Rav Avigdor Miller on The Talmid Chochom Speaks to the Horse

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Q:
If the Rav is always telling us that we have to subjugate ourselves to the Gedolim who have the da’as Torah that comes from learning, why do we ourselves have to bother learning Gemara in depth and become lamdanim?


A:
Listen to me. In order to understand what your doctor is telling you must have some minimal level of education. You don’t have to be a big scholar but you must know English. If your doctor is speaking at least a medium level cultured English, you’re going to have to understand what he’s saying.

And therefore when Gedolim speak to us we must be able to understand, to appreciate what they’re telling us. And if we are not well-versed in Torah learning it becomes meaningless because we are speaking a different language. The am ha’aretz does not speak the same language as an adom gadol speaks. And that’s a very important yesod.

If you haven’t learned Mesichta Gittin you really have no idea of the necessity of a “get.” So you’ll say that you know, there’s a civil divorce and there’s a Jewish divorce. No, it means nothing. For you, a Jewish divorce is just another thing, another ceremony. If you learn Mesechta Gittin you internalize that a civil divorce is nothing at all and that without a “get” she is an eishes ish. She’s just as married as she was when she stood under the chuppah. Even if she hasn’t seen her husband in forty years she’s still an eishes ish and she’s guilty of a capital crime if she goes with another man.

All this, to the am ha’aretz, is very vague. He can appreciate it to some extent but if he hasn’t learned, it’s very vague. But when you learn Mesechta Gittin it hits you between the eyes.

If you didn’t learn Mesichta Yevamos then chalitzah is just a ceremony. It’s like saying Av Harachamim on Shabbos morning – sometimes you skip it.  If you didn’t learn Mesechta Yevamos it’s so vague. There are a lot of people here who did not learn and it’s all a vague thing to them.  I remember in my old synagogue, there was a woman whose husband died. This woman was active in the Sisterhood, in the Ladies Auxiliary, and she married her dead husband’s brother. She had children from her first husband and she married her husband’s brother! And – nothing, nothing. Now, in a decent organization they would have taken her and dumped her in the street. You can’t marry your dead husband’s brother. If you have children from your first husband it’s like marrying your own brother. Kares! But go and tell this to the amei ha’aretz – they can hear it vaguely – yes – but she’s still in the Sisterhood.

This means that they are beheimahs. They don’t talk the language of Torah. You have to learn – otherwise the language is meaningless to you. You must learn. And you must learn Gemara. Not like one man said to me, “We’re not Gemara buffs.” Gemara buffs?! What?! Like, you don’t collect old coins or you don’t collect stamps you also don’t learn Gemara?! Gemara is not a hobby. Gemara is our life breath. We learn Gemara because that is the air we breathe. If you don’t learn Gemara you know what you are? You’re an ox! You’re mamishbeheima. That’s what you are without Gemara. And don’t tell me about other things you learn, moral teachings, seforim. If you don’t learn Gemara then you and your family are called beheimahs. And anyone who marries your daughter it says about him in the Gemara, “Arur shocheiv im beheima.” If you marry the daughter of an Am Ha’aretz you’re living with a beheima. Their wives and daughters are called the wives and daughters of beheimahs. It’s important to know that. Jews always knew this! You must breathe Gemara. That’s our life!

So how can a Gadol talk to you if you’re still in the stable. You’re eating oats and you’re braying. A Gadol will knock on the stable door and say, “Listen to this.” So you bray and he talks. Totally different languages. I have experience in this. I’ve spoken to people and they don’t even begin to understand what you’re talking about. It’s only when you’re a lamdan, at least in Gemara, that you’re able to communicate with the Gedolim and appreciate and understand what they’re telling you.
TAPE # 95