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Zera Avraham: Writing Words of Torah

The 17th of Tevet is the Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Avraham ben Moshe, author of Zera Avraham, commentary on the Midrash, and a Maggid. He died on December 21, 1725.

“Who gave us a Torah of truth and planted in it eternal life and good sense for those who act in her ways.” It doesn’t say ‘to those who learn the Torah,’ but ‘to those who act.’ This teaches us that action is what matters. This includes writing books of Torah without number, as the Maharsha (Bava Batra 10) writes, “Praised is the one who comes to heaven and his learning in in his hands,” the main idea of learning is that it should make an impression on the one who learns. This refers to writing down one ideas of Torah. It is for this reason that the Sages are also called, “Soferim,” scribes.

This is also explained by the Siftei Kohen on Parshat Vaetchanan, “Moshe began to explain this Torah,” Moshe told Israel, “Whoever can write an explanation of Torah, shall do so, for each person received his ideas and explanations at Sinai.

The Sefer Chassidim (#530) writes, The Holy One, Blessed is He, decrees who shall be a Chacham, and how many books he will write. Whoever has ideas to write and does not is stealing what was revealed to him.

We find a similar idea in The Olelot Ephraim, “And now write for yourselves this song,” this is the Mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah. Rabbah taught that even though his fathers left him their Torah, he is obligated to write his own. This is a hint that we should never observe Torah as habit, only what we received from our ancestors. Each person must receive the Torah on his own, and write down his new ideas. He should not be satisfied with what already exists, for each person has his unique portion to learn and teach, and all his ideas will be called by his name.

The Noam Elimelech writes (Bechukotai) every word that someone writes in Torah will be known by his name.

The Shevet Mussar (Chapter 44) writes that a Torah scholar must work hard to come up with new ideas and insights, for one’s ideas are called the “B’nei Nefesh,” the children of his Nefesh, and eventually become part of his Neshama.

We can use these ideas to explain the Yalkut on Bereishit that says, “Rabbi Akiva  said, “This is the book of the generations of Man,” is a general principle of the Torah. One who works to write a book on Torah, his words become his children

One who comes to heaven and his learning is in his hands, refers to the words of Torah that he wrote down. His written Torah brings him atonement just as the offerings brought atonement in the Temple.

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