Rabbi Israel Chait

Ideas discussed over Succos

Daven Wherever You Wish

The gemara uses the word “aisvey,” meaning “sit”…one needs to sit to hear an idea. In older times, they would stand when learning Torah, but as people grew weaker, they allowed them to sit. Thus, when simply reading Torah, one should sit in the succah, but when learning more abstract areas, he needs more comfort and can learn outside the succah or in his home. 

Not so regarding Tefila. One is “Omade lifney Hamakom; he stands before God” when in prayer.  Chazal also state, “When one davens, he is in the heavens”…he is separated from the physical. Tefila is therefore not a din in yeshiva. This agrees with Rambam who says although learning Torah is relegated to a location to enhance it, praying can be done anywhere for it’s not relegated to a place. One who davens is addressing God, he is removed from physical concerns. He is unrelated to succah.

Torah Influence

Rav Shimon bar Yochai said, “If I [my torah] were weighed against the entire world [of sinners], I would save the world from its decree of destruction from the day of my birth.” This means that one whose Torah is so great, can have a positive influence on his generation, eliminating the need for world destruction. His own merits and learning could save the world…but only from his birth until the present.

Rav Shimon bar Yochai added, “If my son where added [to the scale], we would save the world’s decree of destruction from the time of Creation.”  Thus, one person who learns merits others, but only of his time.  Furthermore, Rav Shimon’s afflictions for those 12 years living in the cave also offered introspection, which increased his perfection, thereby tilting the scales to save the world since his birth. 

But when two people produce Torah, it’s not merely quantitative, but it grows the influence of Torah exponentially. The Gemara says, “When many learn Torah, Torah is fruitful and multiplies.”  That is why Rav Shimon bar Yochai learning together his son would save the decree of destruction “from Creation”: a far greater duration. Rav Shimon bar Yochai learning with his son created an exponentially greater Torah that could influence all Earth’s generations from Creation. Why a longer duration? Torah insights compliment each other, creating not only a quantitatively greater sum of Torah, but multiple insights further grow new insights from each other. It’s not simply a sum. 

Rav Shimon bar Yochai added, “If Yasom was added to the scale, we would save the world from Creation to the end of time.”  Yasom was a great anav, a very humble person. He judged cases and attributed his ideas to others. Rav Shimon bar Yochai meant that when humility is added to Torah, the Torah produced excels to an even greater level. Yasom’s humility adds another layer of impact which their Torah would have, as humility advances one’s learning: ego is removed and there is no longer any barrier to perceiving truths. Torah thereby reaches new heights.

In summary, we learn that a great person can affect others around him. A number of great people exponentially grow Torah’s influence. And when humility is added, Torah excels even further, producing wisdom that can influence the world forever. Even though the current generation’s sins may not be corrected, the world can be spared due to the influence their Torah will have on future generations.