Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Prayer and Torah Learning Protect Us

Various Ma'amarei Haza"l about how Torah study and prayer protect the Jewish people:

Vayikra Rabba 25:1:
אמרי רב הונא בשם ר' בנימין בן לוי אמר משל למלך שאמר לבנו צא לפרקמטיא אמר לו אבא מתיירא אני בדרך מהלסטים ובים מפני אפורטין מה עשה אביו נטל מקל וחקקו ונתן בו קמיע ונתנה לבנו ואמר לו יהי המקל הזה בידך ואי אתה מתיירא משום בריה אף כך אמר הקב"ה למשה אמור לישראל בני עסקו בתורה ואין אתם מתייראים משום אומה
They say that Rav Huna said in the name of Ribbi Binyamin Ben Levi: It is a parable to a King who told his son to go out for business. He [the son] said, "Father, I am afraid of thieves on the road and pirates at sea!" What did his father do? He took a staff, made an engraving in it, and put an amulet inside and gave it to his son and told him, "Let this staff be in your hands and you will not fear any creature." Similarly, HKB"H said to Moshe, "Tell Israel: My children: busy yourselves with Torah and you will not fear any nation."

Sota 21a:
א"ר יוסף מצוה בעידנא דעסיק בה מגנא ומצלא בעידנא דלא עסיק בה אגוני מגנא אצולי לא מצלא תורה בין בעידנא דעסיק בה ובין בעידנא דלא עסיק בה מגנא ומצלא מתקיף לה רבה אלא מעתה דואג ואחיתופל מי לא עסקי בתורה אמאי לא הגינה עלייהו אלא אמר רבא תורה בעידנא דעסיק בה מגנא ומצלא בעידנא דלא עסיק בה אגוני מגנא אצולי לא מצלא מצוה בין בעידנא דעסיק בה בין בעידנא דלא עסיק בה אגוני מגנא אצולי לא מצלא
Rav Yosef said: A mitzva, while you are busy with it, protects [you from suffering - Rashi] and saves [you from the Yetzer Hara - Rashi]. While you are not busy with it, it protects, but does not save. Torah, while you are busy with it or not busy with it, protects and saves. Rabba attacked this statement: If that were true, Do'eg and Ahitofel, did they not busy themselves with Torah? Why did it not save them [from their Yetzer Hara - Rashi]? Rather, Rava says: Torah, when you are busy with it, protects and saves. When you are not busy with it, it protects, but does not save. A Mitzva, while you are busy with it or not busy with it, protects, but does not save.

 ויש אומרים, שלשת אלפים מכל שבט ושבט. שנים עשר אלף חלוצי צבא, ושנים עשר אלף לשמור את הכלים, ועליהם הוא אומר, שניך כעדר הקצובות וגו' (שה"ש ד ב). ושנים עשר אלף לתפלה. ומנין. שכך כתיב, אלף למטה אלף למטה, הרי שני אלפים. וימסרו מאלפי ישראל. מהו וימסרו. שהם נמסרין זוגות זה לזה.
And some say 3000 [men went to war against Midian] from each tribe. [Altogether,] it is 12,000 soldiers and 12,000 men guarding the armaments, and upon them, it is said: שניך כעדר הקצובות וגו' (Shir Hashirim 4:2). And 12,000 for prayer. And how do we know this? As it is written, "1000 per tribe, 1000 per tribe" - that's 2000. "So there were delivered, out of the thousands of Israel, [a thousand of every tribe]" [- adding another 1000 per tribe to make 3000.] What does it mean, "So there were delivered?" That they gave themselves up to pair up one for the other.

Soheir Tov 27:4:
אם תחנה עלי מחנה, אומות העולם לא יירא לבי, ואם תקום עלי מלחמה בזאת אני בוטח, בתורה שנקראת זאת, שנאמר זאת התורה
[It says:] "Though a host should encamp against me" - of the nations of the world - "my heart shall not fear" and "though war should rise up against me, even then will I be confident." With the Torah that is called Zot, as it says, "Zot Hatorah...".

