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Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers
with a select treasury of commentaries on all levels of Torah interpretation
Chapter 3 Mishna 10
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 3 Mishna 10פרק ג משנה י
Rabbi Dostai ben Rabbi Yannai would say in the name of Rabbi Meir: "whoever forgets [even] one thing of his Torah learning, is considered by scripture as if he is liable for his soul (life), as written: 'guard yourself and guard your soul very much, lest you forget the things which your eyes saw [at Sinai]' (Devarim 4:9). It could be assumed that this includes also one who forgot due his studies being too difficult for him, thus scriptures continues: 'lest you remove them from your heart all the days of your life' - this teaches that one is not liable for his life unless he sits [idle] and removes them from his heart". רַבִּי דּוֹסְתַּאי בְּרַבִּי יַנַּאי מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי מֵאִיר אוֹמֵר, כָּל הַשּׁוֹכֵחַ דָּבָר אֶחָד מִמִּשְׁנָתוֹ, מַעֲלֶה עָלָיו הַכָּתוּב כְּאִלּוּ מִתְחַיֵּב בְּנַפְשׁוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ד) רַק הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ וּשְׁמֹר נַפְשְׁךָ מְאֹד פֶּן תִּשְׁכַּח אֶת הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר רָאוּ עֵינֶיךָ. יָכוֹל אֲפִלּוּ תָקְפָה עָלָיו מִשְׁנָתוֹ, תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר (שם) וּפֶן יָסוּרוּ מִלְּבָבְךָ כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ, הָא אֵינוֹ מִתְחַיֵּב בְּנַפְשׁוֹ עַד שֶׁיֵּשֵׁב וִיסִירֵם מִלִּבּוֹ.

Bartenura - "whoever forgets.." - due to not reviewing it.. For due to his forgetting, he permits the forbidden and thus a calamity goes out through his hands..

Alternatively, it is as if he is liable for his soul. Because this mishna would have guarded over him. But now that he has forgotten it, it no longer guards over him.
Rabeinu Yonah - "whoever forgets.." - he did not put to heart that forgetfulness is prevalent in people and he should have reviewed the halacha many times and thought about it all day and all night until it cannot be removed from his heart. If he did not do so, he is liable for his soul. For he will come to instruct by memory and permit the forbidden thus bringing a calamity through his hands. He is called a poshea (sinner) for "unintentional talmud is considered intentional".

But if he forgot due to old age or some other accident (oness), then he is exempt.
Tiferet Yisrael - "whoever forgets.." - i.e. he does not reviewing it always due to laziness.

"as if he is liable for his soul" - even though in truth, he is not liable for his soul. For he is learning just that he does not review his learning. But nevertheless, since he was lazy on reviewing his learning, he reveals that he does not care if he forgets them.
Bartenura - "too difficult for him" - i.e. it was difficult for him (to understand it) and due to the difficulty in it, he forgot it.
Rabbi Avraham Azoulai - Ahava b'Taanugim - "whoever (all) forgets [even] one thing of his Torah learning.." - some say "all" comes to include even one who forgets due to laziness or due to being forced to find a livelihood for his home, nevertheless - "it is as if he is liable for his life". And one is not exempt from this punishment except for one whose "studies are too difficult for him".
Meorei Ohr - in the book Keter Rosh (end of siddur haG''ra, ot 67) in the name of R. Chaim of Volozhin: "regarding 'one who forgets one thing of his learning' - this refers to the early generations who learned by heart". end quote. However in the Shulchan Aruch of Rabbi Zalman (Hilchot Talmud Torah 2:4) it says that this prohibition applies even today despite that the oral law was written down. see there.
Hitorerut Teshuva chelek dalet, 130 - it seems to me that one who does the things which bring forgetfulness in torah (see Horayot 13b) transgresses this prohibition. For he causes words of torah to be removed from his heart.
Nofet Tzufim Koritz 58 - through extended learning without much desire and life (cheshek v'chiyut), the memory becomes defective. But this is not a sin if his level is not higher than this. However it is good to elevate oneself in one's learning, namely, to learn with desire and fervor (chafeitza v'chasheika) and taste the sweet taste of torah. For it is good. And not that his learning overpowers him (and it becomes too heavy).
Imrot Tehorot - the Arizal explains that forgetfulness comes through blemish of the soul and sin. For this "whoever forgets, etc." - know that he is liable for his life and is a sinner.
Tosfot Yom Tov - It seems to me, there are three categories in the matter:
One, that he intends to remove words of torah from his heart. Our mishna is not talking about this category and neither is Rabbi Chanina ben Chachinai (who said earlier: "one who is awake at night.. and turns his heart to idleness is liable for his soul"). Rather, if he intends to remove words of torah from his heart, this is in the category of "whoever removes from himself the yoke of torah.." of Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa earlier.

The second category is one who does not intend nor seek that the words of torah be removed from his heart and forgotten. If he did not forget them, he would be happy. But he desires idleness (batala) more than toil in torah and he seeks and goes after the idleness (batala. This category is "one who turns his heart to idleness" of Rabbi Chanina ben Chachinai who said he is liable for his soul.

The third category is one who does not want idleness (batala) more than words of torah. But when a matter of idleness comes to his hand, he sits and becomes idle and lax from reviewing his learning. This category is the one of our mishna. Namely, that he sits and removes them from his heart. For by sitting idly, the matters become removed from his heart [automatically].