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|< Tishrei 5782||September 2021 >|
"And all your children shall be disciples of the LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children." The way that they will "be disciples of the LORD" – that is, learned in Torah and (having) fear of Heaven – is by "great shall be the peace of your children". This means that by being together in peace, brotherhood and friendship they will be able reprimand one another, and that the words of reprimand will be heard, so that all will follow God's path. This is also understood from the following: Hillel says, "Be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving the creatures and bringing them closer to Torah." When one loves and pursues peace, and loves people, one can reprimand them what one says is accepted; they follow the paths of God and fear of Heaven. For this reason, the text ends with "bringing them closer to Torah".
The commandment to write a kosher Torah scroll, as we have seen done by my friend Haim, may God preserve him, who had this excellent and lovely Torah scroll written in his name, is a fulfillment of the verse we have inscribed at the entrance, "This is my God and I will enshrine Him – enshrine Him with commandments". It is a beautiful Torah scroll, written with beautiful ink and a beautiful quill by an artist scribe, bound in beautiful silk vestment, to which he has also added the two sterling silver pomegranate and breastplate adornments. There is no doubt whatsoever that his recompense will be very great, and that he has fulfilled the verse "Wealth and riches are in his house, and his beneficence lasts forever". …We learn from the words of our master, Rabbi Asher Ben Yechiel, may he rest in peace, that in past generations they would write a Torah scroll and study from it. The principal aspect of the commandment is to write a Torah scroll, but in our day, when a Torah scroll is written and then placed in the synagogue for public reading, it does not suffice to write only Torah scrolls but Mishnah, Talmud and commentaries must also be written, in keeping with the above.
In it will you see…that a person will find that all the wisdom they can imagine or learn already indicated in the Torah, for the Torah is like a pure, natural and shining mirror; it will reflect the beholder's image, whatever shape is placed before it. Such is the Torah, each and every person makes sense of it in keeping with his or her understanding, and sees its image in it. Indeed, the Torah has six hundred thousand interpretations because each one of the six hundred thousand souls received an interpretation of the Torah, according to a literal, allegorical or esoteric meaning. Each soul will interpret Torah in keeping with the interpretation it received, and will find that particular interpretation in Torah, just like a mirror that reflects the shapes of all people, despite that they each have different shapes.
"The world stands on three things: on the Torah, and on the service (of God), and on acts of lovingkindness." A person should not say: Torah study on its own suffices for me, or fulfilling commandments between man and God suffices on its own, or fulfilling the commandments concerning man and his brethren suffices on its own. This is not the way. The three, together, are necessary … the letter vav is added, showing that one does not suffice on its own, and neither do two, but all three are necessary. For one without the other cannot exist. As they, of blessed memory, said, "Whoever holds a Torah scroll naked, is buried naked". They explain that this was intended to mean that a person who says that they have only Torah, who does nothing but study and does not engage in its garments - meaning the commandments written in it - such a person is "buried", or goes to the grave without anything, without even the reward for having studied.
"Hillel says: Do not separate yourself from the community. Do not believe in yourself until the day of your death." This follows from what our sages, of blessed memory, said. A person should share in the fulfillment of commandments with the community: When praying, pray in community, for "Behold, God is mighty; He is not contemptuous" even if there are, Heaven forbid, sinners among them. This is not the case with the single person, who is observed and whose acts are scrutinized. Just as with our Master, Moses, "He has turned to the prayer of the destitute and has not spurned their prayer", meaning the individual is observed, "and not spurned their prayer" – the prayer of the community. This is also the case with Torah study in community. It has added value, as the Peleh Yo'etz, of blessed memory, wrote: It is best to study in community, to make the learning both a service and a tribute. This refers to the Psalms, rather than to difficult and technical matters (nega'im v'ohalot), and similarly to all mitzvoth that are enhanced when performed "in the multitude of people" and are "the king's glory".
Our Sages, of blessed memory, instruct us to begin with the Book of Leviticus [Vayikra], specifically, in teaching schoolchildren, so that the issue of humility should be learned first, for it is required for Torah study. A person lacking humility, even if they are a great Torah scholar, is not beloved by the Almighty. That is why there is a small aleph in the word Vayikra: so that pupils may ask why, and teachers can explain, as above, concerning our Master Moses' humility, and that the notion reach the child's mind. This is a fundamental principle in Torah.
