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Yoma 87

YOMA 59-88 have been dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Simcha Bekelnitzky (Simcha Gedalya ben Shraga Feibush) of Queens N.Y. by his wife and daughters. Well known in the community for his Chesed and Tzedakah, he will long be remembered.


QUESTION: The Gemara says that "Kol ha'Mezakeh Es ha'Rabim, Ein Chet Ba Al Yado" -- no sin will come upon the hands of a person who causes other people to have merit [by teaching them Torah]. The Gemara says that the reason is because it is not proper for the teacher to be in Gehinom while the students are in Gan Eden.

We find, however, that the Gemara elsewhere mentions that it is possible for a person to teach Torah to others and yet be a sinner. The Gemara in Chagigah (15b) relates the story of "Acher" (Elisha ben Avuyah) who taught Torah (even the great Rebbi Meir was his student), and yet became a notorious sinner! Similarly, the Gemara in Yevamos (109b) says that if a person thinks that even though he sins he is still entitled to reward because he taught Torah to others and as a result they went and fulfilled the Mitzvos, he is incorrect and is entitled to nothing. How can it be that such a person sins? Our Gemara says that one who causes others to merit will not sin! (TOSFOS YESHANIM)


(a) TOSFOS (Yevamos 109b, DH Mahu) and the TOSFOS YESHANIM here answer that the statement of our Gemara applies only to someone who was never a sinner before he began teaching Torah to others. If someone was never a sinner, then the merit of causing others to fulfill the Mitzvos will stand in his stead and prevent him from sinning. The case of Acher and the Gemara in Yevamos refer to people who were sinners before they started teaching Torah. (As the Gemara in Chagigah says, heretical books fell from Acher's lap as a youngster when he arose from the Beis Midrash, and he frequently hummed gentile tunes.)

(b) RAV YECHEZKEL ABRAMSKY, zt'l, in CHAZON YECHEZKEL (Tosefta Yoma 4:11) explains that our Gemara is not referring to someone who teaches Torah to others and merely increases their knowledge. Rather, it refers to someone who "*purifies* their minds and thoughts, and by purifying their minds they distance themselves from sin and immerse themselves in Torah and Mitzvos." He interprets the word "Mezakeh" not to mean "Zikuy" (merit), but to mean "Zikuch" (purification). Therefore, the Gemara's statement that one who is "Mezakeh" others will be saved from sin refers not to one who simply teaches others facts from the Torah, but rather it refers to one who teaches Musar, and helps others to purify their thoughts and sanctify themselves in the service of Hashem. Acher only taught the facts from the Torah; likewise, the Gemara in Yevamos refers to someone who teaches the laws to his students but does not teach them how to become proper G-d-fearing individuals. (Rabbi S. Y. G. Yudaikin, in DIVREI SHALOM 5:6 expands on this theme; see there (5:7) for another answer, based on the BEN YEHOYADA on this Gemara.)

QUESTION: The Gemara says that when Rav Zutra would be carried into the Beis Midrash on the Shabbos before the Yom Tov (for the grand lecture prior to the Yom Tov), in order to avoid any feelings of haughtiness he would say to himself the verse, "For strength is not everlasting, and does the crown [of glory] last from generation to generation?" (Mishlei 27:24). RASHI (DH Mekatfi Lei) explains that he was old, and they would carry him by putting their arms on each other's shoulders and situating him on their arms, so that people would not have to inconvenience themselves to stand up for him in the Beis Midrash.

Rashi's words are not clear. First, Rashi begins by saying that the reason they carried him was because he was old (and presumably unable to walk on his own). He then says that they carried him in order for the people not to have to inconvenience themselves to stand for him!

Second, if he is being carried, why should that exempt the people from standing for him?

ANSWER: RASHI (Beitzah 25b and Sanhedrin 7b) explains the practice of carrying a person more in detail. Since the person was old, it took him much longer to get to his seat in the Beis Midrash, and the people there would have to stand for a long time as he slowly made his way to his seat. By being carried, he reached his seat much sooner and the people did not have to stand so long.


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