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Shabbat, 17 Tishrei 5778 / October 7, 2017

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Talmud Torah - Chapter Two, Talmud Torah - Chapter Three, Talmud Torah - Chapter Four

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Talmud Torah - Chapter Two

1

Teachers of small children should be appointed in each and every land, in each and every region, and in each and every village.

If a village does not have children who study Torah, its populace is placed under a ban of ostracism until they employ teachers for the children. If they do not employ teachers, the village [deserves to be] destroyed, since the world exists only by virtue of the breath coming from the mouths of children who study Torah.

א

מושיבין מלמדי תינוקות בכל מדינה ומדינה ובכל פלך ופלך ובכל עיר ועיר וכל עיר שאין בה תינוקות של בית רבן מחרימין את אנשי העיר עד שמושיבין מלמדי תינוקות ואם לא הושיבו מחרימין את העיר שאין העולם מתקיים אלא בהבל פיהם של תינוקות של בית רבן:


Teachers of small children should be located in each and every land, in each and every region, and in each and every village. - Bava Batra 21a declares:

Remember that man for good! Yehoshua ben Gamla is his name. Were it not for him, the Torah would have been forgotten by the Jewish people.
Originally, a person who had a father would be instructed by him, while a person who had no father would not be instructed...
[Afterwards,] they instituted [the practice of] employing teachers of young children in Jerusalem [as implied by the verse]: "From Zion shall go forth the Torah."
Nevertheless, whoever had a father would be taken [to Jerusalem], while one who did not have a father would not be taken. [Therefore,] they instituted [the practice of] employing teachers in every region. They would begin study at sixteen or at seventeen.
However, if a [student's] teacher were angry with him, he would scoff at him and leave. [This situation persisted] until Yehoshua ben Gamla came and instituted [the practice of] employing teachers of young children in each and every land, in each and every region, and in each and every village. They would bring them [to the schools] at the age of six or seven.

This practice was continued in the subsequent generations. Even though the dispersion of the Jewish people and the subjugation to the gentile powers made the management of their communal affairs more difficult, throughout the ages we find references to the establishment of communal programs of education in both the codes of Jewish law and the chronicles of Jewish history. (See Ramah, Choshen Mishpat, 163:3; Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:3.)

Originally, it was customary for the community to impose taxes to pay for the education of all the children, whether their parents were rich or poor. However, at present it has become customary for each parent to pay for his own child's education. However, if he lacks the financial means to do so, the community is obligated to accept this burden.

If a village does not have children who study Torah, the city's populace is placed under a ban of ostracism - See Chapter 7, Halachah 5 for a precise definition of this term.

until they employ teachers for the children. If - these measures do not motivate the inhabitants to change their ways and....

they do not employ teachers, the city [deserves to] be destroyed - The Rambam's statements are based on Shabbat 119b. Though our text of that passage differs slightly from the statements here, in the various commentaries and codes (e.g., the She'eltot of Rabbenu Achai Gaon, the Halachot of Rabbenu Yitzchak Alfasi), we find various versions of that passage. Hence, it is possible to assume that the Rambam's statements are a quote from his text of the Talmud.

for the world exists only by virtue of the breath coming from the mouths of children who study Torah. - for their breath is not tainted by sin (Shabbat, ibid.). Based on the latter statement, some authorities require the community to support children's study only until they reach bar-mitzvah, since afterwards they no longer possess this quality.

2

Children should be brought to study [under a teacher's instruction] at the age of six or seven, according to the child's health and build. Below the age of six, he should not be brought [to a teacher].

A teacher may employ corporal punishment to cast fear upon [the students]. However, he should not beat them cruelly, like an enemy. Therefore, he should not beat them with a rod or a staff, but rather with a small strap.

[The teacher] should sit and instruct them the entire day and for a portion of the night, to train them to study during the day and night. The children should not neglect [their studies] at all, except at the end of the day on the eve of the Sabbaths and festivals and on the festivals themselves. On the Sabbath, they should not begin new material. However, they should review what was learned already.

The children should never be interrupted from their studies, even for the building of the Temple.

ב

מכניסין את התינוקות להתלמד כבן שש כבן שבע לפי כח הבן ובנין גופו ופחות מבן שש אין מכניסים אותו ומכה אותן המלמד להטיל עליהם אימה ואינו מכה אותם מכת אויב מכת אכזרי לפיכך לא יכה אותם בשוטים ולא במקלות אלא ברצועה קטנה ויושב ומלמדן כל היום כולו ומקצת מן הלילה כדי לחנכן ללמוד ביום ובלילה ולא יבטלו התינוקות כלל חוץ מערבי שבתות וימים טובים בסוף הימים ובימים טובים אבל בשבת אין קורין בתחלה אבל שונין בראשון ואין מבטלין התינוקות ואפילו לבנין בית המקדש:

Children should be brought to study [under a teacher's instruction] - As mentioned in Chapter 1, Halachah 6 and the commentary on it, even before a child reached that age his father would teach him particular verses from the Torah.

at the age of six or seven - Note the passage from Bava Batra quoted in the previous halachah and the commentary on Chapter 1, Halachah 6.

according to the child's health and build. - This would determine when he would be able to begin the long and rigorous study program described in this halachah.

Below the age of six, he should not be brought [to a teacher]. - for he will not be able to absorb his studies (Bava Batra, ibid.).

At present, it is customary to send children to school at much earlier ages. They are not subjected to such a rigorous schedule and much of the time is devoted to activities other than actual study. Nevertheless, their presence in school is important to develop their character and commitment to Jewish values.

A teacher may employ corporal punishment to cast fear upon [the students]. - The advice that Proverbs 13:24 gives a father: "He that spares the rod, hates his son," also applies to a teacher. Indeed, Makkot 8a equates a teacher to a father in this respect.

Makkot 22b relates that Zechariah 13:6, "What are these wounds?...Those which I was wounded in the house of my beloved," refers to the beatings administered to school children.

See also Chapter 3, Halachah 12 and Chapter 4, Halachah 5.

However, he should not beat them cruelly, like an enemy. - Note the parallel of this expression to Jeremiah 30:14. Note also Chapter 4, Halachot 4-5, which recommend restraint and patience on the teacher's part.

Therefore, he should not beat them with a rod or a staff, but rather with a small strap. - Bava Batra (ibid.) relates that Rav instructed Rav Shmuel bar Shilat (a well known teacher of children):

When you beat a child, beat him only with a sandal strap. If [it motivates him] to study, then he will study. If he does not study, let him be in the company of the others.

From Rav's words, we can infer that corporal punishment may be employed to try to motivate a student to be more attentive. However, if it does not prove to be a successful tool, it should not be used further, lest it create a permanent aversion to Torah study.

[The teacher] should sit and instruct them the entire day and for a portion of the night, to train them to study during the day and night. - So that as adults, they will be accustomed to fulfilling the obligation mentioned in Chapter 1, Halachah 8.

The children should not neglect [their studies] at all, except at the end of the day on the eve of the Sabbaths and festivals - i.e., they should study on the mornings of these days, but not in the afternoons.

The commentaries have questioned the source for the Rambam's statements. Some have pointed to Sukkah 28a, which praises Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai for never leaving the house of study except on the eve of Pesach and the eve of Yom Kippur. Similarly, Pesachim 109a applies such praise to Rabbi Akiva. However, it is difficult to say that these are the sources for the Rambam's statements. Firstly, the passages refer to adults and not to children. Also, the fact that these passages cite the behavior of these Sages as worthy of praise seems to imply that it was exceptional and not the rule followed by most.

and on the festivals themselves. - for study might disturb a child's conception of the air of rejoicing and celebration that must accompany the festivals. It must be noted that the Rambam suggests that adults use some of their time on the festivals to study (Hilchot Sh'vitat Yom Tov 6:19).

On the Sabbath - They should not cease their studies. Nevertheless...

they should not begin new material - for grasping it may involve difficulty and strain, which should be avoided on the Sabbath. (See Nedarim 37a.)

However, they should review what was learned already. - for this does not involve tremendous strain.

The children should never be interrupted from their studies, even for the building of the Temple. - Shabbat 119b makes this statement in the context of its description of the great merit of the children's study, as mentioned in the previous halachah. Indeed, this appears to be the Rambam's logic in the entire halachah. Since children's study is so important, no unnecessary interruptions should be made.

This rigorous schedule of study is not followed today. Among the reasons given are the different goals for Torah study at present from those in the previous generations, as described in the commentary on Chapter 1, Halachah 12. Alternatively, if today youth were subjected to such a schedule, they might rebel and no value would come of it.

3

A teacher of children who leaves the children and goes out, or [remains] with them but performs other work, or is lazy in their instruction, is included in [the admonition (Jeremiah 48:10)]: "Cursed be he who performs God's work deceitfully.” Therefore, it is only proper to select a teacher who is God-fearing, teaches them at a fast pace, and instructs them carefully.

ג

מלמד התינוקות שהוא מניח התינוקות ויוצא או שהוא עושה מלאכה אחרת עמהן או שהוא מתרשל בלימודן הרי זה בכלל ארור עושה מלאכת ה' רמיה לפיכך אין ראוי להושיב מלמד אלא בעל יראה מהיר לקרות ולדקדק:

A teacher of children who leaves the children and goes out - Bava Batra 8b relates that Rav once found Rav Shmuel bar Shilat strolling in a garden. He reproved him: "Have you abandoned your faithfulness?"

Rav Shmuel answered him: "You haven't seen me [strolling like this] for thirteen years. Furthermore, even now I am thinking about them."

or [remains] with them but performs other work - The commentaries have explained the source for this halachah as follows:

The Jerusalem Talmud (D'mai 7:3) relates that Rabbi Yochanan encountered a teacher who looked emaciated. When the Sage enquired about him, his colleagues explained that he fasted. Rabbi Yochanan was very critical: "If a normal hired worker is forbidden to undergo penances lest he not produce as much as desired, how much more so does this apply to someone doing God's work."

Accordingly, since we find that a person hired to do one job should not perform another at the same time (Tosefta, Bava Metzia 4:7), it can be assumed that a teacher should refrain from doing so.

or is lazy in their instruction - As is obvious from Hilchot S'chirut 10:7, this includes two elements:
a) one who did not instruct the students; or
b) one who erred in their instruction.

is included in [the admonition]: "Cursed be he who performs God's work deceitfully" [Jeremiah 48:10]. Therefore, it is only proper to select a teacher who is God-fearing, teaches them at a fast pace - In his commentary on Halachah 6, the Kessef Mishneh interprets mahir as one who teaches a large quantity of material. In his commentary on Psalms 45:2, Rav Sa'adiah Gaon translates that word as "expert."

and instructs them carefully. - Bava Batra 21a-b emphasizes the importance of precise study by relating the following story:

After Yoav returned from slaying all the males of Edom (II Samuel 11:16), King David asked him to explain his actions. He replied: "Doesn't Deuteronomy 25:19 state 'Wipe out all the males (zachor) of Amalek?’“

David told him: "You are mistaken; the verse reads 'Wipe out the memory (zecher) of Amalek.’“

Yoav told him: "I learned zachor."

Later, Yoav sought out his teacher and chastised him severely for his carelessness.

4

A man who is unmarried should not teach children, because of the mothers who visit the children. No woman should teach children, because of the fathers who visit the children.

ד

ומי שאין לו אשה לא ילמד תינוקות מפני אמותיהם הבאות אצל בניהם וכל אשה לא תלמד תינוקות מפני אבותיהם שהם באים אצל הבנים:

A man who is unmarried - However, a married man may teach even if his wife is not living with him at present (Maggid Mishneh, Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 22:13). Other authorities, based on the Jerusalem Talmud, Kiddushin 4:11, prohibit a man from teaching children if his wife is not in the same city.

should not teach children, because of the mothers who visit the children. - "lest he be aroused by women" (Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah, ibid.).

No woman - Even if she is married (Kessef Mishneh)

should teach children, because of the fathers who visit the children. - lest they transgress the prohibition against yichud (being alone in a private place with someone of the other sex, Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah, loc. cit.).

Some authorities maintain that these prohibitions apply only to the classrooms of previous generations, which were often private and quite secluded. In contrast, they maintain that no prohibition exists in today's large schools. However, it is questionable if that conclusion can be reached in view of the text of Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah.

5

[A maximum of] 25 students should study under one teacher. If there are more than 25, but fewer than 40, an assistant should be appointed to help him in their instruction. If there are more than forty students, two teachers should be appointed.

ה

עשרים וחמשה תינוקות למדים אצל מלמד אחד היו יותר על עשרים וחמשה עד ארבעים מושיבין עמו אחר לסייעו בלימודם היו יותר על ארבעים מעמידין להם שני מלמדי תינוקות:

[A maximum of] 25 students should study under one teacher. If there are more than 25, but fewer than 40, an assistant - Note the commentary of the Nimukei Yosef on Bava Batra 21a, which resolves the apparent contradiction between the Rambam's decision and that passage. Rabbenu Asher interprets that passage differently.

is appointed to help him in their instruction. - Rashi (Bava Batra, ibid.) states that the assistant would listen to the verses read by the teacher, and then lead the children in their repetition.