Torah deals principally with preserving and observing, learning and teaching, so as to benefit the public. One should not be a foolishly pious person, who sits and studies without fulfilling any commandments, and says: "Since Torah study is equated to all the commandments, what need have I to fulfill any other commandments?" For it has already been said that "It is a time to act for the LORD, for they have violated Your teaching". Especially in the case of a person dealing in public affairs, for whom the need to postpone prayer and the like is more likely, for "…it is not the exposition (of Torah) that is essential, but the action".
Listen, my friend. Know that hearing something first-hand is better than reading it…This is because speakers will change the level of their voice, raise and lower it, and give a sense to their words using their facial expressions and gaze, in keeping with the moment and according to need. And since those people listening may be standing, speakers will make the effort to have their words sound agreeable reach their public, and use a triumphant voice to make a greater and more powerful impression on their listeners... Just as Rabbi Bina wrote, that at times things written in a book, with all due sanctity, may be but the bare bones of a matter and have little vitality, have little effect and make no lasting impression on readers nor stir their hearts. But hearing those who teach and preach when they are present, alive and moving, adds to the power of speech beyond the actual contents of the matter, and is felt deeply by listeners, leaving them in wonder and moving them to action…for such reprimand coming from the living penetrates the inner being of the wise and settles within it, leaving them with a powerful impression that is not easily dispelled.
“She seeks wool and flax, and works willingly with her hands”. This means to say that this woman, a woman of valor, is stringent in the demands she makes on herself by wearing tzitzit. She bases herself on a reasoning linked to (the Torah prohibition of) wearing sha’atnez (garments made of both wool and linen)… She seeks the reason for the adjacency of 'wool and flax', implying the wearing of sha’atnez, from which she concludes that she is obligated to wearing tzitzit, as follows from the issue raised by the Tosephot commentary. That is what is referred to by “wool and flax, and works…” - that specific item which is permitted to make out of wool and flax - tzitzit as they, of blessed memory, wrote. “…and works” – she fashioned and wore tzitzit; “…willingly with her hands” – in that she is not obligated by our Sages, of blessed memory, but does so of her own will and desire.
"As it was taught: 'And you shall love the Lord your God' which means that you shall make the name of Heaven beloved. One should do so by reading Torah, and learning Mishna, and serving Torah scholars; one should be pleasant with people in conversation and in business transactions. What do people say about such a person? "How fortunate is the one who learned Torah"… It says "one should be pleasant with people" in business transactions and in conversation, which means that being pleasant with people brings about that the name of Heaven is pleased…However, the name of Heaven is not pleased with those people of unpleasant speech etc., despite their reading and learning.
"Because Koheleth was a sage, he continued to instruct the people." This would seem to only be natural, for the more wisdom one amasses by increased study the more possibilities one has of teaching, having more Torah and wisdom to impart to students. In what sense, then, was Solomon praiseworthy in accumulating knowledge, having nevertheless taught the people? On the contrary. This is explained by the fact that there are scholars who the greater their Torah learning becomes and their wisdom increases find it difficult to teach the people. If they have a deep and detailed halakhic argument, they seek out the company of Torah scholars who can understand their words. The greatness of Koheleth, however, was in that as his wisdom increased, he turned to the people and taught the simple folk even more frequently, seeking the simple language that they could understand, to lead them in their right path and towards the right deeds.
Maimonides, of blessed memory, often criticizes Torah scholars who decide to devote their time to Torah rather than to craft, saying that they earn a living from others and, heaven forbid, desecrate God's name and disgrace the Torah, causing harm to themselves and losing their share of the World-to-Come, since it is forbidden to profit from Torah in this world… First, "to make Torah great and glorious". If Torah scholars would not have an income, they could not properly toil at Torah as they should, and Torah would be forgotten…and it is a mitzvah "to make Torah great and glorious". Second, Torah scholars are considered wealthy when their words are heard, in keeping with what is written, "The splendor of the wise is their wealth"… And third, the prohibition applies only to Torah scholars who shirk from their studying in order to indulge in worldly craft. But in the case of a person who sits in yeshiva and teaches Torah to the public, is not idle for any worldly purpose and only fulfills mitzvoth, it is sinful that he not receive from others.
