Talmud Torah K'Neged Kulam – New Pshat

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    Note: I am NOT giving any psak here, just throwing out my thoughts.

    I would like to offer a new pshat on a statement, which is found in Mesechet Shabbat and that we read every morning before Shacharit.

    My Pshat:

    There is the idea of Ezer K’negdo, meaning that the wife stands next to here husband to help him and bring clarification and his thoughts and actions. If you read the entire paragraph in which is found Talmud Torah K’neged Kulam, you will see that all the Mitzvot preceding Talmud Torah “Honoring parents, acts of kindness, coming early to the beit midrash morning and night, inviting guest, visiting the sick, providing for the bride, escorting the dead, absorption in prayer, making peace between people” these are all foundations of our society.

    So your Torah is K’neged all these things, the learning stands next to each one of these mitzvot and helps you to fully understand them, and when you fully understand them, you contribute to creating a better and holy society and then Hashem, dwells in our camp.

    Torah does not stand alone, to the exclusion of these other things, but stands “kneged” or next to them, as does a wife to her husband.

    Please share your thoughts.


    I think it’s brilliant. I wonder if any Meforshim ever expressed a similar idea.


    I really love your p’shat.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    The word k’neged means opposite, not next to.


    It’s not so easy to translate. It doesn’t necessarily mean opposing in a negative sense.

    Someone standing and facing another person is k’neged that person.

    If I am facing the entrance to the Ohel Ha Moed, I am k’neged it.

    It’s not exactly next to but it can carry that connotation depending on the context.

    It can also mean: “corresponding to” or “in relation to”


    On the level of pshat, it’s probably true that the mishna means that the mitzvos above can be pushed aside by talmud Torah. But there’s always more than one way to read a mishna, as they were encoded by Tannaim to include as much as possible in the shortest space. Although there is no “drush” in mishna, I would agree that the tanna could be hinting to the idea that Torah should be k’neged the other mitzvos, and that one should perform them specifically according to the rules of the Torah and not be negligent in them. We see this use of k’neged in many places to mean “adjacent to” rather than “opposite” and it could be that the Tanna wanted to be marbeh this possible interpretation.

    Also, Torah should be k’neged the other mitzvos in that gradeh if one is learning he doesn’t need to worry about how many mitzvos he’s passing up at that moment; but one shouldn’t make an “escape” out of learning that he runs to his private corner whenever an opportunity to perform a mitzva comes up. He should put his Torah kneged the mitzva: run to the mitzva, and then to the sforim.

    Nice pshat!


    It is a nice “drush”, but it is not pshat. Pshat is Talmud Torah K’neged Kulam- learning Torah is the most important. That doesn’t mean that the other mitzvos should be neglected, but at the end of the day, Talmid Torah ranks on top, and is sustaining the world – bottom line.


    It is not the simple pshat but it’s a pshat. It’s also a drush




    yasher koach, you were mechavin to Rav Gifter z’tl–beautiful!


    I think the simplest understanding is that without Talmud Torah, you will not know how to keep any of the Mitzvos properly.


    Josh31’s pshat is the Rambam’s understanding of the statement, in Hilchos Talmud Torah


    I absolutely loved this p’shat (and it is a p’shat, because it can be interpreted literally), as well as Josh 31’s response. We also sometimes interpret the expression “neged” as alongside, (shivisi Hashem l’negdi tamid). It does not always mean opposite. The idea that it is together with learning Torah (as opposed to just being told keep Shabbos, keep kosher, be nice to people, etc)that we fully comprehend how to be mekayeim the other mitzvos properly, is a beautiful one. Yasher koach.


    It’s a great p’shat! Ya’asher Ko’ach!

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