If there are more than forty students - the class should be divided and...

two teachers are appointed. - Two conclusions can be derived from these statements:
a) the maximum class size desired;
b) the minimum service which a community is required to afford its children.

Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:3) states that the above applies only to instruction in the Written Law. Instruction in the more complicated realms of study requires even smaller classes. However, a parent cannot demand that such instruction be provided from communal funds.

As explained in the commentary on Halachot 1:12, 2:2, today the goals of study differ from those of the previous generations. On that basis, some schoolmasters excuse their willingness to exceed the limits on the teacher-student ratio mentioned here. Others state that they would like to establish such a ratio, but financial pressures prevent them from doing so.

6

A child may be transferred from one teacher to another teacher, who is capable of teaching him at a faster pace, whether with regard to the Written Law itself or grammar. This applies when both are located in the same city and there is not a river between them. However, a child should not be forced to travel from city to city, or even from one side of the river to the other in the same city, unless there is a strong bridge, which is not likely to fall readily, over the river.

ו

מוליכין את הקטן ממלמד למלמד אחר שהוא מהיר ממנו בין במקרא בין בדקדוק במה דברים אמורים כשהיו שניהם בעיר אחת ולא היה הנהר מפסיק ביניהם אבל מעיר לעיר או מצד הנהר לצדו אפילו באותה העיר אין מוליכין את הקטן אלא אם כן היה בנין בריא על גבי הנהר בנין שאינו ראוי ליפול במהרה:

A child may be transferred from one teacher to another teacher, who is capable of teaching him at a faster pace - Note the commentary on Halachah 4 for a definition of the word mahir.

whether with regard to the Written Law itself or grammar. - In the Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Karo mentions the passage from Bava Batra 21a, which questions which is preferable: a teacher who teaches the students at a rapid pace, or one who instructs them more precisely, but at a slower speed. In the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 245:19), he concludes that it is preferable to take the latter teacher. Errors which children learn become permanent elements of their thinking processes as mentioned in the commentary to Halachah 3.

This applies when both are located in the same city - The Lechem Mishneh states that the Rambam derives this concept from Bava Batra (ibid.), which states:

From the time of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Gamla, a child was not transferred from city to city, but he would be transferred from synagogue to synagogue...

The Rambam interprets that statement to mean that once the practice of employing qualified teachers in each community was instituted, there was no longer a need to transfer a child from his home town to another city. However, within his city itself, he could be transferred from one house of study to another if there was adequate reason.

and there is not a river between them. However, a child should not be forced to travel from city to city - because of the difficulty involved in the journey

or even from one side of the river to the other in the same city, - because of the danger involved.

unless there is a strong bridge, which is not likely to fall readily, over the river.

7

If a person [whose house opens] to an alleyway [to which other houses open] - or even one [whose house opens] to a courtyard [to which other houses open] - desires to become a teacher of children, his neighbors may not protest against his decision.

Similarly, should one teacher of children come and open a schoolroom next to the place [where] a colleague [was teaching], so that other children will come to him or so that the children [studying under his] colleague shall come to him, his colleague may not lodge a protest against him, as [Isaiah 42:21 states]: "God desired, for the sake of His righteousness, to make the Torah great and glorious."

ז

אחד מבני מבוי שביקש להעשות מלמד אפילו אחד מבני החצר אין יכולין שכניו למחות בידו וכן מלמד תינוקות שבא חבירו ופתח בית ללמד תינוקות בצדו כדי שיבואו תינוקות אחרים לו או כדי שיבואו מתינוקות של זה אצל זה אינו יכול למחות בידו שנאמר ה' חפץ למען צדקו יגדיל תורה ויאדיר:

If a person [whose house opens] to an alleyway [to which other houses open] - or even one [whose house opens] to a courtyard [to which other houses open] - desires to become a teacher of children, his neighbors may not protest against his decision. - In Hilchot Sh'chenim 6:8, 11, the Rambam mentions certain restrictions which the owners of houses which open to a common alley can impose on each other - e.g., one may not open a tailor shop or leather works, because of the inconvenience and discomfort which might be caused.

Though the opening of a schoolroom may also cause discomfort, because the parents will frequently visit and the children may make noise, the study of Torah is important enough to override these considerations.

Similarly, should one teacher of children come and open a schoolroom next to the place [where] a colleague [was teaching], so that other children will come to him or so that the children [studying under his] colleague shall come to him, his colleague may not lodge a protest against him - though such a practice would not be allowed in any other profession [if the new competitor came from a different country (see Hilchot Sh'chenim 6:8)], an exception is made regarding teaching Torah because...

as [Isaiah 42:21 states]: "God desired, for the sake of His righteousness, to make the Torah great and glorious" - Bava Batra 21a, the source for this halachah, does not quote this verse, but rather explains: "the envy of the teachers will increase knowledge."

The Yad Malachi explains that the Rambam frequently substitutes a different verse or explanation for the one quoted by the Talmud if he feels that his choice is more explanatory. However, the advantage of the verse chosen by the Rambam over the reason given by the Talmud requires explanation.

This law has two dimensions: one relevant to the laws governing the consideration neighbors must afford each other and the possibility of competition between them, and one relevant to the laws of Torah study. The Talmudic passage cited above deals primarily with the rights of neighbors. Thus, it explains to a person who might feel that a colleague has overstepped his rights that he, himself, will benefit, because the spirit of competition will motivate him to increase his own Torah knowledge.

In contrast, in these halachot the Rambam deals primarily with the importance of Torah study. Hence, he quotes a verse which emphasizes how important the increase of Torah study is (Likkutei Sichot, Vol. VI, p. 299).

Talmud Torah - Chapter Three

1

Three crowns were conferred upon Israel: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of royalty. Aaron merited the crown of priesthood, as [Numbers 25:13] states: "And it will be an eternal covenant of priesthood for him and his descendants after him."

David merited the crown of royalty, as [Psalms 89:37] states: "His seed will continue forever, and his throne will be as the sun before Me."

The crown of Torah is set aside, waiting, and ready for each Jew, as [implied by Deuteronomy 33:4]: "The Torah which Moses commanded us is the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob." Whoever desires may come and take it.

Lest you say that the other crowns surpass the crown of Torah, [Proverbs 8:15-16] states: "By me, kings reign, princes decree justice, and nobles rule." Thus, you have learned that the crown of Torah is greater than the other two.

א

בשלשה כתרים נכתרו ישראל כתר תורה וכתר כהונה וכתר מלכות כתר כהונה זכה בו אהרן שנאמר והיתה לו ולזרעו אחריו ברית כהנת עולם כתר מלכות זכה בו דוד שנאמר זרעו לעולם יהיה וכסאו כשמש נגדי כתר תורה הרי מונח ועומד ומוכן לכל ישראל שנאמר תורה צוה לנו משה מורשה קהלת יעקב כל מי שירצה יבא ויטול שמא תאמר שאותם הכתרים גדולים מכתר תורה הרי הוא אומר בי מלכים ימלוכו ורוזנים יחוקקו צדק בי שרים ישורו הא למדת שכתר תורה גדול משניהם:

Three crowns were conferred upon Israel: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of royalty. - A similar expression is found in Yoma 72b. However, there the Talmud uses the expression: "There are three diadems (zirin)."

The expression "three crowns (ketarim)" is found in the Sifre (Korach) and Avot D'Rabbi Natan, Chapter 41. It may be explained that the Rambam chooses to employ this expression because of the significance of the word ketar. That term also means "encompass." In the three halachot in this chapter in which the Rambam mentions the expression, "the crown of Torah" - Halachot 6, 7, and 13 - the Rambam describes an all-encompassing commitment to Torah study. Hence, he uses the term "crown" to allude to this quality of service (Likkutei Sichot, Vol. 27).

Aaron merited - The Sifre, ibid., states: "Aaron merited and took it." The Rambam omits the latter term, since priesthood (and, similarly, royalty) are not attributes that can be acquired by human effort, but rather must be conveyed by God.

the crown of priesthood - This includes two aspects:
a) that his descendants alone will serve as priests;
b) that one will be chosen as the High Priest."

as [Numbers 25:13] states: "And it will be an eternal covenant of priesthood for him and his descendants after him." - See Hilchot Klei HaMikdash 4:1.

David merited the crown of royalty, as [Psalms 89:37] states: "His seed will continue forever, and his throne will be as the sun before Me." - In Hilchot Melachim 1:7, the Rambam writes:

Once David was anointed, he acquired the crown of royalty. Afterwards, the kingship belongs to him and his male descendants, forever.

It must be noted that in the present halachah, the Rambam quotes a different verse from that in Hilchot Melachim and in Avot D'Rabbi Natan.

The crown of Torah is set aside, waiting, and ready for each Jew - The Sifre, ibid., uses the expression "for all inhabitants of the earth." Though some manuscript copies of the Mishneh Torah read "for all," rather than "for each Jew," the printed text can be explained on the basis of Hilchot Melachim 10:9, which states: "A gentile who studies Torah is liable for the death penalty." Similarly, on the verse from Deuteronomy quoted below, Sanhedrin 59a comments: "It is our inheritance and not theirs."

[Nevertheless, it must be pointed out that the same passage in Sanhedrin also describes the high levels which a gentile can attain by studying the rules of the seven general laws of human behavior given to Noah and his descendants. All Jews are obligated to assist the gentiles in this study. (See Hilchot Melachim 8:10.)]

as [implied by Deuteronomy 33:4]: "The Torah which Moses commanded us is the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob." - and thus becomes the property of every Jew as soon as he is born. Because of the fundamental message implied by this verse, the Rambam chooses to quote it, rather than the verse mentioned in Avot D'Rabbi Natan, ibid. Similarly, the message conveyed by this verse is so important that it is taught to every Jewish child as soon as he learns to talk (Chapter 1, Halachah 6).

Nevertheless, although, as the above verse implies, each Jew has an inherent connection to Torah, effort must be expended in order to reveal and develop that connection. In that vein, Avot 2:15 counsels: "Prepare yourself to study Torah, for it is not an inheritance." Therefore, the Rambam continues...

Whoever desires - In his Commentary on the Mishnah, Avot 4:17, the Rambam relates the content of this halachah and uses the expression: "Whoever desires to be crowned with the crown of Torah."

may - fulfill the directives mentioned in this chapter, and thus...

come and take it.

Lest you say that the other crowns surpass the crown of Torah, [Proverbs 8:15-16] states, "By me, kings reign, princes decree justice - the latter clause is omitted in many manuscript copies of the Mishneh Torah.

and nobles rule." Thus, you have learned that the crown of Torah is greater than the other two. - The Sifre, ibid., states: "Who is greater, the one who conveys the crown or the one who is crowned!" Thus, we can appreciate that the crown of Torah surpasses the crown of royalty. Since a king is given greater honor than the High Priest, we can also assume that the crown of Torah is greater than the crown of priesthood (Lechem Mishneh).

2

Our Sages declared that even a Torah Sage who is a mamzer deserves precedence over a high priest who is unlearned, as [implied by Proverbs 3:15]: "It is more precious than pearls." [That verse can be interpreted:] more precious than the High Priest who enters the innermost chambers.

ב

אמרו חכמים ממזר ת"ח קודם לכהן גדול עם הארץ שנאמר יקרה היא מפנינים מכהן גדול שנכנס לפני ולפנים:

Our Sages - Horayot 13a

declared that even a Torah Sage who is a mamzer - a child born from certain forbidden sexual relations. See Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah, Chapter 1.

deserves precedence over a high priest who is unlearned - Though such a phenomenon was undesirable, it often occurred in the Second Temple period, when the High Priests were appointed by the Romans in return for excessive bribes. (See the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Yoma 1:3.)

as [implied by Proverbs 3:15]: "It is more precious than pearls." - Because of the similarity between the Hebrew for "pearls," peninim, and the Hebrew for "inner," p’nim.

[That verse can be interpreted] - Horayot, ibid., to mean:

more precious than the High Priest who enters the innermost chambers. - i.e., the Holy of Holies.

In the introduction to this text, the Rambam explained that he structured it to be halachot, halachot (law after law), implying that he would include only statements of Torah law. In contrast, other concepts, though ethically or philosophically significant, were not included.

Accordingly, this halachah and the others in this chapter which praise Torah study must be understood as behavioral directives applicable with regard to:
a) the arrangements of one's own priorities and goals in life;
b) the order in which people must be given honor and respect.

3

None of the other mitzvot can be equated to the study of Torah. Rather, the study of Torah can be equated to all the mitzvot, because study leads to deed. Therefore, study takes precedence over deed in all cases.

ג

אין לך מצוה בכל המצות כולן שהיא שקולה כנגד תלמוד תורה אלא תלמוד תורה כנגד כל המצות כולן שהתלמוד מביא לידי מעשה לפיכך התלמוד קודם למעשה בכל מקום:

None of the other mitzvot can be equated to the study of Torah. Rather, the study of Torah can be equated to all the mitzvot - The Kessef Mishneh cites Pe'ah 1:1 as the source for this statement. That Mishnah lists a number of mitzvot whose "benefits are enjoyed in this world, though the principle [reward] remains for the world to come" and concludes "the study of Torah is equivalent to them all."

