When the Romans forbade the study of Torah, Rabbi Chanina ben Tradyon gathered Jews publicly and taught them Torah.

His teacher, Rabbi Yossi ben Kisma, warned him that the Romans would burn him and his Torah at the stake.

Rabbi Chanina asked, “My master, what will be with me in the next world?”

“Do you have any good deeds?” asked Rabbi Yossi.

“Yes,” he answered. I collected money for the poor on Purim. I inadvertently mixed it with my own. So I gave it all to the poor.”

“If so,” his teacher answered, “may my share of the next world be with you.”

What was Rabbi Chanina’s question? He was literally giving his life to teach Torah!

And what was Rabbi Yossi’s response? Isn’t teaching Torah a good deed?

Because Rabbi Chanina questioned whether he was teaching Torah for sincere motives. Perhaps it wasn’t entirely about what G‑d wanted from him. Perhaps he was driven by his personal love of knowledge and ideas, not by his divine inner soul.

Giving, on the other hand, does not come easy to intellectuals.

By giving generously, Rabbi Chanina showed that he did what he did not because he wanted to do it, but because it needed to be done.

Talmud Avodah Zarah 18a. Torah Ohr, Toldot 19b. Purim 5721. Likutei Sichot vol. 3, pg. 969, footnote 27.