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Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers
with a select treasury of commentaries on all levels of Torah interpretation
Chapter 6 Beraitha 3
with select commentaries

Commentaries used in this translation:
Rashi Commentary (1040-1105)
Rambam Commentary (1135-1204)
Rabbi Ovadiah of Bartenura Commentary (1445-1515)
Tiferet Yisrael commentary (1782–1860)
Rabeinu Yonah (1180-1263)
Derech Chaim - Maharal of Prague (1525-1609) (hebrewbooks.org/14193)
Biur HaGra of Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna - (1720-1797)
Rabbi Avraham Azoulai commentary - (1570-1643)
Rabbi Chayim Yosef David Azoulai (Chida) commentary - (1724-1806)
Chatam Sofer commentary - (1762-1839), along with Ktav Sofer, and others
Ben Ish Chai commentary - (1835-1909)
and many more..

Commentary Level:
  • Min - (level 1) for basic commentaries as relating to the plain meaning (Pshat).
  • Med - (level 2) elaborates more into the theme.
  • Max - (level 3) deeper in, Maharal of Prague.
  • Max+ - (level 4) more themes in the text.
  • ShortMix - (recommended) short version of level 4.
Suggestion: Read once without commentaries (or min). Then a second time with.

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Chapter 6 Beraitha 3פרק ו ברייתא ג
Says Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi: every day a Bat Kol (heavenly voice/echo) goes forth from mount Chorev and calls out: "Oy to the people for the insult to the Torah". For whoever does not occupy himself in Torah is called "nazuf" (reprimanded/outcast), as written: "as a gold ring in a pig's snout so is a beautiful woman bereft of reason" (Mishlei 11:22). And it is written: "And the tablets were the work of G-d and the writing was the writing of G-d, graven upon the tablets" (Shemot 12) - read not "graven" (charut) but rather "freedom" (cherut) [in order] to teach you that there is no free man except for him who occupies himself in Torah. And whoever is occupied in Torah becomes elevated, as written: "and from Matana to Nachaliel and from Nachaliel to Bamot (the Heights)" (Bamidbar 21:19). אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי, בְּכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם בַּת קוֹל יוֹצֵאת מֵהַר חוֹרֵב וּמַכְרֶזֶת וְאוֹמֶרֶת, אוֹי לָהֶם לַבְּרִיּוֹת מֵעֶלְבּוֹנָהּ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה. שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה נִקְרָא נָזוּף, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי יא) נֶזֶם זָהָב בְּאַף חֲזִיר אִשָּׁה יָפָה וְסָרַת טָעַם. וְאוֹמֵר (שמות לב) וְהַלֻּחֹת מַעֲשֵׂה אֱלֹהִים הֵמָּה וְהַמִּכְתָּב מִכְתַּב אֱלֹהִים הוּא חָרוּת עַל הַלֻּחֹת, אַל תִּקְרָא חָרוּת אֶלָּא חֵרוּת, שֶׁאֵין לְךָ בֶן חוֹרִין אֶלָּא מִי שֶׁעוֹסֵק בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה. וְכָל מִי שֶׁעוֹסֵק בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה הֲרֵי זֶה מִתְעַלֶּה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר כא) וּמִמַּתָּנָה נַחֲלִיאֵל וּמִנַּחֲלִיאֵל בָּמוֹת.

Yachel Yisrael - after R.Meir depicted the qualities attained by one who occupies himself in Torah (in the previous Mishna), the words of R. Yehoshua ben Levi come to speak on the great evil of one who insults this wondrous gift and does not occupy himself in Torah.

For while a person who toils in Torah goes "from strength to strength" - he rises above the physical and draws closer to the Creator. On the other hand, one who does not toil in Torah distances more and more [from the Creator] until he becomes "nazuf", ch'v.

Besides the evil he causes himself, he also insults the Torah and its Giver. Thus his evil is seven fold.

Furthermore, he thinks that if he is freed from the Torah, he will be freed from the shackles of the service of G-d. But this is a big mistake in his hand. On the contrary, specifically one who toils in Torah and only such a person is a true free man..
Rabeinu Avraham Pritzel on Avot - this beraitha is a support and proof to the words of Rebbi Meir previously. If you want know that: "whoever toils in Torah lishma merits many things.." come and see and I will teach you the word of G-d: "every day a bat kol goes forth from Mount Chorev". For the words of Torah are in our eyes as if they were given today, as written: "on this day they arrived at Mount Sinai" (Shemot 19:1). Therefore, every day you can hear her voice which screams out from Mount Chorev. He did not say Mount Sinai to teach that even if Mount Sinai is ruined and desolate (Charev) from those who abandon the Torah..