However, the Lev Shlomo notes that the antecedents of the phrase "them all" are the various mitzvot which are mentioned previously in the mishnah and not "all the mitzvot of the Torah." Hence, he refers to the Jerusalem Talmud (Pe'ah 1:1), which states: "All the mitzvot of the Torah are not worth one word of the Torah."

because study leads to deed. - for without study, one will never know how to fulfill the mitzvot properly.

Therefore, study takes precedence over deed - See Chapter 1, Halachah 3, and the commentary on it.

Though there is a similarity between the halachah cited above and the present one, the two are not redundant. That halachah deals with the course of action proper for a person whose father has not instructed him in Torah study. Thus, the Rambam tells him that rather than ignore Torah study and devote himself to the performance of good deeds alone, he should study.

This chapter centers around the principle that Torah study is the highest rung a person can reach. Accordingly, the advice in this and the following halachah applies to even a person who has established a basis of Torah knowledge. It teaches him to seek personal fulfillment in study rather than in deed. Similarly, it advises us that the most propitious way to use each moment of spare time is to devote these moments to Torah study.

in all cases - with the exception of the instance mentioned in the following halachah.

4

[The following rules apply] when a person is confronted with the performance of a mitzvah and the study of Torah: If the mitzvah can be performed by another individual, he should not interrupt his studies. If not, he should perform the mitzvah, and then return to his studies.

ד

היה לפניו עשיית מצוה ותלמוד תורה אם אפשר למצוה להעשות ע"י אחרים לא יפסיק תלמודו ואם לאו יעשה המצוה ויחזור לתלמודו:

Because of the supreme importance of Torah study...

[The following rules apply] when a person is confronted with the performance of a mitzvah and the study of Torah - and the performance of the mitzvah would cause him to interrupt his studies.

If the mitzvah can be performed by another individual, he should not interrupt his studies. - The Kessef Mishneh cites the following narrative from the Jerusalem Talmud (Pesachim 3:7):

Rabbi Abahu sent his son to study in Tiberias. When he came to visit him, the local people praised his son for his piety in burying the dead. When he heard this, Rabbi Abahu rebuked his son severely, "Is it because there are no graves in Caesarea that I sent you to Tiberias?"

Mo'ed Katan 9b derives the priority of study over the performance of mitzvot as follows:

Proverbs 3:15 states: "None of your desires can be equated to it [the Torah]," implying that "your desires" - i.e., things which man wants - cannot be equated to Torah study, but "God's desires" - i.e., the mitzvot - can be equated with it.

In contrast, Proverbs 8:11 states: "No desire" - seemingly implying even God's desires, the mitzvot - "can be equated to it." How can the two be resolved? When it is possible for the mitzvah to be performed by another individual, nothing takes precedence over Torah study. However, if there is no one else to perform the mitzvah, the performance of the mitzvah is given priority.

If not - If there is no way the mitzvah can be performed by another person - e.g., paying honor to a deceased person or collecting for charity, when one's position will cause one's words to have a greater effect than those of other people...

he should perform the mitzvah - Berachot 17a teaches: "The ultimate of knowledge is Teshuvah and good deeds." Similarly, the Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 1:2) states that it would be preferable for a person who studies without performing the mitzvot never to have been created. Thus, the Jerusalem Talmud (Shabbat 1:2) relates that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who would not interrupt his studies even for prayer, would stop studying to build a sukkah and to bind his lulav.

The rationale behind the above statements can be explained as follows: As explained in the commentary on Chapter 1, Halachah 3, the ultimate level of fulfillment man can reach is to step beyond his humanity and fulfill God's will, as revealed in the mitzvot. Nevertheless, priority is given to Torah study, because it possesses a twofold advantage over the other mitzvot: first, it leads to their fulfillment; second, it allows for an internalized connection to be established between the person and God.

However, when the person ignores the fulfillment of the mitzvot, both those advantages are lost. Obviously, the study does not lead to deed, and, furthermore, his intellectual activity appears to be a matter of personal interest and not a process of connection to God.

and then return to his studies.

5

The first aspect of a person's judgement [in the world to come] will center on Torah study. Only afterwards will his other deeds [be considered].

Accordingly, our Sages would say: "A person should always occupy himself in Torah study, whether for God's sake or even if not for God's sake, for from [the study of Torah which] is not carried out for God's sake will come [the study of Torah which] is carried out for God's sake.

ה

תחלת דינו של אדם אינו נידון אלא על התלמוד ואחר כך על שאר מעשיו לפיכך אמרו חכמים לעולם יעסוק אדם בתורה בין לשמה בין שלא לשמה שמתוך שלא לשמה בא לשמה:

Since Torah study is of such primary importance...

The first aspect of a person's judgement [in the world to come] will center on Torah study. Only afterwards will his other deeds [be considered]. - The statement is based on Sanhedrin 7a. Other sources (Shabbat 31a) state that the first question posed to a person in the world to come will be: "Did you deal faithfully in business?"

Tosafot, Sanhedrin ibid., offers two possible resolutions to this apparent contradiction:
a) A person who never studied at all is judged first regarding Torah study. However, one who studied, but did not establish fixed times for study is judged first regarding his business affairs;
b) Even though the first question that the soul is asked centers on his business affairs, the first retribution he will receive will result from his neglect of Torah study.

Accordingly, our Sages - See Pesachim 50b, Sotah 22b, Sanhedrin 105b.

would say: "A person should always occupy himself in Torah study, whether for God's sake or even if not for God's sake - The Rambam elaborates further on the definition of these concepts in Hilchot Teshuvah 10:4-5:

The Sages of the previous generations declared: Should one say: "I will study Torah in order that I become wealthy, in order that I be called a Rabbi, or in order that I receive reward in the world to come?" The Torah teaches [Deuteronomy 11:13]: "[If you are careful to observe My commandments...] to love God;" [implying] that all that you do should be done only out of love.
The Sages also said: [Psalms 112:1 instructs:] "Desire His commandments greatly." [Desire His commandments] and not the reward [that comes from] His commandments...
Anyone who occupies himself with the Torah in order to receive reward or in order to protect himself from retribution is considered as one who is not occupied for God's sake.
[In contrast,] anyone who occupies himself with it, not because of fear, nor to receive a reward, but rather because of his love for the Lord of the entire earth, Who commanded it, is one who occupies himself for God's sake.

for from [the study of Torah which] is not carried out for God's sake - Rashi (Berachot 17a) and Tosafot (Ta'anit 7a) note that the Talmud is extremely critical of those who do not occupy themselves with the Torah for God's sake.

Ta'anit 7a declares that whenever a person does not study Torah for God's sake, the Torah becomes a deadly potion for him. Berachot 17a states that it would have been better for a person who does not study Torah for God's sake not to have been born. In resolution, the commentaries explain that there are two levels of occupying oneself with Torah that is not for God's sake:

a) to gain wealth, honor, or other benefits, as implied by the Rambam here;
b) in order to vex a colleague.

Our Sages suggest occupation with Torah study even if it is not intended for God's sake, if one has the former motives. However, if one's motives are the latter, then our Sages' harsh words of criticism apply.

will come [the study of Torah which] is carried out for God's sake. - The introduction to Eicha Rabbah (2) quotes God as saying: "Would that Israel abandon Me and keep the Torah...for its light would ultimately return them to the good." If a Jew frequently occupies himself with Torah, the inner Godly nature of Torah will eventually have an effect upon him and motivate him to serve God with the proper intentions.

There is a deeper aspect to this statement: The Hebrew mitoch, translated as "from," also can be interpreted as "from the inner part." Every element of a Jew's life is motivated by his Godly potential. Though he may think he is performing a mitzvah for selfish intent, the inner core of that service, its toch, is the Jew's desire to cling to God without any ulterior motive.

The Rambam elaborates on the principle that selfish desires can be used as motivation for involvement in Torah in his Commentary on the Mishnah, in his introduction to the tenth chapter of Sanhedrin:

When a young child is brought to a teacher to be taught the Torah, this is the greatest good for him, [allowing him] to attain fulfillment. However, because of his youth and underdeveloped intellect, [the child] does not comprehend this good...
Therefore, it is necessary for the teacher...to motivate him to his studies with things that he loves...
He should tell him: "I will give you nuts, figs, or a little honey." It is out of this motivation that the child [begins to] study. [The child studies] not because of the essence of the study, for the child has no comprehension of that, but because of the food. Eating these delicacies is more important to him than the actual study...
When he becomes older and his intellect grows to the point where he realizes the worthlessness of these items, he should be encouraged and motivated to learn by the promise of things he holds dear. His teacher should tell him: "Study and I will buy you nice shoes or beautiful garments." Thus, he will study, not for the sake of the study itself, but for the garment, the garment becoming more valuable for him than the Torah...

The Rambam continues mentioning other factors that may be employed to motivate older children - e.g., money or honor. He concludes:

All this is degrading. Nevertheless, because of the limits of a person's intellect, it may be necessary to make the goal of wisdom something other than wisdom.

In Hilchot Teshuvah (ibid.), the Rambam also emphasizes how a teacher must slowly mold a child's character and lead him, step by step, to an appreciation of the proper motives for the service of God:

As their knowledge grows and their wisdom increases, this secret [service of God for His sake] should be revealed to them [slowly,] bit by bit. They should become accustomed to this concept gradually, until they grasp it and know it and begin serving [God] out of love.

6

A person whose heart inspires him to fulfill this mitzvah in a fitting manner and to become crowned with the crown of Torah should not divert his attention to other matters. He should not set his intent on acquiring Torah together with wealth and honor simultaneously.

[Rather,] this is the path of Torah: Eat bread with salt, drink water in small measure, sleep on the ground, live a life of difficulty, and toil in Torah.

The task is not incumbent upon you to complete, nor are you free to desist from it. If you have acquired much Torah, you have acquired much reward, and that reward is commensurate with the difficulty [invested].

ו

מי שנשאו לבו לקיים מצוה זו כראוי ולהיות מוכתר בכתר תורה לא יסיח דעתו לדברים אחרים ולא ישים על לבו שיקנה תורה עם העושר והכבוד כאחת כך היא דרכה של תורה פת במלח תאכל ומים במשורה תשתה ועל הארץ תישן וחיי צער תחיה ובתורה אתה עמל ולא עליך הדבר לגמור ולא אתה בן חורין ליבטל ממנה ואם הרבית תורה הרבית שכר והשכר לפי הצער:

A person whose heart inspires him to fulfill this mitzvah in a fitting manner - As explained in the commentary on Chapter 1, Halachah 8, the Rambam's statements imply that there are two aspects of Torah study:
a) The obligation to study Torah, which is incumbent on every individual: the establishment of fixed times for Torah study (Chapter 1, Halachah 8).
b) A commitment to devote oneself to Torah study that has no limitations.

The first aspect reflects a commitment that takes into consideration man's perspective, and, hence, is limited in scope. However, when a person views the Torah from God's perspective and appreciates its infinite nature, he will be inspired to make an unbounded commitment to Torah study. See also the commentary on the halachah mentioned above.

and to become crowned with the crown of Torah - Note the commentary on Halachah 1.

should not divert his attention to other matters. - On Deuteronomy 6:7: "Speak of them," the Sifre comments: "Speak of them, and not of other matters."

He should not set his intent on acquiring Torah together with wealth and honor simultaneously. - for it is impossible to devote oneself to two different goals.

[Rather,] this is the path of Torah - This statement and the others in this halachah are a combination of quotes from Avot 6:4, 2:17 and 5:23.

Eat bread with salt, drink water in a small measure, sleep on the ground, live a life of difficulty, and toil in Torah. - The Rambam does not advocate ascetic penances. (See Hilchot De'ot 3:1.) Nor does he necessarily stipulate that "a life of difficulty" is a prerequisite for complete involvement in Torah study. However, it is often the only path with which one can attain that goal.

Frequently, earning enough to live a life of comfort takes so much time that one will not be able to devote himself to Torah study in a fitting manner. Furthermore, indulgence in comfort often leads a person to preoccupation with his own needs and desires. Suddenly, he becomes faced with an entire host of "necessities," without which he cannot continue.

The task is not incumbent upon you to complete - If a person contemplates the totality of Torah knowledge which there is to grasp, he may be intimidated and unwilling to begin such an undertaking. Hence, he is counselled that he is not expected to complete its study. However,...

nor are you free to desist from it. - and must endeavor to accomplish whatever you can.

If you have acquired much Torah, you have acquired much reward - The Mishnah continues to explain that the reward for the righteous will be in the world to come.

It is difficult to understand why the Rambam emphasizes the aspect of reward, when in the previous halachah he stressed how one should not study Torah for ulterior motives. Included in the latter is also the reward in the world to come.

and that reward is commensurate with the difficulty [invested]. - In his Commentary on the Mishnah, the Rambam interprets this to mean: "Your reward will be commensurate with the effort invested in Torah study." See also Halachah 12, which elaborates on the nature of the effort a person must invest in his Torah studies.

In his introduction to Avot, Chapter 6, the Rambam offers a slightly different interpretation: "A person's reward will be commensurate with the effort necessary to overcome his natural inclination."

