Tag Archive | Pirkei Avot

3 Rules for Success in Torah Study!

Commentary of Tiferes Yisrael on Pirkei Avos 2:12

“Rabbi Elazar said:’Be eager to study the Torah. Know what to respond to a heretic. Know before Whom you toil and faithful is your employer who shall pay you the reward of your labor.'” (Pirkei Avos 2:12)

Tiferes Yisrael: Three things are necessary for success in learning.

  1. Eagerness and Diligence.
    If he’s not diligent to review everyday what he learned the previous day, he will lose before he gains. And the subjects will not be firmly grasped in his mind. Therefore ‘Be eager to study the Torah’
  2. Thoughtfulness and depth in the subjects learned.
    One should not move away from anything he learns (!!) until he can answer 7 questions. (see the hebrew for details). When you can answer the 7 questions, all difficulties will be clarified for you. Also, you’ll understand the background well, and if there’s a contradiction to what you already know. You’ll also ask yourself if there are any extra words, and if yes, why this word was written. This way things will become clear like a new shirt (??). Therefore ‘know what to respond to a heretic’. i.e. It’s not enough to know reasons clearly enough to answer a kosher Jew. Rather, contemplate things so thoroughly that you can even answer a heretic who does not buy into the Torah system and uses only his human logic/common sense.
  3. Removal of worries and all other thoughts when learning. Therefore ‘Know before Whom you toil and who is your employer who shall pay you the reward of your labor.’

1. Know before Whom you toil. Means, be embarassed to think other thoughts while busy doing your Employer’s work.

2. faithful is your Employer etc.. Means due to your efforts in Torah study, you will not need big efforts to obtain your livelihood. (since success in livelihood is also in His hands)

see the original Hebrew for more details.

Comment on 2nd point:Learning a piece of talmud is like going through a labyrinth (maze) at night with a small flashlight. One must focus and keep track of everything as he moves along otherwise he will lose his train of thought and become confused. This requires total concentration and a “nefesh rechava” (a wide mind).

One who trains himself to learn with a “nefesh rechava” will reach clarity of understanding in torah, which brings the greatest joy.

(note: this applies not only to individual sugyas, but also to entire tractates. A yeshiva student once asked to be tested on tractate Gitin. The Rav responded “ok. I’ll tell you the situation, you write the Get.” The student was dumbfounded.

The student did not learn with a “nefesh rechava”. He did not learn to put the pieces together and therefore instead of having a nice complete building in the end, he wound up with a big pile of bricks.

Courtesy of Daf Yomi Review


“And you will be swiftly removed from upon the good land that G_d gives you.” (Deut. 11:17)

The Ba’al Shem Tov has said, that an individual must always have a calm mind and not act impetuously, [for when one does act in this way, then he] “will be swiftly removed from upon the good land.” One [must learn to] swiftly remove impetuousness [rather than be removed because of it. (Ref. SBST, Ekev 62).

The first of all wise sayings attributed to our Sages in Pirkei Avot is “be deliberating in judgment.” In other words, we should never be quick and impetuous to make decisions that are not well thought out, rational and logical.

Every day we are faced with decisions and every day we often make the wrong decisions simply because we rush to decide.

Sometimes the best decision is no decision, at least for the moment. The world WILL NOT come to an end if we wait a while before responding to a matter that is not an immanent crises.

This advice might not be for the battlefield… but we do not always live on the battlefield. Decisions about business, family, expenses and everyday living have to be made based upon the greater and wiser good and not just upon how we feel or how things look at the moment.

Times change and so do feelings. Never make a decision that will affect the future based only on the here and now.

Pause, take a moment, and look towards tomorrow, the next day, and the day after that. Takes these into consideration today before you make a decision that will affect you negatively tomorrow.

Wisdom From Close and Afar By HaRav Ariel Bar Tzadok of Kosher Torah.

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