INSIGHTS INTO THE DAILY DAF
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
QUESTION: The Gemara says that the Shechinah is with ten men who pray together, and it is also with three men who sit in judgment (a form of learning Torah together). The Gemara asks that once we are told that the Shechinah is with three, why do we have to be told that it is with ten?
What is the Gemara's question? We were told only that the Shechinah is with three people who learn Torah together. Perhaps learning Torah is on a higher level than praying together (Tefilah), and therefore we need to be told that the Shechinah is also with ten people who pray together!
ANSWER: In a certain respect, Tefilah is on an equal, if not higher, level than Torah. Tefilah is considered an act that one does in the very presence of the Almighty (see Mishnah 30b, and Gemara 34a). Once we are told that the Shechinah is with three who learn together, then it is obvious that the Shechinah must also be with ten who pray together.
However, this suggestion is problematic. The Gemara in Shabbos (10a) relates that when Rava saw Rav Hamnuna immersed in prayer for a very long time, he said to him, "Why are you leaving the life of the next world (Torah study) for the life of this world (Tefilah)?" It seems, then, that Torah study is on a higher level than Tefilah!
We may suggest the following answer. Rav Hamnuna was praying for a long time after the Minyan had finished, and this prolonged praying was not considered Tefilah b'Tzibur. The Gemara here, though, is discussing Tefilah with a Minyan. Tefilah with a Minyan is on a higher level than Torah learning for the reason mentioned above, although Torah learning is on a higher level than Tefilah without a Minyan. (M. KORNFELD)
(The Beraisa does not discuss what happens when ten people learn together, because ten cannot learn together as one. Each person (or pair) learns on his own in the presence of others, or one teaches the others. Also, praying with ten has an advantage over praying or learning with less than ten, because the Shechinah "precedes" ten who pray together, as the Gemara says. Ten who learn together have no advantage over three who learn together.)
QUESTION: The Gemara says that when Hash-m comes to a synagogue and He does not find ten men, He immediately becomes angry.
The Gemara earlier (6a) states that the Shechinah precedes ten who come to pray together (that is, the Shechinah arrives at the synagogue before the ten men arrive). Accordingly, Hash-m should always come to the synagogue before ten men arrive! Why should He find ten men already there?
(a) The RASHBA (Teshuvos ha'Rashba 1:50) explains that when the Gemara (6a) says that the Shechinah comes before the ten men arrive, it means that it comes together with them and is there even before they seat themselves. (The Rashba demonstrates that the word that the Gemara uses, "Kadmah" ("precedes"), also means "comes together with.")
(b) RAV SHLOMO ALGAZI (Ahavas Olam) writes that Hash-m does not become angry when He arrives and does not find ten men there. Only later, when ten men do not show up, does He become angry. ("He does not find" means "He does not later find.")
(c) The ATERES ROSH explains that there is a difference between the "Shechinah" and "the Holy One, blessed is He." The Gemara earlier (6a) is referring to the "Shechinah" that precedes the ten men. Here, it is Hash-m Himself, as it were, Who expects to find ten men already gathered.
(d) The VILNA GA'ON and the SIFSEI CHACHAMIM read the Gemara differently. Instead of reading the Gemara, "When Hash-m comes to a synagogue and He does not find ten men, He immediately becomes angry," the Gemara should be read, "When Hash-m comes to a synagogue and He does not find ten men immediately, He becomes angry." If, however, ten men come right away, then He does not become angry.
(e) RASHI in Megilah (3b, DH Asarah Batlanim) says that there always used to be ten men learning in the synagogue from morning to night so that Hash-m would not find the synagogue empty. Consequently, Hash-m does not precede their arrival since they did not come to pray together, but to learn together. (M. KORNFELD; see, however, Rashi to Megilah 5a, DH Asarah, who mentions that the ten men pray together.)
QUESTION: The Gemara cites the verse from Koheles (12:13), "At the end, all will be clear; fear Hash-m and observe His commandments, for this is all that man is." There are three opinions in the Gemara as to how to explain this verse.
(a) "Ha'Kadosh Baruch Hu says that the entire world was created only for the benefit of the person [who fears Hash-m]."
(b) "This person is as precious to Hash-m as the entire world."
(c) "The entire world was created only to keep this person company."
What is the difference between these three ideas?
ANSWER: We can understand this Gemara based on the words of the RAMBAM (in his Introduction to his commentary on the Mishnah). The Rambam explains that the purpose of everything in the world is to enable man to reach the highest possible understanding of the Almighty, which is the purpose for which man was created. Hash-m's interest in the man who reaches this level therefore surpasses His interest in everything else in the world. This is what is meant by, "This person is as precious to Hash-m as the entire world." This explains (b).
If Hash-m's interest is only in the person who fears Him, then why are the other people who do not fear Hash-m created? The Rambam explains that they serve two purposes. They exist in order to prepare food and basic necessities for the one who fears Hash-m (see Gemara 58a). This is what is meant by (a), "The entire world was created only for the benefit of this person."
Why, then, are the people who are not doing what they should be doing permitted to exist in the world? The Rambam explains that these people exist in the world in order to fulfill the second purpose -- to keep the G-d-fearing people company. This is what is meant by (c), "The entire world was created only to keep this person company."