7

Perhaps, one will say: "[I will interrupt my studies] until after I gather money, and then I will return and study, [I will interrupt my studies] until after I buy what I need, and then, when I can divert my attention from my business, I will return and study." If you consider such thoughts, you will never merit the crown of Torah.

Rather, make your work secondary, and your Torah study a fixed matter. Do not say: "When I have free time, I will study," for perhaps you will never have free time.

ז

שמא תאמר עד שאקבץ ממון אחזור ואקרא עד שאקנה מה שאני צריך ואפנה מעסקי ואחזור ואקרא אם תעלה מחשבה זו על לבך אין אתה זוכה לכתרה של תורה לעולם אלא עשה תורתך קבע ומלאכתך עראי ולא תאמר לכשאפנה אשנה שמא לא תפנה:

The first clause of this halachah, as the previous halachah, refers to a person who wants to commit himself entirely to Torah study. The second clause - "make your work secondary..." - does not apply only to such individuals, but rather is relevant to every person within the context of his commitment to Torah study.

Perhaps, one will say: "[I will interrupt my studies] until after I gather money, and then I will return and study, [I will interrupt my studies] until after I buy what I need, and then, when I can divert my attention from my business, I will return and study." - Note Chapter 1, Halachah 5, which counsels studying Torah before marriage, so the yoke of financial responsibility will not interfere with one's studies.

If you consider such thoughts, you will never merit the crown of Torah. - The commentaries have offered two reasons why such an individual will never merit "the crown of Torah:"
a) Desire is never satisfied. "Whoever possesses one hundred, desires two hundred; whoever possesses two hundred, desires four hundred" (Kohelet Rabbah 1:34). Once a person has given his material concerns priority over Torah study, it is very difficult for him to reverse his pattern and devote himself completely to Torah study.
b) The time which he lost while involved in business cannot be recovered, and thus, he will never reach the heights of Torah knowledge that he could have attained beforehand.

Rather, make your work secondary, and your Torah study a fixed matter. - In his Commentary on the Mishnah, Avot 1:14, the Rambam writes:

Make your Torah study of primary importance and all your other affairs secondary. If they come your way, it is good, and if not, there is no loss in their absence.

Similarly, in Hilchot De'ot 2:7, the Rambam quotes Avot 4:10, "Minimize your business involvement and occupy yourself with Torah."

Nevertheless, a person need not fear that involvement in Torah study will prevent him from achieving prosperity. Berachot 35b relates:

The Sages of the previous generations made their Torah study primary and their business affairs secondary, and achieved success in both. We have made our business affairs primary and our Torah study secondary, and have not achieved success in either.

Do not say: "When I have free time, I will study," for perhaps, you will never have free time. - In his Commentary on the Mishnah, Avot 2:5, the Rambam also associates this statement of Hillel's with the statement of Shammai quoted above.

8

It is written in the Torah [Deuteronomy 30:12, 13]: "It is not in the heavens....It is not across the sea...." [This implies:] "It is not in the heavens" - i.e., it is not found in the proud spirited. "It is not across the sea" - i.e., it is not found in those who travel across the sea.

Therefore, our Sages said: "Not everyone who is involved in business will become wise." Our Sages also commanded: "Minimize your business activities and occupy yourself with Torah."

ח

כתוב בתורה לא בשמים היא ולא מעבר לים היא לא בשמים היא לא בגסי הרוח היא מצויה ולא במהלכי מעבר לים היא לפיכך אמרו חכמים לא כל המרבה בסחורה מחכים וצוו חכמים הוי ממעט בעסק ועסוק בתורה:

It is written in the Torah [Deuteronomy 30:12, 13]: - Rav Kapach renders this: "It is written about the Torah," emphasizing that according to the Rambam, the antecedent of the pronoun "it" in the above verse is Torah study and not Teshuvah, as explained by the Ramban and others.

"It is not in the heavens....It is not across the sea...." [This implies:] "It is not in the heavens" - i.e., it is not found in the proud spirited. - and self-centered. Such an attitude runs contrary to the spirit of Torah and, ultimately, prevents one from grasping it, as explained in the following halachah.

"It is not across the sea" - i.e., it is not found in those who travel across the sea - for business purposes. In contrast, one is advised to travel to study Torah, as Avot relates: "Exile yourself to a place of Torah."

Therefore, our Sages said: - Avot 2:5

"Not everyone who is involved in business will become wise." - In his commentary on that Mishnah, the Rambam quotes the content of this halachah.

Our Sages also commanded: - Avot 4:12

"Minimize your business activities and occupy - The Hebrew, la’asok, is also used in the Ashkenazic text of the blessings recited before Torah study. In most contexts, that word is rendered as "business." Thus, employing it in the blessing implies that the manner in which a person applies himself to Torah study should resemble the way a businessman applies himself to his business, making it the central matter of his life.

yourself with Torah." - The practical applications of these concepts are found in the following halachah.

9

The words of Torah can be compared to water, as [Isaiah 55:1] states: "Behold, all who are thirsty, come to the water." This teaches you that just as water does not collect on an incline, but rather flows from it and collects in a low place, similarly, the words of Torah will not be found in the arrogant or in the hearts of any of the haughty, but rather in the humble and lowly, who sit in the dust at the feet of the Sages and remove the desires and pleasures of the times from their hearts. They do only a minimal amount of work each day [to earn] their livelihood if they have nothing else to eat. The rest of their days and nights are involved with Torah study.

ט

דברי תורה נמשלו כמים שנאמר הוי כל צמא לכו למים לומר לך מה מים אינם מתכנסין במקום מדרון אלא נזחלין מעליו ומתקבצים במקום אשבורן כך דברי תורה אינם נמצאים בגסי הרוח ולא בלב כל גבה לב אלא בדכא ושפל רוח שמתאבק בעפר רגלי החכמים ומסיר התאוות ותענוגי הזמן מלבו ועושה מלאכה בכל יום מעט כדי חייו אם לא היה לו מה יאכל ושאר יומו ולילו עוסק בתורה:

The words of Torah can be compared to water, as [Isaiah 55:1] states: "Behold, all who are thirsty, come to the water." - Ta'anit 7a mentions the ideas related by the Rambam as well as other dimensions of the comparison between Torah and water.

This teaches you that just as water does not collect on an incline, but rather flows from it and collects in a low place, similarly, the words of Torah will not be found in the arrogant or in the hearts of any the haughty - i.e., the nature of such a personality does not allow an individual to grasp the words of Torah. As obvious from the contrast with the humble, pride prevents one from grasping Torah for two reasons:
a) A proud person will be less likely to make the effort necessary to open himself up to the instruction of a master;
b) Pride often leads a person to material desire, whose pursuit will take a person away from devotion to Torah study.

but rather in the humble and lowly, who sit in the dust at the feet of the Sages - The Rambam borrows the phraseology of Avot 1:4. Others render the phrase: "Become dusty [pursuing] the Sages' feet" - i.e., follow them everywhere out of thirst to learn from them.

and remove the desires and pleasures of the times from their hearts - See Halachah 12.

They do only a minimal amount of work each day [to earn] their livelihood if they have nothing else to eat. - Note the narrative from Yoma 35b quoted in the commentary on Chapter 1, Halachah 8, which describes Hillel's daily activities.

The rest of their days and nights - See Halachah 13.

are involved with Torah study.

10

Anyone who comes to the conclusion that he should involve himself in Torah study without doing work and derive his livelihood from charity, desecrates [God's] name, dishonors the Torah, extinguishes the light of faith, brings evil upon himself, and forfeits the life of the world to come, for it is forbidden to derive benefit from the words of Torah in this world.

Our Sages declared: "Whoever benefits from the words of Torah forfeits his life in the world." Also, they commanded and declared: "Do not make them a crown to magnify oneself, nor an axe to chop with." Also, they commanded and declared: "Love work and despise Rabbinic positions." All Torah that is not accompanied by work will eventually be negated and lead to sin. Ultimately, such a person will steal from others.

י

כל המשים על לבו שיעסוק בתורה ולא יעשה מלאכה ויתפרנס מן הצדקה הרי זה חלל את השם ובזה את התורה וכבה מאור הדת וגרם רעה לעצמו ונטל חייו מן העולם הבא לפי שאסור ליהנות מדברי תורה בעולם הזה אמרו חכמים כל הנהנה מדברי תורה נטל חייו מן העולם ועוד צוו ואמרו אל תעשם עטרה להתגדל בהן ולא קרדום לחפור בהן ועוד צוו ואמרו אהוב את המלאכה ושנא את הרבנות וכל תורה שאין עמה מלאכה סופה בטילה וגוררת עון וסוף אדם זה שיהא מלסטם את הבריות:

The previous halachot explained how important Torah study is and how involvement in business can present a contradiction to it. Since many might reach the conclusion that, if so, it is proper to be involved solely in Torah study with no thought of worldly matters, the Rambam clarifies accordingly...

Anyone who comes to the conclusion that he should involve himself in Torah study without doing work and derive his livelihood from charity desecrates [God's] name - In Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah, Chapter 5, and Hilchot Teshuvah 1:4, the Rambam mentions the severity of the sin of desecrating God's name.

dishonors the Torah, extinguishes the light of faith, brings evil upon himself, and forfeits the life of the world to come, for it is forbidden to derive benefit from the words of Torah in this world. - See the commentary on Chapter 1, Halachah 7, which quotes the Rambam's commentary on Avot at length, strongly decrying the deriving of material benefit from one's Torah knowledge.

These convictions are also expressed in Hilchot Matnot Ani'yim 10:18, which states:

Even a dignified Sage who becomes poor should work in a profession, even a degrading profession, rather than seek public assitance. It is better to skin the hides of dead animals than to tell the people, "I am a Sage, support me."
Our greatest Sages were wood-choppers, porters, water-drawers... They did not ask anything from the public and refused to accept anything that was given to them.

The Kessef Mishneh takes issue with the Rambam's statements and states that there is no prohibition against a Torah Sage receiving support from others. Though the Rambam quotes many examples of sages who performed simple labors to earn their livelihood, the Kessef Mishneh explains how none of them can be taken to be conclusive proof of the Rambam's position.

For example, the Rambam quotes Yoma 35b, which relates how Hillel would do simple work to earn his sustenance. The Kessef Mishneh explains that the Talmud's statements about Hillel were made before his greatness was appreciated. There is no proof that he continued working as a common laborer afterwards.

The practice of taking payment for Torah study has its source in Tosafot, Ketubot 106a, which relates that individuals who give up the opportunity to earn their livelihood in other professions so that they can teach Torah or serve as judges are able to receive remuneration, because, in essence, they are not receiving payment for their Torah, but for their time.

The Kessef Mishneh concludes:

It is possible to explain that our master's intention is that a person should not cast off the yoke of labor in order to receive his livelihood from others in order to study. Rather, first, he should learn a profession with which he can sustain himself. If that is sufficient for him, it is good. If not, he may receive his livelihood from the community...
Even if this is not our master's intention, as apparent from his Commentary on the Mishnah, whenever one is in doubt about the halachah, one should follow the custom. We have seen all the Sages of Israel, both before and after our master, accepting their livelihood from the community.
Furthermore, even if the halachah followed our master..., it is possible that all the sages of the [previous] generations agreed to do so because...if the livelihood of the scholars and the teachers were not available, they would not be able to labor in Torah as is fitting, and the Torah would be forgotten, Heaven forbid. Since it is available, they are able to study, "and Torah is magnified and becomes stronger."

These ideas are quoted as halachah by the Shulchan Aruch and the Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 246:5). It must be noted that even the Rambam (Chapter 6, Halachah 10, Commentary on the Mishnah, ibid.,Hilchot De'ot 6:2) allows a person to give a sage money to invest, or to afford him other benefits in commerce and trade.

Our Sages declared: - Avot 4:5.

"Whoever benefits from the words of Torah forfeits his life in the world." - The Kessef Mishneh quoted above refers to the Rambam's commentary on this Mishnah. Major portions of the Rambam's statements are cited in our commentary on Chapter 1, Halachah 7.

Also, they commanded and declared: - Avot, ibid. The Rambam reverses the order of the statements in the Mishnah, perhaps, because the first clause is more explicit. Alternatively, because chronologically, Hillel, the author of the latter clause, preceded Rabbi Tzadok, the author of the former.

"Do not make them a crown to magnify oneself - a source of honor,

nor an axe to chop with." - i.e., a means of deriving a livelihood.

Also, they commanded and declared: - Avot 1:10.

"Love work and despise Rabbinic positions." - In his commentary on that Mishnah, the Rambam writes: "Without work, it will be difficult for him for him, and he will steal and cheat. Seeking positions of honor will bring about challenges."

Similarly, Avot 2:2 teaches:

"All Torah that is not accompanied by work will eventually be negated and lead to sin." - That Mishnah begins: "Torah is beautiful when accompanied by work."

Ultimately, such a person will steal from others. - The commentaries cite Kiddushin 29a: "Whoever does not teach his son a profession is as if he taught him to steal," as the source for the Rambam's statements.

11

It is a tremendous advantage for a person to derive his livelihood from his own efforts. This attribute was possessed by the pious of the early generations. In this manner, one will merit all [types of] honor and benefit in this world and in the world to come, as [Psalms 128:2] states: "If you eat the toil of your hands, you will be happy and it will be good for you."

