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TALMUD TORAH-----vs. chesed & mitzvos

Q: In the morning blessings we recite the paragraph of Aylu Devorim. This is a list brought down from the Talmud about acts that we do in this world that we get rewarded in the Next World. It ends that learning Torah is equvalent to all of these acts.

The question was presented to me as follows: How can a person who sits and learns get the same reward as the person who goes out of his way and does a chessed like visiting the sick, when he really doe not have the time?And how can the "learner" be compared, regarding reward, to somebody that if it was not for that person the sick person will be left alone?

A: Because while it is great to visit a sick person, the power by which the sick are healed is created by those learning Torah.

The spiritual energy that makes the sun shine, the grass grow, and rain to fall is created through learning Torah.

Torah sustains nd maintains the world. Doing Mitzvos is of course great, but is the fulfillment, the bringing to fruition, of that which Torah creates.

Someone who visits the sick is like the mailman who delivers your paycheck. Someone who learns is like the one whose funds the check is from.

Q: But you still will not get your mail without the mailman? If a sick person needs a ride to the doctor, will the Torah learning get him there? Will Learning make the Chasan and Kallah happier? Doesn't someone have to do it, thereby they can't be learning, so why shouldn't they get "compensated" and get the same reward as Torah learning?

A: Just because 2 people are necessary components of the same action does not mean they get equal credit for that action. Bill Gates can't get his computer to you without the UPS boy who delivers it. But your ability to use the coputer is certinaly more due to Bill than to the UPS guy.

So too Torah is what fuels all the blessings in the world. Including the happiness of the Choson and Kallah, and the support of the poor. The Mitzvah-doers - and this is not to minimize their part c"v - merely fulfill what Torah learning allows.

There is another thing here, too. An Am Ha'aretz (someone who does not know Torah) does not get a Chelek in Olam Habah. But if someone is a Rasha - say he was purposely Mechalel Shabbos - he does get a share in Olam Habbah, even though he is a Rasha, gets killed by Bais Din and burns in Gehinnom for his crime.

Here's how this works:

The reason why learning Torah is greater than doing Mitzvos is not merely a quantitative thing. Learning Torah has a completely different role in conditioning the soul of a Jew than does Mitzvos.

In Olam Habbah, and by this I mean after Moshiach comes, we will get our reward in our physical bodies.

Currently, those bodies are too low and unspiritual to be able to receive the spiritual light which is going to be our reward. If we would try to get our reward now, our bodies would simply get nuked.

The Mitzvos condition our bodies to be able to accept the spiritual reward of Olam Habbah. Each time we use our bodies in a Mitzvah, that changes the nature of our bodies, so that the more Mitzvos we do, the more our bodies become vessels to contain the reward of the next world.

But. But the reward itself, the light that the body will be able to receive, is generated only by our Torah learning, NOT our Mitzvos. The Mitzvos condition our body to accept the light generated by the Torah. Both together equals reward.

So if someone does not learn Torah, even if he does all the Mitzvos, he will not get Olam Habbah. Because he will have nothing to get. This is not a punishment; on the contrary, he is theoretically allowed to enjoy the fruits of his labors in the next world. The only problem is, his labors have no fruits.

Without Torah, there is no Olam Habbah. The Gemora therefore says that women, who do not have the merit of Torah (even if they learn, they do not fulfill the Mitzvah of Torah learning since they are exempt from it) merit Olam Habbah by supporting the Torah of their husbands and children.

And therefore, even a Tinok Shenishbah, someone who is totally innocent of any sins because they do nto know better, will still not merit Olam Habbah since they have no Torah. Someone who does not have torah does nto get Olam Habbah for the same reason a rock does nto get Olam Habbah: They have nothing to get.

Its not the rock's fault that Hashem made him a rock; and its not the Tinok Shenishba's fault that Hashem made him unenlightened. But that doesnt mean either one is going to get a share in Olam Habbah.

Note: Even an Am HaAretz will be rewarded, somehow, some way, for the Mitzvos that he does. Perhaps in the Olam Haneshomos after he dies before Moshiach comes, or maybe in this world, c"v, but the Grand reward called Olam Habbah can only be obtained by someone who has Torah.

There was a man, I forgot his name, but it was "Sir" something (one of these English knights or whatever), who was a great Baal Tzedakah, and supported many charities. But he did not give money to support Torah learning. Not because he had anything against it; it just wasnt his "thing."

One day Sir Somebody gets a visitor in his office that asked the secretary for 10 minutes of Sir's time. "It's urgent," the visitor said.

The secretary recognized the visitor from pictures she had seen, and ran to tell Sir that Rav Aharon Kotler is waiting to speak to him.

Rav Aharon told the man: "You give a lot of Tzedakah, but when you get to the next world, you will be very, very disappointed in what happens, because you did not support Yeshivos and Torah learning."

Sir immediately took out his check book and made out a check to Beth Medrash Govoha (Rav Aharon's Yeshiva). He asked Rab Aharon "How much do you want me to give?"

Rav Ahron answered, "No. I will not take even a penny from you for my Yeshiva. If I do, you may think that the purpose of me telling you this was to get you to give a donation to my Yeshiva. The reality is, I only came here for your own good. You are a big philanthropist and I didnt want you to be disappointed in the next world. So you can support any Yeshiva you want, but I will never, ever take a penny from you for mine."

From that day on, Sir became a big supporter of Yeshivos (but not to Lakewood!). Two months later, he passed away.

(I heard this story from Mr. Amos Bunim of Far Rockaway, NY, who knew it first hand. He told me Sir's full name, but I forgot it since then.)

Sir Isaac Wolfson his name was. I just asked Amos Bunim.

R' Moderator: I just wanted to compliment you on the very clear and understandable way that you explained the difference between the effects of a mitzvah and of torah learning. Do you think you could give me a list of sources that I might be able to see that inside? Thanks

Parts of this idea is all over Rav Chaim Volozhen's Nefesh HaChaim, particularly in the 3rd chapter. Also, dispersed in Ruach Chaim on Pirkei Avos, on the mishnayos that discuss Torah learning. You can also find parts is Shem Mishmuel and Sfas Emes (also a recurring themes in those seforim), and regarding an Am Haaretz getting olam Habah, that is in Rav Elchonon Wasserman's Kovetz Maamarim.

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