Talmud Tips

For the week ending 18 January 2014 / 17 Shevat 5774

Yoma 72 - 78

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“If a person learns Torah for l’shma (“for its sake” and not for ulterior motives) and fulfills the Torah — the Torah becomes a crown for that person. But if he not worthy of doing this, the Torah becomes “a stranger” to him.”

This statement is found on our daf in the name of the Sage Rabbi Yochanan. He derives this teaching from the apparent contradiction between the way the word “zer” of the Aron that contained the Torah is written “zar”, without a “yud”, and the way it is pronounced as “zeir”, as if there was a “yud”, since the vowelization is with a “tzerei”. Rabbi Yochanan states that this variance shows the dual nature of Torah study and observance. If a person studies for positive reasons and fulfills what he learns, the Torah is a crown for him (“zeir” as it is pronounced). But if not, it is a “stranger” (“zar”) and he will forget it. (Rashi)

  • Yoma 72b

“Any talmid chacham (Torah scholar) whose inside is not like his outside is not a talmid chacham.”

Rava learns this from the verse which refers to the Aron with gold, both on the inside and the outside. The Maharsha elaborates on the source for Rava’s teaching. The other vessels in the Mishkan that were gold-plated — such as the Shulchan and the Golden Altar — were golden only where visible — i.e. the outside. The Aron, however, was coated with gold also on the inside (see Ex. 25:11).

Therefore a person learning Torah (which the Aron represents) needs to be “golden” and pure from impropriety not only when in public but also when he is by himself in private — inside and out. Only then is he a true talmid chacham. (Meiri)

  • Yoma 72b

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