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April 16, 2014 | 16th Nisan 5774

Jews who translate Torah into our lives through ethical behavior

Rabbi Tarfon and the other rabbis were once staying ...in Lydda, when the question was raised before them: Is study greater or practice? Rabbi Tarfon said: Practice is greater. Rabbi Akiva said: Study is greater. Then they all answered and said: Study is greater for it leads to practice. (Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin, 40b)

Fifteen characteristics are mentioned of a Talmid Chacham and they are: He is pleasant when he comes in (and when he leaves), he is unassuming in his academy, discerning in his fear of God, genuinely wise, wise in his ways, he gathers knowledge and remembers, he answers fully, makes his questions relevant, and replies in accordance with the accepted decisions, listens and adds something novel of his own to each and every chapter, spends time with a sage, and learns in order to teach and practice. (B Talmud, Derech Eretz Zuta 3)

Talmud Torah K'neged kulam/But the study of Torah encompasses them all--The study of Torah offers the knowledge of what is right and how to live justly. Jewish study includes the expectation that the lessons will be applied to life. (Mishkan T'filah, pg 44)

There are those who mistakenly think that world peace can only come when there is a unity of opinions and character traits. Therefore, when scholars and students of Torah disagree, and develop multiple approaches and methods, they think that they are causing strife and opposing shalom. In truth, it is not so, because true shalom is impossible without appreciating the value of pluralism intrinsic in shalom. The various pieces of peace come from a variety of approaches and methods which make it clear how much each one has a place and a value that complements one another. Even those methods, which appear superfluous or contradictory, possess an element of truth, which contributes to the mosaic of shalom. Indeed, in all the apparent disparate approaches lies the light of truth and justice, knowledge, fear and love, and the true light of Torah. (Rav Kook, Olat HaRe'iah)

Comments

Micah Lapidus

January 16, 2012
11:39 AM

Director of Jewish and Hebrew Studies

If study does not lead to action does it have any value in a Jewish context?

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Micah Lapidus

January 17, 2012
02:28 PM

Rabbi

Regarding the talmid hacham: one of my favorite passages that I've encountered in Talmud is: "Talmid hacham sh'ein lo derech eretz-- nevelah hu." A talmid hacham who isn't a mentsch, doesn't respect all people, and have basic manners-- that's not a talmid hacham, in fact, he or she is nevilah (literally, not kosher).

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