TalmuDigest

For the week ending 4 August 2012 / 15 Av 5772

Nidah 65 - 73

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • The bleeding after consummation of marriage
  • The Sage Shmuel's praise of the Sage Rav
  • Purifying contaminated wine or olive oil machinery
  • Woman who always sees blood after marital relations
  • How strict Jewish women are in regard to nidah
  • The problem of a barrier between the body of the woman and the water of the mikvah
  • Preparing for immersion in mikvah
  • Zav or Zavah who were negligent in checking themselves during all of their clean days
  • The twelve questions asked of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya by the Jews of Alexandria
  • How does one become wise or wealthy
  • Who deserves to be called a "citizen of the World to Come"

Get Smart

"What should a man do to become wise in Torah?" asked the Jews of Alexandria of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya.

"Let him spend much time studying and little time in business," was the Sage's reply.

"But many have done so," they persisted, "and have not succeeded."

"Then let him pray to the One to Whom wisdom belongs."

Why, asks the Talmud, did he first mention the need for much study if, in the end, everything depends on prayer?

Rabbi Yehoshua taught the people of Alexandriathat success in acquiring wisdom can only be achieved through a combination of study and prayer, and that one without the other is insufficient.

Maharsha points out that the wisdom referred to here is not the knowledge of Torah but the intelligence of the one studying Torah. The intelligence level of a person, say our Sages (Nidah 16b), is predetermined. At the moment of conception an angel brings the seminal drop before G-d and asks whether a wise man or a fool will be formed from it. Is man forever limited to this degree of predestined intelligence, asked the Alexandrians, or is he capable of breaking the barriers of this Heavenly decree?

Rabbi Yehoshua's response was that man can break the intelligence barrier by a combination of hard work and the Heavenly help gained through prayer and merit of Torah study. One without the other will leave him with the level of intelligence decreed at conception. Together, however, they can make him a more intelligent person.

  • Nidah 70b

What the Sages Say

"One who wishes to become wise in Torah should spend much time studying, little time in business and pray to the One to Whom wisdom belongs."

  • Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya - Nidah 70b

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