Thursday, Jul 25, 2024

They May Not Be Removed

“Praiseworthy is a person who has found wisdom, a person who can derive understanding from it. For its commerce is better than the commerce of silver and its produce is better than fine gold. It is more precious than pearls and all your desires cannot compare to it” (Mishlei 3: 13-15). Shlomo Hamelech is, of course, describing the wisdom of Torah. How exhilarating it is to plumb the depths of a Gemara. How illuminating it is to take practical guidance from the mussar of Chazal. How geshmak it is to hear a good vort on the parsha. But no matter how much joy one derives from the Torah, we cannot imagine its true pleasure.

On the posuk, “You shall rejoice with all the goodness that Hashem, your G-d, has given you” (Devorim 26:11), the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh writes the following incredible words: “As Chazal say, only Torah is truly good (Avos 6:3). If people were able to feel the true sweetness and tastiness of the Torah, they would become crazed and be roused to a frenzy after it, and the entire world of silver and gold would not have any significance in their eyes, for the Torah encompasses all of the goods of the world.”

Of course, in our present state, we cannot begin to fathom the true flavor of Torah, but in the World to Come, freed from the confines of physicality, we will be able to enjoy its various tastes. In order to merit this, however, we must first prepare ourselves for this in the present. We should make the effort to form ourselves into a vessel capable of containing this goodness, cultivating our spiritual taste buds to appreciate the heavenly delectability of the Torah.

Simply speaking, this is accomplished through ameilus baTorah, everyone according to his capabilities. Investing the effort in this world to understand the word of Hashem will pay great dividends in Olam Haba. But not everyone is blessed with a life of menucha and can dedicate himself to serious limud haTorah. Life has its many challenges and trying situations. Is it at all possible for someone who cannot be seriously occupied with learning to eventually be able to enjoy the immense pleasure of Torah and to understand its deep and profound lessons?

In this week’s sedrah, we learn of the construction of the Aron that contained the sacred Luchos. Inserted into rings on the corners of the Aron were poles for the Levi’im to hold onto and carry it while the people were traveling. The Torah specifically instructed us: “The poles shall remain in the rings of the Aron; they may not be removed from it” (Shemos 25:15). Chazal say that one who removes the poles from the Aron transgresses this commandment and is punished with malkos (Yoma 72a). Even when the Aron stood in its place in the Holy of Holies, the poles remained attached to it, for once they merited to carry the Aron, they became part of it.

The Chofetz Chaim says that the Aron represents the talmidei chachomim who immerse themselves in the Torah. The poles represent those who support these scholars, providing them with sustenance so that they can learn with menucha. But even when the talmidei chachomim will no longer need the support of others as they enjoy their eternal resting place in Olam Haba, those who provided them with sustenance in this world will remain together with them in the World to Come, sharing in their pleasure. This is what Chazal say: “In the future, Hakadosh Boruch Hu will make a shelter and canopy in Gan Eden for those who kept the mitzvos right next to those who master the Torah, as it says (Koheles 7:12), ‘For to sit in the shelter of wisdom is to sit in the shelter of money’” (Tosafos, Sotah 37b). It is brought in halacha (Yoreh De’ah 246, Rama) that one who does not find it possible to learn should support others who do, and it will be considered as if he himself learned. This also applies to parents who are moser nefesh to pay tuition for yeshivos and who support their children in kollel.

Rav Chaim Volozhiner was once learning Mishnayos l’illui nishmas one of his yeshiva’s supporters. He had a difficulty with one of the Mishnayos and could not come up with an answer. He put his head down to rest a bit and dozed off. The supporter appeared in his dream and fully explained the Mishnah to him. When he awoke, Rav Chaim commented to a family member, “I always knew that it works this way that one who supports Torah ends up understanding it, but I never knew that it happens so quickly.”

One of the benefactors of Bais Medrash Govoah in Lakewood passed away during the month of Nissan, when it is forbidden to say hespeidim. Nevertheless, the rosh yeshiva, Rav Aharon Kotler, delivered a eulogy for the deceased. His talmidim asked him that halacha does not allow hespeidim during Nissan. Rav Aharon replied, “I did not forget this halacha, but since the niftar was a supporter of Torah, in Shomayim they are most certainly already teaching him Torah. And when they teach in Shomayim, one understands the Torah immediately. If so, the niftar has a din of a chochom, and in front of a deceased chochom, it is permitted to say a hesped even during Nissan.”

