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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Erev Shavout Vort

I recieved the follwing D'var Torah from a reader of the blog. I thought it was very appropriate to post on the eve of this year's kabbalat haTorah:

The Tosefta in Tractate Shabbos (1:4) indicates that just as we stop learning Torah in order to recite the Shema, we should also stop learning Torah in order to perform the Mitzvot of reading the Megilla, saying Hallel, blowing the Shofar, waving the Lulav and all other Mitzvot set forth in the Torah.

Rabbi Yechezkel Abramsky zt"l, in his work Chazon Yechezkel on the Tosefta, quoting the Meiri, asks why the concept of “one who is performing a Mitzvah is exempt from performing another Mitzvah (at that point)” does not apply in this case. He suggests that this concept applies only either
  • (a) where one is involved in a Mitzvah that represents a tangible (or physical) activity ... OR
  • (b) where one is already involved in a Mitzvah that requires physical preparation.
In this case, although learning Torah is tangible in one sense, it is not the same as, for example, building a Sukka, nor does it necessarily require the same physical preparation.

However, Rav Abramsky raises a point regarding the unique nature of learning Torah at the end of his discussion of this issue – that whenever one learns Torah – every single moment that one does so is a Mitzvah, and that every second one learns Torah one is beginning the task (a reason why we can stop learning to perform a physical Mitzva). It is a constant renewal of one of the principal components of our lives as Jews, to be involved in Torah growth, realizing that the Torah is a living, breathing part of our existence. Each time we learn we are engaged in an activity that has no end, as Torah provides us with an infinite capacity and potential to grow.

Shavuos is the holiday that celebrates this fact – as it has no real physical component that is identifiable, unlike that of other holidays throughout the year – simply the realization of the beauty that is Torah and the privilege we have of being “osek” – of learning it.

We should merit this holiday to raise ourselves to Rav Abramsky’s point of constantly beginning the task that is learning Torah and use that as a catalyst for growth this summer.