Ameilus B’Torah vs Email-Us the Torah

It is quite clear that Torah is the foundation on which our service of Hashem is built. To the degree to which we know and understand Torah is to the degree to which we can properly serve Hashem. To attain the proper knowledge we need to be Ameil B’Torah – toil in Torah, which means to work hard.

A friend pointed out that in our comfort zone age, Ameilus B’Torah is being replaced with Email-us the Torah. Of course there is tremendous value in the Parsha vorts, but they can not replace the hard work necessary to further our spiritual growth. If you want an online Parsha source which often provides a degree of depth, check out Rabbi Nosson Weisz. In this week’s parsha Rabbi Weisz brings down a Gemora:

“For this let every devout one pray to You at a time when ‘it’ happens.” (Psalms 32:6)

Rabbi Chanina said that ‘it’ refers to a woman; that is to say, even the devout should pray to God to be sure to merit a good wife. Rabbi Yochanan said that ‘it’ refers to burial; the devout should pray to God to merit a proper burial. (Talmud, Berochot 8a)

He then goes on to examine the linkage between burial and marriage as exemplified in this week’s parsha. Check it out.

So here’s a potential weekly Parsha toilage plan:
1) Start with Rabbi Rietti’s outline to get the whole picture of the Parsha
2) Then read the Parsha twice in Hebrew and once with an explanation as prescribed by the halacha. Many people use Rashi to fulfill this requirement, but poskim have stated that you can use the Artscroll Stone Chumash for the explanation.
3) Pick a commentator who goes a little deeper and causes some degree of brain pain.

You can’t email your ameilus but after your ameilus, the emails are even sweeter.

Here is Rabbi Rietti’s outline of Chayei Sarah. You can purchase the entire outline of the Chumash for the low price of $14.

Chayei Sarah
#23 Sarah’s Buriel
#24 Eliezer Finds Wife for Yitschak
#25 Generations of Yishmael

#23 Sarah Dies 127
* Sarah died 127 years old
* Avraham buys buriel site from Efron HaHitee for 400 Silver shekel
* Sarah’s buriel

#24 Eliezer Finds Wife for Yitschak
* Avraham reaches old age
* Eliezer swears to Avraham
* Eliezer’s deal with G-d
* Rivkah comes to the well
* Rivkah enters Sarah’s tent

#25 Generations of Yishmael
* Avraham remarries Hagar (Ketura)
* Six more sons born to Avraham from Hagar
* Avraham gives all his wealth to Yitschak
* Avraham dies 175
* Avraham is buried in Cave of Machpeila
* Generations of Yishmael
* Yishmael dies 137

13 comments on “Ameilus B’Torah vs Email-Us the Torah

  1. AJ, yes it’s up to each of us to allocate our time, which makes sense since we each face a different environment and set of challenges.

    Finding your own path applies to so many areas in Judaism. A path is defined, yet it is wide enough that there is more that one route on that path.

    As far as Beyond BT, there is certainly Torah learning, chizuk, inspiration and lots of Chesed involved, so please stick around. In terms of overall Web surfing, we each need to decide what is necessary and what can be cut down. And we all know how cunning the Yetzer Hara is in this area.

  2. Mark,

    So basically it is up to the individual to create a good mix, with emphasis on increasing learning time? (are you also telling me to get off your website and learn a little more? :))

  3. AC, I talked to a number of people about this on Shabbos and Sunday include Rabbi Welcher. Here are my findings:

    1) Torah, Service, Tefillah, Parnasa, Children and leisure activities are all important and each person needs to work on the proper mix of time allocation depending on their situation.

    2) Almost everybody can add to the time allocated to learning. The best way to proceed is to increase it in small increments like 5-10 minutes a day and to make set times for learning (kovaya itim).

    3) Leisure activities like newspapers, tv, movies, web surfing, etc.. can usually be reduced to allow more time for learning. We have to be honest as to how much we really need.

