Shavuos: Yom HaDin For Bloggers?
The Shalah HaKadosh’s take on Shavuos would appear to be tailor-made for those who hang around the blogosphere, whether as authors or consumers. His idea might strike some terror in the hearts of some of us, which would not be a bad idea. Citing the Tolaas Yaakov (R Meir ibn Gabai, the early 16th century mekubal whose work was also cherished by the Maharal), he writes:
Just as on Rosh Hashanah Hashem wishes to providentially scrutinize Man’s actions…He similarly does so on the day of the giving of the Torah. This, too, points to the Creation of the world; on it, He oversees the running of the world, judging it on the fruit of trees…We have already explained that the fruit are the souls that sprout from Hashem’s Tree. The judgment of Shavuos is on the Torah that was given on that day, from which they were mevatel themselves.
Maybe this should remain a short posting.
if it’s a judgement on bittul tora, you could single out everything from newspapers to Lakers fans—it’s just another swipe at bloggers….
[YA – Yup. It’s different when it is self-inflicted. And it would apply to papers and sports, and lots of other things that can be used in proper measure, each according to his or her needs. And every one one of them can be done in excess, at which point it becomes bitul Torah and something for which we will have to answer. Shavuos seems like a good time for a reminder – especially if it comes embedded in an interesting tidbit from the Shalah.]
“The judgment of Shavuos is on the Torah that was given on that day,
from which they were mevatel themselves from.”
What is the exact source of this quote?
[Tolaas Yaakov, quoted by Shalah HaKadosh, Maseches Shavuos (pg. 96A in the old two volume edition)]
The post should include a discussion of the impact of a mindset that teaches that anything besides learning torah is (i)a sin (ii) to be avoided (iii) a nebach…. when for most mortals that level of learning is unattainable.
[YA – I had always thought that people who hung around blogs like CC and Hirhurim were a tad ahead of the mean in native intelligence. You know – the kind of people that perhaps the Ribbono Shel Olam believes can indeed attain that level of learning.]
“His idea might strike some terror in the hearts of some of us, which would not be a bad idea.”
Is our yiddishkeit really supposed to involve living in terror of punishment?
[ראשית חכמה יראת ה “Striking terror in the heart” is a literary figure. We should live constantly in a state of Yiras Hashem, and climb from there to a parallel state (not replacing the first) of Ahavas Hashem. You are quite right that people who live in “terror” will remain paralyzed for the most part, and not capable of the next steps – or even maintaining what they have. For the recipe of how to blend yirah and ahavah, see many pieces in Nesivos Shalom. Chances are that one or two of them are in my new sefer 🙂 ]
This reminds me of a poignant incident that happened to me many years ago, whenI was learning in a Haredi yeshiva.
The Rosh yeshiva gave a shmuess in which he explained that according the gemara in Sanhedrin, those who are mevatel Torah are including in “ki devar hashem baza” and have no portion in olam haba.
My thought was: its impossible to mevatel torah, so if what the Rosh Yeshiva says is correct, I’m doomed. My next thought was: I can’t imagine that Hashem would be so cruel and tyrannical, so the Rosh Yeshiva cannot be correct.
At that point, I knew that I would never be Haredi.
My vort for a number of years now is that every Yom Tov is a yom din, from the second mishnah in RH. Shavuot (Atzeret) is mentioned as the yom din for fruit trees. My take on the yom din for Torah is that it is Shmini Atzeret-Simchat Torah, a regel in its own right but paired with Sukkot, which is the yom din for rain. The physical rain for all the world is hanging in the balance on Sukkot, which is why all the water symbols in the 4 minim. The counterpart is the water which is spiritual and specific to Israel, namely Torah. We are judged on that day backwards, on what we failed to do quantitatively and qualitatively over the past year, and forwards, we rededicate ourselves to Torah and ask for divine help in doing it and receiving inspiration and strength. Shavuot is more about unconditional emuna in accepting the Torah without knowing what it’s really about. No matter how much we learn, we have not scratched the surface. That’s my take. Simchat Torah can be a day for bloggers to take heed, as you say.
