Thursday, May 29, 2008


Harav Yakov Moshe Katz, of Mir Yerushalayim, once speculated why it is that now, to be considered a talmid chacham, you need to know a perek here, a perek there, general information, the famous Reb Chaims and Ketzoses, while in Europe, every yeshiva bochur knew most of Nashim and Nezikin and was expected to know a good deal of the Ketzos. Why have the standards fallen so low?

One might answer that hasmada has decreased. He said that he doesn't believe that's true. He sees plenty of masmidim, and in his years in Mir alone, he belives that hasmada has increased, not decreased. So what is the problem?

Before Moshe Rabbeinu threw down the luchos, Chazal tell us that the letters flew off into the air, and only then did Moshe cast down the blank stones. Why did the letters fly off before the stones were cast down? Reb Yakov Moshe said that it was the exposure to the vile and depraved behavior of Eigel worship that drove away the letters on the luchos. Torah cannot co-exist with tum'ah.

He said that as he walks the streets of Yerushalayim, he sees Bnei Torah leaking; their Torah is leaking out of their heads as they walk. They learn in the Beis Medrash, but as soon as they walk into the streets, and are exposed to the pritzus and hedonism and leitzanus, their learning just runs out of their heads. when they come back into the Beis Medrash, the tosfos they learned the day before is like a new experience; their kedushas hatorah, all they accomplished with their ameilus of yesterday, lies in a puddle in the street.

So, dear reader, Ben Torah though you are, it might be a good idea to remember the lesson of the broken luchos; velo yei'ra'eh becha ervas davar, and vehayah machanecha kadosh. Perhaps then we will be zocheh to retain more of what we work so hard to learn in the first place.

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