This is a most important lesson, especially in our time, when there is such a proliferation of lomdei Torah and yeshivos that are struggling financially for their basic needs. How important it is for those who have the ability to help them as much as possible to do so. At the same time, with the accelerated pace of daily life, people find it harder to maintain a regular seder halimud during which they can fully concentrate on learning. Here is a golden opportunity for them to attach themselves to the Torah like the poles of the Aron by supporting Torah, thus meriting to be together with talmidei chachomim in the World to Come and enjoy the sweetness of Torah together with them.

And what about the women, the neshei chayil who work so hard to maintain the household while their husbands either go out to learn or to earn a parnassah? They are so busy cleaning and cooking, caring for all the children’s needs, and juggling many different jobs. They wake up when the baby cries in the middle of the night, they feed and clothe the children, and they comfort them when they are upset. Amidst all of their chores, they must remain calm and maintain a peaceful atmosphere in the home.

Most certainly, they don’t have the time to form the vessels that will contain the Torah in Olam Haba. How will they enjoy the immense pleasure one derives from the Torah? It is precisely their mesirus nefesh in helping their husband learn or nurturing their children to be able to learn Torah that will earn them this benefit in Olam Haba, for if those who support Torah monetarily merit to comprehend the Torah, then surely the dedicated wives and mothers who physically enhance the Torah of their family will be able to understand and enjoy the Torah in the future.

Rav Avrohom Genechovsky, one of the roshei yeshiva of the Tchebiner Yeshiva, related that when his mother passed away, he wrote a sefer called “Cheder Harosi” on Maseches Horiyos, which he learned for the elevation of her neshamah. His friend, Rav Shmuel Boruch Werner, was engrossed in a sugya and was writing a lengthy shtickel Torah on it. That night, Rav Avrohom’s mother appeared to him in a dream and asked him, “Why don’t you look at my son’s sefer Cheder Harosi that deals with this topic?” The next day, Rav Shmuel Boruch looked at the sefer and mentioned it in his piece of Torah which he later published in his own sefer (Lesitcha Elyon).

The Gemara (Brachos 17a) says: Rav said to Rav Chiya, “What is the merit of women? That they bring their children to learn and that they wait for their husbands to return from learning in the bais medrash.” Is this the only merit of women? Aren’t they required to keep the entire Torah except mitzvos brought about by a specific time? Why, then, is this their only zechus?

In light of what we just said, of course women will receive great reward for all of their mitzvos. But how will they merit to understand and enjoy the depth of Torah when during their lifetime they were so busy and could not develop the senses to absorb the Torah? To this, the Gemara answers that by physically supporting her husband and children for their quest to master the Torah, they, too, will be in the vicinity of talmidei chachomim where they will enjoy the Torah.

This is also a great source of chizuk for those who are working in the field of chinuch. While they are involved in teaching Torah, it is not on the level that they were accustomed to while learning in yeshiva and kollel. And although this can be achieved on their own time in their own seder halimud, very often they don’t have their own time, because being a rebbi involves a lot of working outside the classroom. They must make sheets, prepare tests, mark tests, and speak to parents on the phone. To supplement their salary, they must take on other jobs, such as tutoring. They miss that depth of learning, that geshmak that they once had.

If one who supports Torah financially and the mother and wife who physically support Torah will enjoy that sweetness of Torah, then surely the rebbi who is giving his talmidim the foundations of Torah will savor the delicacies of Torah. The Alef-Bais melamed has a portion in all of the Torah that his talmidim will ever learn, as will the melamed of kriah. And how about the rebbi who teaches Chumash or Mishnayos or hascholas Gemara, or the rabbeim in later elementary school who prepare the boys to go onto mesivta? All of them give their talmidim a geshmak in learning. There is no question that they will sit next to the greatest talmidei chachomim in Gan Eden, for they are all extensions of Moshe Rabbeinu. They are the greatest personification of the poles that will always be attached to the Aron.



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