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Torah L’Shma: Torah for it’s own Sake- Gefet 15

“Anyone who engages in Torah not for its own sake, his Torah will be an elixir of death for him”

How can we deal with this gemara? How will I know that I am studying for its own sake?

Join us for the study of a Tosafot that fleshes out the issue and opens a new path for us in Torah study.

Torah L鈥檚hmah

Much has been written about the connection between Torah and water and about the connection between the plant world and people. Therefore, it is not surprising when Masechet Ta鈥檃nit, which deals with water and the growth of produce and food moves straight to talking about learning Torah and the growth of talmidei chachamim. On the previous daf, the gemara dealt with the joy of the rainy day that comes after a drought and with the special tefillah of this day. The gemara immediately brings two statements which connect this rainy day to the day that the Torah was given. This monumental moment of the Torah being given is parallel to the rain beginning to fall after a long drought.聽

转诇诪讜讚 讘讘诇讬 诪住讻转 转注谞讬转 讚祝 讝 注诪讜讚 讗

讗诪专 专讘 讬讛讜讚讛: 讙讚讜诇 讬讜诐 讛讙砖诪讬诐 讻讬讜诐 砖谞讬转谞讛 讘讜 转讜专讛, 砖谞讗诪专 讬注专祝 讻诪讟专 诇拽讞讬, 讜讗讬谉 诇拽讞 讗诇讗 转讜专讛, 砖谞讗诪专 讻讬 诇拽讞 讟讜讘 谞转转讬 诇讻诐 转讜专转讬 讗诇 转注讝讘讜. 专讘讗 讗诪专: 讬讜转专 诪讬讜诐 砖谞讬转谞讛 讘讜 转讜专讛, 砖谞讗诪专 讬注专祝 讻诪讟专 诇拽讞讬 诪讬 谞转诇讛 讘诪讬 – 讛讜讬 讗讜诪专: 拽讟谉 谞转诇讛 讘讙讚讜诇.

After this emotional opening, the gemara moves on and brings the passuk聽 “讬注专讜祝 讻诪讟专 诇拽讞讬”. It explains the difficult side of the passuk, the side that requires us to learn Torah in a specific way.聽

专讘讗 专诪讬: 讻转讬讘 讬注专祝 讻诪讟专 诇拽讞讬, 讜讻转讬讘 转讝诇 讻讟诇 讗诪专转讬! – 讗诐 转诇诪讬讚 讞讻诐 讛讙讜谉 讛讜讗 – 讻讟诇, 讜讗诐 诇讗讜 – 注讜专驻讛讜 讻诪讟专. 转谞讬讗, 讛讬讛 专讘讬 讘谞讗讛 讗讜诪专: 讻诇 讛注讜住拽 讘转讜专讛 诇砖诪讛 转讜专转讜 谞注砖讬转 诇讜 住诐 讞讬讬诐, 砖谞讗诪专 注抓 讞讬讬诐 讛讬讗 诇诪讞讝讬拽讬诐 讘讛, 讜讗讜诪专 专驻讗讜转 转讛讬 诇砖专讱, 讜讗讜诪专 讻讬 诪爪讗讬 诪爪讗 讞讬讬诐. 讜讻诇 讛注讜住拽 讘转讜专讛 砖诇讗 诇砖诪讛 谞注砖讬转 诇讜 住诐 讛诪讜转, 砖谞讗诪专 讬注专祝 讻诪讟专 诇拽讞讬, 讜讗讬谉 注专讬驻讛 讗诇讗 讛专讬讙讛, 砖谞讗诪专 讜注专驻讜 砖诐 讗转 讛注讙诇讛 讘谞讞诇. 讗诪专 诇讬讛 专讘讬 讬专诪讬讛 诇专讘讬 讝讬专讗: 诇讬转讬 诪专 诇讬转谞讬! 讗诪专 诇讬讛: 讞诇砖 诇讘讗讬, 讜诇讗 讬讻讬诇谞讗. – 诇讬诪讗 诪专 诪讬诇转讗 讚讗讙讚转讗. 讗诪专 诇讬讛: 讛讻讬 讗诪专 专讘讬 讬讜讞谞谉: 诪讗讬 讚讻转讬讘 讻讬 讛讗讚诐 注抓 讛砖讚讛, 讜讻讬 讗讚诐 注抓 砖讚讛 讛讜讗? 讗诇讗 诪砖讜诐 讚讻转讬讘 讻讬 诪诪谞讜 转讗讻诇 讜讗转讜 诇讗 转讻专转, 讜讻转讬讘 讗转讜 转砖讞讬转 讜讻专转. 讛讗 讻讬爪讚? 讗诐 转诇诪讬讚 讞讻诐 讛讙讜谉 讛讜讗 – 诪诪谞讜 转讗讻诇 讜讗转讜 诇讗 转讻专转, 讜讗诐 诇讗讜 – 讗转讜 转砖讞讬转 讜讻专转.

