Blog Yomi – Nedarim #36/Daf 37

We begin five lines from the bottom of דף ל״ו עמוּד ב, with the Gemara expounding on the last part of the preceding Mishnah which states: וּמְלַמְּדוֹ מִדְרָשׁ הֲלָכוֹת וְאַגָּדוֹת, אֲבָל לֹא יְלַמְּדֶנּוּ מִקְרָא. אֲבָל מְלַמֵּד הוּא אֶת בָּנָיו וְאֶת בְּנוֹתָיו מִקְרָא.

See the source image

By way of brief review, we’re talking about someone who made a נֶדֶר not to derive benefit from a particular person. What constitutes “benefit?” Is it something for which you receive payment? Sure, if we take teaching for example, there is satisfaction derived from helping someone else learn that is beyond money. One’s “benefit” can derive from experiencing the positive changes that occur in the development of the student with whom one is learning.

This loops back to the concept of direct versus indirect benefits. Take Rabbi Stern for example. He doesn’t get compensated monetarily for being a maggid shiur, teaching the daily Daf Yomi. But he derives spiritual and intellectual benefit from the individuals with whom he is learning. The Gemara will therefore delve into what subject matter would be categorized as deriving הַנָאָה if one were to learn it with someone else:

מְלַמְּדוֹ מִדְרָשׁ הֲלָכוֹת וְאַגָּדוֹת, אֲבָל לֹא יְלַמְּדֶנּוּ מִקְרָא. מִקְרָא מַאי טַעְמָא לֹא יְלַמְּדֶנּוּ — מִשּׁוּם דְּקָמְהַנֵּי לֵיהּ, מִדְרָשׁ נָמֵי קָמְהַנֵּי לֵיהּ! אָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל: בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁנּוֹטְלִין שָׂכָר עַל הַמִּקְרָא וְאֵין נוֹטְלִין שָׂכָר עַל הַמִּדְרָשׁ. מַאי פַּסְקָא

yechiva aujourdhui 1

We learned in the Mishnah that one who made a נֶדֶר not to benefit from someone cannot teach that person chumash (מִקְרָא), but is allowed to teach him midrash, halachos, and aggados.

The Gemara asks: What is the reason that he may not teach him מִקְרָא? Is it due to the fact that the teacher benefits from the knowledge being acquired by the person to whom he is teaching מִקְרָא? That doesn’t sound right. After all, when he teaches that person midrash he is also deriving benefit.

Shmuel said: The Mishnah is referring to a circumstance in which one normally receives payment for teaching מִקְרָא, but not for teaching midrash. By teaching him מִקְרָא, the one for whom benefit is forbidden, benefits from the fact that he is “granting scholarship” to the student. In other words, he derives benefit from being philanthropic in waving the payment that he would usually receive for teaching מִקְרָא.

The Gemara asks: Why was the halacha stated without qualification? There is no apparent fundamental difference between מִקְרָא and midrash. Why did the Mishnah refer specifically to a case where payment is taken for teaching מִקְרָא?

הָא קָא מַשְׁמַע לַן דַּאֲפִילּוּ בִּמְקוֹם שֶׁנּוֹטְלִין שָׂכָר, עַל הַמִּקְרָא שְׁרֵי לְמִשְׁקַל, עַל הַמִּדְרָשׁ לָא שְׁרֵי לְמִשְׁקַל

The Gemara answers: This teaches us that even in a place where one takes payment for teaching, for teaching מִקְרָא it is permitted to take payment, but for teaching midrash it is not permitted to take payment.

מַאי שְׁנָא מִדְרָשׁ דְּלָא — דִּכְתִיב: ״וְאֹתִי צִוָּה ה׳ בָּעֵת הַהִיא לְלַמֵּד אֶתְכֶם״, וּכְתִיב: ״רְאֵה לִמַּדְתִּי אֶתְכֶם חֻקִּים וּמִשְׁפָּטִים כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוַּנִי ה׳״, מָה אֲנִי בְּחִנָּם — אַף אַתֶּם נָמֵי בְּחִנָּם. מִקְרָא נָמֵי בְּחִנָּם

The Gemara asks: In what way is midrash different from מִקְרָא, that one may not take payment for teaching it? Based on that which is written in the Torah, where מֹשֶׁה said to the people: “And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and laws” (וְאֹתִ֞י צִוָּ֤ה יְהֹוָה֙ בָּעֵ֣ת הַהִ֔וא לְלַמֵּ֣ד אֶתְכֶ֔ם חֻקִּ֖ים וּמִשְׁפָּטִ֑ים [Devarim 4:14]), and also that which is written: “Behold, I have taught you statutes and laws, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do so in the midst of the land where you go in to possess it” (רְאֵ֣ה ׀ לִמַּ֣דְתִּי אֶתְכֶ֗ם חֻקִּים֙ וּמִשְׁפָּטִ֔ים כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוַּ֖נִי יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהָ֑י לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת כֵּ֔ן בְּקֶ֣רֶב הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַתֶּ֛ם בָּאִ֥ים שָׁ֖מָּה לְרִשְׁתָּֽהּ [Devarim 4:5]) — הקבּ״ה said: Just as I teach you for free, without payment, you to shall also teach for free. There should be no difference between מִקְרָא and midrash, and מִקְרָא too, like midrash, should be taught for free.

