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Avot: 3:6: Rabbi Samson R Hirsch Print E-mail

Pirkei AvotThe 9th of Iyar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yitzchak Bernays (Barneis) (1792-1849), teacher of Rav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch: Rabbi Nechunyah ben Hakanah said, "He who takes upon himself the yoke of the Torah, from him and the yoke of the government and the yoke of secular life will be removed. But he who casts off the yoke of the Torah, upon hearing will be laid the yoke of the government and the yoke of secular life. (Avot 3:6)

 

The Jew has a double burden to bear. First, there is that additional burden, which the government of the country in which she resides imposes upon him because it treats him as a stranger within its territory.

Secondly, along with all others, he bears the burden which day to day secular living entails.

He who freely submits to the yoke of Torah, who will put all of his thoughts and actions in the service of the Torah, will not feel oppressed by these burdens. In fact, he will accept and bear them cheerfully as part of the purpose ordained for him by God Himself.

He who shrugs off the Torah service which he owes his God, even as he would cast off a yoke imposed upon him, may indeed imagine that he has freed himself. However, he fails to see that it is precisely under these circumstances that all the other cares of his life as a citizen and as a member of society will wait upon him as crushing burdens.

For once he has cast off the yoke of the Law, he will lack the power which can be derived only from serving the Torah; he will lack that serene contentment and vitality which can be gained only through service of the Torah.

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