Friday, February 19, 2010

A Temporary Remedy

The Chofetz Chaim, zt”l, recounted that once a certain gadol hador encountered a student who had been very diligent in the past but had fallen from his former good habits. The gadol rebuked him gently, “My esteemed pupil, it is true that you now have many children and can no longer learn like you once did. But why not at least learn one daf a day or a chapter of mishnayos like the rest of the baal habatim in your community?”
“I am used to learning ten daf a day in ten hours,” the former masmid explained. “When I am able to make the time I will go back to this. But what is one daf or a chapter of mishnayos for someone like me?”
The gadol tried to dispel his former student’s error with a parable. “Once, a certain person was very ill and after extensive treatment the doctor warned him that he must not go to the bathhouse for a full year since the heat and humidity could kill him. After a few months the sick man’s desire to go to the bathhouse overcame his natural caution and he went despite the doctor’s orders. While he was there he started to fall ill from overheating just like the doctor had warned and he realized that he must cool himself off immediately. He recalled that there was a cooler mikveh in one part of the bathhouse and he rushed to it, only to find the gate locked. But when someone noticed he was not well he immediately rushed outside and brought back a bucket of water from outside, with which he sprinkled this man’s heart and head to somewhat revive him. This sick man would surely never think to refuse this little bit of water because he really needs to immerse in the pool of cooler water. He needs whatever he can get and hopes it will be enough to revive him. The same is true with you. If you can’t learn with diligence, at the very least you should learn a daf a day since this will give you some relief in the next world. Every daf gemara or mishnah will be a great source of joy in the ultimate future!”

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