May 14, 2020 11:34 am at 11:34 am #1860483abukspanParticipant
Bechukosai 1 – Olympic Training:
If you will go in My statutes (Vayikra 26:3). – אם בחקתי תלכו
Based on this verse, the Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 35:1) quotes a pasuk in Tehillim (119:59), “Chishavti derachai va’ashivah raglai el eidosecha – I considered my ways and returned my feet to Your testimonies.” David HaMelech said, “Ribbono Shel Olam, every day I would plan to go to a particular place or a certain building [Chishavti derachai], and my feet would take me to the houses of prayer and study [va’ashivah raglai el eidosecha].”
The Ksav Sofer on Chumash (p.189) quotes an alternative text, where David HaMelech specified that he planned on visiting theaters, and instead ended up in the beis midrash. Why would David HaMelech be interested in going to the theater, if venues such as theaters and circuses are forbidden by Chazal (Avodah Zarah 18b)?
The Gemara (Megillah 6a) quotes a pasuk from Zechariah (9:7), “Ve’hayah ke’aluf biYehudah ve’Ekron ki’Yevusi – He will be like the master in Yehudah, and Ekron will be like the Yevusi,” and says that this is referring to the theaters and circuses of Edom. In the future, the high officers of Yehudah will teach Torah publicly in these places.
The Ksav Sofer (ibid. p. 195) questions why we would be learning Torah in their stadia and arenas; would we not have our own venues within which to teach Torah? He cites the Gemara (Avodah Zarah 2:2), which says that in the future Hashem will say to the goyim, “With what did you occupy yourselves?” They will reply, “We set up marketplaces and bathhouses and amassed gold and silver. And we did it all so the Jews could occupy themselves with Torah – so they can acquire items easily in the marketplace and they can beautify themselves in the bathhouses.” Hashem will respond, “You did all of that only for your own benefit.”
In truth, the evil actions of ovrei aveirah can be utilized for good, as well. A yerei Hashem can learn zerizus for mitzvos from the zerizus employed by sinners to their craft. They expend so much effort as they rush to sin and to the foibles of This World. How much more so should we rush to do mitzvos and not concern ourselves with expenses and the inconveniences involved.
Based on this concept, the Ksav Sofer brings the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Koheles: 971) on the pasuk (5:9) “A lover of money will never be satisfied with money.” The Midrash expounds, “A lover of mitzvos will not be satisfied with mitzvos.” The Ksav Sofer explains that the Midrash is also teaching us that we can learn to channel the good from sinners’ various actions or traits. In the case of silver, which has a finite value, Koheles tells us that one who loves silver will have a drive and desire for more, and he will never be satisfied with what he has. The Midrash is telling us that we can direct that same drive – to want more and more – to do more and more mitzvos without being satisfied.
This, says the Ksav Sofer, is the intent of Chazal in Avodah Zarah, in which the goyim claim that they only built marketplaces and bathhouses and amassed wealth so that we can occupy ourselves with Torah. The goyim are telling us that we can learn from them – just as they spent their time setting up marketplaces and bathhouses for physical enjoyment and increased their gold and silver collections, so should we be involved in Torah and mitzvos and increase our good deeds. If, indeed, they would have had all this in mind, they would have been worthy of some reward. But Hashem said to them, “Fools! You did not build anything with the intentions you claimed were yours. Instead, you did everything only for your own enjoyment!”
This is why it says in Megillah that the Jewish leaders will teach Torah in the non-Jews’ theaters. While sitting in the goyim’s enormous and expensive edifices of evil, we can learn how to use our own resources. If they spend millions for theirs, how can we not do likewise for ours? If they labored with real dedication to build such buildings, how can we not? Additionally, he writes, we should contemplate how the attendees at these structures may have stayed awake, fighting off sleep as they partied through the night. Can we do any less when it comes to Torah study? Just as they spend their time, effort, and money for things of no value, so must we use our time, effort, and money in service of Hashem. What better place to inspire the talmidim to give it their all than in a place where others gave their all.
The Ksav Sofer concludes by explaining the line in the Gemara (Berachos 28b), which states, “I wake up early and they wake up early.” When we see how the non-Jews awaken for foolish pursuits, how can we not awaken to learn Torah?
If you see someone working hard, be inspired to channel that same energy into your service of Hashem.
Perhaps we can use this idea to explain why David would have wanted to go to such despicable venues. Imagine going to a sporting event such as the Olympics. While watching the athletes, you realize that these fierce competitors have sacrificed everything else in their lives in the past four years, and spent day and night in training. Then you look at the enthusiastic crowd of spectators and see their excitement. How focused they are on the athletes’ every move.
A person can derive a tremendous lesson, a mussar haskel, from this. If these Olympians exhibit such supreme dedication and focus to the perfection of their skill; if the spectators’ hearts are hanging, ready to soar or sink based on the performance of the team or player they are rooting for; if people give their all for this meaningless, temporal pursuits; then how can I not be as dedicated when it comes to pursuing things with eternal value?
This may have been David’s intention when he said, “Chishavti derachai” – he considered his ways; every day David considered going to the theaters, because there he would see people who had perfected themselves in their chosen craft, and he wanted to be inspired by their dedication. And yet, “va’ashivah raglai el eidosecha” – his feet returned him to the houses of prayer and study; just thinking about going there and what he would see there was enough to get him to head straight for the shul or yeshivah.
With an open mind and an honest heart, we can learn the most important lessons in life, even without being present.May 14, 2020 5:47 pm at 5:47 pm #1860823Reb EliezerParticipant
We find by Bilom that he was told when he saddled his donkey by Hashem , wicked one
Avraham already did that. Bilom wanted the zechus of the Jews learning from the fervor he does sins to do mitzvos. So Hashem said, we don’t need your lesson as Avraham already did that.
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