The Torah scroll has no vowel symbols (nikkud) so that people may interpret as they wish. The letters, not being marked with vowels, tolerate different meanings, and can break up into many sparks. This is why we were instructed not to punctuate Torah scrolls with vowels. For it is the vowel punctuation that gives each word its meaning, and a word with vowel punctuation has but a single meaning, while without vowels a person may understand many worthy and wondrous things. Understand this, for you will find it necessary on many occasions…
I have been told by a certain student that his honor, our great master and rabbi, Rabbi Shaul Levi Mortina, has expressed his doubts about that ruling and has ineffectively sought to prove its contradiction. I wrote him in protest about this a second time, asking that he present his arguments to me, and advise me of the true course…not for my honor's sake, but to honor God's Torah and reveal the truth concerning my approach with the great masters from all regions, who share their inner thoughts with me both in writing and in person, and who write me from distant lands requesting my opinion. For if I haven't the knowledge, how will my words revive their spirit and fulfill their need for a response? This is my way of expressing affection and respect for them. On the contrary, thanks to the criticism of scholars, and by sharing my true feelings with him, if he has erred I will understand and not humiliate him, and if it is I who have erred I will admit the truth. And I will not be embarrassed if he tells me I am mistaken, for I am no better than Rabbi Akiva, who interpreted "the bread of knights" to mean the bread of ministering angels, and was told by Rabbi Yishmael: You are mistaken. Moreover, I do not merit the honor of Rabbi Yishmael's teaching, nor am I Rabbi Akiva, yet I will nevertheless not cease debating, so that the rabbi may point out my errors, and I will pursue the truth, not to be annoying nor out of love of victory. And if this, to his mind, places me in error, it is actually he who is mistaken.
One should study word by word with students, to each according to their level and ability. One should present a bright countenance, and not be stringent and become angry at their lack of knowledge or limited understanding and achievements, for not all intellects are identical. Even if one feels that they should have understood after two or three [explanations], they may not have understood because of the issue's complexity, or because of their ability to understand at that opportunity, for opportunities are not all identical. One should, instead, speak to them gently, comforting them with appeasing words, until one has made certain that their delay in understanding is the result of a lack effort and that their attention is not on the matter at hand but has been distracted. Then it is appropriate to show annoyance, until they are prepared to pay attention.
And when they ask a question about a difficulty, one should reply graciously, display pleasure towards their question, and encourage them to question, so that they open their hearts to Torah. If they refrain from asking, even when an issue seems not to have any explanation, they are likely not to ask about other issues - even when they do have explanations, and will be left with a law or halakha lacking sufficient reason or known explanation, like birds chirping. On the contrary; when they do not ask about a halakhic issue, one should act annoyed about how the question found in that halakha did not arise in their minds. One should show them the way to ask the questions themselves in the future, for is a person encounters a question, that person is close to understanding the matter, because a question is half the explanation. This way they will improve in their studies and, with God's help, greatly succeed.
The Talmud says that a student who has qualified as a teacher and does not teach transgresses ‘Thou shalt not kill’, and the opposite is true as well; a person who is not qualified to teach and teaches - also transgresses ‘Thou shalt not kill’. This is why the niqqud vowels on ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sometimes have a dot in the patach (open) and sometimes in the kamatz (closed). This hints that ‘Thou shalt not kill’ applies to a person who has qualified to teach and keeps his mouth 'closed' without teaching, and to a person who has not qualified as a teacher and teaches – 'opens' his mouth. That is why there is a dot in both the patach and the kamatz. What is the reason behind the transgression? The attribute of pride, the worst of attributes in all transgressions. For the right thing is that one who has attained qualification to teach should teach others. But the person does not teach - out of pride; and the one who has not qualified and must learn from others does not wish to do so - out of excess pride. The remedy to their ills is to transform pride into modesty; once they have become humble the one who has qualified to teach will teaches others, and the one who has not qualified will not, and must learn from others.
Those whose custom it is to study the Shavuot night Tikkun that was compiled to read on this night, how good is their lot – if they have the strength to stand in the sanctuary of the Lord of Hosts, and pray on the following day without dozing or falling asleep during the recitation of the Shema, hymns, prayer and Torah Reading on the day our Torah was given… To my mind, those who cannot remain awake, and certainly anyone who spends the time in idle talk and amusements, had better study a little and go to sleep, so as not to omit reciting the Shema and prayers, which are commanded by the Torah, rather than observing an ancient custom that has been revived in the general population and is not properly observed.
Supreme knowledge is concealed in Creation, and it reveals itself progressively; each and every generation has its problems and aspirations, and a person might consider that Torah is no longer a source of guidance, heaven forbid. It contains, however, the origin of Creation, which can be called a path – and just like this path, its landscape and surface change; every step forward has you renewing your attention for reasons of pace and safety. Yet this is all revealed to you thanks to light; light is the plain, single agent through which you discover all that lies before you –whether in differentiating between place and time, or within Creation itself – this same, plain light that exists from the dawn of the Genesis to this day. This is the sense in which the Torah is called light, and is the reason that all places and times, and all of Creation, will bestow light upon you and reveal to you the solutions to the new questions.
