Toiling in Torah by Yoni Ratzersdorfer


When Moshe Rabbeinu proposed to establish a judicial and educational system to replace the system in which everyone came to him to learn, the people replied טוב הדבר אשר דברת לעשות, “The thing that you have proposed to do is good” (1:14).  Rashi comments that Moshe was upset with the enthusiastic reaction from the nation.  Moshe responded to the people, “From whom is it better to learn, from me or from my students?  Is it not better to learn from me, someone who has toiled and suffered in the study of Torah?”  Rav Moshe Feinstein explains that Rashi should have said that they should have preferred Moshe Rabbeinu as a teacher because he was the original teacher, as opposed to learning from his students.  Why does Rashi choose to say that Moshe was a better teacher because he suffered and toiled in his learning?

This can be answered by saying that some people who are not yet great scholars might find it easier to learn from a student because the student does not have as great an understanding as the original teacher.  Rashi is trying to tell us to seek out the best teacher, someone who has toiled and suffered in learning in order to completely understand every subject.  This type of teacher does not solely rely on his great mind but constantly labors to find the truth.

This can explain Rashi in Parshat Bechukotai, where he says that anyone who does not toil in Torah is viewed as someone who has not learned at all.  Even a person with the greatest of minds who has not labored but depends on his memory and genius cannot be considered a true Talmid Chacham.  The wisdom of the Torah is far greater than the wisdom of any human mind.  Only after a person puts in effort and has suffered in his learning will Hashem assist him in understanding the Torah.

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