Talmud Tips

For the week ending 27 April 2013 / 16 Iyyar 5773

Eruvin 51 - 57

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said, “One who has a headache should learn Torah …” (based on Mishlei 1:9).

One might ask: How can a person learn Torah if he has a headache? The Meiri explains that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi doesn’t literally mean to learn Torah when unable; rather he teaches that a person who is weak by nature and fears that Torah study will make him unwell should not fear. The Torah will protect his health. The Maharsha states that our gemara is speaking about a person who is only not feeling “well” but it not actually ill. The study of Torah will help prevent deterioration to the point of illness.

  • Eruvin 54a

“The Torah is not in the heavens” — it is not found in a person who ‘lifts his ego with it like the heavens are high — nor is it across the seas — nor is the Torah found in a person who ‘widens his ego with it like the seas’…”

This statement of Rava on our daf is based on Devarim 30:12-13 andteaches that Torah does not reside in a haughty person. What is the difference between “high like the heavens” and “wide like the seas”? The Maharsha explains that the former refers to a person who feels so exalted that he needs no rabbi to teach him Torah. He can do it alone and needs no tradition of the mesora. The latter “wide” person, although he will learn from a rabbi, feels “large and great”, and sees no need to review his Torah study. Neither person will be a Torah scholar.

  • Eruvin 55a

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