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Acquiring Torah 7: Manifested Outside of Torah

When Rabbi Yossi ben Kismah became ill, Rabbi Chanina ben Teradyon went to visit him. Rabbi Yossi said to Rabbi Chanina, “Chanina, my brother, do you not know that from heaven they have imposed as rulers over us, the evil Roman nation, which has destroyed God’s House, burned His Sanctuary, killed His pious ones, and caused His nobles to perish? This foreign ruler still exists, and yet I have heard about you that you sit and engage in Torah study and convene public gatherings to disseminate Torah, and a Torah scroll rests openly in your lap!”


Rabbi Chanina said in reply, “From heaven they will have mercy on me.”

Rabbi Yossi responded, “I am saying something sensible to you and you are telling me that from heaven they will have mercy! I would be amazed if they do not burn you and the Torah scroll in fire!”

Rabbi Chanina asked, “Rebbi, how do I stand in regard to a portion in the World to Come?”

He said to him, “Has any particular incident presented itself to you?”

He answered him, “I once inadvertently switched my own Purim funds with general charity funds, and I distributed the Purim funds to the poor for their unrestricted use.”

He said, “If that is so, may my portion be with yours!” (Avodah Zarah 18a)

Risking his life to publicly teach Torah was not the indication Rabbi Yossi needed that his student was assured a place in the World to Come, but a mistaken switch of personal funds, given to charity, was so indicative of a high portion in the World to Come that Rabbi Yossi exclaims, “May my portion be with yours!”

The true Kinyan of Torah, Acquisition of Torah, is not measured by how much Torah one studies, nor by his commitment to teaching. Rabbi Yossi wanted to know whether Rabbi Chanina’s Torah manifested itself in his general behavior. How did his Torah study affect his response to a mistake?

At this point of our journey, a person has a Rebbi whom he serves and reveres. He excels in everything he does. He is working on mastering is personal feelings, especially anger. He must now review his general behavior and examine whether his Torah study is guiding his natural responses to challenging situations.

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