“Talmud Torah keneged kulam,” is a commonly heard phrase from the Gemara usually translated as “Learning Torah is equal to all of [the other mitzvot].” What practical relevance does this teaching have in how Jews should live their lives?
During vacation periods, Rabbi Netanel Danto has coordinated special learning incentive programs for MTA talmidim who want to take on extra learning. This past Pesach break, over 75 students participated and combined for over 500 hours of learning!
At the annual Bein Hasedarim Raffle last week, where pizza was served and winners were selected from the raffle tickets acquired by learning Torah outside of yeshiva, Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Taubes addressed the previous question. He gave a different explanation of talmud Torah keneged kulam, one with great bearing on each and every Jew. The word keneged, explained Rabbi Taubes, means “is equal to,” but also carries the additional meaning of “opposite” or “corresponding to.” Perhaps what the Gemara means to say is that keneged kulam, corresponding to everything in life, the secular and mundane, is Torah. Torah should be the backdrop to all other activities. This means that even though all time cannot be spent engaging in Torah study— even the biggest masmid needs to take care of personal needs and obligations— talmud Torah needs to be the “default activity,” the go-to, whenever there is a spare moment. By spending time learning outside of yeshiva, continued Rabbi Taubes, the participants of the Bein Hasedarim learning program have given an example of talmud Torah keneged kulam. Rabbi Taubes concluded with a bracha that all the students should all be zocheh to make their commitment to talmud Torah keneged kulam an essential part of their lives.
Rabbi Taubes then drew the winning raffle tickets. Senior Eli Fink won the $100 prize, continuing his winning streak from last year’s raffle! Freshmen Kovi Pahmer and Avi Katanov won the two $150 prizes. Finally, the winner of the grand prize of $1000 was freshman Nate Rappaport. Mazel tov to all raffle winners and all participants — get ready for next year’s learning program!