On this he said: "Oy Vavoy for people from the insult they do to the Torah. For it was given to contemplate and inherit it but they abandon it. And "whoever does not occupy himself in Torah is called nazuf - reprimanded and distanced from G-d and His Torah.. For one who toils in Torah is called a "friend" to G-d (Avot 6:2).. And just like he abandons the Torah and is disgusted by it, so too G-d nozef (reprimands) and distances him..
Chochma u'Mussar 2:197 - not that a bat kol goes out from mount chorev, rather in the heart of every Jew a bat kol goes out from the emunah (faith) of mount chorev (sinai). This is as written: "I am asleep but my heart is awake" (Shir 5:2). For the depths of the heart roars out, like the roaring of the sea - for the truth. But because "I am asleep", a man does not hear the awakening of the heart and its screaming out also in the foundations of emunah (faith). Therefore, when a man wakes up a bit from his slumber, he will hear the bat kol of his heart which is literally prophecy placed in man's heart - to believe in G-d and strengthen in His religion and call out to Him. It is the depths of faithful knowledge implanted in us of faith in the Torah of Moshe rabeinu.
Toldot Yaakov Yosef 96 - "every day a bat kol goes out" - The Baal Shem Tov asked on this: if the "Bat Kol" calls out, why don't people hear it? And if it cannot be heard, so what is it for?

He answered that above is the world of thought and hirhur of the heart. There is no speaker and no words. Thus the "call [of the Bat Kol]" (Kruz) is thoughts and hirhurim of the heart to good. Hence, there is no wicked man who does not have good hirhurim every day from the power of the "call" [of the Bat Kol].

But when these good thoughts come, he drives them out and removes them from his heart and turns to idleness. Certainly he is liable for his soul. For he was given a good treasure (the Torah) and he flees from the king..
Divrei Yoel, Terumah - what is the benefit from this bat kol if people do not hear it? The holy Baal Shem Tov explained that when the Bat Kol goes out, thoughts of repentance enters in the heart of every Jew. One who has fear of Heaven and his soul yearns to do the will of his Creator, then when the arousal from above comes on him, he holds fast to it, as written: "I hold him fast, and will not let him go" (Shir 3:4).

And if he holds strong to it, it will bring him to thoughts of repentance to rectify his deeds and repent completely.

But for a man immersed in the vanities of the world, then when this arousal comes, he turns to his occupations and ignores it.

Greater than this, the holy books bring that sometimes a person will mistaken the arousal from above as a form of depression and sadness and he banishes it immediately from his thoughts. But he is boorish and does not understand that these are holy rishfei (fires) sent to him from above to rouse him from his spiritual slumber.
Maharam Shik, chidushei agadot - for since G-d gave the Torah with (thunderous) sounds and lightning and the whole world trembled from this, thus the whole world recognized that its survival depended on the receiving of the Torah. Likewise G-d made a condition in the creation of the world that if the Jewish people do not accept the Torah, He will return the world to void and nothingness (tohu vavohu).

Hence, if a Jewish man does not fulfill the Torah, he can know for sure that his punishment will be very great. For he does not uphold the world. And from the time of the receiving of the Torah, it is incumbent on the Jewish people to uphold the world. Thus if he does not uphold the world, he should certainly be concerned that sufferings and punishments will befall him.

If so, from the sounds and lightning that G-d made heard at Sinai, from this every Jew should be concerned of the sin of bitul (annulling) Torah. And the sounds and lightning are themselves the Bat Kol which tells that it is incumbent on us to study the Torah always... Furthermore, the Torah is the remedy for the yetzer hara. And thus one who does not toil in Torah makes himself ownerless (mafkir atzmo) and puts himself in a place of danger, a place of an evil dog, namely the yetzer hara who is disgusting, filthy and despicable. For a sin is called megoal as written: "I will cleanse you from all your filth (gilulechem)." (Yechezkel 36:25). Thus, automatically he is called nazuf and is like a gold ring on a pig's snout or a beautiful woman lacking reason.
Yachel Yisrael - "bat kol" - a "bat kol" is an echo formed from a previous sound, similar to an echo sound at a mountain side which continues to reverberate even after the original sound stops.

The "bat kol" R.Yehoshua ben Levi is referring to is the echo from the giving of the Torah at mount sinai - the voice of G-d who revealed himself before the eyes of Israel:
"the L-ord spoke these words to your entire assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the opaque darkness, with a great voice, which did not cease" (Devarim 5:19).

