Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Why we learn K'tzos

This post was really supposed to be a response to XGH's post on DovBear, Kollel vs Math. But being that the thread is sort of over, I decided to make a post out of it.

The main issue of XGH's post was the following:

"Problems in the Ketzos might be beautiful and fascinating, but solving them won’t bring about any measurable benefit to the world."

My response:

There is a discussion end of first Perek Kiddushin if 'Talmud' (learning) is greater, or 'Maaseh' is greater. The Gemara concludes that Talmud is greater because "Talmud May'vee Li'day Maaseh. According to basic Gemara logic, if the 'Maskana' is that 'Talmud which brings to Maaseh' is greater, then in the 'Havah Amina', the Gemara was discussing 'Talmud' on its own - not 'Talmud which brings to Maaseh'. And yet, the Gemara had a consideration that 'Talmud although its not L'maaseh' might be greater than Maaseh.

Have you ever read any of the hundreds of Shaalos U'tshuvos Sefarim? Take Igros Moshe (R' Moshe Feinstein) for an example. I've never read through it (just a little here there), but I would venture to say that at least 60% - 70% of the Shaalos are not found in Gemara or even Shulchan Aruch (Microphone?). What it takes is, Knowledge (you can make a huge pilpul, only to discover that on the next page, the Gemara concludes otherwise), Understanding (what the Havah Amina was, how did Rashi understand vs Tosfos etc), and Binah - L'havin Dovor Mi'toch Dovor - to extrapolate the thesis and rules -the 'yesod' of the sugya from one application, and to correctly apply it to another application. And anyone who learnt Daf Yomi 7 times over won't be able to really help out here. What it entails is a very thorough grasp of every sugya by utilizing sharp analyzation, extremely precise Chakiros, and hair splitting Sevaros.

Thats where K'tzos comes into play. Its a mental exercise. Its purpose is to sharpen the mind. To train the Talmud student how to think, how to analyze, how to understand, and how to correctly extrapolate.

Now of course, not every kollelnik is on the verge of becoming a Posek. But nevertheless,

"Talmud Torah K'neged Kulam"

"Lo Yamush M'Picha" (I forget the exact wording)

"V'dibarta Bam" - Bam V'lo B'dvorim B'taylim"

Mitzvas Talmud Torah is every minute, its a mitzva which is "SHE'LO Hazman Ge'rama". Woman are Patur because "V'limad'tem Es B'naichem - V'lo B'noseichem".

All this applies to every kollelnik.

The Heter for a man to work (no jokes, it requires a Heter) is V'osafta D'ganecha. In theory, one may only work to "put bread on his table" - "Paas Ba'melach".

I once asked R' Malkiel Kotler, since a wife and kids aren't Mechuyav in Paas Bamelach, and one is Mechuyav to provide her with her needs, then this should be a Heter to work more than just to "put bread on his table".
IOW, since a woman isn't Mechuyav in Paas Bamelach because she isn't Mechuyav in Talmud Torah, she is Mutar to work, say to buy a nice piece of furniture, whereas a man might not be permitted to be Mevatel Torah simply to buy 'nice' furniture. But a married man has to provide his wife with HER needs as well.

The RY agreed that this might be a good 'Limud Zechus'.

But bottom line, Mitzvas Talmud Torah is even when one learns 'Talmud', even when its not L'maaseh. The above quoted Gemara discusses which is greater, not if 'Talmud' alone has value or not.


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