The evil inclination is aware that Torah study leads to its obliteration and its being overpowered by the individual; Torah study prevents it from trying to seduce the individual into transgression. It therefore invests all its might in being a nuisance, and tries to lead one's heart to idleness and to avoiding Torah study. It may falsely present the individual as incapable of Torah study – for how can anyone, tired and weary in the evening after a long day's work to bring home a livelihood, study Torah? One evil thing leads to another, and one goes from neglecting Torah study to attending to the evil inclination, and that leads to thoughtless transgression. An Israelite must gather a lion's strength and overcome the evil inclination, and try to study Torah in poverty, so as to attain delight and pleasure, for such distress will lead to wellbeing.
"…say little and do much, and receive every person with a pleasant countenance" refers to the attribute of humbleness. One should not boast of having learned much, but belittle oneself by saying, "despite all I have learned I've not learned a drop in the sea of the Torah's wisdom…" And one should not act as do those who, seeing that their wisdom exceeds that of their colleagues, become prideful and take no other person into account, and are unwilling even to speak with others, thinking that they are unique in the entire world – they are surely making a great error. For our sages, of blessed memory, said that "The words of Torah are comparable to water. Just as water leaves high places for lower places, thus do the words of Torah exist only among those of humble spirit." This is the meaning of "say little and do much"; even if you have done much, meaning that you have studied Torah and fulfilled many mitzvoth, you should consider this as a minor thing so that you not be prideful among your colleagues. Which is why the verse ends with "and receive every person with a pleasant countenance" – even a person who is lesser than you.
Some have a passion for Torah, some for justice and some for charity; it is likewise for all commandments. There are differences also among those who learn Torah: Some have a passion for Torah, some for Mishna, some for Talmud, some for the Aggada and some for the Merkava. In what does each differ from the other? We know the following from our teachers, of blessed memory: All souls that are to reach this world unto the end of generations were present at Mount Sinai. Each and every soul of the nation of Israel has its own grasp of Torah, one from the aspect of a certain commandment, one from another, and this logic applies to them all. For each one of them, this is what provides their tikun (repair) and their place in the World-to-Come… the Tanah means to say: It is not difficult for any person to obtain the World-to-Come; just as a city appears to have many, innumerable paths, each one will lead to it. Thus it is with a righteous person, whatever the person grasps will lead them to the World-to-Come, each one according to their spirit's penchant, and according to what arouses their passion in this world, which leads to their place in the World-to-Come.
I have seen the following explanation, similar to the one in Sefer Hassidim… Anyone to whom the Holy One, blessed be He, has revealed something, and who is capable of writing yet does not write it down, is robbing the One who revealed the matter to him, for it was revealed only so as to be written. As it says, "For every deed God will bring into judgement, and every hidden thing; whether good or bad". Such a person causes it to become hidden, whether that which has been revealed and not written down is good or evil. The text was precise in saying "for every hidden thing" - for that person hides what he or she has not written and, to clarify, this also refers to the simple things that an author might consider not good enough to publish. This, too, will be brought into judgement, all the more so because Heaven delights more in matters that are simple and straightforward… Asked why he writes simple things, the Pri Megadim (Rabbi Joseph ben Meir Teomim, 1727–1792, Galicia) replied that the time will come when the world will tire of cleverness, and when simple explanations will prove to be more useful…For this reason I have spared no expense for those more simple writings, for they are favored by the Holy One, blessed be He, over sophistry and covert, allegorical moral preaching.
Torah scholar who study only Talmud, and whose entire activity consists of pilpul (casuistry) and do not attend to also studying laws, are in error. For the purpose of studying Talmud is to learn the required laws, and to teach God's laws. The purpose of study is to act or to teach, and one must allocate time to learning and considering the responsa of adjudicators, to know how to teach and how to act. One should set regular times for the study of Shulchan Aruch and its supplements to attain proficiency in knowing the laws, those that are currently applicable, in particular. For we see, to our chagrin, that some Torah scholars are extremely studious and precise, yet when confronted with questions of simple laws that are clarified in the Shulchan Aruch, even those laws of prayer and the recitation of blessings, do not know how to reply. They end up making secondary matters primary. For pilpul and cleverness were not created for their own sake, but to teach law. They serve to sharpen the mind so that it be prepared to learn rulings, questions and answers, and to teach God's law and teachings, and to avoid errors when teaching.
