May 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h.

This week we learned Zevachim 2. These are some highlights.

Zevachim 2: Can you sell your portion in the World To Come?

A man was in need of funds. He told his friend, “If you give me 20 rubles, I will give you a quarter of my share in the World to Come.” The friend gave him 20 rubles. He gave the friend a signed document stating that the friend was entitled to a quarter of his World-to-Come rewards. The seller’s financial position improved. The seller wanted to get his World to Come back. He approached the buyer and offered to give him the 20 rubles. The buyer refused to revoke the deal. He refused to take the money back. The man brought his problem to Rav Shlomo Kluger. Was he now stuck? Was there no way for him to regain his entire reward for the World to Come?

Rav Shlomo Kluger (Shu”t Tuv Ta’am Veda’at Mahadura Kamma Siman 217) told the seller that he was a fortunate man. If the buyer did not want his money back, he was the fool. It is impossible to sell a spiritual matter. The World to Come is not physical, it is spiritual. It had never been sold. It cannot be bought and sold. The buyer was foolish in not accepting his funds back. He would not get any more reward in the World to Come just because he had given money to the seller. Our Gemara seems to present a problem to this point of view.

In our mishna, the mishna discusses a problem that might happen to a sacrifice. What is the law when a sin offering, like a chatat, was slaughtered with the declared intent that it was an olah? Does the sacrifice become disqualified? The mishna quotes the view of Shimon, the brother of Azaryah, about this question. Rashi explains that Shimon was busy learning Torah and Azaryah was a businessman engaged in trade. Azaryah supported Shimon. Half of Shimon’s learning therefore belonged to his brother Azarya, hence the name Shimon, brother of Azaryah. The merit for learning is something spiritual and intangible. How did Azaryah purchase it? Didn’t we learn that spiritual matters, like rewards in the future world, cannot be bought and sold?

Shu”t Tuv Ta’am Veda’at provides an answer to this question. Azaryah supported Shimon before he even began to learn. Azaryah enabled Shimon to learn. Since Azaryah’s financial support caused Shimon’s learning, Azaryah is considered by Jewish law and the Almighty to have an equal share in the learning. The learning happened because of him. He was the initiator; he therefore deserves reward for it. In the case brought to Rav Shlomo Kluger, a man had already done mitzvot, earned a portion in the World to Come, and then tried to sell part of his World to Come. You cannot sell an item that is not physical. No sale took effect on his portion of the World to Come. Our mishna is not a contradiction to that. In our mishna we are learning that if you help make a mitzvah happen, you deserve equal credit to the one who actually performed the mitzvah.

Aruch Hashulchan (Yoreh Dei’ah Siman 246:8) also makes this distinction. The following is a paraphrase of his words: “You cannot sell or gift away to someone else the rewards you have earned in the World to Come. Each person will get the reward for his hard-earned achievements. No one else can purchase those eternal moments. But, if at the beginning, before a mitzvah is done, you have a partner who provides you with the financial security to enable you to go out and learn while feeling peace of mind, he and you did the mitzvah together and he deserves reward equal to what you will receive.”

The arrangement between Shimon and Azaryah is often called a Yissachar-Zevulun partnership. Rashi (Devarim 33:18) teaches that the brothers Yissachar and Zevulun made a partnership. Zevulun was busy with all the financial arrangements. Yissachar was devoted to learning. Zevulun supported Yissachar. Half the merit of Yissachar’s learning went to Zevulun. Rav Moshe Feinstein, (Igrot Moshe Yoreh Dei’ah Cheilek Dalet Siman 37) teaches that this was not a form of charity. Yissachar was not necessarily poor. Yissachar received land in Israel. His land had glass chips in it. It had natural wealth. Rambam does not record this arrangement in the laws of charity. Rambam records it in the laws of Torah study. It was a full partnership. Zevulun would hire the workers who would take care of Yissachar’s property. Zevulun would give Yissachar half of all the profits. In return, Zevulun was entitled to half the reward for the learning of Yissachar. It was a full partnership. One took care of the physical arrangements, the other learned Torah. If a person in our days would like to make such an arrangement, Rav Moshe urges that it be a deal for two to three years. Only a significant time frame will enable the scholar to achieve greatness in learning. The businessman should promise that he will give half of his profits, during the two- to three-year period, to the scholar. The scholar will then have the peace of mind to truly focus on mastering a lot of Torah. He will achieve real greatness in Torah learning. The businessman who gave half his profits to the scholar has demonstrated that he and the scholar were full partners. The businessman will be entitled to half the reward. The learning was because of his efforts, and Hashem will reward him accordingly. (Emek Haparsha Veyechi, Mesivta)

By Rabbi Zev Reichman

Rabbi Zev Reichman teaches Daf Yomi in his shul, East Hill Synagogue.

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