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As Divided for a Regular Year
Tanya for 23 Tishrei
Therefore, my beloved ones, my brethren and friends: do not commit this great evil - [of turning a gathering of worshipers before or after prayers into a "company of scoffers]," and  "give glory unto the L-rd your G-d before it grows dark," i.e. between Minchah and Maariv every weekday,  by studying in groups of [at least] ten the innermost [i.e., the mystical] dimension of the Torah, i.e., the Aggadah contained in Ein Yaakov.
For most of the secrets of the Torah are concealed in it [i.e., in the Aggadah]; moreover, it atones man's sins, as explained in the writings of R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory. 
As to the revealed [non-mystical] passages in [the Aggadah], these are the ways of G-d in which a man ought to walk, and [they enable him] to take counsel in his soul in heavenly matters [such as Torah and mitzvot] and in worldly matters, as is known to all the wise of heart.
In addition, between Minchah and Maariv, [people] should study a little - out of the Shulchan Aruch, in [the section called] Orach Chayim - the laws that are essential for every person to know.
Of this our Sages, of blessed memory, said:  "Whoever studies Torah laws [halachot] every day [is assured of life in the World to Come]."
This refers to clear and definitive rulings that are of practical relevance, as explained in the commentary of Rashi, ad loc.  - [that the term halachot refers to final rulings, without the surrounding debates and argumentation.
This is actually explained by Rashi a little earlier in Tractate Megillah, not on the teaching about "Whoever studies halachot...," but in connection with a eulogy for someone who used to "study halachot."
In Tractate Niddah, commenting on this teaching, Rashi states that the term halachot refers to Mishnayot, Beraitot and Halachah leMoshe miSinai, none of which include the discussions of the Gemara. This is also the case with regard to the Shulchan Aruch].
On the holy Sabbath, moreover, towards the time of Minchah, [people] should occupy themselves with the laws of the Sabbath. For  "the law of Sabbath is a weighty law," [with many details to be mastered].
A person can easily stumble in it, heaven forfend, even in a prohibition punishable by extirpation or stoning, because of ignorance [of these laws], and  "an unwitting error in [observance due to insufficient] study is accounted as an intentional transgression," heaven forfend.
It goes without saying [that the same applies to] the Rabbinic injunctions which are ever so numerous, and especially so with respect to the prohibitions of muktzeh that occur frequently; and  "[infringements of] the words of the Sofrim [i.e., the Rabbinic injunctions] are more serious than [infringements of] the words of the Torah [i.e., explicit Scriptural commandments]."
As our Sages, of blessed memory, said:  "Whoever transgresses the words of the Sages," even a minor prohibition of theirs - as, for instance, he who eats before the evening prayer, and the like - "is liable to the death penalty," just like one who transgresses grave prohibitions [explicit] in the Torah. 
[At any rate, since we see from the above that it is vital that one study and know the laws of the Sabbath, they should be studied in public as the time for Minchah draws near].
And let no individual separate himself from the congregation, [when they are studying Ein Yaakov, Shulchan Aruch and the like], even in order to study something else; rather, [every individual should participate only] in whatever the congregation is busy with.
It goes without saying that one should not leave if there are not ten without him; to him [who does leave] I apply the verse,  "And those who forsake G-d [i.e., who forsake the study of His Torah] shall be consumed...," as our Sages, of blessed memory, have said  with respect to every sacred matter.
For there is no holiness like the holiness of the Torah, since  "the Torah and the Holy One, blessed be He, are entirely one."
[Strictly speaking, our Sages applied the above verse ("And those who forsake G-d shall be consumed") only to a person whose leaving bars the congregational recital of a davar shebike-dushah, a text involving the sanctification of G-d's Name, which cannot be done without a quorum of ten.
By contrast, though the quality of Torah study is enhanced by a quorum of ten, this is not a prerequisite condition.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that there is "no holiness like the holiness of the Torah": when ten Jews study together they draw down a most exalted degree of holiness and an intense indwelling of the Shechinah, as explained above.
In this sense, then, an individual whose leaving disrupts a study group of ten may be likened to one whose leaving prevents a minyan from reciting Kedushah or the like].
Moreover,  "Whoever separates himself from the community [will not merit to witness (and participate in) the community's consolation]."
Amen, may this be His will.
- (Back to text) Zohar II, 90b; see also II, 60a, and III, 73a.
- (Back to text) Cf. Yirmeyahu 13:16.
- (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "It could be suggested that the reason the Alter Rebbe does not begin by relating to Shacharit, the first prayer of the day, is that an explicit law in the Shulchan Aruch (sec. 89:4) forbids one to engage in one's personal affairs before prayer; likewise (sec. 155:1), the morning prayers must be followed by group study of the Torah (`from the House of Prayer [directly] to the House of Study')."
- (Back to text) See the Alter Rebbe's Hilchot Talmud Torah 2:2 and sources cited there (in the Kehot edition); see also the Introduction of the Ramban to Shir HaShirim.
- (Back to text) Megillah 28b; Niddah 73a.
- (Back to text) See Taz, Yoreh Deah 246:2.
- (Back to text) Shabbat 12a, and Rashi there.
- (Back to text) Avot 4:13.
- (Back to text) Yerushalmi, Berachot 4:2.
- (Back to text) Berachot 4:2.
- (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "At first glance [the question arises], what is the Alter Rebbe letting us know [that is novel]? The answer:
He is clearly expressing his dissent from the opinions that this statement is intended to be taken as mere hyperbole. See the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch 63:5; Sdei Chemed, Klalim, p. 386; Pe'at HaSadeh 8:15 (at length); Encyclopedia Talmudit, Vol. XIV, p. 599ff."
- (Back to text) Yeshayahu 1:28.
- (Back to text) Berachot 8a; Yerushalmi, Megillah 4:4.
- (Back to text) Semachot 2:10. But there the text reads, "from the ways of the congregation." See also Rambam, Hilchot Evel 1:10.
- (Back to text) Mishlei 1:33.
- (Back to text) Cf. Yirmeyahu 23:6 and 33:16.
- (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: "The relevance here [of this verse] is perhaps the teaching in Taanit 11a, that he who shares the pain of the community will merit to witness the consolation of the community. Note also beginning of Berachot 30a."
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