July 14, 2024
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July 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Capitalizing on Another’s Study of Torah

Last year I sent an email to a potential donor asking to speak with him about our new building campaign for our yeshiva. No reply. A few days later I saw this same person walking out of Maariv at a nearby shul, so I approached him about the email. “Could we possibly set a time to meet in person about our new building?” I asked. He replied, “I’m involved in different institutions and if I give to you, I’ll be taking away from them, so I’m sorry I won’t meet with you.”

I was taken aback. I admit it. But I reminded myself that I’m the one offering him an opportunity to support a unique makom (place) where adults from all backgrounds can come to learn quality Torah. If he chooses not to give, he’s the one passing on a great opportunity. If Hashem wants our yeshiva to thrive, Hashem will send the money through different means.

The very next morning I received an email from a different individual whom I had not contacted. “I have been trying to reach your yeshiva for the past three days. I want to make a year-end donation. Please contact me ASAP.” I called him right away and he gave a large unsolicited donation. That’s how Hashem works: we do our hishtadlus (due diligence) and somehow Hashem helps us reach our goal.

The relationship between the supporters of Torah and those who dedicate themselves to full-time Torah study is depicted in Parshas Vayechi.

In Parshas Vayechi we have the brachos (blessings) Yaakov gave to his children, including his sons Zevulun and Yissachar. Yissachar is the shevet (tribe) of Torah scholars. Zevulun is the shevet of businessmen who partner with Yissachar by providing them monetary support so they can dedicate themselves to rigorous Torah study. In what appears to be a surprise move, Yaakov blessed Zevulun the businessman first. Why?

The Seforno explains that Shevet Yissachar would not be able to dedicate themselves to Torah learning without the monetary support provided by Zevulun. When a person helps his friend to dedicate himself to Torah study, the credit of that Torah study goes to both of them. Since Zevulun’s monetary support enables Yissachar to dedicate himself to Torah study, Zevulun is listed first. Indeed, we see this same pattern when Moshe later blesses the shevatim before his passing in Parshas Zos Habracha.

The Seforno continues this theme and states that when the Gemara tells us “Every Jew has a portion in the world to come,’’ that portion is gained through Torah study. In order to give every Jew a chance to gain a share in the next world, Hashem created the practice of investing in Torah study. All those who help support Torah study gain a share both in Torah study and in the next world. This explains why Shevet Levi did not have or need a portion of the land during the time of the Beis Hamikdash. Shevet Levi was dedicated to full-time Torah study in addition to their work in the Beis Hamikdash and were supported by the nation through their giving terumos and maseros (tithes) to the kohanim and levi’im as required by the Torah..

Even a good investment normally has a risk for a loss, but the Seforno says that supporting Torah learning is a guaranteed investment. When we support a Torah scholar or a yeshiva we are buying shares in their Torah study and building up our own share in the world to come. Such an investment is always growing!!

Nonetheless, there is an extra fringe benefit to the person who is actually doing the Torah learning, besides his sharing equally in the benefit of his study with the investor who makes it possible.

The Kli Yakar explains that Zevulun the businessman has to travel all over, and even when he stays in one place his mind is distracted as he is thinking about all his different businesses and supplies in different locations. Yisachar, meanwhile, is sitting in a yeshiva and focused in one place; he is much more calm and settled.

Even while supporting Torah study, every Jewish man must dedicate some amount of time for daily Torah study, both in the morning and in the evening, as the Torah states, “One should toil in Torah study in the day and the night.” At the same time, let’s remember that this “toiling” is the most relaxing way to start and end each day. By delving into a sefer—even a difficult one—a person finds his ultimate reward and peace of mind: nourishing his soul, growing his spiritual “investment” account, and being at one with his purpose in this world—to serve and connect with Hashem.


Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch, where he leads a multi-level Gemara-learning program. PTI has attracted adult Jews of all ages from all over northern New Jersey for its learning programs. Fees are not charged but any contributions are always welcome. Beyond PTI, Rabbi Bodenheim conducts a weekly beis midrash program with chavrusa learning in Livingston plus a monthly group in West Caldwell. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its Torah classes, visit pti.shulcloud.com. 

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