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Monday, February 02, 2009

Yeshaya 59:20-21. Lo Yamushu Mipicha U'mipi Zaracha

The Gemara in Bava Metzia 85a brings that after Rav Yosef fasted forty days, the passuk in Yeshaya 59, (which we say every day in Uva Letzion,) was read to him in a dream: "Lo Yamushu Mipicha," that the words of the Torah will never go away from his mouth. He fasted another forty days, and once again, it was read to him in a dream "Lo Yamushu Mipicha Umipi Zaracha," they will never leave from your mouth nor from the mouths of your children. He fasted yet another forty days, and he was read "Lo Yamushu Mipicha Umipi Zaracha Umipi Zera Zaracha," they will not leave your mouth, nor the mouths of your children, nor the mouths of your children's children." He did not fast any more, because, he said, if three generations of his family will learn Torah, it will become their natural heritage and predilection.

When I was in Yerashalayim two weeks ago, one of the great talmidei chachamim of Yerushalayim, Rav Aryeh Bernstein, asked me the following question. Why, in the successive dreams, was the promise of "Lo Yamushu Mipicha" repeated? The second dream should have said only the additional promise of "Lo Yamushu Mipi Zaracha" and the third should have said "Lo Yamushu Mipi Zera Zaracha." Why repeat "Lo Yamushu Mipicha"?

Rav Bernstein said a teretz, I said a teretz, and an acquaintance of mine, a Rav, said a teretz. This is kind of a Rorscharch Kashe, in the sense that it is diagnostic-- the teretz people say is symptomatic of who they are. Rav Bernstein is a Brisker, a talmid of Reb Berel and among the first talmidim of Reb Avraham Yehoshua, and his teretz is perfect for a Brisker. The Rav's teretz is perfect for a Rav. My teretz is, I think, the best of the three. It is based on something my father zatzal said, so don't tell me it's diagnostic of my ga'avah. Anyway, I delete comments that smart, unless they're smart. Or, to put it differently, I moderate comments that are immoderate.

1. Brisker Teretz
The Bracha of the subsequent dreams was not just that the children will be Talmidei Chachamim. The Bracha was that the Torah his children will say will be the same Torah as that of Reb Yosef, their father. The Torah the children will have will be the Mipicha Torah. What will not be mash from their mouths? The Torah that was in your mouth.
If you've ever heard a shiur from a Brisker, you will know why this is an echt-Brisker derech. Reb Baruch Ber? Reb Shimon Shkop? Reb Elchonon? Interesting, but essentially irrelevant. The only thing worth saying over is what the Rov said. And if the Rov said it, and it doesn't seem to make any sense, you say it over anyway.

2. Rabonishe Teretz
Torah without a mesora is not Torah at all. It's only shayach Lo Yamushu Mipi Zaracha if it is received as a mesora from Mipicha. A Torah that is learned without receiving it from others is not Torah at all.

3. My Teretz
It's not shayach to give a man a bracha that his children will be talmidei chachamim. What is shayach is to give a man a bracha that his Torah will be of a quality that will resonate in his childrens' minds, and of a quality that will inspire his children to emulate him and to become talmidei chachamim like their father.

With each Dream, the "Mipicha" changed. Dream One was a bracha of "Mipicha," that he will forever learn Torah. Dream Two was a bracha that his "Mipicha" will be of a higher order-- such that his Torah will make an indelible roshem on his children, that his Torah will be of a quality that will inspire and prepare his children to become, themselves, Talmidei Chachamim. Dream Three was a bracha that his "Mipicha" will be of such magnificence that not only his children will be influenced by his learning, but that even his grandchildren will naturally be drawn to Limud Hatorah, that his Torah will invest his family with both a cheishek and a aptitude for learning. Like the Briskers.

My father zatzal used to say that the Mitzvah of Chinuch in parshas Krias Shma is put next to the Mitzvah of Limud: How can you be mekayeim "velimadetem osem es be'neichem?" Only if "vedibarta bam beshivticha be'veisecha uve'lechtecha baderech u've'shavvecha u've'kumecha." Only if you learn with pleasure and hasmada will you be able to be mechaneich your children to be Lomdei Torah.

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