The Jewish Eye
Who Are You Calling Lazy?
The two great tzaddikim Rav Shmelke of Nickolsberg and his brother Rav Pinchas the Baal Hafla'ah used to learn b'chavrusa together. Unlike our learning where most of us learn a few hours each seder and then after a break we switch to a new "limud", the two brothers had no set time for stopping to learn. Not even to eat or take care of any other needs. They knew of no night or day as they opened their gemaras and entered a new realm that consisted only of the pure pleasure of learning. There they remained and kept learning until their earthly bodies gave way and passed out from exhaustion often some 20 hours after they began.
One day in the wee hours of the morning after spending the entire day and night learning, the brothers had an argument about a gemara in a different Masechta. Rav Pinchas got up from his seat to retrieve that particular Masechta from the library behind the Bais Medrash. Rav Shmelke meanwhile remained in his seat and continued to learn when suddenly he heard a loud thud. Not thinking anything of it he kept on learning. After a short while had passed and Rav Pinchas had still not returned, Rav Shmelke realized that the thud must have been his brother collapsing from exhaustion.
Rav Shmelke who wanted to continue to learn had a dilemma. Should he wake Rav Pinchas or should he leave him alone, since he did after all collapse on the floor. After thinking it over Rav Shmelke decided that he will go out to see how Rav Pinchas is lying. If he is totally sprawled out on the floor then he truly was left without an ounce of strength and he will leave him be. But if he sees that Rav Pinchas put his hand underneath his head that means that he had enough energy and the wherewithal to make himself comfortable.
When Rav Shmelke entered the library he saw Rav Pinchas lying on the floor and lo and behold his hand was underneath his head. "Get up lazy one" he bellowed as he gave him a soft kick to arouse him. "What will you do in your grave if you spend your lifetime sleeping!"...and they learned happily ever after.
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