"You will be happy" - in this world. "It will be good for you" - in the world to come, which is entirely good.

יא

מעלה גדולה היא למי שהוא מתפרנס ממעשה ידיו ומדת חסידים הראשונים היא ובזה זוכה לכל כבוד וטובה שבעולם הזה ולעולם הבא שנאמר יגיע כפיך כי תאכל אשריך וטוב לך אשריך בעולם הזה וטוב לך לעולם הבא שכולו טוב:

The Rambam continues the theme begun in the previous halachah. Not only is it forbidden to derive benefit from one's Torah knowledge...

It is a tremendous advantage for a person to derive his livelihood from his own efforts - and not from charity.

and is an attribute possessed by the pious of the first generations. - Among the examples of sages who worked as craftsmen mentioned in the Talmud are Rav Huna - a drawer of water (Ketubot 105a), Rabbi Meir - a barber (Eruvin 13a), Rabbi Yehudah - a porter (Nedarim 49b), and Rav Yosef - a miller, Rav Sheshet - a porter (Gittin 67b).

In this manner, one will merit all the honor - One of the rationales given by many of the Rabbis who permit scholars to derive benefit from their studies is that performing menial work will cheapen the common man's appreciation of them, and thus minimize the honor given to the Torah.

The Rambam (see the Commentary on the Mishnah, ibid.) holds the very opposite. The common people will respect a person who honestly earns his livelihood and will look down on a person who derives his income from charity.

and benefit in this world - i.e., God will grant him blessing and he will be able to earn a respectable income through his efforts.

In Hilchot Teshuvah 9:1, the Rambam elaborates how God will grant material blessings to a person who dedicates himself to Torah and mitzvot. These blessings will, in turn, afford him the opportunity of continuing and increasing his service of God.

and in the world to come - Though the person will also realize benefit in this world, "the principle remains for the world to come" (Pe'ah 1:1). (See also Hilchot Teshuvah, ibid.)

as [Psalms 128:2] states: "If you eat the toil of your hands, - On this verse, the Rabbis commented: 'the toil of your hands,' and not 'the toil of your heads.’“ When a person works with his hands, his mind is free to think about Torah. When he returns home, he may be physically tired, but he has no pressures from his business. In contrast, those whose profession involves mental effort have more difficulty diverting their attention from these matters to Torah.

you will be happy and it will be good for you." - Berachot 8a interprets this verse to mean...

"You will be happy" - in this world. "It will be good for you" - in the world to come, which is entirely good.

12

The words of Torah will not be permanently acquired by a person who applies himself feebly [to obtain] them, and not by those who study amid pleasure and [an abundance] of food and drink. Rather, one must give up his life for them, constantly straining his body to the point of discomfort, without granting sleep to his eyes or slumber to his eyelids.

The Sages alluded to this concept, [interpreting Numbers 19:14:] "This is the Torah, a man should he die in a tent..." [to mean that] the Torah cannot be permanently acquired except by a person who gives up his life in the tents of wisdom.

Similarly, Solomon said in his wisdom [Proverbs 24:10]: "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small." He also said [Ecclesiastes 2:9]: "Also, my wisdom remained with me." [This can be interpreted to mean:] The wisdom which I learned in anger, this is what remained with me.

Our Sages declared: A covenant has been established that anyone who wearies himself in Torah study in a house of study will not forget it quickly. Anyone who wearies himself in Torah study in private will become wise, as [Proverbs 11:2] states: "To the modest will come wisdom."

Whoever raises his voice during his studies will permanently acquire the subject matter. In contrast, one who reads silently will forget quickly.

יב

אין דברי תורה מתקיימין במי שמרפה עצמו עליהן ולא באלו שלומדין מתוך עידון ומתוך אכילה ושתיה אלא במי שממית עצמו עליהן ומצער גופו תמיד ולא יתן שינה לעיניו ולעפעפיו תנומה אמרו חכמים דרך רמז זאת התורה אדם כי ימות באהל אין התורה מתקיימת אלא במי שממית עצמו באהלי החכמים וכן אמר שלמה בחכמתו התרפית ביום צרה צר כחכה ועוד אמר אף חכמתי עמדה לי חכמה שלמדתי באף היא עמדה לי אמרו חכמים ברית כרותה שכל היגע בתורתו בבית המדרש לא במהרה הוא משכח וכל היגע בתלמודו בצנעה מחכים שנאמר ואת צנועים חכמה וכל המשמיע קולו בשעת תלמודו תלמודו מתקיים בידו אבל הקורא בלחש במהרה הוא שוכח:

The words of Torah will not be permanently acquired by a person who applies himself feebly - i.e., does not devote his energies to study.

[to obtain] them, and not by those who study amid pleasure and [an abundance] of food and drink. - The pursuit of pleasure will prevent him from devoting himself to Torah study. During the time he is enjoying material benefits (how much more so if he has to work to earn the funds to obtain them), he could have been studying Torah.

Rather, one must give up his life for them - the words of Torah

constantly straining his body to the point of discomfort - As mentioned in the commentary on Halachah 6, the Rambam is not alluding to ascetic penances, but rather to the dedication of all one's energies to the acquisition of Torah knowledge.

without granting sleep to his eyes or slumber to his eyelids. - Note the following halachah, which describes the advantages of studying at night.

The Sages alluded to this concept - Berachot 63b; Midrash Tanchumah, No'ach 3

[interpreting Numbers 19:14:] "This is the Torah, a man should he die in a tent..." - Generally, the verse would be translated: "This is the law [when] a man..." However, the literal translation of the words was quoted to demonstrate the connection to our Sages' comments more graphically.

[to mean] that the Torah cannot be permanently acquired except by a person who gives up his life in the tents of wisdom. - Our Sages frequently associated the expression "tents" with houses of study. (See the commentaries on Genesis 25:27 and Deuteronomy 33:18.)

Similarly, Solomon said in his wisdom [Proverbs 24:10]: "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small." - When you minimize your involvement in Torah because of difficulties, then "your strength" - your Torah knowledge - will be "small" - will not remain with you (Lechem Mishneh).

Others cite Berachot 63a: "Anyone who applies himself feebly to the words of Torah will not have the strength to stand in a day of adversity."

He also said [Ecclesiastes 2:9]: "Also, my wisdom remained with me." [This can be interpreted to mean:] The wisdom which I learned in anger, - The Hebrew word af can have both meanings - "even" and "anger."

this is what remained with me. - The commentaries interpret this as a reference to the anger displayed by the teachers during their instruction. (See Matnat K'hunah, Kohelet Rabbah 2:9.) This continues the theme that the dedication to Torah study beyond one's nature is the key to acquiring Torah as one's own.

In his commentary on Avot 5:19, the Rambam quotes this verse and interpretation, and associates it with the advice he gives teachers in Chapter 4, Halachah 5, to cast fear into the hearts of the students.

Our Sages declared: - Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 5:1

A covenant has been established that anyone who wearies himself in Torah study in a house of study - Many manuscripts substitute "in a synagogue," as is the text in the Jerusalem Talmud.

will not forget it quickly - i.e., the fact that study is carried out in a house of study itself contributes to its retention by the students. Accordingly, our Sages highly recommend that one study in a house of study (or at least in a synagogue) whenever possible. (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Hilchot Talmud Torah 4:10.)

Anyone who wearies himself in Torah study in private will become wise, as [Proverbs 11:2] states: "To the modest will come wisdom." - It must be noted that Berachot 63b severely criticizes those who study Torah alone (when they have the opportunity to study with others). Similarly, in the following chapter, when the Rambam discusses the actual process of study, he continually refers to a teacher studying with many students.

Whoever raises his voice during his studies - The Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 5:1, emphasizes that one should not raise one's voice overly loud.

will permanently acquire the subject matter. - II Samuel 23:5 states: "for He has made an everlasting covenant with me, ordered in all and preserved." Eruvin 54a interprets the "everlasting covenant" as a reference to the Torah, and states: "If it is ordered in all a person's 248 limbs" - i.e., if his entire body is involved in his study - "it will be preserved."

The Tanya, Chapter 38, explains that a person who studies out loud and invests his energy in Torah study elevates his body and natural life force.

In contrast, one who reads silently will forget quickly. - It is difficult to ignore the contrast between secular study, which is carried out in a silent library, and the study of Torah carried out in a noisy house of study, each person verbalizing the subject matter which he is studying.

Based on Berachot 15b and the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 62:3, Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hilchot Talmud Torah 2:12) states that the study of Torah is comparable to other mitzvot associated with speech. A person cannot fulfill his obligation through mere thought, and must either vocalize the words himself or hear from someone else who reads out loud.

13

Even though it is a mitzvah to study during the day and at night, it is only at night that a person acquires most of his wisdom. Therefore, a person who desires to merit the crown of Torah should be careful with all his nights, not giving up even one to sleep, eating, drinking, talk, or the like. Rather, [they should be devoted to] the study of Torah and the words of wisdom.

Our Sages declared: "The song of Torah can [be heard] only at night, as [Eichah 2:19] states: 'Arise, sing out at night...’“

Whoever occupies himself with Torah study at night will have a strand of [Divine] favor extended over him during the day, as [implied by Psalms 42:9]: "During the day, God ordains His kindness and, at night, His song is with me, a prayer to the living God."

[In contrast], any house in which the words of Torah cannot be heard at night will be consumed by fire, as [implied by Job 20:26]: "All the darkness is hidden away from His treasures; a fire that need not be blown will consume him."

[The verse, Numbers 16:31,] "He scorned the word of God," applies to someone who pays no attention to Torah at all. Similarly, anyone who has the potential to occupy himself with Torah study and does not, or who has studied both the Written and Oral Law and turned away to the vanities of the world, leaving behind his study and ignoring it, is included in the category of "those who scorn the word of God."

Our Sages declared: "Whoever neglects Torah study when wealthy will ultimately neglect it amidst poverty. Whoever maintains the Torah in poverty will ultimately maintain it amidst prosperity." This concept is explicitly mentioned in the Torah [Deuteronomy 28:47-48], which states: "Because you did not serve God, your Lord, with happiness and good feeling when there was an abundance of everything, you shall serve your enemies," and [Deuteronomy 8:16] states: "so that you shall suffer...so that ultimately He will make you prosper."

יג

אע"פשמצוה ללמוד ביום ובלילה אין אדם למד רוב חכמתו אלא בלילה לפיכך מי שרצה לזכות בכתר התורה יזהר בכל לילותיו ולא יאבד אפילו אחד מהן בשינה ואכילה ושתיה ושיחה וכיוצא בהן אלא בתלמוד תורה ודברי חכמה אמרו חכמים אין רנה של תורה אלא בלילה שנאמר קומי רוני בלילה וכל העוסק בתורה בלילה חוט של חסד נמשך עליו ביום שנאמר יומם יצוה ה' חסדו ובלילה שירה עמי תפלה לאל חיי וכל בית שאין נשמעים בו דברי תורה בלילה אש אוכלתו שנאמר כל חשך טמון לצפוניו תאכלהו אש לא נופח כי דבר ה' בזה זה שלא השגיח על דברי תורה כל עיקר וכן כל שאפשר לו לעסוק בתורה ואינו עוסק או שקרא ושנה ופירש להבלי עולם והניח תלמודו וזנחו הרי זה בכלל בוזה דבר ה' אמרו חכמים כל המבטל את התורה מעושר סופו לבטלה מעוני וכל המקיים את התורה מעוני סופו לקיימה מעושר וענין זה מפורש הוא בתורה הרי הוא אומר תחת אשר לא עבדת את ה' אלהיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב מרוב כל ועבדת את אויביך ואומר למען ענותך להטיבך באחריתך:

Even though it is a mitzvah to study during the day and at night - See Chapter 1, Halachah 8.

it is only at night that a person acquires most of his wisdom. - Eruvin 65a states: "The moon was created only for Torah study." The term "wisdom" is interpreted as a reference to those aspects of Torah study described as Gemara or Talmud (Chapter 1, Halachah 11). At night, when a person is removed from his daytime pressures, he is able to concentrate more on these abstract subjects.

Therefore, a person who desires to merit the crown of Torah - See the commentary on Halachah 1 with regard to the latter term.

should be careful with all his nights, not giving up even one to sleep - Hilchot De'ot 4:4 states that a person should sleep eight hours each night. The commentaries have questioned whether here, the Rambam is advising a person to strain himself beyond those limits, or whether the Rambam is merely stating that the nighttime hours a person has available should be devoted to Torah study.

eating, drinking - In Hilchot De'ot 5:1, the Rambam counsels: "A Torah Sage should not be a glutton. Rather, he should eat only the foods that are appropriate for his physical health and [even of those], he should not partake excessively. He should not pursue [food] after filling his gut."

talk - In general, the Rambam advises against excessive speech. Hilchot De'ot 2:4 states: "A person should also remain silent to a great extent, and speak only about words of wisdom or things he requires to maintain his existence."

or the like. Rather, [they should be devoted to] the study of Torah and the words of wisdom.