Gittin 7a:
...דום לה' והתחולל לו דום לה' והוא יפילם חללים חללים השכם והערב עליהן לבית המדרש והן כלין מאליהן
...[It says]: "Resign thyself unto the LORD, and wait patiently for Him." Resign yourself to Hashem and He will cause [your enemies] to fall as many corpses. Get up early and stay up late against them in the Beit Midrash and they will be destroyed automatically.

Berachot 7b:
ואמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יוחי כל הקובע מקום {לתפילתו\לתורתו} אויביו נופלים תחתיו...
And Ribbi Yohanan said in the name of Ribbi Shimon ben Yohai: Whoever sets a place for his {prayer/Torah study}, his enemies will fall below him...

Lemaan Shemo Be'ahava website:
ונאמר בתהלים (קי"ח, י') "כל גוים סבבוני בשם ה' כי אמילם, סבוני גם סבבוני בשם ה' כי אמילם, סבוני כדבורים דעכו כאש קוצים בשם ה' כי אמילם".
ידוע בשם ה' שמדובר בלימוד התורה, כפי שהגמרא בברכות (כ"א) למדה מהפסוק "כי שם ה' אקרא הבו גודל לאלוקינו". מכאן לברכת התורה לפני שלומדים תורה, שכל התורה היא שמותיו של הקב"ה, ומהפסוקים הללו למדנו היאך להתגבר על שונאינו ומבקשי רעתנו, שזה בלימוד התורה.
And it says in Tehillim (118:10) "All nations compass me about; verily, in the name of the LORD I will cut them off.  They compass me about, yea, they compass me about; verily, in the name of the LORD I will cut them off.  They compass me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns; verily, in the name of the LORD I will cut them off."  It is known that "in the name of the LORD" is speaking about Torah study, as the gemara in Berachot 21a learns from the verse "For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe ye greatness unto our God."  From here, we learn that we must recite Birkat Hatorah before we learn Torah because the entire Torah is the names of HKB"H, and from these verses, we learn how to overcome our enemies and those who seek to harm us - through learning Torah.

See more from Rabbeinu Bahye on Pirkei Avot starting here.

More about the importance of Torah study from Wikipedia:
  • The study of Torah is considered to outweigh a number of mitzvot, such as visiting the sick, honouring one's parents, and bringing peace between people (Shabbat 127a). This paragraph was incorporated in the daily prayer service.
  • A number of Talmudic rabbis consider Torah study as being greater than the rescue of human life, than the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, and than the honor of father and mother (Megilah 16b), provided that the individual's life will be saved by someone else.[citation needed]
  • According to R. Meir, when one studies Torah for its own sake (Torah Lishma - תורה לשמה) the [the creation of] entire world is worthwhile for him alone, and he brings joy to G-d (Avot 6:1).
  • As the child must satisfy its hunger day by day, so must the grown man busy himself with the Torah each hour (Yerushalmi, Berakhot ch. 9).
  • Torah study is of more value than the offering of daily sacrifice (Eruvin 63b).
  • A single day devoted to the Torah outweighs 1,000 sacrifices (Tractate Shabbat 30a; comp. Tractate Menachot 100a).
  • The fable of the Fish and the Fox [1], in which the latter seeks to entice the former to dry land, declares Israel can live only in the Law as fish can live only in the ocean (Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 61b).
  • Whoever learns Torah at night is granted grace during the day and whoever neglects it will be fed burning coals in the World to Come. (Avodah Zarah 3b).
  • God weeps over one who might have occupied himself with Torah study but neglected to do so (Tractate Hagigah 5b).
  • The study must be unselfish: one should study the Torah with self-denial, even at the sacrifice of one's life; and in the very hour before death one should devote himself to this duty (Tractate Shabbat 83b).
  • All, even lepers and the ritually unclean, are required to study the Torah (Tractate Berakhot 22a).
  • It is the duty of everyone to read the entire weekly portion twice (the law of shnayim mikra ve-echad targum, Tractate Berakhot 8a).
  • According to R. Meir, a Gentile who studies the Torah (for the purpose of finding out about the Noachide Laws) is as great as the High Priest (Tractate Avodah Zarah 3a).
  • According to R. Yehudah, God Himself studies the Torah for the first three hours of every day. (Tractate Avodah Zarah 3b).