Is it permissible to learn, pray and recite blessings bareheaded according to law or not? Since the statements by all the great adjudicators I have mentioned to you show that they considered it not necessary, with the exception of where the Name is mentioned, the case of study, according to them, seems obviously permissible according to the law.
To whom does "Torah is their craft" refer? To those who engage minimally in a craft or commerce for their livelihood and review Torah or study on a regular basis, whenever they have a free moment … A Torah scholar for whom "Torah is his craft" returns to his studying at every opportunity that he is freed from his dealings. There have been Torah scholars who have a shop and spend most of their day dealing in commerce, sitting in their shop all day, such as the one in Bzazin.
In the haphtarah of the Breishit Reading Portion, the prophet Isaiah says, "Listen, you who are deaf; You blind ones, look up and see! Who is so blind as My servant, So deaf as the messenger who I send? Who is so blind as the chosen one, So blind as the servant of the LORD?" The prophet uses these words to reprimand the righteous who are devoted to God and His Teachings but do not care about what goes on in town, acting as thought they were deaf to what goes on among the public, to whether they transgress or are just. They also, Heaven forbid, act as though they do not see, so as not to reprimand the public and mention their acts. It is insufficient that you be righteous for yourselves. You must also hear and see what goes on outside, and voice recommendations to repair and improve the situation within the public.
Our teachers said in the Talmud, "Rabba bar Rav Huna said: Any person who has Torah in him but does not have fear of Heaven is like a treasurer (gizbar) to whom they gave the keys to the inner door (of the treasury) but … did not give keys to the outer door." A person who speaks the truth is called one who fears Heaven. This is the great key to fulfilling the commandments and preserving oneself from transgression; if one plans to fulfill commandments – one should do so, and if one plans to transgress, one should flee rather than conceal the fact from others. Should you be asked where you are going, being a person who speaks the truth, you must reveal the truth, and thus be saved from transgressing. This is why our teachers in the Talmud called those with fear of Heaven 'people who fear transgression'. It shows that fear of Heaven preserves all the good attributes, and is linked to each one of them.
It is right to speak out in respect for one's teacher. People ought not to be thankful to a person for any knowledge he or she has, but to the master who taught them. This can be learned from what our venerable sages, of blessed memory, said about the verse "Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands upon him". To what can this be compared? To a river that supplies water to the entire city and is praised by everyone. Someone said to them, 'Praise the spring that feeds it.' Similarly, when they praised Joshua who supplied the entire nation of Israel with his wisdom, the Holy One, blessed be He, said, 'Praise Moses for having thus taught' "because Moses had laid his hands upon him".
After having learned Torah and become a rabbi, the Tanah says that in addition to Torah learning, one must have a craft from which to earn a livelihood. When one begins studying, one should not work for a living, as Torah scholars have decreed, and study out of effort, as HaZa”L said, “The righteous first suffer and end up at peace”. Once a person has already studied Torah, the person should seek a livelihood, as it says, “And all study of the Torah in the absence of a worldly occupation comes to nothing in the end and leads to sin”… It leads others to sin, for all things are visible, and those who see a great Torah scholar who nevertheless has no income, will be fearful and no longer wish to study.
My dear child, when you will have learnt to read the book of God's Torah and its commentaries, and will have understood Talmud so that you know what God expects of you and how to comport yourself in keeping with the Torah and its commandments, you should choose a clean and light trade so that you may earn your livelihood from the fruit of your labor, honorably and without humiliation. You will then not depend on gifts from people – those provide but little yet bring great disgrace. Only guard your spirit, and be very careful not to abandon God's perfect Torah that brings wisdom to the naïve. Set a time to hear a lesson on a daily basis - in Talmud or Shulchan Aruch, and on books of morals and good values. Yours will be a good and pleasant destiny if you learn a trade and choose a craft that is needed by all people, in all places and at all times.
On Shavuot Eve, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, may he rest in peace, and his colleagues, who were an exemplification of God's study in heaven, would study the midrashic and mystical interpretations of Torah, Prophets and Writings, the mysteries of PARDE"S, to prepare for the bride… Know that they had songs and melodies based on Wisdom and mysticism (sod), which they would sing to cheer the heart and to adhere to the upper world, and to draw plentitude and heavenly mercy through melody, through the concealed meaning of "As the musician played, the spirit of the LORD came upon him". This is our custom as well, and on the first night of Shavuot, we sing the 32 piyuttim (32 is the numerical equivalent of lev, which means 'heart', in Hebrew] which have been imparted to us by Wisdom.