רַב אָמַר: שְׂכַר שִׁימּוּר. וְרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן אָמַר: שְׂכַר פִּיסּוּק טְעָמִים – Rav said: As מִקְרָא is typically taught to children, one who teaches מִקְרָא takes payment for watching the children. And Rabbi Yocḥanan said: He takes payment for teaching punctuation of the text with cantillation notes (“trup”).

What does Rav mean by שְׂכַר שִׁימּוּר? Essentially it’s babysitting! As Tosafos says:

שכר שימור – שמשמר מלמד תינוקות שלא ילכו אנה ואנה אבל מדרש אינו צריך ללמוד כ”א לגדול שאינו צריך שימור כבן עשר למשנה

To which the רא״ש adds that one is deriving benefit from helping little kids stay out of trouble and aiding their development of good midos:

שכר שימור. נוטלין על נערים קטנים הלומדים מקרא לשמרם שלא ילכו ברחובות ובשוקין ויזיקו ויחנכו לדברים רעים

And why is one allowed to be compensated for teaching children the cantillation notes (“trup”, or how to “lein”)?

The רא״ש explains: לנגן המקראות כהלכתן ולאו דאורייתא הוא ושרי ליטול שכר עליו – since teaching trup isn’t a mitzvah מִדְאוֹרַיתָא.

See the source image

Let’s Zoom ahead to a stretch of Gemara that poses the intriguing question of whether one can teach a minor something new in chinuch on Shabbos:

מֵיתִיבִי: תִּינוֹקוֹת לֹא קוֹרִין בַּתְּחִילָּה בַּשַּׁבָּת, אֶלָּא שׁוֹנִין בָּרִאשׁוֹן. בִּשְׁלָמָא לְמַאן דְּאָמַר שְׂכַר פִּיסּו טְעָמִים — הַיְינוּ דְּאֵין קוֹרִין בַּתְּחִילָּה בַּשַּׁבָּת. אֶלָּא לְמַאן דְּאָמַר שְׂכַר שִׁימּוּר, אַמַּאי אֵין קוֹרִין בַּתְּחִילָּה בַּשַּׁבָּת, וְאַמַּאי שׁוֹנִין בָּרִאשׁוֹן? הָא אִיכָּא שְׂכַר שִׁימּוּר דְּשַׁבָּת!

The Gemara raises an objection from a baraisa: Children may not learn a passage in the Torah for the first time on Shabbos; however, they may review a passage that they already learned once. Granted, according to the one who says that payment for teaching מִקְרָא is for teaching punctuation of the text with trup, this is the reason that children may not read a passage in the Torah for the first time on Shabbos, as it would be necessary to pay the teacher. However, according to the one who says it is payment for watching the children, why may children not read a passage in the chumash for the first time on Shabbos? And why may children review a passage that they already learned once? Isn’t there payment for watching the children on Shabbos in both cases?

The bottom line here for me is that we’re talking about someone giving Bar Mitzvah lessons in learning how to read the Torah or Haftorah. And to solve the problem, one should take a “case fee” rather than charging by the lesson. That way one isn’t being paid directly for a teaching lesson being given on Shabbos.

On a related note (no pun intended), the Gemara subsequently proceeds to elaborate on the nature of “trup” as well as poetic license for what is known as “קְרִי” – what is read in the chumash or from the Torah, versus “כְּתִיב” – what is actually written. This is part of the mastery of learning how to be a Ba’al Koreh, as distinct from what the Sofer has to write. For example, the Gemara says:

אָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק: מִקְרָא סוֹפְרִים, וְעִיטּוּר סוֹפְרִים, וְקַרְיָין וְלָא כְּתִיבָן, וּכְתִיבָן וְלָא קַרְיָין — הֲלָכָה לְמֹשֶׁה מִסִּינַי

So this knowledge of the distinction between קְרִי and כְּתִיב is part of what has been received through the millenia via הֲלָכָה לְמֹשֶׁה מִסִּינַי. The Stack Exchange as a great discussion about this which includes in part the following: “Abarbanel also prefers the Kri over the Ktiv. He offers two explanations for this phenomenon: 1) He suggests that Ezra and the sages (Anshei Knesset HaGdola) had Moshe’s original Torah, but they found words that were difficult to understand, perhaps indicative of hidden meanings, etc. but added the Kri in order to provide a simple meaning to the text. 2) Regarding the phenomenon elsewhere in the Tanach, he considers them to be artifacts of the speakers and authors. For instance, Yechezkel wrote down his prophesies and recorded his speeches and his discussions with others, and the original ktiv reflects the natural but incomplete way in which people speak. The Kri are the amendments by Ezra to help the reader understand the original intention.”

