This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my mother Chaya Rochel Bas Dovid Tzvi (Hareini Kaparas Mishkavah), my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my paternal grandmother Channah Freidel Bas Avraham A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein,
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandmother Shulamis Bas Etta
-MY BROTHER: MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO BEN CHAYA ROCHEL
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha
_R’ Simcha Yitzchak Ben Mirela Yudka
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of HaRav HaGa’on V’Sar HaTorah Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Ben HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky A”H, Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken by terrorists (Hashem Yikom Damam), COVID-19, and other tragedies.
-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.
Be”H, I will be translating / transcribing / paraphrasing Divrei Torah of my Rebbi, HaGaon R’ Yonason Avner Sacks Shlita. (Any inaccuracies, whether added, misrepresented, or due to omission and/or points lost in translation or context should be attributed to me alone. * = My addition.)
“Kevius HaTorah” (Shiur at Pre-Tish’ah B’Av Siyum in Great Neck, NY – 5783)
Two Brachos D’Orayisa
In Parshas Eikev we find the source in Chumash for the Mitzvah of Birchas HaMazon, the Chiyuv of Bentching. The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah #430) points out that this is one of only two examples of a Brachah D’Orayisa, the other being Birchas HaTorah.
The Ramban highlights the fact these Brachos are both Birchos Hoda’ah (blessings of thanks), of course the former thanking Hashem for sustaining us with food and latter thanking Hashem for granting us access to Eisek BaTorah (engagement in Torah).
Noting the apparent parallel between these two Brachos D’Orayisa, the Sefer HaChinuch is bothered by a simple question, in a word: “Timing.” When is the appropriate time to recite a Birchas Hoda’ah, thanking Hashem? Between these two Brachos, we find two different models, two opposite solutions. Birchas HaMazon is recited after one eats, whereas Birchas HaTorah is recited Over LaAsiyasan, upon its performance, before one learns Torah.
What, in fact, is the fundamental difference between eating food and Talmud Torah?
Hana’as HaGuf vs. Hana’as HaNefesh
The Sefer HaChinuch writes briefly that there is difference is between Hana’as HaGuf (bodily pleasure) and Hana’as HaNefesh (spiritual pleasure). When it comes to Hana’as HaGuf, one recites the Brachah afterwards, once one has derived satisfaction from that which he has received.
But, when it comes to Hana’as HaNefesh, Eisek BaTorah, one recites the Brachah before. The question is why Eisek BaTorah should different.
Eating is a Means to an End
When one eats, for what is thanking Hashem? The act of eating? Or as one might say in America, the “art” of eating? Eating has become a pastime, a focus, an end in and of itself. But, that is not the case.
Eating is a “means” to an end, a tool. A person eats to become nourished, to become healthy, to become invigorated, to have vitality, to use his Kochos “in order to…” We eat so that we should be satiated. Thus, the Torah mandates that we thank Hashem, not before we eat, not upon the eating itself, but after we have been satiated.
It is for this reason that R’ Akiva Eiger suggested a possibility that if a Bar Mitzah Bachur ate a meal and Bentched just before sunset ahead of his Bo BaYom, and similarly an Onein who ate bread just before his Aninus ended and his standard Aveilus could take effect, each would have a Chiyuv to Bentch afterwards. That means that the Bar Mitzvah Bachur would Bentch for a second time. Why should that be?
The answer is that although the Bachur ate as a Katan, he was Sovei’a (satiated) as a Gadol, triggering a new Chiyuv D’Orayisa of Birchas HaMazon. Indeed, because Birchas HaMazon is not warranted by the food, but by the effect of the food, he should probably Bentch again. Similarly, although a person ate as an Onein, if he is Sovei’a as a Chiyuv B’Mitzvos, then he should too should Bentch. Ultimately, R’ Akiva leaves this suggestion as a Safeik, Tzarich Iyun L’Dina. But, understand the undeniable Yesod, that it is not the activity of eating itself for which we thank Hashem. It is not the eating which creates the Chiyuv for reciting a Brachah M’D’Orayisa, but it is the end result, the satisfaction that requires one to do so.
But, what about Ha’as HaNefesh, Eisek BaTorah?
