Rashi explains that it was only the night Yaakov was at Har
Hamoriah that he slept. However, during the 14 years he learned at
Yeshivat Shem Vever he did not sleep but studied Torah instead. Now, after
studying with Avraham until 15 (see Emes LYaakov, Toldos 25:27) and the
rest of the time with Yitzchak (Rambam Hil. Avoda Zarah 1:3) until he was
63, why the sudden need to go to Yeshiva for 14 years? What was the
Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky suggests that Yaakov's need can be
understood best in light of the difference between Yeshivas Shem Vever and
the Torah studied at the feet of the Avos. Rav Yaakov explains that the
Avos were Tzaddikim who lived lives and studied Torah on a spiritual plane
that was unbreakable. They were holy men whose aura inspired those around
them to Kedusha. Thus, the Torah they studied was pure and spiritual, not
subjected to the tainting of the foolery of this world.
Shem studied Torah from his father Noach. Noach's generation was
one in which live itself was tainted. To be able to study Torah in the
face of such a challenge required a different type of preparation. Noach
taught Shem in this manner and Shem taught this type of Torah in his
Yeshiva. Yaakov knew his visit to Lavan would contain many challenges and
that many of these challenges would be spiritual as well. Thus, in order
to properly prepare for a visit with Lavan, Yaakov went to the Yeshiva
that would teach him the way to learn Torah while with Lavan. Study hard
he did, he stayed awake nightly for 14 years in order to prepare properly.
V'Hageesa Bo Yomam V'Laila stresses the importance of daily and
nightly torah study. This week's Chaburah examines the nature of night
Seder. It is entitled:
Night Seder: Testing Tanach??
The Birkei Yosef (1:13) quotes the Ari who notes that with the
exception of Thursday nights, one should not study Tanach at night. There
seems to be a basis for the Minhag in the Yalkut Shimoni (Kee Sisa). The
Yalkut notes that while on Har Sinai, moshe was able to keep track of time
by knowing that Hashem taught him Torah SheB'Ksav by day only and Torah
SheBaal Peh at night. (Many are quick to point out that if one can learn
Gemara by day, he can learn Tanach at night based on the Yalkut).
The Artzos haChaim (1;36) supported the position of the Yalkut
with an added position of the Pirka DRav Eliezer (41) which notes Yom
L'Yom Yabia Omer refers to Tanach which is studied by day. However, he
adds that from the Talmud (Yoma 18b, Shabbos 12) we find countless
examples where it is apparent that Tanach may be studied at night.
It appears that the real basis for the prohibition against Tanach
study at night is based upon Kabbala. But what was included in the Issur?
Was it just Torah or did it include Novi as well?
The Sdei Chemed (Ohr Lee 40) quotes an opinion that the
prohibition of studying Tanach refers only to the study of Chumash but not
Novi. However, it should be noted that the Chida disagreed. Pri Megadim
(Eishel Avraham 238) agreed with the Sdei Chemed that any potential
prohibition would only apply to Chumash study. Modern commentaries have
noted that Tanach study with commentary does not fall into the category of
Mikra and can be studied at night according to all opinions.
In the next Chaburah we will examine the Halachic implications of
this potential difficulty as it applies to the recitation of Tehillim at
night for the ill.