The Onkelos renders the words "which did not cease" as: "it did not end". Rashi comments on this verse: "kol shechina eino posek (the voice of G-d does not end)" (Sanhedrin 17a) - it continues to echo forever.

At Mount Chorev all Israel said together: "we will do and we will listen" (Shemot 24:7), so too the echo of this voice from Mount Chorev continues to echo all the time without interruption... this sound is not just in man's heart. Rather it reverberates in all directions until today.

Why don't we hear it? What need is there for this "bat kol" which no one can hear? The answer is that it is possible to hear it. But we must first sharpen our hearing.

The first step is to want to hear this bat kol. When a man wants, he will already hear the echos of the bat kol.

Sometimes it is felt in the soul like an inner voice which pushes one to wake up from his slumber. Thus sometimes out of nowhere thoughts of regret enters one's heart, thoughts of teshuva (repentance), of yearning and longing. If one is sensitive enough, he will feel the ringing of his soul; he will detect the bat kol.

Other times G-d will cause an event to occur near him which will leave a strong imprint. If a man wants, he will succeed in seeing the sign from Heaven that he must wake up from his slumber.

Waves which go out have many forms and spread out in many ways. Each wave has its frequency and whoever wants to hear it must tune into the transmitting signal sent to him - the sound which came forth for him from Mount Chorev..
Sfas Emes on Avot - "bat kol" - from the day of the receiving of the Torah, there is no day without this bat kol going forth. And even if there are many Torah scholars who learn [Torah] properly such as the generation of Chizkiyahu, nevertheless it is impossible to fulfill this properly. For no man is saved from bitul Torah which has no shiur (minimum amount).

"bat kol" - this bat kol rouses every person accordingly. Sometimes it [his arousal] is completely due to this bat kol. For otherwise [if it did not rouse people] then either way, one who is able to hear it certainly already learns properly and does not need the bat kol, while one who does not learn cannot hear it.

This bat kol is from the power of the calling of the Torah, as written: "the L-ord spoke these words to your entire assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the opaque darkness, with a great voice, which did not cease" (Devarim 5:19). For every day there is a revelation from this voice. On this it is written (in the Shema): "which I command you TODAY"..
Midrash David, by David Hanagid, son of Avraham son of Rambam - "Oy to the people for the insult to the Torah" - Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says that every day a bat kol can be heard which goes out from the upper heavens and screams and yells on Mount Sinai saying: "Oy to the people for the insult to the Torah".. He said mount Chorev for when the Jewish people toil in Torah, it is called mount Sinai but when they annul the Torah it is called mount Chorev, i.e. churban (destruction).

For one who studies Torah but does not fulfill its laws is repulsive and disgusting. The Torah in him is like a gold ring on a pig's snout or like a beautiful woman who is mute and insane. Would it be proper for such a woman to boast of her beauty?
Sfas Emes on Avot - "Oy to the people for the insult to the Torah" - for the Torah was given to the Jewish people and even if they do not toil in it, the Torah does not leave them as written: "You have planted eternal life in our midst (chayei olam nata betochenu)". This is what is written: "as a gold ring [in a pig's snout] (Mishlei 11:22). For we have the Torah but we abandon it and cling to matters of this world (gashmiut). Through this, there is an insult (elbon) also to the Torah which is the gold ring, the crown of Torah..

For G-d has granted man special tools more precious than choice gold, namely, the faculty of wisdom and intellect. One needs to employ them for the service of G-d and to toil in Torah. But when he leaves these tools for other things, then it is "like a gold ring [in a pig's snout]". He added "freedom on the tablets (cherut al hauchot)" in order to remove the excuse of hassles (tirdot) of this world since for one who toils in Torah, all the hassles (tirdot) of this world fall off of him and he becomes a free man.
Chatam Sofer - "every day a Bat Kol (heavenly voice/echo) goes forth from mount Chorev and calls out: 'Oy to the people..'" - Mount Sinai has many names. Why did he use the name "Chorev"? The answer is that the primary "Oy" and sufferings that befall people and the main evil that comes on them and their labor is only due to the insult of the Torah, namely, there aren't people toiling and straining in the Torah. For only Torah study shields and saves us from all evil. It is a shield against all bad things (puraniyut).