Our Sages declared: "The song of Torah can [be heard] only at night, as [Eicha 2:19] states: 'Arise, sing out at night..." - Note the commentaries on Deuteronomy 31:9, which describe the Torah as God's song.

Whoever occupies himself with Torah study at night will have a strand of [Divine] favor extended over him during the day, as [implied by Psalms 42:9]: "During the day, God ordains His kindness and, at night, His song is with me, a prayer to the living God." - Avodah Zarah 3b comments: "Why does 'God ordain His kindness during the day'? Because 'at night, His song (the Torah) is with me.’“

[In contrast], any house in which the words of Torah cannot be heard at night will be consumed by fire, as [implied by Job 20:26]: "All the darkness - i.e., the nights

is hidden away from His treasures - the Torah. Therefore,

a fire that need not be blown will consume him."

[The verse, Numbers 16:31,] "He scorned the word of God," applies to someone who pays no attention to Torah at all. - This is the opinion of Rabbi Natan, as quoted in Sanhedrin 99a, and in the Sifre, Sh'lach.

Similarly, anyone who has the potential to occupy himself with Torah study and does not - Sanhedrin, op. cit.) quotes Rabbi Nehorai for this definition of the above verse.

or who has studied both the Written and Oral Law and turned away to the vanities of the world, leaving behind his study and ignoring it, is included in the category - This definition is not mentioned in any of the opinions quoted in Sanhedrin or the Sifre in the definition of the above verse.

of "those who scorn the word of God." -The Lechem Mishneh emphasizes that this severe condemnation applies even when a person ignores his study out of laziness and idle tendencies, without any contempt or disrespect for the Torah.

Our Sages declared: - Avot 4:11

"Whoever neglects Torah study when wealthy will ultimately neglect it amidst poverty. Whoever maintains the Torah in poverty will ultimately maintain it amidst prosperity." - In his commentary on that Mishnah, the Rambam writes:

A person who studies Torah in poverty and need, straining himself to study despite these pressures, will ultimately merit to study amidst prosperity without any disturbances to his study.
[Conversely,] a person who neglects Torah study because he is prosperous and, therefore, is busy eating, drinking, and seeking pleasure, will ultimately become poor to the extent that the reason he neglects Torah study will be his pursuit of his daily bread.

This concept is explicitly mentioned in the Torah [Deuteronomy 28:47-48], which states: "Because you did not serve God, your Lord, with happiness and good feeling when there was an abundance of everything, you shall serve your enemies" - This interpretation of the verse resembles that of Rashi's commentary on the Torah. Note the conclusion of Hilchot Lulav, where the Rambam interprets the verse differently, stressing the importance of serving God with joy.

and [Deuteronomy 8:16] states: "so that you shall suffer...so that ultimately He will make you prosper."

Talmud Torah - Chapter Four

1

Torah should be taught only to a proper student - one whose deeds are attractive - or to a person whose behavior is unknown. However, [a potential student] who follows bad ways should be influenced to correct his behavior and trained to follow a straight path. [After he repents, his deeds] are examined and he is allowed to enter the house of study to be instructed.

Our Sages said: Whoever teaches an improper student is considered as if he throws a stone to Mercury, as [Proverbs 26:8] states: "As one who winds a stone in a sling, so is he who gives honor to a fool." There is no "honor" other than Torah, as [Proverbs 3:35] states: "The wise shall inherit honor."

Similarly, one should not study from a teacher who does not follow a proper path, even though he is a very wise man and his [instruction] is required by the entire nation, until he returns to a good path, as [implied by Malachi 2:7]: "For the priest's lips shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek Torah from his mouth, because he is a messenger from the Lord of Hosts."

Our Sages said: If a teacher resembles "a messenger of the Lord of Hosts," seek Torah from his mouth. If he does not, do not seek Torah from his mouth.

א

אין מלמדין תורה אלא לתלמיד הגון נאה במעשיו או לתם אבל אם היה הולך בדרך לא טובה מחזירין אותו למוטב ומנהיגין אותו בדרך ישרה ובודקין אותו ואח"כ מכניסין אותו לבית המדרש ומלמדין אותו אמרו חכמים כל השונה לתלמיד שאינו הגון כאילו זרק אבן למרקוליס שנאמר כצרור אבן במרגמה כן נותן לכסיל כבוד אין כבוד אלא תורה שנאמר כבוד חכמים ינחלו וכן הרב שאינו הולך בדרך טובה אף על פי שחכם גדול הוא וכל העם צריכין לו אין מתלמדין ממנו עד שובו למוטב שנאמר כי שפתי כהן ישמרו דעת ותורה יבקשו מפיהו כי מלאך ה' צבאות הוא אמרו חכמים אם הרב דומה למלאך ה' צבאות תורה יבקשו מפיהו אם לאו אל יבקשו תורה מפיהו:

Torah should be taught only to a proper student - Psalms 50:16 states, "Wicked man, why do you discuss My laws?"

one whose deeds - his observance of the mitzvot

are attractive - or to a person whose behavior is unknown. - Berachot 28a relates that Rabban Gamliel restricted entry to the house of study to any student "whose inside did not reflect his outside" - i.e., to anyone whose character did not match his external appearance as a Torah scholar.

Rabban Gamliel's colleagues did not agree with this approach, and when Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah was appointed in his place, these restrictions were lifted. That day, hundreds of students streamed into the house of study, and even Rabban Gamliel felt the need to reconsider his approach. (See Lechem Mishneh.)

[The Chiddushei Harim questioned Rabban Gamliel's change of heart. Did he not know that when the restrictions were lifted, more students would enter the house of study? However, Rabban Gamliel saw that once the students entered the house of study, the environment had a positive effect on their characters and prompted self-refinement. Therefore, he reconsidered.]

However, [a potential student] who follows bad ways should - first

be influenced to correct his behavior and trained to follow a straight path - of Torah living.

[After he repents, his deeds] are examined and - only then

he is allowed to enter the house of study to be instructed.

Our Sages said: - Chullin 133a

Whoever teaches an improper student is considered as if he throws a stone to Mercury - i.e., Mercury, the Roman god of wayfarers. His symbol was three stones positioned in the form of a triangle. He was worshiped by throwing stones at that symbol.

as [Proverbs 26:8] states: "As one who winds a stone in a sling - the worship of Mercury

so is he who gives honor to a fool." There is no "honor" other than Torah, as [Proverbs 3:35] states: "The wise shall inherit honor." - Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hilchot Talmud Torah 4:17 and Kuntres Acharon 4:1) emphasizes that the restriction applies only to the teacher. The student, himself, should endeavor to study, and it is hoped that the Torah will motivate him to improve his behavior. (See Chapter 3, Halachah 5.)

Furthermore, if the student seeks very earnestly to study, even though he has not changed his behavior, he should be instructed, the teacher carefully balancing his reproofs with positive reinforcement. Our Sages (see the uncensored text of Sotah 47a) were highly critical of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Parchiah, who "pushed Jesus away with two hands," and thus caused him to forsake Judaism entirely.

Similarly, one should not study from a teacher who does not follow a proper path, even though he - the teacher

is a very wise man and his [instruction] is required by the entire nation, until he returns to a good path - Mo'ed Katan 17a relates that there was a Torah sage whose knowledge was needed by his community. However, because of his unsavory behavior, Rav Yehudah placed him under a ban of ostracism.

as [implied by Malachi 2:7]: "For the priest's lips shall keep knowledge, and they shall seek Torah from his mouth, because he is a messenger from the Lord of Hosts."

Our Sages said: - Mo'ed Katan (ibid.)

If a teacher resembles "a messenger - The Hebrew malach also means angel.

of the Lord of Hosts," seek Torah from his mouth. - Implied is that in addition to having knowledge and the ability to communicate it, a teacher must be a paradigm of Torah behavior, fit to be emulated by his students.

If he does not, do not seek Torah from his mouth. - Chaggigah 15b questions how Rabbi Meir would study from Acher, a great sage who scorned the observance of mitzvot. It explains that Rabbi Meir followed the instruction of Proverbs 22:17: "Turn your ear, hear the words of the wise, and direct your heart to My intention," which implies that one can "hear the words of the wise" and, instead of being influenced by them, "direct your heart to My (God's) intention."

The Talmud continues, explaining that only a sage of stature who can "suck a pomegranate and discard its shell" may follow such a course of behavior. Most people should refrain from studying under such teachers.

Accordingly, the Lechem Mishneh concludes that the Rambam did not quote the passage from Chaggigah because, at present, there are none who are of a stature great enough not to be influenced by a teacher of improper character.

The Sefer Kovetz notes that the Rambam mentions this verse in the beginning of his introduction to the Guide to the Perplexed, alluding to the fact that, in composing that work, he had to follow Rabbi Meir's example and study under teachers whose behavior he would not desire to emulate. Nevertheless, this did not represent a contradiction to his omission of this teaching in the Mishneh Torah. We find that under extraordinary conditions, it is permitted to follow a minority opinion in the Talmud. Hence, when the Rambam saw the need to compose a text like the Guide to the Perplexed, he felt that under such conditions, he should follow Rabbi Meir's example.

2

How is [Torah] taught? The teacher sits at the head and the students sit around him, so that all can see the teacher and hear his words.

The teacher should not sit on a chair, [while] his students [sit] on the ground. Rather, either everyone should sit on the ground or everyone should sit on chairs.

Originally, the teacher would sit and the students would stand. [However,] before the destruction of the Second Temple, everyone followed the practice of teaching while both they and the students were seated.

ב

כיצד מלמדים הרב יושב בראש והתלמידים מוקפים לפניו כעטרה כדי שיהו כלם רואים הרב ושומעים דבריו ולא ישב הרב על הכסא ותלמידיו על הקרקע אלא או הכל על הארץ או הכל על הכסאות ובראשונה היה הרב יושב והתלמידים עומדים ומקודם חורבן בית שני נהגו הכל ללמד לתלמידים והם יושבים:


How is [Torah] taught? The teacher sits at the head and the students sit around him - in a half-circle. (See Sanhedrin 30b.)

so that all can see the teacher and hear his words. - Keritot 6a states: "When you sit before your teacher, look at his face, as [implied by Isaiah 30:20]: 'And your eyes shall behold your teachers.54

The teacher should not sit on a chair, [while] his students [sit] on the ground. Rather, either everyone should sit on the ground - Mo'ed Katan 16b praises King David for forgoing his royal honor and sitting on the floor to study together with the Rabbis.

or everyone should sit on chairs. - Megillah 21a notes that God told Moses (Deuteronomy 5:28): "stand together with me." Since God neither stands nor sits, the verse obviously refers to the proper approach to instruction, where no distinction is made between the teachers and the students.

Rabbenu Nissim and other commentators cite certain Talmudic passages which appear to contradict this principle. He explains that sometimes the teacher would sit in an upraised position, so that the students could hear his words more easily. Alternatively, when a sage possessed semichah, the distinct Rabbinic ordination conveyed in a line from teacher to teacher, stretching back to Moses, he was granted greater privileges.

Originally, the teacher would sit and the students would stand. - The Lechem Mishneh notes that this appears to be a direct contradiction to the principle of equality mentioned beforehand. However, he explains that the teachers were allowed to sit in order to be able to relax and transmit the subject matter more clearly. Hence, adopting that position does not represent any superiority over the students.

[However,] before the destruction of the Second Temple, everyone followed the practice of teaching while both they and the students were seated. - Megillah (ibid.) states:

From the time of Moses, our teacher, until Rabban Gamliel, people studied Torah only while standing; after Rabban Gamliel died, sickness descended on the world and they would study Torah while seated.

This refers to Rabban Gamliel the elder. Sotah 9:16 relates that when he died: "The honor of the Torah was nullified." Commenting on that Mishnah, the Rambam associates the nullification of the Torah's honor with the practice of studying while seated.

3

If the teacher [desires] to instruct the students personally, he is entitled to do so. If he [desires to] teach through the medium of a spokesman, the spokesman should stand between him and the students. The teacher speaks to the spokesman and he announces the teaching to all the students.

When they ask the spokesman a question, he asks the teacher. The teacher, [in turn,] replies to the spokesman and the spokesman replies to the questioner.

The teacher should not raise his voice above that of the spokesman. Similarly, when the spokesman asks a question of the teacher, he should not raise his voice above that of the teacher.

The spokesman is not allowed to detract from, add to, or change [the teacher's words], unless he is the teacher's father or teacher. If the teacher tells the spokesman: "My teacher told me the following..." or "My father and teacher told me the following...," when the spokesman relates the teaching to the people, he should quote the statement in the name of the sage [who authored it], mentioning the name of the teacher's father or teacher, saying: "So and so, the sage, said the following..." [This is allowed] despite the fact the teacher did not mention the sage's name, because it is forbidden to refer to one's teacher or father by name.

