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Thursday
Aug012013

THE UNDERCOVER MISHNA

This is an important lesson for us in the time of exile. We know that in comparison to the Torah of Moshiach, our Torah learning is trifling. This is emphasized in the Midrash (Koheles 11:8) “The Torah of this world is inanity compared to the Torah of Moshiach.”

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh:

The sixth Perek of Pirkei Avos, the chapter that we are learning this week, begins:

“The sages expounded in the language of the Mishna (blessed is He who chose them and their learning): Rabbi Meir would say: Whoever studies Torah for Torah’s sake alone, merits many things; not only that, but [the creation of] the entire world is worthwhile for him alone. He is called friend, beloved, lover of G-d, lover of humanity, rejoicer of G-d, rejoicer of humanity. The Torah enclothes him with humility and awe; makes him fit to be righteous, pious, correct and faithful; distances him from sin and brings him close to merit. From him, people enjoy counsel and wisdom, understanding and power, as is stated (Proverbs 8:14): ‘Mine are counsel and wisdom, I am understanding, mine is power.” The Torah grants him sovereignty, dominion, and jurisprudence. The Torah’s secrets are revealed to him, and he becomes as an ever-increasing wellspring and as an unceasing river. He becomes modest, patient and forgiving of insults. The Torah uplifts him and makes him greater than all creations.’” 

The Rebbe asks:

1) From the introduction “The sages expounded in the language of the Mishna,” it is evident that what follows is not a Mishna, rather a “Braisa,” which was compiled after the completion of the Mishna. If so, why was it added to a tractate of Mishna?

2) Rabbi Meir begins the chapter by saying “Whoever studies Torah for Torah’s sake alone, merits many things” and then enumerates what they are. Seemingly, R’ Meir could have simply enumerated those “things” without the ostensibly superfluous words “many things.” As every word in the Mishna is punctilious, the extra words “many things” must be referring to some reward beyond the explicit items tallied in the Mishna. What is R’ Meir referring to with the words “many things”?

The Rebbe (Sicha Balak 5751) explains:

In general, a “Braisa” is considered inferior to a Mishna. Hence the name “Braisa,” which in Aramaic means “outside” i.e. it is not given the same level of deference as a Mishna. Yet, Rabbi Meir teaches us that the Braisos too are part of Torah.

This is an important lesson for us in the time of exile. We know that in comparison to the Torah of Moshiach, our Torah learning is trifling. This is emphasized in the Midrash (Koheles 11:8) “The Torah of this world is inanity compared to the Torah of Moshiach.”

When one contemplates upon that Midrash, he may easily get discouraged. To combat that, Rabbi Meir teaches us that even the “Braisa – outside” is part of the Mishna!

That is also the reason why Rabbi Meir adds the seemingly superfluous, “Whoever studies Torah for Torah’s sake alone, merits many things.” The message that Rabbi Meir is conveying is that the way to merit the unlimited Torah of Moshiach – “many things,” is by learning Torah properly, Lishma, in the time of exile. 

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording.com.

 

 

 

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