And in the midrash (Pikudei 51:8): "the mountain was called by several names: Mount Sinai, Mountain of G-d, Mount Bashan, Mount Chorev.. Why was it called Mount Chorev? Because the Torah was given there and the Torah is called Cherev (a sword), as written: "the high praises of G-d is in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; [to carry out vengeance..]" (Tehilim 149:6). For the Torah alone is a sword for us to fight against our enemies. We have no other shield or weapon to fight against the evil. The Torah alone is the sword put in our hands to save us from evil, troubles, and afflictions.

Therefore, the "bat kol goes out from Chorev and calls out". For the sword is in our hands through the Torah to shield us from all evil and calamity. Thus, "Oy unto people from the insult to the Torah.." [of disregarding the Torah].
Chida, ruach chaim derush 12 - "mount Chorev" - in the talmud: "why was mount sinai called mount chorev? Because destruction (churva) fell (was decreed) on the nations for not accepting the Torah. And from this arouses judgment on a Yisrael who annuls the Torah..

Alternatively, as to why the bat kol goes out from Chorev (Sinai) - in the Talmud:
"Iyov/Job sought to exempt the world from judgment claiming they are forced by the yetzer hara (to sin and thus not at fault). His friends answered him: "you too cast away fear, and take away speech before G-d" (Iyov 15:4). says the Holy One, blessed be He, 'I created the yetzer hara and I created the Torah as its antidote (literally:spice)'". (they are at fault for not taking the antidote, i.e. Torah).
But nevertheless there are still grounds to exempt him. For that which he is guilty (for sinning) is because he should have learned Torah thereby annulling the yetzer hara. Thus we are back to the same place for the yetzer hara does not allow him to learn Torah and thus it is not his fault and he should be exempt from judgment.

However if he were humble, the yetzer hara would not rule over him and thus he would be able to learn Torah as brought in holy books.. if you ask: "but G-d Himself said the Torah is the antidote (literally:spice), which implies one cannot annul the yetzer hara except with Torah. But according to you, humility also annuls the yetzer hara..?

Answer: [humility annuls the yetzer hara] but it does not also transform the yetzer hara to good like Torah does. For Torah is like a spice which sweetens and makes it good..

And humility comes from yirah (fear), that one puts to heart that he stands before the King of kings who observes him. Then immediately, he will be lowly in his eyes as one standing before a king and how much more so before the King of kings..

This is what they answered Iyov: "you too cast away fear", you do not have yirah (fear) and therefore "take away speech before G-d (tigra sicha)", do not learn [Torah]. But if you had yirah (fear) you would be humble, as in the verse: "When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have established; what is man that You are mindful of him?" (Tehilim 8:4-5). For when a man recognizes his lowliness, he will be humble and then he will learn Torah and be saved from the yetzer hara and fulfill the commandments.

Thus from this the bat kol goes out from mount chorev. For he should have learned humility and then the yetzer hara would not have ruled over him to not learn.
Chida, Devarim Achadim drush 5 - "(literally) every day and day (b'kol yom v'yom)" - we can explain the double language according to the talmud (Yerushalmi Berachot 9:5, Bavli 68a) : "says Reish Lakish: (the Torah says) 'if you leave me one day, I will leave you two days'".

There is to investigate whether a person is punished on the second day like the first since on the second day, the Torah distanced from him.

It seems to me that certainly he is punished. For the halacha is "if one started as negligent but the damage was accidental in the end, he is obligated to pay" (techila b'peshia v'sofo b'ones chayiv).

Furthermore, here it is known that if he is negligent one day the Torah will distance from him [the second day].

This is what he wrote "every day and day (b'kol yom v'yom)" whether for the day where he himself distanced or for the [next] day where the Torah distanced from him, the announcer proclaims: "oy on he who does not toil for he is guilty on everything.."
Rashi - "Oy to people for the insult to the Torah" - from the insult which they disregard the Torah. For she is insulted in that she has no toilers [in Torah].
Chida, Kisei David, drush 26 - "Oy to people (Briot) for the insult to the Torah" - this refers to those who content themselves with the reading of the chazan (cantor) or reading of the weekly portion (shnayim mikra v'echad targum) and they consider themselves [honorable] creatures (Briot) for toiling in non Torah books which are sweet to their mouth. They also consider the Torah scholars foolish for not having knowledge except in Torah. On them the bat kol proclaims: "Oy to people (Briot)", i.e. those who consider themselves [honorable] creatures (Briot) for toiling in non Torah books. For in their eyes these books are words of wisdom. This is a great insult to the Torah which is the word of G-d.

"For whoever does not occupy himself in Torah is called "nazuf" (reprimanded/outcast)" - this refers to one who has free time to toil in Torah but instead wastes his time in hevel (vanities). Although he does not belittle the Torah by refraining from reading non Torah books but nevertheless "he is called nazuf".

