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The Torah Resides in Those Who "Die" for It

Published on Monday November 5th, 2018

In the Avot scriptures, Shamai teaches us that studying Torah should be the center of our lives. This is what the Talmud tells us in the "Brachot" exposition (35a): previous generations have made the Torah the most important aspect of their lives and have thus received special fortuitous support: the short time they have invested in their work is enough to earn a living and therefore managed to indulge in the study of Torah.

Indeed, it is necessary to study on a daily basis and never miss the time set for study. The Torah says, "If you abandon me for one day, I will leave you for two days!” The Jerusalem Talmud states that when one distances themselves from the Torah, one might as well disassociate themselves just as much. Chas veshalom a day of abandonment of the Torah  will lead to a break of two days!

There is a story about a Rav who goes by the nickname "Beit Ephraim" who studied with all his strength and became an outstanding scholar. His wife wished that he remained invested in studying. That's why they decided together to open a jewelry store. The woman sold the jewels, thus giving merit to her husband to invest continuously in the study of the Torah. Only when great decisions needed to be made, and she didn’t want to make them by herself, would she advise her husband at the time of a meal.

One day, a customer came with a lucrative business proposition. As this was a big decision with great implications, the wife did not want to take it on her own. She sent someone to call her husband, saying that it might be better to interrupt his study to advise her. The buyer could not wait because he had to get on his way.

The husband however replied by requesting the permission to continue studying. She gave it to him, even though she didn’t fully understand the reason for his refusal.

Finally, when he arrived for lunch, he found his wife in pain. He explained to her: Our elders say that the Torah resides in those who die for it! I think that the explanation for this is that the Torah is to be found in those who consider themselves to be dead and don’t worry about earthly needs during their studies.

Indeed, when one is studying, he mustn’t be interrupted under any circumstances. You must not trade one of these moments even for all the money in the world. Moreover, if I give in once, it may disturb me every day. We should be happy to have the privilege to overcome this issue.

Witnessing her husband's love for the Torah, the woman rejoiced and thanked Hashem. She realized that the money they had to earn during the coming year was set and they had not lost anything. On the contrary, they had earned the credit of approaching Hashem and Torah when they told us this fantastic story.

Excerpt from the book "Anaf Etz Avot" written by our master Rav Ovadia Yosef, may his merit be a source of blessing for all the people of Israel, Amen.

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