THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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YOMA 59-88 have been dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Simcha
Bekelnitzky (Simcha Gedalya ben Shraga Feibush) of Queens N.Y. by his wife
and daughters. Well known in the community for his Chesed and Tzedakah, he
will long be remembered.
1) ONE WHO CAUSES MERIT FOR OTHERS WILL NOT SIN
QUESTION: The Gemara says that "Kol ha'Mezakeh Es ha'Rabim, Ein Chet Ba Al
Yado" -- no sin will come upon the hands of a person who causes other people
to have merit [by teaching them Torah]. The Gemara says that the reason is
because it is not proper for the teacher to be in Gehinom while the students
are in Gan Eden.
2) STANDING FOR AN ELDER WHO IS BEING CARRIED
We find, however, that the Gemara elsewhere mentions that it is possible for
a person to teach Torah to others and yet be a sinner. The Gemara in
Chagigah (15b) relates the story of "Acher" (Elisha ben Avuyah) who taught
Torah (even the great Rebbi Meir was his student), and yet became a
notorious sinner! Similarly, the Gemara in Yevamos (109b) says that if a
person thinks that even though he sins he is still entitled to reward
because he taught Torah to others and as a result they went and fulfilled
the Mitzvos, he is incorrect and is entitled to nothing. How can it be that
such a person sins? Our Gemara says that one who causes others to merit will
not sin! (TOSFOS YESHANIM)
(a) TOSFOS (Yevamos 109b, DH Mahu) and the TOSFOS YESHANIM here answer that
the statement of our Gemara applies only to someone who was never a sinner
before he began teaching Torah to others. If someone was never a sinner,
then the merit of causing others to fulfill the Mitzvos will stand in his
stead and prevent him from sinning. The case of Acher and the Gemara in
Yevamos refer to people who were sinners before they started teaching Torah.
(As the Gemara in Chagigah says, heretical books fell from Acher's lap as a
youngster when he arose from the Beis Midrash, and he frequently hummed
(b) RAV YECHEZKEL ABRAMSKY, zt'l, in CHAZON YECHEZKEL (Tosefta Yoma 4:11)
explains that our Gemara is not referring to someone who teaches Torah to
others and merely increases their knowledge. Rather, it refers to someone
who "*purifies* their minds and thoughts, and by purifying their minds they
distance themselves from sin and immerse themselves in Torah and Mitzvos."
He interprets the word "Mezakeh" not to mean "Zikuy" (merit), but to mean
"Zikuch" (purification). Therefore, the Gemara's statement that one who is
"Mezakeh" others will be saved from sin refers not to one who simply teaches
others facts from the Torah, but rather it refers to one who teaches Musar,
and helps others to purify their thoughts and sanctify themselves in the
service of Hashem. Acher only taught the facts from the Torah; likewise, the
Gemara in Yevamos refers to someone who teaches the laws to his students but
does not teach them how to become proper G-d-fearing individuals. (Rabbi S.
Y. G. Yudaikin, in DIVREI SHALOM 5:6 expands on this theme; see there (5:7)
for another answer, based on the BEN YEHOYADA on this Gemara.)
QUESTION: The Gemara says that when Rav Zutra would be carried into the Beis
Midrash on the Shabbos before the Yom Tov (for the grand lecture prior to
the Yom Tov), in order to avoid any feelings of haughtiness he would say to
himself the verse, "For strength is not everlasting, and does the crown [of
glory] last from generation to generation?" (Mishlei 27:24). RASHI (DH
Mekatfi Lei) explains that he was old, and they would carry him by putting
their arms on each other's shoulders and situating him on their arms, so
that people would not have to inconvenience themselves to stand up for him
in the Beis Midrash.
Rashi's words are not clear. First, Rashi begins by saying that the reason
they carried him was because he was old (and presumably unable to walk on
his own). He then says that they carried him in order for the people not to
have to inconvenience themselves to stand for him!
Second, if he is being carried, why should that exempt the people from
standing for him?
ANSWER: RASHI (Beitzah 25b and Sanhedrin 7b) explains the practice of
carrying a person more in detail. Since the person was old, it took him much
longer to get to his seat in the Beis Midrash, and the people there would
have to stand for a long time as he slowly made his way to his seat. By
being carried, he reached his seat much sooner and the people did not have
to stand so long.