The last possuk in the Megillah (Esther 10:3) says about Mordechai that he was רצוי לרוב אחיו – that he was liked, appreciated, by most of the Jews. And Chazal say that it wasn’t everyone because he came too close to the malchus; people thought he became too karov to the malchus. And there’s a statement there from R’ Yosef (Megillah 16b) who says גדול תלמוד תורה מהצלת נפשות, that learning Torah is greater than saving lives. I don’t understand that. Maybe Rebbe can explain that to us?
Yes. The Gemara states that Mordechai at the beginning was a leader of all the Jews and at the end of the whole episode it says he was accepted by most of his brothers. “Most” means not all. So the question is, after this great salvation which Mordechai helped bring about, he surely should have been accepted by everybody. So why did he lose out with some of his brothers?
So the Gemara says because the study of the Torah is greater than saving Jews. And during this time that he was busy in the king’s palace, he lost some time from the study of the Torah. And therefore, at the beginning when he was all Torah, he had saved nobody, he was accepted by all his brothers. At the end, he had to spend some time in the king’s service; after all he was appointed as the king’s right hand and he was given the king’s ring at the end, so he had to lose some of the time from learning and so he was accepted by “most” of his brothers, not by all of them. And it’s because the study of the Torah is the greatest distinction a Jew can have. So what’s the problem?
But aren’t all the Torah leaders of the Am Yisrael obligated to be mevatel Torah for hatzalos nefashos?
Certainly you have to. You have to stop Torah for kiddush levana too. For any custom, you have to stop the learning of the Torah. No question, you have to stop learning. And still, when Hakadosh Baruch Hu doesn’t send such a mitzvah to a Jew and allows him to study the Torah in peace, he’s more fortunate. Because the greatest gift to a man is perfection in the Torah. If you have to stop to save somebody’s life, you must stop. There’s no such thing as not stopping! But the time that you lose is deducted from your perfection.
However in the next world, there are two Gan Edens; a Gan Eden for Torah and a Gan Eden for good deeds.
TAPE # R-34 (March 1972)