“Bread Sustains & Torah is Life”
The difference between eating and learning can be found in a Diyuk (inference) from an incredible discrepancy in Targum Onkelus, in Parshas Eikev. But you have to be careful which Chumash you’re using, because you will only find it in the older editions of Targum. When describing the Nisayon of Mann, Moshe Rabbeinu describes as follows (Devarim 8:3):
וַֽיְעַנְּךָ֮ וַיַּרְעִבֶ֒ךָ֒ וַיַּאֲכִֽלְךָ֤ אֶת־הַמָּן֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹא־יָדַ֔עְתָּ וְלֹ֥א יָדְע֖וּן אֲבֹתֶ֑יךָ לְמַ֣עַן הוֹדִֽיעֲךָ֗ כִּ֠י לֹ֣א עַל־הַלֶּ֤חֶם לְבַדּוֹ֙ יִחְיֶ֣ה הָֽאָדָ֔ם כִּ֛י עַל־כׇּל־מוֹצָ֥א פִֽי ה׳ יִחְיֶ֣ה הָֽאָדָם
“And He afflicted you and He made you hungry, and He fed you the Mann with which you were not familiar, nor were your fathers familiar, in order to make it known to you that not on bread alone does a person live, but on all that emerges from the mouth of Hashem does a person live.”
The word “יִחְיֶה” (“he will live”) appears twice in this Pasuk, once in reference to bread, and then in reference to “Kal Motza Pi Hashem,” all that which emerges from Hashem’s word. Look how Onkelus translates the same word differently in these two contexts.
וְעַנְּיָךְ וְאַכְפָּנָךְ וְאוֹכָלָךְ יָת מַנָּא דִּי לָא יְדַעְתָּא וְלָא יָדְעוּן אֲבָהָתָיךְ בְּדִיל לְאוֹדָעוּתָךְ אֲרֵי לָא עַל לַחְמָא בִלְחוֹדוֹהִי מִתְקַיַּם אֱנָשָׁא אֲרֵי עַל כָּל אַפָּקוּת מֵימְרָא דַיְיָ חַיֵי אֱנָשָׁא:
When describing bread, the Onkelus interprets that it is not through bread alone that man is “מִתְקַיַּם,” “sustained” (*or “maintained”). But, when describing “Kal Motza Pi Hashem,” Onkelus writes “חַיֵי,” that man lives through them. What does that mean? Bread sustains, but Torah is life! Yes, bread sustains and gives strength. And does the Toras Hashem sustain? Absolutely, yes. Is the Toras Hashem impactful? Absolutely, yes. Does the Toras Hashem transform who you are? Absolutely, yes. But, the act of learning is not just a means in order to transform yourself. The act of learning is an end in and of itself. It is not the consequence. It is life itself, “Ki Heim Chayeinu V’Orech Yomeinu.”
“SheLo Hayah Mevarchin BaTorah Techilah“
The Gemara in Nedarim (81A) asks, “Al Mah Ovdah HaAretz?”-“On account of what was the Land (of Yisrael) lost?” What was the catalyst of Churban HaBayis? The Gemara tells us strikingly, “SheLo Hayah Mevarchin BaTorah Techilah” that they didn’t properly recite Birchas HaTorah.
(The Ran immediately comments us that it was not about the actual Birchas HaTorah. After all, it is not so obvious that Birchas HaTorah is a D’Orayisa according to all opinions; the Ramban is Mefurash [explicit] in his Hosafos to Sefer HaMitzvos [Mitzvah #14] that Birchas HaTorah is not D’Orayisa. However, Ran explains that if we weren’t meticulous about reciting Birchas HaTorah, it is the greatest indicator that Divrei Torah were not Chashuvin [significant) in our eyes, that we weren’t Oskin Bah L’Sh’mah [engaged in it for its sake], that we didn’t revere the privilege of Eisek BaTorah.)
But, notice the extra word: “Techilah.” They did not make a Brachah beforehand, upon the activity of Eisek BaTorah, engagement in Torah. In other words, it is not just upom the impact of Talmud Torah that we make a Brachah. We do not just recite a Brachah if and once we have been satisfied with the results of our learning, if we were inspired by what we have learned. We make a Brachah on the Eisek BaTorah, the act of Talmud Torah itself. That is “Ki Heim Chayeinu V’Orech Yomeinu.”
We should be Zocheh to be sustained, yes, with both Hana’as HaNefesh and Hana’as HaGuf, and yes, to the impact of Talmud BaTorah, but also to treasure the privilege of Eisek BaTorah, engaging in the relationship with Hashem, and Hashem should be revealed to us through His Torah with coming of the Geulah, Bimheirah Biyomeinu! Have a wonderful Shabbos!