1) EAT AND DRINK WHILE YOU CAN
OPINIONS: Shmuel told Rav Yehudah, "Grab and eat, grab and drink, because the world is passing quickly like a wedding party." What was the point of this advice?
(a) RASHI explains that Shmuel's point was to warn his student not to wait until tomorrow to use his money, because a person has no assurance that he will be alive tomorrow to enjoy his money.
It seems that Rashi does not mean simply that a person should take advantage of his money and use it before he dies. Rather, Rashi means that since a person does not know when he will die, all of his activities should be done with the realization that tomorrow he might die. This realization will lead him to concentrate on performing Mitzvos and taking advantage of the time that he has in this world for Avodas Hash-m. As the Gemara says in Berachos (5a), when a person's Yetzer ha'Ra starts to entice him, he should remember the day of death.
(b) The SEFAS EMES explains that Shmuel was advising Rav Yehudah not to spend time and money on luxuries, such as on acquiring more tasty food and things that he does not need. Rather, he should "grab and eat" without being so particular about what he eats or drinks. Rashi later (DH she'Masrachas) also expresses this idea when he says that a Talmid Chacham should not waste his time on acquiring fancy foods.
(c) Perhaps Shmuel was addressing a dilemma that people often face: Should one save his money so that when he retires, he will be able to learn Torah unencumbered by the burden of a livelihood, or should he continue to work hard even when he is old and even though he has enough for himself, in order to save money for his children to provide for their needs? Shmuel says that one should "grab and eat" -- that is, one should use his money for his own Torah learning and Mitzvah fulfillment while he is alive. Shmuel's theme is similar to the theme of Rav in the following Gemara, who says that one should not leave his money to his children, because Hash-m will take care of them, and instead he should use his money for his own Torah learning and Mitzvah fulfillment. (M. KORNFELD)
2) HEALING ONESELF WITH TORAH
QUESTIONS: Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi teaches that one who has a headache should toil in Torah. Similarly, one who has a sore throat, a sick stomach, or aching bones should toil in Torah. The Gemara concludes that one whose entire body is sick should toil in Torah.
(a) The Gemara in Shevuos (15b) teaches that one is forbidden to heal himself with words of Torah. How, then, can Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi say that one who is sick should toil in Torah in order to cure himself? (MAHARSHA; see Insights to Shabbos 67:1 and Chulin 77:5.)
(b) Furthermore, if learning Torah heals the entire body as the Gemara concludes, why does Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi need to mention specific types of illnesses (headache, sore throat, stomach ache, aching bones)? He should simply say that if one is sick in his entire body, he should toil in Torah, and we would know that learning Torah is certainly effective for illnesses that affect only part of the body!
(a) The MAHARSHA suggests two answers for the first question.
1. The Maharsha says that the prohibition to heal oneself with words of Torah applies only when one recites a verse with the specific intent that it serve to heal him. When one learns Torah primarily for the sake of learning, but also with the secondary intention that it help cure him, it is permissible.
The PERISHAH (YD 179:17) similarly explains that the prohibition applies only when one pronounces a verse from the Torah and superstitiously expects it to heal him, like an incantation. However, when he studies Torah in order to do the Mitzvah of Hash-m and he trusts that Hash-m will heal him in the merit of the Mitzvah, it is permissible.
2. In his second answer, the Maharsha suggests that the Gemara is not discussing a person who is sick. The Gemara does not say that one who is "sick" ("Choleh") should learn Torah, but rather it says that one who is "Chash b'Rosho... Chash b'Grono... Chash b'Chol Gufo" should learn Torah. "Chash" means that he is fearful and worried of getting sick and he feels an illness approaching. In such a case, he is permitted to use Torah study as a preventative measure. Using Torah study for this purpose is not included in the prohibition of healing oneself with words of Torah, as the Gemara says in Shevuos. (The Maharsha cites proof for this understanding of "Chash" from the Gemara in Shabbos 31a.)
Both of these answers are implied in the words of the RAMBAM (Hilchos Avodas Kochavim 11:12), who seems to combine the two answers when he requires both conditions to permit one to use Divrei Torah for healing.
(b) The Acharonim suggest two answers for the second question.
1. The Maharsha points out that the illnesses mentioned here (headache, sore throat, stomach ache, and aching bones) are the only illnesses of the body for which we find no other cure in the Gemara. Therefore, the Gemara specifies the illnesses of these bodily parts, and then it makes a general statement that Torah is a curative for the entire body.
