Talmud Tips

For the week ending 28 April 2018 / 13 Iyyar 5778

Zevachim 2 - 8

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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Sharing the Reward

Shimon the brother of Azariah says, “If he did shechita (ritual slaughter) on the sacrifice for the sake of a ‘higher type’ (of sacrifice), it is kosher, but if done for the sake of a ‘lower type’, it is not kosher…”

In this first mishna of our masechta we are taught the status of a sacrifice which had shechita done to it with the wrong type of sacrifice in mind. For example, a person did shechita to an olah sacrifice, but mistakenly had in mind that it was actually a shelamim sacrifice. There are a variety of opinions in the mishna as to the status of the result of this mistake (kosher or not; does it count for the obligation or not), and whether the types of sacrifices involved will affect the final status of the sacrifice offered. The rulings of a number of different Tana’im are expressed in the mishna, and one view is that of Shimon the brother of Azariah. This name appears quite unusual, since a name is normally expressed in terms of being the son of so-and-so, the father. Why here is Shimon’s name stated as the brother of Arariah instead of the son of (his father’s name)?

Rashi explains: Shimon was poor, and was not able to dedicate himself to Torah study without the support of his brother Azariah, who was a businessman. Azariah provided the means for his brother Shimon’s needs, and the brothers agreed that Azariah would receive a portion of Shimon’s reward for Torah study as compensation for the support he provided. Since Shimon’s Torah study was enabled by his brother Azariah, he was called by his brother’s name: Shimon the brother of Azariah.

As a source for this commentary, Rashi cites the gemara in Sota 21a, which relates and compares the cases of Rabbi Yochanan (named Rabbi Yochanan of the house of the Nasi) who was supported by the Nasi, along with Shimon the brother of Azariah who was supported by his brother Azariah, on the one hand, with the Sage Hillel, whose brother Shavna sought to pay him for a share of the reward of Torah study “at the end.” Whereas the first two examples are praised, regarding Hillel and Shavna a voice from Heaven called to clarify that the proposed sale of reward would be unacceptable, quoting from a verse in Shir HaShirim (8:7) “If a man would give you all of the wealth of his house for your love (your Torah study), he will be scorned with scorn.”

The problem in this case, as explained by the commentaries and codified in the Rema in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De’ah 246:1, is that financial support may be offered only before the Torah study occurs, in order to enable it to occur. When it is offered after the fact, however, as in the case of Hillel and his brother, the sale is not valid. The reason for this is that reward for Torah study in the World-to-Come is not a physical prize that can be sold like candy. Rather it is a reward that accrues and is due only to the soul which toiled in Torah study in this world. The paradigm for this type of praiseworthy partnership is the partnership of Yaakov’s sons, Yissachar and Zevulun, as is expressed in the blessing they received from Moshe: And to Zebulun he said, "Rejoice Zevulun in your going out (to do business), and Yissachar in your tents (of Torah study). (Devarim 33:18)

However, if the arrangement was made from the outset, before the Torah study occurred, then both the one who did the Torah study and the one who enabled this Torah study are partners in the mitzvah. This is because both are viewed as “doers of the mitzvah,” and therefore both are deserving of the reward for this mitzvah. (Aruch Hashulchan Yoreh De’ah 246:8)

The Maharsha points out that the repetition of the word for “scorn” (boz) in the verse cited in the gemara indicates that one who is able to learn Torah but does not, and instead relies on his wealth to buy a Torah scholar’s reward for Torah study, is deserving of a double punishment. For example, Hillel who studied Torah in poverty without support of his wealthy brother Shavna was not called “Hillel the brother of Shavna.” Shavna was denied this honor. Azariah, however, who supported his brother Shimon’s Torah study from the beginning, was rewarded in this world by the honor of being part of his brother’s name: Shimon the brother of Azariah. Likewise, Shavna would not be able to have any share in his brother Hillel’s eternal reward in the World-to-Come.

There is much discussion and debate amongst the classical commentaries regarding the amount that the supporter needs to provide in order to be a partner in receiving reward (for example see Shach, Y. D. 246:2). Another important topic that is the subject of intense deliberation is whether the reward received by the Torah scholar is in any measure diminished by entering into a partnership with a supporter. Although the Rema seems to indicate that each party receives half of the reward, Rav Moshe Shapira, zatzal, told me that both parties receive full reward.

  • Zevachim 2a

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