Thursday, February 14, 2008

Those that Study and those that Support Torah

Rav Yosef said to him (Nedarim 55a), “Do not sit down until have explained the following verse [Bamidbar 21: 18 – 19]: And from the wilderness to Mattanah; and from Mattanah to Nachaliel; and from Nachaliel to Bamos?” Rava replied, “When one makes himself as the wilderness, which is open to everyone (willing to teach them Torah), the Torah is given to him as a gift, as it says: And from the wilderness to Mattanah (a gift). And once it is given to him as a gift, Hashem makes it his inheritance, as it says: and from Mattanah to Nachaliel (inheritance from Hashem). And after Hashem gives it to him as an inheritance, he ascends to greatness, as it says: and from Nachaliel to Bamos (to heights). And if he becomes haughty, Hashem will lower him down, as it says: And from Bamos to the valley. And furthermore, Hashem sinks him into the ground, as it says: overlooking the surface of the wilderness. However, if he repents, Hashem will raise him up once again, as it says: every valley shall be raised.

The verse prior to these verses states: A well dug by princes, carved out by nobles of the people, through the lawgiver with their staffs, and from the desert to Mattanah. The Vilna Gaon says that this verse must be explained according to our Gemora as well.

He explains: The well is referring to the wellsprings of Torah. The princes are those that delving into the depths of Torah. The nobles are those people who are engaged in business activities and support those who are studying Torah. The verse concludes that both those that study Torah and those that support others who are studying have a portion in Torah.

The Chozeh mi’Lublin adds: Since the verse concludes with the words: and from the Desert to Mattanah, and we derived from there one is obligated to make himself similar to the wilderness; opened to teach Torah to all, this must be true for the supporters as well. One who is supporting Torah must view his support as if the Torah scholar is receiving it from the wilderness, and not directly from him. He should not expect a return on his investment in this world; the reward for supporting Torah is given out in the World to Come; the same time that those who study Torah receive their reward.