Let me give you an example from my bar mitzvah parsha, Bamidbar. There is a pasuk which is printed as: אֵ֚לֶּה (קריאי) הָעֵדָ֔ה נְשִׂיאֵ֖י מַטּ֣וֹת אֲבוֹתָ֑ם רָאשֵׁ֛י אַלְפֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל הֵֽם. But it isn’t read as קריאי, rather as קְרוּאֵ֣י. Invariably someone in the Congregation will yell out “קֽרִיאֵי” to correct the Ba’al Koreh, when in fact that Ba’al Koreh is accurate in reading קְרוּאֵ֣י.

The Gemara also mentions here the concept of the “crowns”, as a Sofer will adorn the words. If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because we covered it in Kesubos. Permit to to excerpt what I wrote in the Blog Yomi then:

 אמר לפניו רבש”ע מי מעכב על ידך אמר לו אדם אחד יש שעתיד להיות בסוף כמה דורות ועקיבא בן יוסף שמו שעתיד לדרוש על כל קוץ וקוץ תילין תילין של הלכות

Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav: When Moshe ascended on High, he found the Holy One, Blessed be He, sitting and tying crowns on the letters of the Torah. Moshe said before G-d: Master of the Universe, who is preventing You from giving the Torah without these additions? G-d said to him: There is a man who is destined to be born after several generations, and Akiva ben Yosef is his name; he is destined to derive from each and every thorn of these crowns mounds upon mounds of halachot. It is for his sake that the crowns must be added to the letters of the Torah.

As an aside, you will see the crowns as mentioned here atop certain letters when you look in a Sefer Torah.

All three kinds of letters can be seen in this detail of a mezuzah, provided by Rabbi Yosef Y. Rabin, Craft Sofer.

Lastly, Rabbi Stern cited the Gemara in Bava Basra (10a):

רַב פָּפָּא הֲוָה סָלֵיק בְּדַרְגָּא אִישְׁתְּמִיט כַּרְעֵיהּ בָּעֵי לְמִיפַּל אֲמַר הַשְׁתָּא (כֵּן) [כּוּ] אִיחַיַּיב מַאן דְּסָנֵי לַן כִּמְחַלְּלֵי שַׁבָּתוֹת וּכְעוֹבְדֵי עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה אֲמַר לֵיהּ חִיָּיא בַּר רַב מִדִּפְתִּי לְרַב פָּפָּא שֶׁמָּא עָנִי בָּא לְיָדְךָ וְלֹא פִּרְנַסְתּוֹ

Rav Pappa was once climbing up a ladder when his foot slipped and he almost fell. He said: Now, is the one who hates us, a euphemism for himself, liable like Shabbos desecrators and idol worshippers, who are subject to death by stoning, which is similar to death by falling, the punishment that Rav Pappa narrowly escaped? Chiya bar Rav of Difti said to Rav Pappa: Perhaps a poor person once approached you and you did not sustain him, and therefore you were given a glimpse of the punishment that you actually deserve.

The Vilna Gaon observes, on what basis did Chiya bar Rav make this suggestion to Rav Pappa? From the pasuk which states:

כִּֽי־פָתֹ֧חַ תִּפְתַּ֛ח אֶת־יָדְךָ֖ ל֑וֹ וְהַעֲבֵט֙ תַּעֲבִיטֶ֔נּוּ דֵּ֚י מַחְסֹר֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר יֶחְסַ֖ר לֽוֹ – when you open your hands to the needy. כִּֽי־פָתֹ֧חַ תִּפְתַּ֛ח. Look at what the trup is under פָתֹ֧חַ תִּפְתַּ֛ח: a darga and a svir.

People surrounding ladders with missing rungs

The darga, the Vilan Gaon points out, means “rung of a ladder” in Aramaic, and svir means broken. So if one has the opportunity to give צְדָקָה to people in need, and doesn’t do so, the trup alludes to the fact that his climb up the rungs of the ladder will become tenuous.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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1 Response to Blog Yomi – Nedarim #36/Daf 37

  1. doctuhdon says:

    The darga, the Vilan Gaon points out, means “rung of a ladder” in Aramaic, and svir means broken.

    Excellent insight !

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