Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Daf Yomi - Taanis 7 - Highlights

Rav Avahu stated that a day of rain is greater than the Resurrection of the Dead since rain is beneficial for the righteous and for the evil people; however the Resurrection will only benefit the righteous. This is different than the opinion of Rav Yosef who said that the mentioning of rain was placed in the second brocha of Shemoneh Esrei dealing with the Resurrection because a day of rain is equal to the Resurrection of the Dead.

Rav Yehuda said that a day of rain is as great as the day on which the Torah was given. Rava proved that a day of rain is even greater than the day on which the Torah was given. (7a)

Rava cites a Scriptural verse which indicates that Torah is compared to rain and to dew. He explains that the Torah’s effect on a worthy Torah scholar will be like dew which is always beneficial; however if he is not worthy, then the Torah will be like rain which can be detrimental.

This same idea is mentioned in a braisa. One who learns Torah in order to fulfill Hashem’s commandment will merit that the Torah will become a medicine of life to him. However, regarding one who studies Torah for ulterior motives; the Torah will become like poison to him.

Rabbi Yochanan teaches a similar thought. There are two types of trees. A tree that has fruit growing from it cannot be chopped down. A tree that does not bear fruit may be chopped down. One shall learn Torah from a worthy torah scholar but a Torah scholar who does not possess proper character should be cut down like a non-fruit-bearing tree. (7a)

The Gemora states that Torah learning is analogous to iron. Just as one iron blade sharpens another, so too one Torah scholar can sharpen the mind of another Torah scholar when they are learning together.

Rabbah bar bar Chanah explains why Torah can be compared to fire. A fire cannot start from one piece of wood, so too, Torah will not be preserved by someone who learns by himself. He needs another to learn with in order to ensure that he doesn’t make a mistake which can eventually lead a person to sin.

Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak states that Torah is analogous to branches of a tree. Just as small twigs are used to ignite large pieces of wood, so too, young Torah scholars sharpen the minds of the older Torah scholars. This is the explanation of Rabbi Chanina’s words. Rabbi Chanina said “I have learned a lot from my teachers and from my friend more than my teachers but I have learned the most from my students. Questions posed by young scholars and students sharpen the minds of the teachers.

Rabbi Chanina bar Pappa explains two verses discussing teachers and students. If the student has good character, the teacher should travel to the student but if the student lacks good character, the student must go to the teacher.

Rabbi Chanina bar Idi states that Torah learning is compared to water. Just like water leaves the higher ground and flows to the lower ground, so too, Torah words can only be maintained by someone who is unassuming and who possesses a humble spirit.

Reb Oshaya said that Torah is compared to three liquids, water, wine and milk. This teaches us that just like these three liquids are preserved only in mediocre vessels, so too, Torah can only be maintained by someone who is unassuming and who possesses a humble spirit. (7a)

"Woe, that such beautiful wisdom must sit in such an ugly container," Caesar's daughter said to R' Yehoshua ben Chananya, intimating that he might be wise, but definitely not handsome.
"Tell me," he answered her, "doesn't your father keep wine in the earthenware vessels?"
"What other vessels should he use?" she asked him. "Surely, everyone keeps wine in earthenware vessels?"
"Important people like you," he declared, "should use nothing less than gold and silver."
She told this to her father, and he transferred his wine to gold and silver vessels. The wine soured.
"Who advised you to do this?" the king asked her.
"Rebbi Yehoshua ben Chananya," she answered. He summoned R' Yehoshua.
"Why did you tell my daughter this?" he asked.
"I only spoke to her," said R' Yehoshua, "as she spoke to me. She should have realized that just as wine keeps best in plain earthenware vessels, so wisdom only keeps in plain people."
"But surely, there are also good-looking people that are wise?" the king asked.
"If people did not admire them for their good looks," R' Yehoshua answered, "They would be much more learned. To remember wisdom, a person needs great humility, and for people that others admire, this is very difficult.” (7a - 7b)

Rabbi Tanchum bar Chanilai states that rain will not fall unless Klal Yisroel’s sins have been forgiven.
Rabbi Tanchum the son of Rabbi Chiya states that rain will not be withheld unless the enemies of Klal Yisroel (a euphemism which is referring to Klal Yisroel) are condemned for annihilation.
Rav Chisda states that rain can be withheld because of the transgression of neglecting to separate Terumos and maasros.
Rabbi Shimon said that rain can be withheld because of the sin of speaking loshon hara. Rav Sala states that rain can be withheld because of the shameless people.
Rav Katina states that rain can be withheld due to the sin of neglecting to study Torah.
Rabbi Ami said that rain can be withheld because of the transgression of stealing. (7b)