13 Comments:

At Tue Jul 10, 07:48:00 PM 2012, Blogger joshwaxman said...

There is also the following Yerushalmi, where interestingly, it took someone willing to pick up a sword rather than saying over another braysa in order to save Rabbi Ami:

Rabbi Ami was captured by bandits. Rabbi Yonatan said, the dead one will be wrapped in his sheets. {that is, there is no way to save him.}

Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said, 'I will kill or be killed' (lit: Until I kill (or) I will be killed. i.e. I will try to save him, by killing all his captors, or will die in the process. We know from elsewhere that Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish was a bandit, skilled in weapons, before he repented and became a scholar.) I will go and save him by force.

He went and persuaded them (convinced them to turn R Ami over, perhaps with threats) and they gave him over to him.

He (Resh Lakish) said to them (the bandits) go to the Old One (Rabbi Yochanan) and he will pray for you. They went to Rabbi Yochanan (note, this is *not* Rabbi Yonatan of before, unless it is a typo.)

He (R Yochanan) said to them, 'that which was in your hearts to do to him should come to pass on you.' They did not reach Apipsiros before they all went (died).

 
At Tue Jul 10, 10:41:00 PM 2012, Blogger yaak said...

That Yerushalmi doesn't deal with Torah learning at all. Torah learning is Matzil in general - along with actual battle being done. One cannot rely on Nissim to fight your battles for you. But for those who are worthy, the miracles will occur. Whenever possible, we need to use both the military option along with the Torah option.

There, Reish Lakish went to battle as no one else was willing to rescue Ribbi Ami. He wanted to not be over the Lav of לא תעמד על דם רעך, so going to battle was his only option.

 
At Wed Jul 11, 09:49:00 AM 2012, Blogger משה רפאל said...

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At Wed Jul 11, 10:38:00 AM 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.learntorah.com/lt-shiur-details.aspx?id=7074

 
At Wed Jul 11, 11:40:00 AM 2012, Blogger Neshama said...

Very very nice. I'm going to show my husband what beautiful Torah can be found at this blog.

 
At Wed Jul 11, 01:57:00 PM 2012, Anonymous smb said...

i agree that we need to do both, protect ourself in both a physical way and spiritual way.

 
At Thu Jul 12, 02:23:00 PM 2012, Blogger Avi said...

I don't see anywhere in these excerpts that Torah study saves or protects anyone other than the student. (The one exception is about prayer, not learning.) Thus, it seems to me that the Charedim should be terrified of leaving the fighting to Chilonim, as the Chilonim do not have the protection of Torah learning!

 
At Thu Jul 12, 02:28:00 PM 2012, Blogger yaak said...

Perhaps, I should have also included some excerpts about Yissachar and Zevulun or Shimon and Azarya from the the gemara Sota that I quoted.

 
At Thu Jul 12, 02:29:00 PM 2012, Blogger yaak said...

Also, the story about Rav Hayim Volozhin staying to learn Motza'ei Yom Kippur b/c the rest of the world was busy eating.

 
At Fri Jul 13, 08:35:00 AM 2012, Blogger משה רפאל said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Fri Jul 13, 09:13:00 AM 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.learntorah.com/lt-shiur-details.aspx?id=7074 - is a very inspiring shiur, not for mentally retarded people

 
At Fri Jul 13, 10:20:00 AM 2012, Blogger משה רפאל said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Fri Jul 13, 11:19:00 AM 2012, Blogger yaak said...

Moshe Refael,

It certainly does apply here. Yissachar benefited Zevulun spiritually. We believe that Torah benefits others spiritually. It matters not that the secular don't know about it and don't know what's good for them. זכין לאדם שלא בפניו would apply.

 

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