2. The MAHARAL (Nesiv ha'Torah 1), as part of a lengthier explanation, suggests another answer. He explains that the Gemara refers to spiritual illnesses for which it is permissible to use the Torah to heal (the Maharsha to Shabbos 67a gives a similar answer). When the Gemara says that one whose head is ill should toil in Torah, it refers to one who has sinful thoughts and attitudes that are antithetical to the Torah. Such a person can cure his spiritual illness by toiling in Torah.
When the Gemara refers to "one who has a sore throat," it alludes to one who sins with his throat (such as by speaking Lashon ha'Ra). He can cure his illness by learning the Halachos of that transgression.
"One who has a stomach ache" refers to one who sins with the internal parts of his body, which are the source of his bad character traits, such as Kin'ah (jealousy) and Ta'avah (lustfulness), which are also cured by toiling in Torah.
The bones of a person are the medium through which he brings forth his thoughts and desires to action. When one's actions are sinful, he is considered to be ill in his bones. Toiling in Torah is a remedy for this illness as well.
The Gemara concludes that one who is ill in all of his body should toil in Torah. The Gemara is adding that not only does the Torah cure the illnesses of the soul, but it also cures the illnesses of the physical body (which, until now, the Gemara was not discussing).
3) "SHOGEH" FOR TORAH
OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses the verse, "b'Ahavasah Tishgeh Tamid" -- "be ravished always with her love" (Mishlei 5:19), which teaches that one must be enraptured with love for Torah at all times. What exactly does it mean to be "ravished with love" for the Torah?
(a) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Teshuvah 10:6) explains that one must strive to reach a level of love for Hash-m so that he is not interested in anything else. The way to come to such a love is by studying Torah and Hash-m's wisdom as it is manifest in the world.
(b) The RA'AVAD writes that the Rambam does not explain the meaning of the word "Tishgeh." He explains that "Tishgeh" in the verse means that one must constantly rejoice in the Torah, as one who sings out of joy. ("Shigayon" means joyous song -- see KESEF MISHNEH; the IBN EZRA (Tehilim 7:1), however, explains that "Shigayon" means "pleasure," and in the context of the Gemara here it means that one should constantly have pleasure in the Torah.)
In addition, it means that one must love the Torah so much that it preoccupies him to the extent that everything else in which he is involved becomes like "Shogeg." That is, when he is involved in all other matters, he pays little attention to those matters, because his attention is focused exclusively on Torah. This second explanation of "Tishgeh" is also the way RASHI (Mishlei 5:19) understands it. (According to this explanation, the word "Tishgeh" refers not to one's relationship to Torah, but to his relationship with all other matters.)
(c) The ZOHAR (Vayikra, 85b) explains that one who stutters ("Tishgeh," also from "Shogeg") in his study of Torah and makes mistakes is nevertheless beloved unto Hash-m, for he learns Torah out of his love for Hash-m (see Shabbos 63a).
(d) REBBI MOSHE HA'DARSHAN (cited by Rashi in Mishlei 5:19) explains that "Tishgeh" is an Arabic word that means "Ta'asok" -- "be constantly immersed" in Torah.
4) REVIEWING FOUR TIMES
QUESTION: Rebbi Eliezer states that when one teaches Torah to one's students, he must teach the subject four times. He derives this from Moshe and Aharon, who learned every lesson four times.
RAV YAKOV EMDEN writes that this obligation applied only when Torah she'Ba'al Peh was not permitted to be written down until the times of the Tana'im and Amora'im. Nowadays, though, all of the Gemara and the foundations of Torah she'Ba'al Peh have been written down, and thus the obligation to review four times no longer applies.
According to Rav Yakov Emden, does this mean that one does not need to review his learning, since it is all written down?
ANSWER: Certainly one must review his learning in order not to forget it. The Gemara does not refer to one's individual learning. Rather, the Gemara refers to the Jewish people's obligation to perpetuate Torah. When a Rebbi transmitted Torah to his students, he had to ensure that they properly absorbed and understood each detail, because otherwise there would be a serious risk that elements of Torah would be forgotten, G-d forbid. Therefore, it was incumbent upon him to teach it to them four times. Rav Yakov Emden is pointing out that in our days, the fear of the Torah being forgotten is not such a serious concern, because it is now written down. However, each student must constantly review it as much as he needs to in order not to forget it.