He said "he is called nazuf" and not "he is nazuf" to hint that all the hosts of heaven call him "nazuf" for not toiling in Torah. And since he is called nazuf, all the mitzvot he does and all that he learns goes to the sitra achra (forces of evil).. This is what he continues: "like a gold ring in a pig's snout" which is dirtied by the pig until its splendor is lost. So too for one who can learn, who has free time to study Torah but he does not. He dirties his mitzvot with mud, dirt, and excrement and they go to the sitra achra..
Chida, ruach chaim sof drush 12, ot 2 - "Oy to people (Briot) for the insult to the Torah" - as the commentaries explain, G-d gave us the Torah as a gift. For if the Torah were given in the way of a sale, we would not be obligated to toil in it. For when a person purchases a precious object with his own money, if afterwards he belittles it, there is no claim against him. For it is his own property and a person is permitted to belittle his possession by leaving it on the end of his porch or the like.

But if a great man gave him an object as a gift publicly, then he is under duty to guard it like the apple of his eye and to honor it according to the honor of the giver. Therefore G-d gave us the Torah publicly as a gift so that we may guard it properly.. We can say this is the meaning of "for I give you good teaching; do not forsake My Torah" (Mishlei 4:2), i.e. I gave you [the Torah] as a gift, therefore "do not forsake My Torah".
Chida, Devarim Chadim drush 26 - "Oy to people for the insult to the Torah" - oy on those people that belittle the Torah scholars and [instead] honor the rich. They are like the yetzer hara (evil inclination) who sees only what is before him, the vanities of this world and not the Olam Haba which is in [future] time. Thus they honor the rich for they see their money. But for the Torah scholars, their treasury of Torah is in the future. This is what is written: "who is wise? He who sees what is born" (Tamid 32a). Namely, he is not pleased with what his eyes see which is the claim of the yetzer hara. Rather he sees what is born (future consequence) like the claim of the yetzer tov...
Chochma u'Mussar 2:278 - "Oy to people for the insult to the Torah" - as an illustration, a servant is in a place and time where there is much work of his master to do, such as in a hotel where there are many guests in need of service. This one for this, that one for that. All the servants run to fulfill the will of each guest, as instructed by the hotel owner who wishes to please the heart of every guest so that they will always return to him.

But despite all the great work that needs to be done, one of the servants of the master when searched for, was found to be sitting in a room playing dice.

Consider what would be the judgment on this brazen servant? Certainly from his deeds it is clearly recognizable that he cast off the yoke of his master completely.

So too for our matter. There is much work incumbent on a man to do as we learned: "the day is short and the work is much" (Avot 2:15) which Rabeinu Yonah explains this to mean the work of Torah, rectifying the soul and acquiring virtues.

Thus for one who has free time to toil in Torah.. and nevertheless he does not, this is certainly a sign he has cast off the yoke of his Master and on this it is written: "because he has despised the Word of G-d and has broken His commandment, that soul shall be utterly cut off. His iniquity shall be upon him" (Bamidbar 15:31). For there is so much to know and do but he sits in his room and plays games..
Siftei Daat on Avot (Daat chochma umussar 2:71,3:2) - "Oy to people for the insult to the Torah" - he did not write: "Oy to the Torah". For certainly the Torah does not lose its importance... This is as the midrash says:
When the Holy One, blessed be He, gave the Torah to Yisrael, He put in it positive and negative commandments, etc. king Shlomo arose and said: "even though the Torah says: 'nor shall the king increase (Yarbe) many wives, so that his heart does not turn away' (Devarim 17:17), nevertheless, I will increase many wives and will not turn away.."

At that time, the letter Yud of "Yarbe" (increase) went before G-d and said: "Master of the world, didn't You say no letter of the Torah will be annulled forever...?" The Holy One blessed be He answered the Yud: "Shlomo and a thousand like him will be annulled and I will not annul even a tiny crown of you..." (Shemot Rabba 6:1).
For one who transgresses one thing of the Torah forfeits his existence. For the Torah is the true existence and the blueprint of the world (Genesis Rabba 1:1). Therefore it stays in its full power and its existence is strong and enduring forever and ever.

