What’s the explanation of the Mishna (Avos 3:9) that if someone stops learning Torah to look at a tree, and says Mah na’eh ilan zeh – “How beautiful is this tree!” so the Torah considers it as if he is deserving of death?
The Mishna says: המהלך בדרך ושונה – “A person who is walking on the road and learning, ומפסיק ממשנתו ואומר, and he stops his learning and says, מה נאה אילן זה – ‘How beautiful is this tree,’ מעלה עליו הכתוב כאלו מתחייב בנפשו, so it’s considered as if he’s deserving of death.” You have to understand the following: It’s talking about somebody who’s “stopping” his learning. However, suppose a person is learning by saying “mah na’eh ilan zeh.” He’s saying, “How beautiful is this tree; how beautiful are the creations of Hashem! I can see the hand of Hakodosh Boruch Hu in this tree and I’m thanking Him.” And he’s learning it. Learning from the tree?! That’s something different. That’s not stopping his learning!
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 like there’s no mitzvah by stopping to enjoy a tree. What difference does it make, a cigarette or a tree?
But if he’s enjoying it in order to see the chochmas Hashem and chesed Hashem, and to express his gratitude to Hakodosh Boruch Hu, that’s not stopping. Suppose a person is learning Bava Kama, and he stops Bava Kama to learn Bava Metziah in the middle, is it a sin? What of it? It’s stopping Torah to learn Torah.
TAPE # 641