Talmud Tips

For the week ending 14 June 2014 / 16 Sivan 5774

Ta'anit 2 - 8

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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Rava said: “That young rabbinical student who seems to be angry is burning up with the ‘fire of the Torah’.”

Even though anger is one of the most despicable character traits, the Torah is like “fire” and can "widen one’s heart" to enable the person to have a greater ability to understand the true meaning of our existence. A rabbinical student who seems angry should be judged favorably and not seen as one who is truly angry or spiteful. Rather, he has an inner “heat” from the Torah that may cause him to “boil over” from taking matters to heart more seriously than others do — and helps him change for the better.

Ravina qualifies this, however, and teaches that such a person should nevertheless make a concerted effort to act in a pleasant and friendly manner that is becoming for a student of the Torah (Rashi, Maharsha).

  • Ta’anit 4a

Rabbi Chanina said: “Much have I learned from my rabbis, even more have I learned from my colleagues, but from my students I have learned more than from anyone else.”

The success of Torah learning is proportional to the degree of questions and discussions of a Torah subject, which lead to greater understanding. Rabbi Chanina is certainly not downplaying the importance of what he learned from his teachers and friends. However, he teaches that one’s greatest understanding results from the process of intense questioning and reasoning with the various viewpoints of his students who seek to understand the Torah in a clear manner from him (Maharsha). Any teacher of Torah can easily identify with this phenomenon!

  • Ta’anit 7a

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