Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Kava'ta Itim LaTorah?

Last Elul, I posted a summary of a dvar Torah that I wrote some years earlier for P' Vayeilech contrasting the two mitzvos found in that parsha on the basis of regularity vs. randomness in one's avodah. The communal Hakheil represents the need for a person to have regular experiences that aid in one's avodah, while the personal obligation of writing a sefer Torah represents the need to take steps to ensure that one continues to grow in one's avodah even when circumstances do not lend themselves to such regularity. I brought down the opening line of Medrash Shmuel, which expounds a passuk in Tehillim to refer to an obligation to learn Torah even outside of regularly scheduled times.

In today's Daf Yomi Discussion List (35:3), put out by the Kollel Iyun HaDaf, R' Dov Bloom quotes the Sha'arei Teshuva (O.Ch. 156:2), who brings down an idea from the Hafla'ah similar to that of the Medrash Shmuel. The Hafla'ah notes that kovei'a, in the sense of "Kava'ta ittim laTorah" (Shabbos 31a) does not mean to set, but rather to steal (see Malachi 3:8-9). Understood in this way, when one arrives in Shamayim, he will be asked not whether he fixed times for Torah, but rather whether he constantly stole whatever time he could from his other daily activities in order to engage in learning Torah. The former is by necessity finite, but the quest for the latter, in the ideal circumstance, can encompass one's entire week, much as Shammai HaZakein succeeded in expanding the finite Shabbos into his entire week by constantly stealing away time during the week to honor it.

Although it is clearly a necessity that one learn on a regular basis, if one limits himself to only these regular times, his avodah appears to be lacking in a vital component.

Interesting, shortly before I heard this idea, someone posted a comment on a post on R' Harry Maryles' Emes Ve-Emunah blog asking if blogging was considered kove'ia ittim. When I first saw this question, I thought it was silly, but based on the reading of the Hafla'ah, it very well could be that visiting a blog focused on Torah (of which, B"H, there exist a good number) may constitute "stealing away" time from one's lunch period for learning.

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At 2/08/2007 11:44 AM, Blogger Chaim B. said...

I believe the Chasam Sofer at the end of Mes Nedarim (on the gemara's sevara of "mayim genuvim yimtaku") develops a derush based on this same theme.

At 2/08/2007 12:00 PM, Blogger Josh M. said...

Thanks for the source. I'll check it out.


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