Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Searching In The Dark"

(Picture by Chris Lambert)

Chabakuk Elisha commenting on "From That Moment On" :

The Rogachover Gaon was once asked to attend a certain conference pertaining to communal issues that faced Klal Yisroel at that time, and (as was his way) he responded with a Talmudical answer: "It's a machlokes between the Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi – and since we pasken like the Bavli, I cannot attend."

Explanation:

As mentioned, the Bavli is long and full of questions – comparable to searching in the dark - while the Yerushalmi is much shorter - comparable to searching in a light filled room. So why do we learn Bavli? Because that is the state of Galus.

Chazal tell us that we should learn Torah all day, but if someone takes time from Torah learning to help others, he is rewarded that the Torah that he learns later will come easier so that he won't lose by it. This is the Yerushalmi approach. Nevertheless, that time was lost and Torah was not studied during it. The Bavli - Galus - reality is that the time lost is irreplaceable, and even though the "Yerushalmi Jew" is happy that his question is answered, the "Bavli Jew" is focused more on the search than the solution - and he opposed taking off time for any reason unless absolutely necessary.

The Megilla ends with the statement that Mordechai was liked by most Jews - which begs the question: What's so special about that? "Most" liked him? Well, I would hope so! Is that a high standard?

But we are told in the preceding line that he was the King's Prime Minister, which meant that he didn't have the time to learn all day since we had to spend some time on communal matters. Now, Mordechai was a Yerushalmi Jew, so he was fine with that, but at that time many "Galus Jews" had already been born in Bavel and Persia (at the time of the Purim story), and they were opposed to this approach, resulting in Mordechai only being approved of by most Jews. (The above is based on a well-known Sicha of the Lubavitcher Rebbe)

In more recent times, the Bavli approach was shown to have another possible danger:- that study without contemplation does not bring one to a higher spiritual place. Instead, one spends their life in darkness – as we so often see. The Baal Shem Tov taught that all the study in the world without the intent of connecting to G-d is a tragic loss - and instead one should take time from learning to contemplate and focus on the divine. I could go on, but I think I've rambled on enough...

3 Comments:

At April 25, 2007 at 12:19:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

It is funny you mention this. Just the other night I was listening to one of Rabbi Dovid Sears's shiurim on Likutey Moharan. In it Rebbe Nachman says that the Bavli represents the aspect of darkness. To which Rabbi Sears commented, "When I sit in from of a Talmud Bavli, I know that I am in a dark place".

 
At April 25, 2007 at 1:44:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Dovid Sears said...

Just to clarify: I meant no zilzul chakhomim, chas ve-shalom, but was speaking in a lighter vein. The "darkness" I meant was that of my own struggle to understand the Gemara!

As for the ma'amar Chazal that equates "sitting in darkness" to the Talmud Bavli (just to make sure there is no misunderstanding), this refers to the challenge of trying to clarify the halakhah through argument and debate, in keeping with the "rules of the road" of Torah she-bal-peh.

 
At April 25, 2007 at 2:41:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Alex-J said...

1/ By the way, the Holy Admur HaZaken, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, Baal HaTanya, wrote there that a limud which is not lishma stays downside in this world and can not ascend... And one's has to strive for studying w/o anything in mind other than knowing Hashem and fulfiling His Will(Tanya Chap.40)

2/ I understand from your story about Mordehai that he would be today involved in building the state... Mordehai would today be a follower of Rav Kook ?...

 

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