[Avodah] Shemini Atzeres as a time for Hislamdus

Akiva Miller akivagmiller at gmail.com
Mon Oct 19 04:41:26 PDT 2020

R' Micha Berger wrote:

> The relevant factoid of the Rambam is that someone who cannot
> learn behislamdus, in a reflective way that aims at
> internalization, doesn't gain much from learning. A man may be
> a metzuveh ve'oseh anyway, perhaps in hopes that someday he has
> a good moment. But if a woman isn't metzuvah and cannot learn
> behislamdus, there is so little zekhus in learning without
> hislamdus, it's not worth the risk of turning it into tiflus.

Here's how I relate to this topic:

First and foremost, I believe it is an utter mistake to think that the goal
of Talmud Torah is the yedios that one acquires in the course of learning.
Rather, proper Talmud Torah affects one's neshama in some sort of other,
much more fundamental way. RMB calls it "hislamdus" and "internalization".
Whatever you want to call it, it is nutritious to certain neshamos, and
tiflus to others, and woe to the person who ignores the Physician's

In sharp contrast, to learn Torah specifically for the yedios, this is
learning SHELO lishmah, and is harmless. It's a very low level of the
mitzvah even for those who are metzuveh, and those who are non-metzuveh
don't need to stay away if it interests them. Of course, it is important
for everyone to acquire a particular subset of those yedios, namely those
that they need to be a believing shomer mitzvos. But if a non-metzuveh can
acquire those yedios in a manner that doesn't risk tiflus (osmosis from the
shtetl community, for example) then Mah Tov Umah Na'im.

(Footnote: I developed these ideas by noting that so many people refer to
Gemara as "real" learning, and how they discount the value of other sorts
of learning. For many decades I resented that prejudice, especially since I
personally prefer learning halacha and find gemara very difficult. But a
few years ago I came upon the idea that perhaps the goal of gemara is not
to *teach* us the *reasoning* behind certain things, but more
fundamentally, to *train* us *how* to reason. If so, the
gemara's methodology (a/k/a Talmud Torah Lishmah in general) would only be
effective for certain brains, and might be counterproductive for others.)

Akiva Miller
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