“We should live constantly in a state of Yiras Hashem, and climb from there to a parallel state (not replacing the first) of Ahavas Hashem.”
Some musings I’ve had regarding Shavuos, Yirah, and intellect/emotional, or gender differences:
At Matan Torah, the softer language was used for “Beis Yaakov”, and the opposite for men.
However, the Ramabam says in Hilchos Teshuvah:
.עובד את ה’ על דרך זו, אלא עמי הארץ והנשים והקטנים, שמחנכין אותן לעבוד מיראה, עד שתרבה דעתן ויעבדו מאהבה
Similarly, Mesilas Yesharim writes:
ואין יראה זו ראויה אלא לעמי הארץ, ולנשים אשר דעתן קלה, איך אינה יראת החכמים ואנשי הדעת
Ramchal and Rambam seem to be stressing the opposite of Matan Torah in terms of harshness and softness. Even if the Yirah of “chachamim” might includes the previous stage of yirah for less-educated people, the emphasis for men and women in these two sources seem different from Matan Torah, if I understand correctly.
Also, the Ramchal seems to say that the difference in women vs. men is innate(contrast with “anshei hadaas”). The Rambam mentions a progression in education(“mechanchim”); is this going on women in addition to “ketanim”? In general, are there contemporary sources explaining “datan kallaos” in current terminology?
Can the above differences be analogies for differences in approaches of different generations, or differences in individuals(some people may need an opposite-gender approach), or different periods in life ?
We are generally inclined to accept the popular notion that any activity which is not necessary for spiritual purposes or for the purpose of earning a livelyhood automatically falls underthe damning heading of bitul torah. A look at Rav Issur Zalman Meltzer in Even Haazel hilchos melachim may serve to rectify that. He asks how a Jewish king can have a special mitzvah of limud hatorah, isn’t all our time already completely covered by והגית בה יומםולילה? He answers that for a rregular Jew, involvement in ANY conscious activity DOES NOT qualify as bittul torah. Only being completely idle for no purpose whatsoever is considered bittul torah for a regular Jew, whereas a king is required to maintain the standard the is popularly accepted one. Based on the same idea Rav Moshe paskens in Iggros Moshe that it is permissible to pursue wealth, beyond the immediate needs of his household because one would be involved in conscious activity while pursuing wealth and would not be idle.
[YA – That is not the way I understand R Isser Zalman. He means, I believe, that there are many activities whose pursuit can be justified – each person according to his madregah and his needs – for good cause. The king requires even stronger cause. His citation of the 30 issurim involved in bitul Torah seems to me to be by way of acknowledgment of those issurim, not disagreement. Let readers look at the original themselves, and determine what they think pshat is. ]
r yitzy’s remark reminded me of a point a former rav made.
when pirkei avot says if one interrupts his learning to remark on some point of natural beauty, it is ‘ke’illu hitchayev benafsho’
so then better to not learn and face the consequence of interruption! no , the answer is [is this from the Alter Rov?] no learning is
vadai hitchayev benafsho….
While “Elul Anxiety” in not diagnosable under the latest DSM, the term is a chapter title in an apparently forthcoming book by Dr. Benzion Sorotzkin. An excerpt from the essay(available on his website):
“This distinction between the יראה that is admirable and unhealthy anxiety is brought into sharp focus in the Sefer היראה e בעקבות , where healthy and productive יראה emanating from an emotionally healthy person with adequate self-esteem is contrasted with the paralyzing anxiety experienced by someone who is self-doubting and insecure. He gives lie to our purported יראה as meekness and attributes much of our spiritual mediocrity to our reluctance to act with confidence”
In addition to R. Adlerstein’s sefer on Nesivos Shalom, there are two MP3’s:
R. Moshe Weinberger-Shiur(YU Torah) titled “The Avodah of Rosh Hashanah for Our Generation” where he talks of correct and incorrect contemporary applications of yirah.
R. Yisroel Reisman-Shiur on Melachim I, titled “The Lost Art of Yiras Shomayim (MI – 18:1)”