Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Shiriyah, Teaching, Life

Last week was a wonderful, strong, Shiriya (here are links to things I've written in years past about Shiriya). in  school (at work).  One morning a young man gave an excellent Dvar Torah at davening about how Noach had some rachamim on people, but it was only in response to what G-d told him. Avraham acted on his own and did true chesed. (Sometime I feel bad that we give Noach a bad rap, the guy did save the population of the world, us.) Any, I was pleased to wake up this morning, say Modeh Ani, get up and out and am glad to be here, now.

I wrote a haiku that you can find here about how I admire quiet/restraint.  A friend of mine cited this Rambam (De'ot 2:4,5), in which he quotes from Avot several times to back up his argument for quiet over speech and for few words over many.

לעולם ירבה אדם בשתיקה ולא ידבר אלא או בדבר חכמה או בדברים שצריך להם 
לחיי גופו אמרו על רב תלמיד רבינו הקדוש שלא שח שיחה בטלה כל ימיו וזו היא 
שיחת רוב כל אדם ואפילו בצרכי הגוף לא ירבה אדם דברים ועל זה צוו חכמים 
ואמרו כל המרבה דברים מביא חטא ואמרו לא מצאתי לגוף טוב אלא שתיקה וכן 
בדברי תורה ובדברי חכמה יהיו דברי האדם מעטים ועניניהם מרובים והוא שצוו
חכמים ואמרו לעולם ישנה אדם לתלמידיו דרך קצרה אבל אם היו הדברים מרובין 
והענין מועט הרי זו סכלות ועל זה נאמר כי בא החלום ברוב ענין וקול כסיל 
.רוב דברים

סייג לחכמה שתיקה לפיכך לא ימהר להשיב ולא ירבה לדבר וילמד לתלמידים 
בשובה ונחת בלא צעקה ובלא אריכות לשון הוא שאמר שלמה דברי חכמים בנחת 

Lots of explanation goes w the picture above. This is a chart from some recent teaching.

A Tanna in Avot says that there were 10 tests for Avraham and it's accepted. It's one several lists of ten. The mishnah says that he had and passed 10 tests and that this highlights his greatness and praiseworthiness.

Most of them are not said to be 10 in the written Torah, the two that are: 10 maamarim (what we call dibrot) and 10 times Bnei Yisrael tested Hashem in the Midbar. (These don't come with a clear labelling in the Torah of exactly what the ten are - the dibrot come closer than the nisyonot - but thay are said in the Torah SheBichtav to be 10. (This reminds me of how, once a respectable old time man de'amar says that there are 613 Mitzvot, it is accepted, and the Rishonim then work hard to identify how the number comes to total 613.)

The Ramban only counts ones written in the Torah SheBichtav text, that's why he's the exception regarding the Kivshan Ha'Eish (but doesn't necessarily count something someone else counts, just because it's in the text, like Brit bein HaBetarim). He is the only one to include the both marrying of Hagar and having Yishmael, and to split throwing out Hagar and throwing out Yishmael into two, because he has a smaller pool to get 10 from.

They all agree on several of them. The one they have to agree on is the Akeidah, because it is the only one called a test.

Rashi is based on Pirkei DeRabiEliezer, and includes that first one that the others don't and that many of us don't know of.

Most say the the Akeidah was the biggest and last one. R Yonah adds one more after the Akeidah. Perhaps the lesson of this is that even after we hit the ball out of the park or win the World Series we still have to go up to the plate again and do what needs to be done even when it's not the homerun or the biggest game. So the point is that Avraham did the seemingly more mundane act of burying Sarah after the Akeidah, showing that he went on passing the seemingly smaller tests of daily life. (This reminds me of a criticism Joe Klein made of the late Mario Cuomo, that he was a great speaker and could hit the ball out of the park in that way, but he wasn't as good at negotiating, collaborating, and other day to day tasks of a major leader like a president).

I have been sick for weeks and am glad to have vacation now to recuperate.


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