The gemara sets a high and scary bar for learning Torah – a person should learn Torah l鈥檚hmah (for its own sake) and one who doesn鈥檛 do this will be attacked from three fronts:聽

  1. By the Rabbi – if a Rabbi has a student who is not fitting, he should behead him. What determines whether or not he is fitting? Whether or not he learns Torah l鈥檚hmah.聽
  2. By the Torah itself – every talmid chacham who doesn鈥檛 learn l鈥檚hmah is not a fitting talmid chacham. For those who learn Torah l鈥檚hmah, the Torah becomes an elixir of life, while for those who do not, it becomes an elixir of death.聽
  3. By the students – the rabbi is like a tree from which the students eat of his Torah, and if their learning is done l鈥檚hmah, this tree is not destroyed.

However, this term 鈥渓immud l鈥檚hmah鈥 is shrouded in mystery – what is the meaning of 鈥渓immud l鈥檚hmah鈥? We will examine Rashi:聽

诇砖诪讛 – 诪砖讜诐 讻讗砖专 爪讜谞讬 讛’ 讗诇讛讬 讜诇讗 讻讚讬 诇讛拽专讜转 专讘讬.聽

Rashi allows us to sigh in relief. This requirement in Torah learning is to prevent one鈥檚 learning from being for the purposes of his own honor. However, if one learns not in order to gain this honor, but rather because it is a mitzvah, he is already considered to be a fitting student. However, even after Rashi鈥檚 explanation, this gemara leaves us with a question – one version of this question appears in Tosfot here, and in typical Tosfot fashion, it is worded as a difficulty from another sugiya:

讜讻诇 讛注讜住拽 讘转讜专讛 砖诇讗 诇砖诪讛 转讜专转讜 谞注砖讬转 诇讜 住诐 讛诪讜转 – 讜拽砖讛 讜讛诇讗 讗诪专讬谞谉 (驻住讞讬诐 讚祝 谞:) 诇注讜诇诐 讬注住讜拽 讗讚诐 讘转讜专讛 讗祝 注诇 讙讘 砖讗讬谞讛 诇砖诪讛 砖诪转讜讱 砖诇讗 诇砖诪讛 讘讗 诇砖诪讛


Tosfot challenge from a familiar sugiya in Pesachim which is often quoted in different contexts: 诪转讜讱 砖诇讗 诇砖诪讛 讘讗 诇砖诪讛.

转诇诪讜讚 讘讘诇讬 诪住讻转 驻住讞讬诐 讚祝 谞 注诪讜讚 讘

专讘讗 专诪讬: 讻转讬讘 讻讬 讙讚诇 注讚 砖诪讬诐 讞住讚讱 讜讻转讬讘 讻讬 讙讚诇 诪注诇 砖诪讬诐 讞住讚讱, 讛讗 讻讬爪讚? 讻讗谉 – 讘注讜砖讬谉 诇砖诪讛, 讜讻讗谉 – 讘注讜砖讬谉 砖诇讗 诇砖诪讛. 讜讻讚专讘 讬讛讜讚讛, 讚讗诪专 专讘 讬讛讜讚讛 讗诪专 专讘: 诇注讜诇诐 讬注住讜拽 讗讚诐 讘转讜专讛 讜讘诪爪讜转 讗祝 注诇 驻讬 砖诇讗 诇砖诪讛, 砖诪转讜讱 砖诇讗 诇砖诪讛 – 讘讗 诇砖诪讛.聽


Rav says that there are two levels of learning, one higher than the other – learning l鈥檚hmah is higher than learning that is not l鈥檚hmah. However, even if a person is on the level of learning that is not l鈥檚hmah, he should still continue learning. Why? Because Torah transforms people, and through his learning that is not l鈥檚hmah, he will come to learn l鈥檚hmah. Rav鈥檚 words have an entirely different sound and meaning from our gemara in Ta鈥檃nit, which states that Torah that is not l鈥檚hmah will become an elixir of death! We will examine Tosfot鈥檚 answer to this difficulty:


讜讬砖 诇讜诪专 讚转专讬 砖诇讗 诇砖诪讛 讛讜讬 讚诪讛 砖讗诪专讬谞谉 诇注讜诇诐 讬注住讜拽 讘转讜专讛 讗驻讬诇讜 砖诇讗 诇砖诪讛 讛讬讬谞讜 讻诇讜诪专 讻讚讬 砖讬拽专讗 专讘讬 讗讜 讻讚讬 砖讬讻讘讚讜讛讜 讜诪讛 砖讗诪专讬谞谉 讛讻讗 讻诇 讛注讜住拽 讘转讜专讛 砖诇讗 诇砖诪讛 谞注砖讛 诇讜 住诐 讛诪讜转 讛讬讬谞讜 诪讬 砖诇讜诪讚 诇拽谞讟专.