This matter is very awesome. How much a person needs to strengthen himself by his life to fulfill meticulously the words of the Torah, namely, to be aligned with the true existence (Torah). For if Shlomo and a thousand like him will be annulled for wanting to annul the Yud since he thought he ascended to a supernatural level above ordinary human beings and was thus acting in line with the Torah, what will we say of those who do against the will of the Torah? There is no greater annulment than this and with what will such a man exist? This matter is frightening to contemplate.
Siftei Daat on Avot (Daat chochma umussar 3:34) - "Oy to people for the insult to the Torah" - Rashi explained: "For she is insulted in that she has no toilers [in Torah]" end quote. And in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 99a): "R.Nechanya says whoever can toil in Torah but does not, this is (what the verse refers to): "For he has despised the Word of the L-ord and has broken His commandment, that soul shall be utterly cut off. His iniquity shall be upon him" (Bamidbar 15:31).

That is to say, the explanation of the matter of insult (bizayon) is: to not recognize the need and quality of something. But if he recognized the maalot (quality) of the Torah, the benefit and need for it, then it would not be possible for him to have free time for toiling in Torah and not do so.
All this is due to not recognizing and not considering important the quality of the Torah. This is "For he has despised the Word of the G-d" and oy lo from its insult.
Chatam Sofer - "Oy to the people for the insult to the Torah" - i.e. bizayon (disrespect), belittling of the Torah and what is the bizayon (disrespect)? Those who annul the Torah for a little money of parnassa and they don't believe that there is power in the merit of Torah to fulfill their lacking many times over.

In my humble opinion, this kind of person is worse than one who does not toil in Torah at all.

For this is analogous to a shopkeeper whereby many buyers come to his store and he shows them his merchandise. One says he does not want to buy, while another says he wants to buy but the merchandise is of poor quality and has many flaws.

Without a doubt, the shopkeeper will be more angry at the latter than the former. For the former does not cause him any loss but the latter causes much loss as many other buyers will not want to buy when they hear what he says.

So too here, one who is far from the Torah does not damage so much. But one who learns Torah and hears about a possible opportunity to maybe profit a bit and then he immediately abandons the Torah, this is a great disrespect (bizayon gadol). For the Torah promises "if you will go in My statutes..you will have sustenance, health, defeating your enemies, etc etc." (Vayikrah 26).
Rashi - "nazuf" - menudeh (excommunicated), as the verse: "his father reprimanded him" (Gen.37), which the targum renders: "venazef bei avuhi". Alternatively, for people honor and serve him [who toils in Torah]. But for a person who does not toil in Torah, people distance from him. Thus he is like a menudeh (excommunicated).
Chida, Ruach Chaim drush 8 - "he is called nazuf" - they announce above: "distance from ploni who does not care about the honor of his Master.." as written in the Zohar (Acharei Mot 76a).
Chida, Devarim Achadim, drush 5 - he is called nazuf by all the hosts of heaven "the announcer annouces.. the 'nazuf' of his Master.." (Zohar). And all the air is full of angels of destruction and they and all the birds of the air hear the announcement. This is the meaning of "call him nazuf". And we learned in Taanit (12b) "they are forbidden to greet each other as people nezufim (reprimanded) by G-d".

We may also say as the Chasid Yaavetz wrote on: "there are three openings to Gehinom". The first opening is small for those who pass through there are the apikorsim and minim (heretics) which are few in every generation.

The second opening is medium size and is for sinners in forbidden foods, illicit relations, theft and the like. For these are many.

The third and great opening is for entering the mevatlei Torah (those idle from Torah). For this group is very very numerous and they don't realize it is a sin.

The Rambam writes in Hilchot Teshuva (4:19): "among the things which meakev teshuva (withold repentance) are light things which a person does not consider sins and thus he does not put thought to repent from them" see there.

So too for bitul Torah, no man puts to heart that it is a sin and thus does not repent. This is an insult to the Torah that people think it is not a sin and do not repent. Furthermore the matter is so severe that "whoever does not occupy himself in Torah is called 'nazuf' (reprimanded)".
Chochma u'Mussar 1:148 - "nazuf" - distant from G-d as in "For lo, those who are distant from You shall perish" (Tehilim 73:27). For all of man's coming close to G-d is through the Torah, as the matter: "the Holy One, blessed be He, has nothing in His world except the four cubits of halacha" (Berachot 8a). And the Mishkan (temple/tabernacle) proves this. For the primary mishkan is the holy of holies between the cherubin on the ark of the covenant (which contained the Torah). This is the "four amot of halacha".

