Tuesday, May 27, 2008

ameilus b'Torah

The real Divrei Chaim (i.e. R' Chaim of Sanz) has a beuatiful vort which I guess I should mention on divreichaim.blogspot. Rashi famously explained "Im b'chukosai taileichu" as referring to "ameilus b'Torah", toil in Torah, as a prerequisite for receiving bracha. We usually assume ameilus has a positive connotation and attests to the degree of value one places on the task of learning. Yet, says the Divrei Chaim, the opposite should be true. When one truly loves what one is doing, one does not feel a sense of toil, but of enjoyment. We find that when Ya'akov worked for Rachel the days went by swiftly "bahavaso osah", because he was enraptured by his love of Rachel. I can't tell you how many Rebbes my son has had who express the desire for the class to get a "geshmack" from learning. Can you get a "geshmack" from something you think of as "toil"?

The Divrei Chaim explains that in hachi nami, for the student who gets a "geshmack" in learning, who loves Torah, it goes without sayng that he/she will receive bracha. The chiddush of the pasuk is that for the student who gets no "geshmack", the student for whom learning is ameilus and toil and frustration, if that student is not deterred but still keeps at it, that student will also receive bracha as well.

Not sure the vort fits the words of Rashi so well, but it is a nice idea.


  1. I'm not even sure Rashi is necessarily talking about talmud Torah. La'amol baTorah could be in performing Torah. I know the idiom doesn't connote that when we hear it -- but who said that's what it meant back when the Toras Kohanim was written?

    After all, peshat in the word "bechuqosai" would be performing mitzvos. Not just any mitzvah, but the word bedavqah means a lack of comprehensibility!

    Also, how could it be that "im bechukosai teileikhu" would be sufficient to get all the listed berakhos? What then the rest of Torah?

    It would fit better if we say amilus baTorah means a commitment to all 613, not "just" the Rambam's asei #11.

    BTW, notice the pasuq's next phrase, "ve'es mitzvosai tishmoru", using the word shemirah. Ameilus could be working at mitzvos asei, shemirah is (and this part isn't Micha's guesswork) not only abstaining from, but being on guard to avoid, lo sa'asei.


  2. Anonymous11:45 PM

    Parshas Bamidbar
    וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה בְּמִדְבַּר סִינַי בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי בַּשָּׁנָה הַשֵּׁנִית לְצֵאתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לֵאמֹר
    The Medrash starts off in these weeks Parsha "the Torah was given with three things: fire, water, and desert. The Medrash may have one more lesson that is not so readily apparent that is the kosher aspect. That is just as the Torah expects our dishes to be Kosher so to Hashem expects no less of us, in order to receive the Torah. The Three elements are clear illustrations of Koshering. There are three ways to make a non kosher item kosher. They are all in our Medrash first is fire this is Libun known more widely as Kashering in English it is purging that means heating a pan or grill until it is red hot, so here we have the element of fire. Then there is hagalah which is essentially submerging the utensil in boiling water we now have the element of water. The most recognizable aspect of the desert is sand and dirt and now you can understand the final correlation. There is a way to Kosher something called na’itza and it is only for knives. It is when you stab it in hard soil 10 times you know have the element of desert. The Medrash now has a whole new level in its symbolism as now it represents Kashrus.

  3. >>>but who said that's what it meant back when the Toras Kohanim was written?

    What proof would warrant your suggestion of a change in meaning?

    >>>After all, peshat in the word "bechuqosai" would be performing mitzvos. Not just any mitzvah, but the word bedavqah means a lack of comprehensibility!

    The meforshei Rashi discuss how the T"C extracted the meaning of "ameilus b'Torah" from the pasuk, e.g. see Gur Aryeh.

  4. I do not know where I picked the idea up, although I already explained why I find it fits the data. And who said the Maharal was speaking of halikhah in comprehension only? When we contrast humans as holekhim to mal'akhim as omedim, we aren't speaking about knowledge in particular.

    In any case, perhaps it's related to the peirush in Mishnas Avos (on Avos 4:10), written by a talmid of the Rambam, R' Yosef ibn Enkin. He holds "ameilus baTorah" means thinking Torah while doing other work. Not that a talmid of the Rambam was thinking of a Zohar, but I believe the Zohar says that Chanokh was a shoemaker, and while making shoes he was meyacheid sheimos ve'olamos, until he ascended to heaven alive.


    PS: I see you were also hit by the anonymous devar Torah spammer.

  5. This idea that ameilus beTorah could mean observance of ChM and thinking in Torah while earning one's parnasah also seems to be in RCVilozhiner's Ruach haChaim on Avos 2:2.

    Also see the Hafla'ah par. 35 -- but that's a Bar Ilan CD reference, not something I saw inside.