Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Source of the Question

While it may be common for a person who has a sharp intellect to feel distinguished when he comes up with insightful questions on what he learns, it is a wrong-headed behavior. The Meor Einayim, zt”l, mentions this tendency and explains that it shows a marked lack of perspective. He asked, “How could a person studying the Toras Hashem not understand his learning? If he has a strong question, this is merely a reflection of his own flaws. I therefore don’t understand the mindset of lamdanim who are proud of their questions—the more difficult the question the more pride. Shouldn’t one feel ashamed if due to his sins he doesn’t understand? Being prideful instead of introspectively thoughtful about this is nothing less than an error. Who knows if he has a strong question due to a serious spiritual failing?” The Rav of Dzikov, zt”l, explains why this is not difficult from a statement on today’s daf. “In Menachos 95 we find that a man asked a question as hard as iron. Who was it? Rav Sheshes. Apparently, asking a difficult question is a reason to take pride. But according to the Meor Einayim having a question is a disgrace since it highlights the questioner’s sins! He concluded, “In order to understand why this is not contradiction, we must consider who Rav Sheshes was. The gemara tells us that he was blind. Of course a blind man is not obligated in mitzvos. The Pri Megadim adds that this includes even negative mitzvos. This is why specifically Rav Sheshes can take pride in his question. Since he is not obligated in Torah his question cannot be a result of his sins!”

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