of Av 5780 / August 7, 2020

Shabbat Shalom Candle Lighting: 8:14PM

Saturday 18th of Av 5780 August 8, 2020
Parasha Eikev
Haftara Isaiah 49:14-51:3,

Pirkei Avot – Perek 4 
Rabbi Lawrence Parasha Shiur – 7:30PM
Havdalah – 9:18PMShavuah Tov


The Goal of Study

by Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld

“Rabbi Yishmael bar Rabbi Yossi said: One who studies Torah in order to teach is granted the ability to study and to teach. One who studies in order to do is granted the ability to study, to teach, to observe, and to do.” (Pirkei Avot, Chapter 4 Mishna 6)

This mishna discusses the proper motive or agenda one should have when he or she studies Torah. The Talmud states, “Great is study for it leads to action” (Kiddushin 40b). Likewise we are taught: “The purpose of wisdom is penitence and good deeds” (Brachos 17a).

The greatness of the Torah is not in its intellectual content, great as that may be. If it has meaning and relevance to a person, if it provides guidance and inspiration, then it is the word of G-d.

Given that one must have some purpose in his studies, R. Yishmael offers two choices — studying for the sake of teaching and studying for the sake of doing.

However “doing” clearly has much further-reaching implications than just observing the commandments.
I would like to suggest that doing does not mean simply observing the commandments. It is not a dedication of the hands. That minimum is certainly required of us all. Rather, it implies studying in order to change oneself. It means being open to the Torah and its teachings and being ready to be moved and inspired by them. The Torah — even areas with little practical relevance — has an effect on a person who is ready to integrate its teachings. The highest goal in studying is not only to observe the commandments. It is to become different: a more sanctified and inspired human being.

When we study the Talmud, we not only study facts and conclusions. We relive — and become a part of — our heritage. We take part in the very discussions which animated the lives of the scholars of old. We begin to think in the manner our Sages thought. Developing, fathoming, formulating the concepts of the Talmud, experiencing the passion and intensity of the debates — as well as becoming acquainted with the scholars who collaborated in its writing: this is what changes us as individuals. The Torah is not an “ology” — a area of organized, scientific study. It is life. It is a way of thinking and of viewing the world. The true student of the Talmud is one who wants the Torah to become a part of him, who wants to become a true Torah personality.

A Chassid once came to his Rebbe, proudly proclaiming that he had gone through the entire Talmud six times. The Rebbe wisely countered: “You’ve gone through the Talmud, but has the Talmud gone through you?”

This form of Torah study is far superior to learning to teach. Teaching requires a very real clarity in Torah concepts and definitions. The true teacher is one who has a more profound understanding of the Torah than one who studies for his own edification. He must master the Torah’s concepts and be able to articulate them, to explain and expound them to others. And this is no small feat. In the Talmud, R. Chanina remarked, “I have learned much from my teachers, more from my colleagues, and the most from my students” (Ta’anis 7a). Teaching forces a person to ask himself (or be asked) basic questions of definition and to clarify and hammer out concepts and principles. Our mishna states that one who sincerely, devotedly, and realistically sets his goals thus high will be blessed with this talent.

One who studies to do, however, wants more than to understand clearly. He wants to incorporate and make the Torah’s lessons a part of his life. He wants the Torah to enter his psyche and change his heart.

And to such a person our mishna offers an insight: Not only will he experience personal revelation himself, but he will become the capable teacher as well. If a person assimilates the Torah’s teachings and lives them, if they becomes truth and reality to him, he will be able to impart them to others when the time comes. Teaching is not only a matter of sharpening our communication skills or employing engaging teaching techniques. When we speak sincerely — because it is life to us — people will recognize this and appreciate it. An old Jewish saying goes, “Words which come from the heart enter the heart.” I have personally been most moved by educators who were honest and unassuming, but whose words were sincere and heartfelt. A polished vocabulary, sense of humour and eye contact are all valuable tactics, but in the final analysis, Torah and truth can only be transmitted by the person of truth.