ג

אם היה מלמד מפיו לתלמידים מלמד ואם היה מלמד על פי מתרגם [המתרגם] עומד בינו ובין התלמידים והרב אומר למתרגם והמתרגם משמיע לכל התלמידים וכשהם שואלין למתרגם הוא שואל לרב והרב משיב למתרגם והמתרגם משיב לשואל ולא יגביה הרב קולו יותר מקול המתרגם ולא יגביה המתרגם קולו בעת ששואל את הרב יותר מקול הרב אין המתרגם רשאי לא לפחות ולא להוסיף ולא לשנות אלא אם כן היה המתורגמן אביו של חכם או רבו אומר הרב למתורגמן כך אמר לי רבי או כך אמר לי אבא מרי וכשאומר המתורגמן הדברים לעם אומר בשם החכם ומזכיר שמו של אבי הרב או של רבו ואומר כך אמר רבנא פלוני אע"פ שלא הזכיר הרב שמו של חכם שאסור לקרות לרבו או לאביו בשמו:

If the teacher [desires] to instruct the students personally, he is entitled to do so. - Although it was common for Torah Sages to employ the services of a spokesman, there was no obligation to do so.

If he [desires to] teach through the medium of a spokesman - There is a difference of opinion between the commentaries regarding the function of this individual. Rashi, Yoma 20b, considers him to be a translator, and, indeed, that is the literal meaning of the term metargaman. In Babylon and even in Eretz Yisrael, the popular spoken language was Aramaic, while many of the Sages preferred to teach in Hebrew. Therefore, they would speak to the spokesman in a hushed tone in Hebrew, and he would translate the teachings to Aramaic and teach them to the public in a loud voice.

Others maintain that the spokesman was no more than a "human microphone." Rather than have the sage weary himself in speaking in a tone which all could hear, he would speak softly, and the spokesman would speak in a tone that all could hear. This opinion is supported by certain passages (e.g., Kiddushin 31b), which refer to the spokesman as amoriyah, which is the Aramaic for metargaman.

The Ra'avad mentions a third perspective, explaining that the spokesman also communicated the teacher's words in a manner that could be understood and grasped by the students. Rabbi Shalom Dovber of Lubavitch follows a similar, but not identical, view. In Yom Tov Shel Rosh Hashanah 5666, he elaborates on this concept in detail, explaining that the teacher was on too high a level to explain his ideas in a manner which the common people could understand. Therefore, he would employ a spokesman, who, though he was able to comprehend the teacher's statements, was on a level that his explanations would not be too sophisticated for the people to grasp. (See also Kohelet Rabbah 7:12, 9:24.)

The use of a spokesman was also a sign of honor and respect for the teacher. (See Rashi, Deuteronomy 32:44.)

the spokesman should stand between him and the students. The teacher speaks to the spokesman - in a hushed tone

and he announces the teaching to all the students - in a manner in which they could hear. (See Sotah 40a, Chullin 15a, from which we can derive a picture of the process of instruction.)

When they ask the spokesman a question, he asks the teacher - in a hushed tone, as explained.

The teacher, [in turn,] replies to the spokesman - in a hushed tone

and the spokesman replies to the questioner - out loud, so that others can hear.

The teacher should not raise his voice above that of the spokesman. - The Kessef Mishneh cites Berachot 45a, which quotes the manner in which Moses relayed God's words at the giving of the Torah (Exodus 19:19) as the source for this concept. Nevertheless, others note that the passage in Berachot refers to a metargaman who translates the Torah reading for the people, and is not necessarily relevant to the situation at hand. Rather, they suggest that the descriptions of the use of spokesmen in the passages cited above serve as the source for this idea.

Similarly, when the spokesman asks a question of the teacher, he should not raise his voice above that of the teacher. - as a mark of respect and deference.

The spokesman is not allowed to detract from, add to, or change [the teacher's words] - The Rambam's statements are quoted from the Jerusalem Talmud, Megillah 4:10. The Ra'avad differs, and quotes a narrative from Yoma 20b, which relates how Rav served as a spokesman for Rav Shilat and altered the connotation of his words. The Ra'avad explains that since Rav's scholarship was greater than Rav Shilat's, he was entitled to do so.

The Kessef Mishneh states that the Rambam did not mention such a possibility, because it is very improbable that a greater sage would serve as a spokesman for a sage of lesser stature.

unless he is the teacher's father or teacher - Rabbenu Nissim explains that a teacher or father is allowed to serve as a spokesman for his students, since they will not be jealous of the honor afforded him. The Kessef Mishneh relates that the Rambam's phraseology indicates a situation which is bidievad (after the fact), and ideally, neither a father or teacher should serve in this position.

There is one exception to the above principle, and, in the following situation, the spokesman should alter the teachers words...

If the teacher tells the spokesman: "My teacher told me the following..." or "My father and teacher told me the following...," when the spokesman relates the teaching to the people, he should quote the statement in the name of the sage [who authored it] - i.e., the teacher's father or teacher

mentioning the name of the teacher's father or teacher, saying: "So and so, the sage, said the following..." - Kiddushin 31b relates that when Rav Ashi's son lectured, he would tell the spokesman: "This is what my father and teacher said...," and the spokesman would say: "This is what Rav Ashi said..."

This is allowed] despite the fact the teacher did not mention the sage's name, because it is forbidden to refer to one's teacher or father by name. -Kiddushin (ibid.) mentions this concept within the context of the laws governing the respect due to one's father. (See Hilchot Mamrim 6:3.) This concept is also quoted in Chapter 5, Halachah 5, as an expression of the proper respect due a teacher.

4

If the teacher taught [a concept] and it was not grasped by the students, he should not become upset with them and display anger. Rather, he should repeat and review the matter, even if he must do so many times, until they appreciate the depth of the halachah.

Similarly, the student should not say "I understood" when he did not understand. Rather, he should ask again and again, even if he requires several repetitions. If his teacher becomes upset with him and displays anger, he should tell him: "My teacher, this is Torah. It is necessary that I study, and my powers of comprehension are weak."

ד

הרב שלמד ולא הבינו התלמידים לא יכעוס עליהם וירגז אלא חוזר ושונה הדבר אפילו כמה פעמים עד שיבינו עומק ההלכה וכן לא יאמר התלמיד הבנתי והוא לא הבין אלא חוזר ושואל אפילו כמה פעמים ואם כעס עליו רבו ורגז יאמר לו רבי תורה היא וללמוד אני צריך ודעתי קצרה:

If the teacher taught [a concept] and it was not grasped by the students, he should not become upset with them - </>In Hilchot De'ot 2:3, the Rambam explains in detail how "anger is a very bad trait, and it is proper for a person to separate himself from it entirely."

He continues (ibid. 2:5) explaining how a teacher should instruct the students "in a composed and pleasant manner, without shouting." Here, as well, he does not center on the negative aspects of anger in its own right, but rather its impropriety as an educational technique.

and display anger. - Note the Mishnah, Avot 2:5, cited by the Rambam in the following halachah. Soferim 16:2 states: "One should teach the Talmud with a pleasant countenance and the aggadah with a patient countenance."

Rather, he should repeat and review the matter, even if he must do so many times, until they appreciate the depth of the halachah. - Deuteronomy 31:19 states that Torah must be placed in a student's mouth. Eruvin 54b interprets this as a charge to teachers, requiring them to review the subject matter with their students until the latter comprehend it fully. The passage continues, praising Rabbi Pereidah for teaching one of his students each point four hundred times.

Though patience is generally required of a teacher, there are times when he should display anger as explained in the following halachah.

Similarly, the student should not say "I understood" when he did not understand. - Derech Eretz Zuta, Chapter 2, states: If you desire to study, Do not say "I have comprehended it," when you have not.

Rather, he should ask again and again, even if he requires several repetitions. - The teacher's patient devotion to his students must be reflected by them. They must dedicate themselves to understanding their teacher's words and steadfastly apply themselves to their study until they comprehend.

If his teacher becomes upset with him and displays anger, he should tell him: "My teacher, this is Torah. It is necessary that I study, and my powers of comprehension are weak." - Megillah 28a relates that Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi gave such a reply to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korchah after the latter impatiently rebuked him for what seemed an irrelevant question.

5

A student should not be embarrassed because his colleagues grasped the subject matter the first or second time, while he did not understand it until it was repeated a number of times. If he becomes embarrassed because of such matters, he will find himself going in and out of the house of study without learning anything.

Accordingly, the Sages of the previous generations stated: "A bashful person will not learn, nor should the short-tempered teach."

When does the above apply? When the students did not understand the subject matter because of its depth or because of their limited powers of comprehension. However, if it appears to the teacher that they are not applying themselves to the words of Torah and are lax about them, and, therefore, do not understand, he is obligated to display anger towards them and shame them with his words, to sharpen their powers of concentration. In this context, our Sages said: "Cast fear into the students."

Therefore, it is not fitting for a teacher to act frivolously in the presence of his students. He should not amuse himself in their presence, nor should he eat and drink with them. [These restrictions are intended] so that they fear him and study under him at a fast pace.

ה

לא יהיה התלמיד בוש מחביריו שלמדו מפעם ראשונה או שניה והוא לא למד אלא אחר כמה פעמים שאם נתבייש מדבר זה נמצא נכנס ויוצא לבית המדרש והוא אינו למד כלום לפיכך אמרו חכמים הראשונים אין הביישן למד ולא הקפדן מלמד במה דברים אמורים בזמן שלא הבינו התלמידים הדבר מפני עומקו או מפני דעתן שהיא קצרה אבל אם ניכר לרב שהם מתרשלין בדברי תורה ומתרפין עליהן ולפיכך לא הבינו חייב לרגוז עליהן ולהכלימן בדברים כדי לחדדם וכענין זה אמרו חכמים זרוק מרה בתלמידים לפיכך אין ראוי לרב לנהוג קלות ראש לפני התלמידים ולא לשחוק בפניהם ולא לאכול ולשתות עמהם כדי שתהא אימתו עליהן וילמדו ממנו במהרה:

A student should not be embarrassed - and therefore be prevented from asking questions]

because his colleagues grasped the subject matter the first or second time, while he did not understand it until it was repeated a number of times. - On the contrary, he should ask that it be repeated, and his colleagues are obligated to show him the courtesy of patiently listening to the repetition.

If he becomes embarrassed because of such matters, he will find himself going in and out of the house of study without learning anything. - Berachot 63b teaches: "Any student who humbles himself because of the words of Torah will ultimately be uplifted." Rashi explains that this refers to a student who asks all the questions that bother him even though his colleagues look down upon him.

Accordingly - This refers to both this and the previous halachah

the Sages of the previous generations stated: - Avot 2:5

"A bashful person will not learn, nor should the short-tempered teach." - The two faults lead to the same difficulty. The teacher will explain the subject matter in a manner which he thinks is correct. However, it will not be grasped by the students.

When does the above - the directive that a teacher should patiently repeat his words without displaying anger

apply? When the students did not understand the subject matter because of its depth or because of their limited powers of comprehension. However, if it appears to the teacher that they are not applying themselves to the words of Torah and are lax about them and, therefore, do not understand - further repetition will not help, for the students will not concentrate then, either. Therefore,

he is obligated to display anger - This translation is based on Hilchot De'ot 2:3, which explains that a person may act in an angry matter to cast fear into the hearts of others. However, he, himself, should not be angry.

towards them and shame them with his words to sharpen their powers of concentration. - Since their difficulty stemmed from their lack of concentration, by forcing the students to apply themselves, the teacher will enable them to learn.

In this context, our Sages said: - Ketubot 103b relates that Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi mentioned this concept in his last will and testament. In particular, this advice was given to his son, Rabban Gamliel, with regard to the manner in which he should conduct himself as a nasi. The Rambam interprets the lesson as more general in nature and applies it to the relationship between every teacher and student.

"Cast fear into the students." - Similarly, Shabbat 30b states that a student must sit in utter dread of his teacher.

Therefore - in order to cultivate this aura of respect

it is not fitting for a teacher to act frivolously in the presence of his students. - In general, the Rambam advises against frivolous behavior, and favors a reserved, but pleasant and happy approach to others. (See Hilchot De'ot 2:7, 5:2.)

He should not amuse himself in their presence, nor should he eat and drink with them. - This does not imply that a teacher must demonstrate a totally stern approach. Shabbat (ibid.) relates how Rabbah would begin his lectures with a witty statement. His students would laugh and, afterwards, he would sit in awe and begin the lesson.

[These restrictions are intended] so that they fear him and study under him at a fast pace.

6

When the teacher enters the house of study, questions should not be posed to him until he gathers his powers of concentration. [Thus,] a student should not ask until he sits and rests.

Two should not ask at once. A teacher should not be asked about an outside matter, but rather, [only] regarding the subject which they are involved with, lest he become embarrassed.

The teacher may [deliberately] lead the students astray with his questions and the deeds he carries out in their presence to sharpen their powers of concentration and to test whether they remember what he taught them or not. Needless to say, he may ask them regarding another matter, which they are not presently involved with, to spur them on.

ו

אין שואלין את הרב כשיכנס למדרש עד שתתישב דעתו עליו ואין התלמיד שואל כשיכנס עד שיתישב וינוח ואין שואלין שנים כאחד ואין שואלין את הרב מענין אחר אלא מאותו הענין שהן עסוקין בו כדי שלא יתבייש ויש לרב להטעות את התלמידים בשאלותיו ובמעשים שעושה בפניהם כדי לחדדן וכדי שידע אם זוכרים הם מה שלמדם או אינם זוכרים ואין צריך לומר שיש לו רשות לשאול אותם בענין אחר שאין עוסקין בו כדי לזרזם:

The previous halachot mentioned the importance of asking questions. This and the next two halachot deal with the proper manner of asking such questions.

