Sharing Torah Insights

Anu Ratzim v’Heim Ratzim

Posted on י״ט באלול ה׳תשע״א (September 18, 2011) | in Hashkafa/Philosophy | by

Gemarrah Brachot 28b states that when R’ Nechunya ben Hakanah used to leave the beit medrash, he would say the famous line that is made at a siyum “Ani Mashkim, v’heim mashkimim: Ani Mashkim l’divrei torah, v’heim mashkimim l’dvarim beteilim. Ani amel, v’heim ameilim: Ani amel u’mekablel sechar, heim ameilim v’einam mekablim sechar. Ani ratz, v’heim ratzim: Ani ratz l’chayei haolam haba, v’heim ratzim l’beir shachat.” (I get up early and they get up early: I get up early for divrei torah, but they get up torah for worthless things. I toil and they toil: I toil and get reward, they toil and don’t get reward. I run and they run: I run to the World to Come and they run to hell.)

This is a strange thing to say when you are finishing learning. It would make much more sense to say this when you start learning.

The simple answer to this question is that we are praising the fact that we got up early to learn and are now getting on with the rest of our day. We are grateful for the fact that we were able to toil in our torah learning, and were able to use our time to run (in learning) towards heaven.

I thought of a different understanding. Elsewhere in Brachot Rabbeinu Tam (if I remember correctly) asks why one doesn’t make birchat hatorah (blessings on the torah) every time one learns. He answers that since when you stopped learning and went to work, you were (austenisbly) thinking about your learning the entire time and were working solely so that you could get back to the Beit Midrash. As such, there was no interruption between your first learning, and any subsequent learning in the day, so you would not make a new bracha.

With this in mind, we can understand this Gemarrah differently. When one says “I toil” they could just as well mean in their work. They are saying “I go to work and work hard, and they go to work and work hard” but since my motivation for all the work is to further enable my torah study, I receive reward not just for the torah study, but for the work too! Similarly, “I run and they run” – I run around all day doing whatever I need to take care of, and they do too, but all my running is with the end goal of getting back to my relationship with Hashem, and as such, all the running around I do is getting me closer to the World to Come.

This is why we say this at the end of our learning. It is to remind us when we leave the beit midrash that we are not finishing with our daily dose of religion. Rather that we must imbue the rest of our day with the same drive and holiness that Torah learning provides, and remember that the ultimate goal is to get back to learning and coming closer to Hashem.

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