Parshat עקב Deuteronomy 11:14 How Much Involvement with the World?

Deuteronomy 11:14 – I will give the rain of your land at its time, the early rain and the latter rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil.

Babylonian Talmud-Berachos 35b –  Rabbi Ishmael asked – what is this verse coming to teach us? He answered – because it says in Hosea (Chapter 1) “the words of this book will never depart from your mouth” might be understood plainly as written. This verse states “and you will gather in your grain” to teach [the importance of] conducting oneself according to the way of the world.

Jerusalem Talmud – Berachos Chapter 1, Halacha 5: Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said – is it possible for a person to thresh in the time of threshing, to sow in the time of sowing and reap in the time of reaping? What would become of the Torah? Rather when Israel does the will of God, their work is done by others as it says in Isaiah (Chapter 61:5) “And strangers shall stand and pasture your sheep”. But when Israel is not doing the will of God, they will do their own work as it says in our verse “and you will gather in your grain.”

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #25:

Note the commentary of the Maharsha and many of the commentators of homiletics and aggadot who all ask how it is possible to explain our verse as discussing a time when the Jews are not doing the will of God. Behold it state explicitly at the beginning of this section “and it will be that if you follow the will of God…”

Rather it is the case that Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochoi, who is expressing this point of view, is following his consistently expressed point of view. It is his opinion that the verse in Hosea (Chapter 1) of “the words of this book will never depart from your mouth and you will [study] them day and night” are to be taken [exactly] literally. (Thus Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochoi disagrees explicitly with Rabbi Ishmael in the previous note.) This difference of opinion is explained in this section of the Gemora and in Menachos (99b). Thus according to Rabbi Shimon, as long as Israel is not clinging to this attribute of [only] studying Torah day and night, by definition they are not following the will of God, even though, in general, they are following the commandments of the Torah.

Translator Note: This note of the Torah Temimah does not, per se, shed new light on this well known disagreement. I do appreciate, however, the Torah Temimah’s emphasizing and pointing out that many commentators have noted that Rabbi Shimon’s opinion seems to go against a plain reading of the verse.

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