On this comes the obligation of man that even when engaged in matters of this world, that his mind be free for Torah according to his ability as the Rambam and others write. On this it is written: "you shall contemplate therein day and night" (Yehoshua 1:8).
Rashi - "as a gold ring in a pig's snout" - it does not guard it. Rather, it goes and rummages in the garbage heaps and dirties (the ring). So too, a talmid chacham who lacks these things is disgusting like this excommunicated person.
Tiferet Yisrael - "as a gold ring in a pig's snout" - the ring refers to the power of intellect which G-d has graced to man. But when man uses it for lowly things, he is like a rummaging pig who uses the ring on his snout to begrime it in the garbage heaps.
Chida, Ahavat David, Drush 7 - "as a gold ring in a pig's snout" - the pig does not feel [the value of] what it has and filthies it. So too these people have the Torah but they do not know its nature and do not consider it important..
Chida, Devarim Achadim derushim 5,19, Kisei David drush 26 - (kabalistic) "whoever does not occupy himself in Torah is called nazuf" - what is the "insult to the Torah"? We may answer that after the sin of the golden calf, all the nitzutzei (sparks) of the Torah fell in the klipot (forces of evil)..

Through the "nezem zahav" (gold ring) which they used to make the golden calf (Shemot 32:3), the Torah fell "in a pig's snout" and Yisrael was left as "a beautiful woman", i.e. the people G-d chose but "bereft of reason". For the taamei Torah (reasons of the Torah) and its parts fell into the klipot. This is the "insult to the Torah" and whoever does not toil in Torah is called nazuf.

This is the meaning of "whoever is occupied in Torah ascends (becomes elevated)". Namely, through toil in Torah one extracts the holy sparks (mevarer the nitzutzot hakedusha) and he elevates and acquires additions to his nefesh, ruach and neshama, "ascends" specifically. For he ascends level after level and advances..

Therefore one needs to strain himself much to extract the parts of his Torah which fell into the klipot, to ask difficulties and break (resolve) them - to break the klipot (shell) and extract the fruit, namely, the good light as the Arizal wrote. For as known, each person received a portion in the Torah fitting to the root of his nefesh, ruach, and neshama in Pardes and according to the lights in his nefesh, ruach, and neshama, he received a corresponding portion in the lights of Pardes in the Torah which are now in the klipot.

This is the meaning of "fortunate is he who comes here with his Torah in his hand" (ashrei mi shebah lekan v'talmudo beyado), his Torah specifically, the sparks of Torah connected to his soul which no other Torah scholar could have extracted. But if he is lax and idle from the Torah, these nitzutzot (sparks) remain in the klipot..
Maharal - "as a gold ring in a pig's snout so is a beautiful woman bereft of reason" - i.e. the gold ring is something very praiseworthy. But if it is on the snout of a pig, then despite the gold ring's importance, it is disgusting from the aspect of the carrier, namely, the pig. Likewise for "a beautiful woman bereft of reason", i.e. this beauty and its value, when it is by one who is "bereft of reason", it is disgusting and repulsive. Even though the woman is absolutely beautiful, nevertheless, her beauty is disgusting. This "beautiful woman" is an analogy for man of intellect. He is called a beautiful woman, for he has beauty, namely, the "shine" (of the intellect).

Light refers to wisdom in all places. For wisdom is light and shine, as written: "the wisdom of a man illuminates his face" (Mishlei 8:1). And in the talmud: "he extinguished the light of the world (killed the sages), let him go and toil in the light of the world (Torah)" (Bava Batra 4a).

He called the physicality of man: "bereft of reason". For rot is lowly such as excrement or the like and the physicality of man has a lowliness.

The summary of the matter: "the gold ring" is very clean and pure. But when it is placed on the snout of a pig which digs in garbage heaps and is disgusting and repulsive. Through this the gold ring becomes repulsive. So too: "a beautiful woman bereft of reason", i.e. thus is a man who has the (transcendent) intellect but does not toil in Torah. The intellect stands in the body of physical man which has lowliness and it toils in lowly physical matters. Through this the pure intellect becomes disgusting. But if he toils in Torah, then the intellect is divested of the physical and does not have the lowliness of the physical.. But if man just goes after physical things, he is like a pig with a gold ring who digs in the garbage heaps..

The pig is a creature which very much chases after matters of its body and lusts. There is no equal to it in this. Other animals are not as disgusting. For they seek a bit of honor in nature, as our sages said: "there are four proud, the ox by the animals, the lion by the beasts, etc. and likewise brazenness is attributed to certain creatures. But the pig seeks only bodily eating in a disgusting and dirty way.

So too is man when he abandons the [transcendent] Torah intellect and goes only after his bodily lusts. Likewise earlier in chapter three, a table whereby no words of Torah were said on it when eating is compared to vomit and excrement (Avot 3:4).