When the teacher enters the house of study, questions should not be posed to him until he gathers his powers of concentration. - lest he be prodded into responding hastily, without thinking out the matter in its entirety

[Thus,] a student should not ask until he sits - as mentioned in Halachah 2

and rests.

Two should not ask at once. - First, this is proper manners. Second, it is impossible to hear two people simultaneously.

A teacher should not be asked about an outside matter, but rather, [only] regarding the subject which they - he and the students

are involved with, lest he - not know the answer...

become embarrassed - and give an incorrect reply. Shabbat 3b relates that Rabbi Chiyya gave Rav this advice after he asked a question of Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi concerning an unrelated matter.

In the process of instruction...

The teacher may [deliberately] lead the students astray with his questions - asking about matters which are unrelated, to see whether the students can follow the line of thought.

Berachot 43b relates that Rabbah made certain statements that ran contrary to the Sages' teachings about the mitzvah of sending away the mother bird. The Talmud explains that he did this in order to check his students' knowledge. Eruvin 13a relates that Rabbi Akiva also made statements with a similar intent.

and the deeds he carries out in their presence to sharpen their powers of concentration - e.g., Chullin 43b relates that Rabbah inspected an animal to see whether it was kosher or not, in a manner which contradicted his own teachings. Here, too, it is explained that his intention was to test his students.

and to test whether they remember what he taught them or not. Needless to say, he may ask them regarding another matter, which they are not presently involved with - Bava Metzia 97a relates that a teacher has the right to change the subject matter which the students are studying. However, it does not provide the explanation given by the Rambam here.

to spur them on. - to pique their curiosity and stimulate their desire to learn.

7

A person should not ask a question while standing, nor should a person respond while standing. One should not ask from a high place, from far away, or from behind the elders.

A question should be asked of the teacher regarding only the subject which they are reading. A question should be asked only with an attitude of awe. A person should ask concerning only three halachot [while studying] the same subject.

ז

אין שואלין מעומד ואין משיבין מעומד ולא מגבוה ולא מרחוק ולא מאחורי הזקנים ואין שואלין הרב אלא בענין שהן קורין בו ואין שואלין אלא מיראה ולא ישאל בענין יותר משלש הלכות:

The laws mentioned in this halachah, as well as those of previous and the subsequent halachot, are derived from the Tosefta, Sanhedrin, Chapter 7. Nevertheless, the Rambam does not quote these laws in the same order as the Tosefta.

A person should not ask a question while standing, nor should a person respond while standing. - for a person is more composed when seated. Berachot 27b and Tosafot, B'chorot 36a mention instances when questions were asked while standing. The Beit HaMelech explains that matters which do not require intense thought may be asked while standing, but matters which require concentration should be discussed when both the questioner and the teacher are seated.

Avodat HaMelech explains that the Rambam does not intend to imply that the student should not stand. On the contrary, were he to stand, that would be a sign of respect. Rather, he means that questions should not be addressed to a teacher while the latter is standing.

One should not ask from a high place, from far away, or from behind the elders. - This is not a sign of respect for the teacher.

A question should be asked of the teacher regarding only the subject which they are reading. - The Kessef Mishneh notes the apparent redundancy between this statement and a similar one in the previous halachah, and explains that, in the previous halachah, the Rambam meant that when studying the laws of the Sabbath, a student should not ask his teachers about the laws of the festivals. In this halachah, the Rambam teaches that even within the general subject of the Sabbath laws, while studying the laws of one melachah (forbidden act), a student should not inquire regarding another.

Many of the manuscript versions of the Mishneh Torah state k’inyan (to the point), rather than b’inyan sheheim koreim bo (regarding the subject they are reading). According to these texts, there is no redundancy. Rather, this halachah teaches that a student's questions should be direct, without mentioning any extraneous matters.

A question should be asked only with an attitude of awe. - Just as the Jews received the Torah on Mount Sinai with fear and awe, similarly, our study of Torah must be charged with similar emotions (Berachot 22a).

A person should ask concerning only three halachot [while studying] the same subject. - for it would be difficult for him to grasp more than three new concepts at a time. Also, it is not courteous to the other students for one person to be asking continually.

8

[The following rules apply when] two people ask questions simultaneously: If one question is to the point and the other is not to the point, attention is paid to the question which is to the point. [If one question concerns] a matter to be applied in practice, and the other is an abstract question, attention is paid to the question which concerns the matter to be applied.

[If one question concerns] Torah law, and the other the interpretation of the verses of the Torah, attention is paid to the question which concerns Torah law. [If one question concerns] the interpretation of the verses of the Torah, and the other aggadah, attention is paid to the question which concerns the interpretation of the verses of the Torah.

[If one question concerns] aggadah, and the other the inference drawn from a minor premise to a major one, attention is paid to the question which concerns the inference drawn from a minor premise to a major one. [If one question concerns] the inference drawn from a minor premise to a major one, and the other an analogy established on the basis of similar words, attention is paid to the inference drawn from a minor premise to a major one.

If of the two questioners, one was a sage and one was a commoner, attention is paid to the sage; one a student and one a commoner, attention is paid to the student. However, if they are both sages, both students, or both commoners - similarly, if two people both ask questions concerning Torah law, or they both wish to reply to what has been previously stated, or both questions concern actual deeds - from this point on, the spokesman has the option [of giving precedence to whichever question he desires].

ח

שנים ששאלו שאל אחד כענין ושאל אחד שלא כענין נזקקין לענין מעשה ושאינו מעשה נזקקין למעשה הלכה ומדרש נזקקין להלכה מדרש ואגדה נזקקין למדרש אגדה וקל וחומר נזקקין לקל וחומר קל וחומר וגזירה שוה נזקקין לקל וחומר היו השואלין שנים אחד חכם ואחד תלמיד נזקקין לחכם תלמיד ועם הארץ נזקקין לתלמיד שניהם חכמים שניהם תלמידים שניהם עמי הארץ שאלו שניהם בשתי הלכות או בשתי תשובות או בשתי שאלות שני מעשים הרשות ביד המתרגם מעתה:

[The following rules apply when] two people ask questions simultaneously: - A Torah Sage is obligated to answer all questions posed to him, regardless of who the questioner is or what he asks. Thus, this halachah does not rule out a response being given to a particular questioner, but rather establishes the priorities for those responses to be given.

If one question is to the point - This translation is based on the commonly published text of the Mishneh Torah. Other texts read b’inyan, which would be rendered "with regard to the matter (under discussion)." (See Rabbenu Nissim, Megillah)

and the other is not to the point, attention is paid to the question which is to the point - because it will be possible to answer in a direct manner.

[If one question concerns] a matter to be applied in practice, and the other is an abstract question, attention is paid to the question which concerns the matter to be applied. - Since, as mentioned in Chapter 3, Halachah 3, the greatness of Torah is that it leads to deed, questions that are directly related to deed are given precedence.

[If one question concerns] Torah law, and the other the interpretation of the verses of the Torah, attention is paid to the question which concerns Torah law. - since questions of Torah law, while not necessarily immediately relevant to actual deed, provide guidelines regarding our future behavior. In contrast, the interpretation of Torah verses is a more abstract realm of study, further removed from our immediate behavior.

[If one question concerns] the interpretation of the verses of the Torah, and the other aggadah - i.e., the ethical and metaphysical realm of Torah teachings

attention is paid to the question which concerns the interpretation of the verses of the Torah. - Though they are somewhat removed from being practical guidelines for behavior, the former are still in the category of halachah - the aspect of Torah study that is related to deed and action. Hence, it is given precedence over aggadah, whose lessons are more personal and require a greater effort to internalize.

[If one question concerns] aggadah, and the other the inference drawn from a minor premise to a major one - a kal vichomer, a fortiori reasoning. This is one of the thirteen rules of Biblical exegesis mentioned by Rabbi Yishmael in the introduction to the Sifre.

For example, Bava Metzia 3b attempts to derive the following concept using a kal vichomer:

Just as a person's own statements, which do not obligate him to pay a fine [and hence, can be considered a minor premise], obligate him to take an oath, the testimony of witnesses, which does obligate him to pay a fine [and, hence, can be considered a major premise,] should also obligate him to take an oath.

attention is paid to the question which concerns the inference drawn from a minor premise to a major one. - As above, though the latter subject matter is somewhat removed from being practical guidelines for behavior, it is still in the category of halachah - the aspect of Torah study that is related to deed and action.

[If one question concerns] the inference drawn from a minor premise to a major one, and the other an analogy established on the basis of similar words - a gezeirah shaveh. This is also one of the thirteen rules of Biblical exegesis mentioned by Rabbi Yishmael, as cited above.

When a common word or phrase is found in two separate verses, an analogy is established between them, and concepts applicable to one can be related to the other. However, it must be emphasized that a gezeirah shaveh cannot be arrived at independently, but must be received from a teacher, who, in turn, received it from his teacher in a chain extending back to Moses at Mount Sinai.

attention is paid to the inference drawn from a minor premise to a major one. - The Pri Chadash explains that though both of these have equal status, being included as part of the thirteen rules of Biblical exegesis, precedence is given to the gezeirah shaveh. A person is able to derive a kal vichomer on the basis of his own process of reasoning. In contrast, since a gezeirah shaveh is not the product of one's own thought process, it is more likely to be forgotten. Hence, it is given precedence.

If of the two questioners, one was a sage and one was a commoner, attention is paid to the sage - as mentioned in the next chapter, we are obligated to show Torah Sages respect and honor.

one a student and one a commoner, attention is paid to the student. - Though a student need not be honored in the same way as a sage, a student's dedication to Torah study is deserving of a certain measure of respect.

However, if they are both sages, both students, or both commoners - similarly, if two people both ask questions concerning Torah law, or they both wish to reply to what has been previously stated - The translation of the latter phrase is based on the commentary of the Kessef Mishneh.

or both questions concern actual deeds - from this point on, the spokesman - who relays the questions to the teacher, as mentioned in halachah 3.

has the option [of giving precedence to whichever question he desires].

9

One should not sleep in a house of study. When any person dozes in the house of study, his Torah will be torn in shreds. This is alluded to in Solomon's words of wisdom [Proverbs 23:21]: "Drowsiness will clothe a man in rags."

Conversation in the house of study should concern only the words of Torah. Even if someone sneezes, one should not wish him: "[To your] recovery" in the house of study. Needless to say, the discussion of other matters is prohibited.

The sanctity of a house of study exceeds that of a synagogue.

ט

אין ישינים בבית המדרש וכל המתנמנם בבית המדרש חכמתו נעשית קרעים קרעים וכן אמר שלמה בחכמתו וקרעים תלביש נומה ואין משיחין בבית המדרש אלא בדברי תורה בלבד אפילו מי שנתעטש אין אומרים לו רפואה בבית המדרש ואין צריך לומר שאר הדברים וקדושת בית המדרש חמורה מקדושת בתי כנסיות:

One should not sleep in a house of study. - Megillah 28a relates that Rabbi Zeira's students asked him why he had merited a long life. Among the reasons he gave them was that he had never slept (or even napped) in the house of study.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 151:3) allows one to sleep in a house of study. Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hilchot Talmud Torah 4:12) explains that this leniency was granted when a person spent his days and nights in the house of study. Therefore, rather than cause him to waste his time going back and forth from his home, he was permitted to sleep in the house of study.

When any person dozes in the house of study, his Torah will be torn in shreds. - i.e., his memory will become faulty and he will be able to recall only what he has learned at certain times (Rashi, Sanhedrin 71a).

This is alluded to in Solomon's words of wisdom [Proverbs 23:21]: "Drowsiness will clothe a man in rags." - Sanhedrin, op. cit., quotes Rabbi Zeira (see above) as making this statement.

Conversation in the house of study should concern only the words of Torah. - There are two reasons why unnecessary conversation is forbidden in the house of study:
a) to prevent wasting time that could be used for Torah study. (See Berachot 53a);
b) as a token of respect for the house of study. According to this rationale, such conversation is forbidden even when it does not involve making an interruption in one's studies. (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Hilchot Talmud Torah 4:11.)

Even if someone sneezes, one should not wish him: "[To your] recovery" - This was the Talmudic equivalent of Gesundheit or "God bless you."

in the house of study. - Berachot, loc. cit., relates that this rule was observed in Rabban Gamliel's house of study.

Needless to say - if such statements are forbidden...

[the discussion of] other matters is prohibited. - Chaggigah 12b adds that a person who discusses other matters in a house of study will be punished by being forced to eating glowing coals.

The sanctity of a house of study exceeds that of a synagogue. - Note Hilchot Tefillah, Chapter 11, where the Rambam discusses the sanctity of houses of study and synagogues in detail, mentioning various (restrictions) on our behavior that were ordained as a token of respect. (See also Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 151.)

The greater sanctity of a house of study is expressed by the law (Hilchot Tefillah, Halachah 14), that a synagogue may be transformed into a house of study. However, a house of study should not be transformed into a synagogue.

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