Tosfot鈥檚 answer does not agree with Rashi. We will examine Tosfot鈥檚 content, interpretive goal, and method used:

  1. Method – when there is a contradiction between two sugiyot which talk about learning that is not l鈥檚hmah, they understand that there must be two types of learning that is not l鈥檚hmah. One is dangerous and deadly, while the other is not, and can even lead to a higher level of learning. This type of solution appears in many places in the gemara itself and in the rishonim.聽
  2. Content – the type of learning that Rashi presented as dangerous and destructive is learning that is done for one鈥檚 own honor or for the certificate. Tosfot claim that this type of learning is not harmful, rather it is just not as good. This is the type of learning mentioned in Masechet Pesachim, learning that can turn into learning l鈥檚hmah. In actuality, it encourages learning for the honor and title because perhaps the not l鈥檚hma will lead to the l鈥檚hmah. What then is the dangerous and destructive learning? That is learning that is done in order to chide. This is the type of learning that Masechet Ta鈥檃nit is talking about.聽
  3. Goal – Tosfot鈥檚 goal is to limit the gemara. The gemara raised a scary and threatening factor, which has the potential to prevent people from learning Torah. Tosfot come to rescue the learner from this crisis and to limit the gemara鈥檚 criticism to people who learn in order to chide.聽

The Tosfot in Masechet Pesachim add a more detailed description of the difference between learning l鈥檚hma and learning that is not l鈥檚hma, which bring Tosfot closer to Rashi鈥檚 opinion:

讜讻讗谉 讘注讜砖讬诐 砖诇讗 诇砖诪讛 讜讻讚专讘 讬讛讜讚讛 – 转讬诪讛 (讚专讘) 讙讜驻讬讛 讗诪专 讘驻”讘 讚讘专讻讜转 (讚’ 讬讝.) 讻诇 讛注讜住拽 讘转讜专讛 砖诇讗 诇砖诪讛 谞讜讞 诇讜 砖诇讗 谞讘专讗 讜讗讜专”讬 讚讛转诐 诪讬讬专讬 讻讙讜谉 砖诇讜诪讚 讻讚讬 诇讛转讬讛专 讜诇拽谞讟专 讜诇拽驻讞 讗转 讞讘讬专讬讜 讘讛诇讻讛 讜讗讬谞讜 诇讜诪讚 注”诪 诇注砖讜转 讗讘诇 讛讻讗 诪讬讬专讬 讚讜诪讬讗 讚讛讛讬讗 讚诇注讬诇 讬砖 砖驻诇 讜谞砖讻专 讚诇讗 注讘讬讚 讻讜诇讬讛 砖讘转讗 讜诇讗 讘诪注诇讬 砖讘转讗 砖讗讬谉 诪转讻讜讜谉 诇砖讜诐 专注讛 讗诇讗 诪转讜讱 注爪诇讜转 讗驻”讛 讙讚讜诇 注讚 砖诪讬诐 讞住讚讜.

Tosfot here clarify that when speaking about chiding, the intention is not specifically to one who speaks out against the Torah, rather also to haughtiness in front of the other students and a desire to rise above them and humiliate them with one鈥檚 knowledge of halacha. We are not talking about haughtiness of being called 鈥渞abbi鈥, but of a haughtiness that can develop within the realm of Torah itself. In any case, Tosfot鈥檚 goal of limiting continues to be emphasised on the backdrop of the Tosfot in Pesachim. This goal of Tosfot is also expressed in the following 讚讬讘讜专 讛诪转讞讬诇 on the page, where Tosfot deal with the gemara鈥檚 requirement for students to try not to learn from a rabbi who is not fitting. This statement comes to say that it is impossible to learn from someone who comes to chide, even if he is full of Torah. Here too Tosfot come to limit the prohibition of the gemara and to show that there are situations where it is possible to learn even from chachamim who come to chide:聽