This is what is said that one who does not toil in Torah is called nazuf, i.e. distant. For due to the lowliness of the physicality inside him he is distant (from G-d)...
Tiferet Yisrael - "to teach you that there is no free man except for him who occupies himself in Torah" - for his soul is not enslaved by the bodily lusts. This alone is true freedom and not when his lust roams freely and his soul is enslaved to lust.
Sfas Emes on Avot, Parsha Pinchas 5634 - "free man" - to remove the distractions of the yokes (tirdot) of this world. Since for one who toils in Torah, all the yokes (tirdot) of the world fall away from him and he becomes a free man.
Yachel Yisrael - "freedom" - another freedom which the Torah bestows - freedom from turmoil of the soul and from inner doubts. A man who is not connected to Torah, when he considers his steps and thinks on his purpose [in life] - he is full of emotions and torn by doubts. He lives in uncertainty. He seeks meaning and strives to reach the truth in his investigation.

On the other hand, one who toils in Torah lishma - i.e. for arriving at the truth - his eyes will open and he merits to reach this truth. He finds answers to all his doubts in the Torah and a response to all his wonderings. Over time, the secrets of the Torah and of the creation become clear to him. He understands the purpose of things and merits to true fredom - freedom of the soul. There is no greater happiness than this..
Chida, Devarim Chadim drush 26 - "there is no free man except for him who occupies himself in Torah" - he used a negating term. For in the first tablets there was complete freedom to all Israel, freedom from the angel of death, the subjugation of the nations (shibud malchuyot). But after the sin of the golden calf, there is no free man except he who toils in Torah. For it avails to save him from shibud malchuyot (oppression from governments) and also if he toils in Torah lishma, to know what to do, he will be free from the sitra achra (forces of evil), that his body will be pure and clean.. And since this is remote and is found only in the gedolei hadorot (very great Torah scholars), for this he ended "And whoever is occupied in Torah becomes elevated,". For even though he may not reach the level of being lishma but nevertheless whoever toils in Torah, will attain some degree of freedom.
Chida, ruach chaim derush 12 - "no free man" - he used negative tense for there are many kings and ministers and rich men who appear free. They themselves have many slaves and thus how can he say: "there is no free man except for him who occupies himself in Torah"?

The answer is that these rich men are slaves sold to their evil inclination who overpowers them. Every day they lust for pleasures of men and ways of women and their yetzer renews over them daily. Thus he said there is no true free man whereby the yetzer hara does not rule over him except one who studies Torah lishma which annuls the yetzer and he is lowly and humble. There is none like him.
Chochma u'Mussar 2:119 - "there is no free man except for him who occupies himself in Torah" - i.e. in Torah like its halacha, as we learn later in Mishna 4: "this is the way of the Torah, eat bread with water, etc." - without worry. For he lacks nothing. And the true freedom is freedom of the mind, i.e. to remove worry. This is the true free man.
Michtav M'Eliyahu, chelek 3, avdut vcherut - a slave is someone who is forced to work and the fruits of his labor will not be his. Thus man's deeds for matters of this world are deeds of slavery. for the fruits of his labor will not be his.

Even if he increases wisdoms, authors books, and teaches his Torah to others, it is all deeds of slavery which are not his. But if he acquires them in his heart in the way of "doing l'shem shamayim", then it is his. Otherwise, he remains a slave as he was. Only this person who contemplates his Torah, namely, that he acquired it through true inner longing, without mixture of personal interest - he is a free man. For our sages said: "there is no free man except for him who toils in Torah", the explanation of "toils" means in the way of inner longing.
Rashi - "And whoever is occupied in Torah becomes elevated, as written: "and from Matana to Nachaliel and from Nachaliel to Bamot (the Heights)" - in the previous verse: u'miMidbar Matana (and from the desert a gift). Then u'miMatana Nachliel, for since the Torah was given to them as a gift, Nachalu El, i.e. G-d took them as His portion. And since one's portion is G-d, he ascends to greatness, as written: and from Nachaliel to Bamot (the Heights) (Eruvin 54b, Nedarim 55a).
Tiferet Yisrael - "and whoever is occupied in Torah becomes elevated" - do not think: "not every man merits the crown of Torah, rather only a man who fulfills two conditions: that (1) he has a great/powerful intellect and (2) that he employs it for Torah". On this he said: "whoever is occupied in Torah becomes elevated..", i.e. even if he does not have a great/powerful intellect.