Jun 29, 2016

The Value of Intentions in Preparations

continued from previous post
also taken from the weekly Shabbos emails

This message underlies a famous story told in Maseches Bava Metzia (85b) of Rabbi Chiya, who described how he worked to ensure that Torah would not be forgotten from Israel. He brought flax, planted it, and used the produce to prepare nets, which he then used to catch deer. He fed the meat to the poor, and then used the skins to prepare parchment scrolls, upon which he wrote the Torah and Mishnah. He brought these scrolls to places where there were no teachers, and he taught children, thereby ensuring the continuity of Torah knowledge.

The commentators raised the question of why Rabbi Chiya went through this long process to prepare the scrolls. If Torah was on the verge of being forgotten, it would seem to have made more sense to expedite the process and to try to obtain scrolls that had already been prepared.

The answer is that preparation has an impact. Rabbi Chiya's pure intentions during the preliminary stages of planting the flax, catching the deer and preparing the parchment directly affected the quality of the Torah learning this process facilitated. If he had just obtained ready-made parchment, the learning would not have had the same impact. He injected sanctity into the scrolls through his intentions over the course of the process of preparing them.

No comments:

Post a Comment