Saturday, December 02, 2006

Women and Talmud Torah XVI

(Material by Rabbi Kenneth Auman, presented by Chana. All mistakes are my fault.)

Please look at Sanhedrin 94b.

    והיה ביום ההוא יסור סבלו מעל שכמך ועולו מעל צוארך וחובל עול מפני שמן א"ר יצחק נפחא חובל עול של סנחריב מפני שמנו של חזקיהו שהיה דולק בבתי כנסיות ובבתי מדרשות מה עשה נעץ חרב על פתח בית המדרש ואמר כל מי שאינו עוסק בתורה ידקר בחרב זו בדקו מדן ועד באר שבע ולא מצאו עם הארץ מגבת ועד אנטיפרס ולא מצאו תינוק ותינוקת איש ואשה שלא היו בקיאין בהלכות טומאה וטהרה

(and in English)

    And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulders, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the oil.33 R. Isaac, the Smith, said: [This means,] the yoke of Sennacherib shall be destroyed on account of the oil of Hezekiah, which burnt in the synagogues and schools. What did he do? — He planted a sword by the door of the schoolhouse and proclaimed, 'He who will not study the Torah will be pierced with the sword.' Search was made from Dan unto Beer Sheba, and no ignoramus was found; from Gabbath34 unto Antipris,35 and no boy or girl, man or woman was found who was not thoroughly versed in the laws of cleanliness and uncleanliness.36

Here they are quoting a pasuk from Yeshaya. "On that day the oppression will be removed from you, yoke take off, etc, because of the oil." (Sancherib was coming, marching on Jerusalem, there was a miracle and the army disappeared.) So what is this yoke of Sancheirib? The oil of Chizkiyahu will destory the yoke of Sancheirib. Because the oil was burning in the synogagues and schools. Chizkiyahu had his soldiers put a sword in front of the Beis Midrash, saying that anyone who didn't learn would be killed. So they learned, and everyone knew Torah- boy or girl, man or woman were all learning halakhos- everyone was knowledgeable in the halakhos of tumah and taharah (this supports the Ramah that women learn all practical halakhos having to do with them.)

Some ideas:

If you look at the concept of Talmud Torah, there are two reasons why someone (a man, let's say) has to learn Torah.

1. He has to learn how to practice the mitzvos
2. He has an obligation to learn Torah

We could say, therefore, that the mitzvah of learning Torah exists on a level where people learn solely to learn- based on 'v'limadtem.' Person learns laws of Sanhedrin or tumah or tahara- that's learning for the sake of learning. But when we learn hilchos Shabbos, we're learning in order to know how to correctly observe Shabbos. (We need a training manual so we can see how to observe Shabbos.) So the reason we are obligated to learn the laws of Shabbos is because of our obligation to keep the mitzvah of Shabbos.

So- "v'limadtem osam.' Women are not obligated in this. But they are obligated in keeping Shabbos, hence they need to learn the laws of Shabbos. Considered an Enabler, since knowing the laws of Shabbos enables you to keep Shabbos. Based on this I believe the Brisker Rav said on the famous Gemara of 'al ma avda ha'aretz' where the answer is that people did not say Birchas haTorah, that technically the blessing is made on the v'limadtem part of learning Torah, so the men were only learning practical mitzvot (which is why they didn't say birchat haTorah.) The problem with that is nowadays we say that bracha anyway, even girls- so okay, a kasha.

Even the voluntary mitzvos- clearly women can learn about voluntary mitzvos as well.

So all this is in accord with/ stated by the Ramah.

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