Omer Learning: Day 39

The Count

Tonight we count the following day of the Omer:

Today is 39 days, which is 5 weeks and 4 days of the Omer

See: The blessings and procedure for counting the Omer.

Today’s Learning

Pirkei Avot 6:6 tells us: Greater is learning Torah than the priesthood and than royalty, for royalty is acquired by thirty stages, and the priesthood by twenty-four, but the Torah by forty-eight things.

The 39th way is: Who leads him on to truth

From our community:

While we have been studying this text for a few weeks already as part of Pirkei Avot, the last chapter of Pirkei Avot is not originally found at the end of it. There are many teachings from the same time that didn’t make it to the original edition of the Mishnah, by Rabbi Yehuda haNasi – we call them braitot (singular, braita). Some of these teachings make their way into the Talmud when quoted by a sage during an argument. A collection of these teachings made its way to the Pirkei Avot later on as part of another rabbinic tradition – studying Pirkei Avot between Pesach and Shavuot, similarly to what we are doing right now. Check out the following link by Rav Moshe Taragin:

“The sixth perek of Pirkei Avot is not an organic part of Rabbi Yehuda Ha-nasi’s original redaction. The sixth chapter contains a series of statements celebrating the study of Torah, its salutary impact upon people and the type of effort which must be harnessed to acquire Torah. It originated as a ‘beraita’ (non-canonized Tanaittic passage) containing multiple authors. Customarily, the five original sections of Pirkei Avot were, and are, recited during the intervening weeks between Pesach and Shavuot. As there are typically six weeks, the final Shabbat of this period – immediately prior to Shavuot – did not enjoy a ‘natural’ perek of the original five chapters. To rectify this imbalance, Rabbi Meir’s beraita was ‘grafted’ onto the original five chapters, creating a six-chapter series. Its veneration of Torah study made it the perfect complement to pre-Shavuot planning.”

The begining of chapter 6 praises those who study Torah just for the sake of studying it, which means that there is an intrinsic value in the study itself, besides anything that one can learn from it. Despite the fact that the whole purpose of studying Torah lishma (for its own sake) is that we don’t need to derive any other benefit from it, I want to share with you some of the benefits I find in learning Torah lishma anyway. For me, learning Torah lishma reignites my passion for Torah; it’s something that I do out of pleasure for randomly choosing passages and commentaries, leading me to search for other books and learn from the whole enterprise. Learning Torah lishma also connects me with long standing Jewish tradition and Jewish identity; It’s a learning that helps me learn more about myself, my shared narrative with other students of Torah.
–Rav Natan

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