  4. The men in my community find some very clever ways to fit maximum Torah into minimum time. For more than eight years, there has been a daily shiur on the Long Island Rail Road. The LIRR gave permission and so the guys run after davening to catch the commuter train, knowing that the shiur is held in the next-to-last car. They actually made a Siyum on Gantz Shas (this during time that normally would be wasted on reading a newspaper).

    Other men wake up really early and attend shiurim at 4:30 AM and 5:30 AM before the first morning minyan.

    My husband continues to learn with Rabbi Avigdor Miller even though Rav Miller was niftar more than eight years ago. He has a whole box of tapes from Rabbi Miller’s Gemara lectures. My husband puts a tape in the tape recorder, plugs in the earphones, takes out his Gemara and his thin pencil, and learns with his beloved Rebbe once again. This can be done at any time of day or night, even on lunch hour or while riding on commuter transit.

    Don’t forget that after 120 years, the Aibershter asks us, “Were you kovaya ittim (did you make regular time periods for Torah study)?” The question is not whether we learned Shas a dozen times, it’s whether we cleared our busy schedules and appointment calendars and set aside regular periods in our lives for learning Torah.

  5. Everyone’s time is finite, and there is infinite Torah to learn. Is there a source where there is a list of priorities (and percentages?)

    Here are some examples:

    1) Learning Torah
    2) Parnasa
    3) Community service (chevra kadisha, visiting sick, preparing for guests, etc.)
    4) Teaching ones children
    5) Tefillah
    6) You name it

  6. CJ, I just Googled for your article “Where Has All the Ameilus Gone” and Google responded “Did you mean: Where Has All the Emails Gone”. Hmmm.

    Nathan, perhaps you can apply Rabbi Yisroel Salanter’s answer to the question of:

    “I only have 10 minutes to learn, what should I learn?”,

    to which he replied:

    “Learn mussar (character development) and then you’ll find that you have more the 10 minutes. to learn.”

    The reality is that many/most people face this problem and a possible path to a solution is:

    1) Work on internalizing the belief that Torah learning is the root of all our spiritual growth

    2) Realize that your Torah learning is the must valuable activity you can perform

    3) Gradually work more Torah learning and deeper Torah learning into your schedule

  7. Nathan-One has to maximize one’s spare time-for commuters, tapes and MP3 downloads are an excellent way to learn. Learning even a short time every day is better than letting a library collect dust. I second Mark’s POV. Parsha sheets and the like should whet one’s appetite, but never serve as a substitute for Ameilus BaTorah.

  8. Nathan,

    I do commute, work late Mon-Thurs, and do the other activities you mentioned, but have time at night to study Torah. Not the deepest study, but study it is. Grab what you can when you can! If you commute and are not driving, that time can also be put to use. Some people are also able to play Torah study or lecture tapes while driving, but this could be an unsafe distraction for some.

  9. Most Orthodox Jews work very hard at their jobs, and most work to accumulate overtime from Monday to Thursday, so they can leave early on Fridays and not come to work on Yom Tov.

    Between work, commuting time. prayer times, shopping, paying bills, laundry, cooking, there is little time and even less energy to study Torah.

  10. Nehama Leibowitz would be proud. She actually objected when asked to publish her ‘New Studies’ with answers and directions to the questions. In her original gilyonot she presented text and challenging questions, and then left the participant to sweat it out and await answers later.

    Undoubtedly, her dictum was that the attainment in learning was proportional to the ‘brain pain’ invested.

  11. Yasher Koach, Mark, for raising a critical issue. I make a similar point in my essay “Where Has All the Ameilus Gone?” I love, love, love that phrase “email-us Torah.” I am beyond envious that I didn’t think of it myself. I will use it and credit your friend via you.

    FYI: the verb form of ameilus is “ameil,” as in “We need to be ameil baTorah…”

  12. I have also had the Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (purple) chumash suggested an acceptable translation with explanation for this purpose.

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