"Why did He begin with Genesis?" Sage Yehuda seeks to teach us and to engage the Torah scholar coming to teach and preach to the people so that they learn from the Divine One's attributes. The Torah should have begun with "This month is", for this is the first of the commandments that the People of Israel, upon receiving the Torah, were commanded and it is nearly the beginning of the Torah… But in order to draw the hearts of people to begin studying Torah, He did not begin the Torah thus, with the commandment of the month, but opened with the story of His mighty works, in a way similar to the Torah scholar who, coming to preach to the people, must begin with a story of the past. This is what is meant by "Why did He begin with Genesis?" As if to say: He could have told of the wondrous acts and miracles He performed for us and for our forefathers after the commandments.
The explanation lies in that "He told His people of the power of His acts". Meaning that those who are to preach the LORD's commandments and teachings to the people are to learn from His attributes and actions. Just as He begins the Torah and opens with stories of the past, of the world's creation, which draw people into the study of Torah, and stir the human heart to love the LORD when it sees the wondrous acts, mercies and miracles done by the Almighty for our forefathers and their children, such as taking them out of Egypt – what I call stories – as the verse says, "and He has declared to His People".
When on the way to the study house, one should attempt to purchase a book on ethics or parables from one's own money, in keeping with one's means. This is a way of fulfilling the mitzvah "Therefore, write down this poem", as the rulers of the Law, of blessed memory, have instructed us. For these days it is preferable to purchase books of Chumash, Talmud, Haggadah and morals than it is to purchase a Torah scroll. It seems to me that in our day every person can fulfill this mitzvah. A Torah scholar certainly fulfills it when he purchases books of Talmud or commentary. If one is not a Torah scholar, then one can purchase a book of morals and give it to the sage who teaches and preaches to the public to read or to have his students read. Or purchase a Chumash or 'Arba V'Esrim to give to an orphan to read, or purchase books of Talmud, Halakha or commentary to give to a Torah scholar. This is preferable to purchasing a Torah scroll. If one cannot afford to make a purchase then one may at least have a torn book mended. And if one has already purchased a book of Aggadah or books on ethics and wishes to purchase a Torah scroll, it is preferable to mend or proofread old Torah scrolls laying in the ark than purchasing a new one, so that people do not read from a scroll with errors in it.
The Blessed One gathered all the future souls for every generation at Sinai, and had them all hear all the details of the Oral Law in the glory of His voice, as well as all the restrictions necessary for and worthy of each and every generation. Each and every one received and absorbed it; all its details and its entirety are contained within them. And so, when anyone reaches this world, what the soul received is renewed – its own portion of the Torah. Even if it appears to an individual that by studying it they understand, that is not the case; for that very same thing was lost to them, and they discovers it by effort, but it is always what they received at Sinai.
He would devote his entire efforts to teaching them Torah, respect and courtesy, writing and arithmetic, and always comported himself with them in the most gentle and modest of ways. He did not treat them as his students but as his true friends, and went to great lengths for them, repeatedly explaining and reviewing their studies with them. He would strengthen their resolve and spirit without becoming embarrassed when they failed to fully understand something, and would review it with them once and again, until they understood it perfectly. He would neither be strict nor become angry with them, always bearing in mind the words of our sages, of blessed memory, "An impatient person cannot teach". He always encouraged their passion for Torah, using words of morality they found pleasant, and he served as an example to them, saying: Know, my friends and students, that I came from my city as a child with my father, and a short time after I arrived my father died and I was orphaned and left to fend for myself. Only the grace of God and my great passion and zeal for his holy Torah, which I studied day and night, supported me. I was also privileged to marry a rabbi's daughter, and am considered an excelling Torah scholar. Learn from me and do as I do, and you too, with God's help, will succeed.
We consider it essential to teach a young person a craft from which to earn a livelihood, as our Sages said concerning a father's obligations towards his son: "Where do we find the father's obligation to teach his son a craft? Hizkiyah said that it says in Scripture, 'Enjoy happiness with a woman you love'. If we are to take the text's meaning as actually referring to a woman, one should say as follows: Just as one is obligated to have him wed, so is one obligated to teach him a craft." We see the extent to which our Sages, of blessed memory, valued the teaching of a trade to a young person - to the point that the study of a craft was equivalent in their eyes to Torah study, and equivalent to marrying. Just as the first determines the world – birth perpetuating the human species – thus does craft sustain the existence of the human species.