The Jewish Eye
The Dead Ox and A Living Torah
Two former Yeshiva students came to Bais Din to argue their business dispute. Neither of them was particularly learned and neither had much success in their Yeshiva days. They both agreed on the exact details of the facts and they argued the merits of their claim before the court. After intelligent and convincing arguments from both parties one Dayan turned to his friend in amazement and said, “They both have valid claims. One is using the logic of the Ketzos and the other is saying exactly what the Nesivos says! How can it be that these two less than stellar Yeshiva bochurim turned into Lamdonim overnight, and they can’t read a Tosfos!?!
The Dayan replied, “this must be pshat in the Pasuk (Mishlei 2:4). Im Tivakshena KaKesef U’ChiMatmonin TiChapsena, Az Tavin Yiras Hashem; if you will seek the torah like money and search for it like treasures, then you will understand the fear of Hashem." In Yeshiva the gemara did not inspire them and their minds were turned off. In the business world where they are trying to earn money, their brains are working full force.” That is how the story is told.
It is true that our gemara deals with a world of oxen goring each other and other ancient disputes. Themes like that have trouble competing with modern day attractions. People often feel like the Torah is outdated. In truth it is not. It is very much alive. It is a Toras Chaim for all generations. The challenge is for us to apply it to our modern day escapades. Look at all the intricate Tshuvos that our poskim need to answer nowadays. All their responses are rooted in those very same pages that are filled with Reuven and Shimon’s long ago dead cow.
Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky was known to say that a good future poseik is someone who when he learns the gemara in Yeshiva, he already sees before him all the real world questions that this gemara may affect. When you sit down with a gemara you should understand that every word is alive and precious no matter the topic. The Torah is alive and well. It may be our mind that is in a deep slumber. Wake up and don’t go the way of the ox.
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