Rav Avigdor Miller on the Sugya of the Beautiful Tree

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Q:
What’s the explanation of the mishna (Avos 3-9) that if someone stops learning and says “mah na’eh ilan zeh” the Torah considers it as if he is deserving of death?

A:
The Mishna says “ha’mafsik mi’mishnaso” (a person who stops his learning) and says “mah na’eh ilan zeh” (how beautiful is this tree). You have to understand: it’s talking about someone who is ‘mafsik’ – he is stopping his learning. However, suppose a person is learning by saying “mah na’eh ilan zeh” – how beautiful is this tree, how beautiful are the creations of Hashem, I’m thanking Hakodosh Boruch Hu. And he’s learning it. He’s learning about the Chochmas Hashem. He’s learning about the Chesed Hashem. Learning from the tree?!! Oh, that’s something different!
So the person who stops learning and he just states an idle remark, “How beautiful is this tree,” but not because he’s studying Chovos Halevovos Shaar Habechina, then certainly he’s doing wrong. It’s the same as stopping and saying, “I want to smoke a cigarette.” He gets no mitzvah stopping for that, just as there’s no mitzvah by stopping to enjoy a tree. What difference does it make?

But if he’s enjoying it in order to express his gratitude to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, that’s not stopping. Suppose a person is learning Baba Kama, and he stops Baba Kama to learn Baba Metziah in the middle, is it a sin?! Therefore, it’s stopping Torah to learn Torah.

TAPE #641