Talmud Tips

For the week ending 13 September 2014 / 18 Elul 5774

Chagiga 6 - 12

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“One who learns Torah and reviews it 100 times cannot be compared to one who reviews it 101 times.”

This is the lesson that the Sage Hillel taught the Sage Bar Hai Hai to explain the verse in Malachi (3:18), “See the difference between one who is righteous and one who is wicked, between one who serves G-d and one who does not serve Him.” Hillel states that both learners are completely righteous, but the one who reviews his studies an extra time is described as “a servant of G-d” whereas the person who studies one time less is termed as “not serving Him.” Rashi explains this to mean that the difference is that the one who studies more times serves G-d more.

The Maharsha, however, based on the parable of the donkey-drivers in the gemara, explains that the difference between these two people is not merely an algebraic progression of more-or-less, but actually a “quantum leap” of superiority. That one extra review can evoke an entirely new level of serving G-d.

  • Chagiga 9b

“Oy to those who see, but do not know what they see, and who stand, but do not know upon what they stand….”

Rabbi Yossi teaches this as the opening of a much longer beraita on our daf. The beraita continues that the world stands on a number of “pillars”. The Maharsha spells out that people need to realize that they are in this world to exercise their gift of free-will — to freely choose between right and wrong — and thereby “strengthen” the pillars of the world’s existence, as taught in mishnayot in Pirkei Avot (1:2 & 1:18): Torah, Service of G-d, Acts of Loving-Kindness, Justice, Truth and Peace.” Only if a person realizes that this is his purpose in this world is he really considered as “seeing the world” and “standing in the world”.

  • Chagiga 12b

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