Since there are no Rabbi Frand shiurim on the Parsha until Elul, I would like to substitute a vort from other Rabbanim each week, rather than leaving the blog without a vort for shabbos. This week, I am attempting to repeat a vort heard from R' Eli Mansour as recorded on www.learntorah.com. Same rules as usual apply - I have attempted to reproduce the vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to the maggid shiur.
In Devarim 14:22, the Torah states the mitzva of giving tithes (Ma'aser). R' Mansour mentioned that in an agrarian society, the tithe came from wheat, but in our time it is from money. He also quoted the gemara which makes a play on the words used for the mitzva of ma'aser --aser ti'aser which is literally translated as you shall give tithe. However the gemara in Ta'anis uses the word become wealthy --give ma'aser so that you will become wealthy.
R' Mansour quoted the story in the gemara where a child coming out of school was asked what did you learn today? He said that we learned this pasuk. R' Yochanan then taught him, give ma'aser so that you become wealthy.
The medrash on this states that the wise man goes to the right, but the imbecile to the left. But what does this mean and how does wisdom connect with charity?
R' Mansour explained that the fool prays, but is looking for how many pages are left in the book (on the left side of the siddur) while the wise man looks at the right to see how much he has accomplished. The same can be said about learning, where the wise man is happy about how much ground he has covered, while the fool says the book is so long...
R' Mansour developed this thought by drawing a parallel between the work of learning and the giving of charity. He quoted the Kedushas Tzion who cites a gemara which states that in divrei Torah a person can be poor in one place but wise in another. There may be scant commentary on a sugya when it is mentioned in one gemara, but the footnote tells you that it is also mentioned in another mesechta where there is more explanation.
R' Mansour gave another explanation. He said that when one starts learning gemara, it can be very discouraging, quoting a medrash on Bereishis 1:2 where the Torah states that there was darkness on the surface of the deep, that the pasuk refers to the Talmud Bavli which is dark and challenging. But after one gets bearing, the brain clicks in and the gemara can be understood.
Applying this to the gemara, when a person is a young man the Torah may be very challenging and he feels "poor" in knowledge, but when he has more background in learning and he can pick up more, he feels "wealthy."
There is also a gemara in Megillah which states that a person who states ya'gati u'matzati --I worked and I found, he can be believed. This applies in the case of Torah, a person who toiled in learning Torah and says that he benefited and retained, should be believed. It may be hard in the beginning when you are working hard. But every great Rabbi had a period of toiling before it clicks. And when the person finally does have a retention and deeper understanding, he feels like he has found something.
R' Mansour said that giving charity is the same thing. A person may only feel a loss when he gives the tithe. He may look at the recipient while looking at his own bills and say, I could use that money to pay my bills. In so doing, he only looks to the current state. To this R' Yochanan consoles --you need to see the long term, the giving of the tzedakah will lead to wealth. Don't be the fool that only looks to your own financial needs, realize that giving the money will have a return. In the same way, dont be discouraged that the learning is heavy and that there are so many pages in the book. Do the work and it will come back to benefit you in the long term.
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