Sunday, August 17, 2008

The drasha of Shim'on HaAmsuni

Pesachim 22b ( relates that Shim'on HaAmsuni used to expound upon every instance of the preposition "es" in the Torah as a means of including something beyond the simple reading of the verse. However, once he arrived at the passuk in this past week's parsha which begins "Es HaShem Elokecha tira", the commandment to fear HaShem, he recanted this entire method of learning, as how is it possible for anything else to be the object of a fear that is in any way analogous to that of God? Eventually, R' Akiva stood up to defend Shim'on HaAmsuni's original derech, arguing that fear of talmidei chachamim can be included by this inclusory exposition.

Why was this passuk is the first one that gave Shim'on HaAmsuni trouble? A few pesukim earlier, we are presented with the command to love HaShem, "V'ahavta es HaShem Elokecha". How is it possible to compare any other form of love to the love that we are required to have for HaShem?

The Torah Temimah argues that it is not possible that Shim'on HaAmsuni did not know the drasha suggested by R' Akiva, as there is a mishnah in Avos which clearly states that one's fear of his teacher should be akin to his fear of Heaven (uMora rabbach k'mora Shamayim). Rather, the objection of Shim'on HaAmsuni was to the continuation of the passuk, the commandment of prayer (v'Oso sa'avod), which would be anathema to Judaism were it to be applied to even talmidei chachamim, while R' Akiva held that the interceding direct object serves to split the two verbs, so that only yir'ah, not avodah, applies to talmidei chachamim.

I do not understand how this is implied by the wording of the sugya. The proof of the Torah Temimah is even more difficult for me to understand, as the mishnah that he cited was taught by R' Elazar ben Shamu'a, who was a talmid of R' Akiva.




At 10/05/2008 3:06 PM, Blogger Chaim B. said...

When I first read your post a few weeks ago I remembered a Tiferes Shlomo on this gemara and could not track it down. Finally I found it on this week's parsha - P' VaYeilech - so if you would like a chassidic approach, take a look. Every letter of Torah corresponds to a neshoma (an idea found in places like the Chasam Sofer as well). R' Shimon haAmsuni was dareshening every es=every os, how every Jew has a connection to Torah. But when he reached the deepest level of "es Hashem Elokecha tirah", meaning he was overcome with yiras shamayim, he stopped, for fear that ascribing a relationship between even lowly neshomos and Torah forfeit that yiras Shamayim. But R' Akiva, the great champion of ahavas yisrael, taught how even those low neshomos could be rehabilitated by being marbeh talmidei chachamim, who can serve as the bridge between the keduas haTorah and these almost-lost souls so they could be restored to their rightful place.


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