讗诐 转诇诪讬讚 讞讻诐 讛讙讜谉 诪诪谞讜 转讗讻诇 – 驻讬专讜砖 诇诪讜讚 诇驻谞讬讜 讜讗讜转讜 诇讗 转讻专讜转 讻诇讜诪专 诇讗 转驻专讚 诪诪谞讜 诇讬诇讱 诇驻谞讬 专讘 讗讞专 讜讗诐 诇讗讜 诇讗 转诇诪讜讚 诇驻谞讬讜 讜讛讗 讚讗诪专讬谞谉 讚诇讜诪讚讬诐 诪转”讞 讗祝 注诇 驻讬 砖讗讬谞讜 讛讙讜谉 讻专”诪 砖讛讬讛 诇讜诪讚 诇驻谞讬 讗讞专 讘诪住讻转 讞讙讬讙讛 (讚祝 讟讜.) 讛讬讬谞讜 讚讜拽讗 转诇诪讬讚 讞讻诐 (讗讞专) 讬讻讜诇 诇诇诪讜讚 诇驻谞讬讜 诇驻讬 砖诇讗 讬诇诪讜讚 诪诪注砖讬讜 讗讘诇 讗诐 讗讬谞讜 转诇诪讬讚 讞讻诐 讗讬谞讜 专砖讗讬 诇诇诪讜讚 诇驻谞讬讜.


Here too, Tosfot create a contradiction between sugiyot – Rabbi Meir learned from Elisha ben Avuya (鈥淎cher鈥), even after he 鈥渨ent off the derech鈥. We will look for a moment at the gemara there:聽


转谞讜 专讘谞谉: 诪注砖讛 讘讗讞专 砖讛讬讛 专讜讻讘 注诇 讛住讜住 讘砖讘转, 讜讛讬讛 专讘讬 诪讗讬专 诪讛诇讱 讗讞专讬讜 诇诇诪讜讚 转讜专讛 诪驻讬讜. 讗诪专 诇讜: 诪讗讬专, 讞讝讜专 诇讗讞专讬讱, 砖讻讘专 砖讬注专转讬 讘注拽讘讬 住讜住讬 注讚 讻讗谉 转讞讜诐 砖讘转. 讗诪专 诇讬讛: 讗祝 讗转讛 讞讝讜专 讘讱. – 讗诪专 诇讬讛: 讜诇讗 讻讘专 讗诪专转讬 诇讱: 讻讘专 砖诪注转讬 诪讗讞讜专讬 讛驻专讙讜讚 砖讜讘讜 讘谞讬诐 砖讜讘讘讬诐 – 讞讜抓 诪讗讞专.聽


Tosfot ask – how can Masechet Chagiga and Ta鈥檃nit be harmonized? Is it really true that it is not possible to learn from a chacham who chides? How could Rabbi Meir have learned from 鈥淎cher鈥? Tosfot answer that there are those who have the ability to learn from everyone. A real talmid chacham can learn from a talmid chacham who is not fitting, who 鈥渨ent off the derech鈥, because he has the ability to learn from his knowledge without adopting his actions.


Summary: Tosfot on our sugiya present a limited interpretation of the harsh guidelines in the sugiya. The sugiya warns Torah learners of the dangers of learning that is not l鈥檚hmah, which can cause fatal damage to them and their Torah by rabbis, students, and the Torah itself. Tosfot limit this damage on two levels:聽

  1. Tosfot sharpen the point that Torah learning that does not have an element of chiding or haughtiness, even if it does chase honor, will not cause the damage that the gemara speaks about.
  2. Tosfot sharpen the point that the Torah that exists within the talmid chacham who 鈥渨ent off the derech鈥 can be redeemed by other talmidei chachamim who are able to eat from the fruit while discarding the peel.

The tools which Tosfot use are seeming contradictions between sugiyot, ukimta, and a goal of limiting the reading of our gemara.聽


(Translated by Daphna Ansel-Nizan)

Gefet: an in depth short shiur delving into a Sugiya with Rashi and Tosafot. In collaboration with Yeshivat Drisha.

Taanit 7. Advanced learning.

转讜讻谉 讝讛 转讜专讙诐 讙诐 诇: 注讘专讬转

Rabbanit Yael Shimoni

Rabbanit Yael Shimoni is the Ramit and Deputy Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivat Drisha in Kfar Etzion. Rabbanit Shimoni has learned at Migdal Oz, Matan, and the Susi Bradfield Women鈥檚 Institute for Halakhic Leadership at Midreshet Lindenbaum. She holds a BFA from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and a BEd in Torah Shebe鈥檃l Peh and Jewish Thought from Herzog College. She is currently studying towards an MA in Jewish Thought Education at Herzog College. Rabbanit Shimoni taught gemara and halakha at Pelech High School and served as a ramit for shana bet at Migdal Oz. She directs Meshivat Nefesh, the online responsa program of the rabbaniyot of Beit Hillel. She is also a plastic artist and member of 鈥淎 Studio of Her Own.
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