The Oral Talmud with Benay Lappe and Dan Libenson Episode 157

מֵעַתָּה בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁיֵּשׁ בֵּית הַמִּדְרַשׁ אַל יִקְרְאוּ. בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין בֵּית הַמִּדְרַשׁ יִקְרְאוּ. לֵית לָךְ אֶלָּא כְהָדָא דְּתַנֵּי רִבִּי נְחֶמְיָה. דְּתַנֵּי רִבִּי נְחֶמְיָה. מִפְּנֵי מָה אֵין קוֹרִין בְּכִתְבֵי הַקּוֹדֶשׁ אֶלָּא מִן הַמִּנְחָה וּלְמַעֲלָה. מִפְּנֵי שִׁטְרֵי הֶדְיוֹטוֹת. שֶׁאִם אוֹמֵר אַתְּ שֶׁהוּא מוּתָּר. אַף הוּא אוֹמֵר. מַה בְכָךְ שֶׁנִּתְעַסֵּק בִּשְׁטָרוֹתַיי. מִתּוֹךְ שֶׁאַתְּ אוֹמֵר לוֹ שֶׁהוּא אָסוּר. אַף הוּא אוֹמֵר. כִּתְבֵי הַקּוֹדֶשׁ אָסוּר. שִׁטְרֵי הֶדְיוֹטוֹת לֹא כָל־שֶׁכֵּן. הָדָא אָֽמְרָה. שֶׁהַמִּשְׁנָה קוֹדֶמֶת לַמִּקְרָא. וְדָא מְסַייְעָא לְהַהִיא דְתַנֵּי רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחַי. דְּתַנֵּי רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחַי. הָעוֹסֵק בַּמִּקְרָא מִידָּה שֶׁאֵינָהּ מִידָּה. הָעוֹסֵק בַּמִּשְׁנָה מִידָּה שֶׁנּוּטְלִין מִמֶּנָּה שָׂכָר. הָעוֹסֵק בַּתַּלְמוּד אֵין לָךְ מִידָּה גְדוֹלָה מִזּוֹ. לְעוֹלָם הֲוֵי רָץ אַחַר הַמִּשְׁנָה יוֹתֵר מִן הַתַּלְמוּד.

From now, in a place where there is a House of Study one should not read, at a place where there is no House of Study one should read. You only have what Rebbi Neḥemiah stated, as Rebbi Neḥemiah stated, why may one only read sacred writings after afternoon prayers? Because of persons’ documents. Because if you were telling him that it is permitted, then he would say, there is nothing wrong if I would occupy myself with my documents. Since you are telling him that it is forbidden, then he will say, since sacred writings are forbidden, so much more private documents. This implies that Mishnah has precedence over Bible. This supports what Rebbi Simeon ben Yoḥai stated, as Rebbi Simeon ben Yoḥai stated, he who studies the written Torah does himself good that is not so good; he who studies Mishnah is occupied in an endeavor which deserves reward; he who studies Talmud could not endeavor anything greater than this, always a person should pursue Mishnah more than Talmud. Rebbi Yose ben Rebbi Abun said, this was before Rebbi incorporated most of the Mishnah in the Talmud, but since Rebbi incorporated most of the Mishnah in the Talmud, a person should pursue Talmud more than Mishnah.

וכן הוא אומר (דברים כ״ט:ט׳) אתם נצבים היום כלכם לפני ה' אלהיכם ראשיכם שבטיכם זקניכם ושוטריכם כל איש ישראל. מה אלו לא היו במעמד זה, שעמד וקיים תורה בישראל - לא היתה תורה משתכחת מישראל. ומה אלו לא עמד שפן בשעתו ועזרא בשעתו ור' עקיבא בשעתו - לא היה תורה משתכחת מישראל. ואומר (משלי טו) דבר בעתו מה טוב, דבר שאמר זה שקול כנגד הכל.

And thus is it written (Deuteronomy 29:9) "You are standing this day, all of you, before the Lord your God, your heads of your tribes, your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel." If not for (all of) these, who stood and fulfilled Torah in Israel, would Torah not have been forgotten in Israel? And if Shafan had not arisen in his time (viz. II Kings 22) and Ezra in his time and R. Akiva in his time, would Torah not have been forgotten in Israel? And it is written (Proverbs 15:23) "A word in its time — how good!" The word that this one (i.e., each one of those in his time) said is over and against all!

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