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Monday, August 10, 2009

Learning Torah at Night

At the end of the list of events that took place on Tu B’Av the Gemara (Taanis 31a) declares: Now that the nights are getting longer, people must learn more Torah at night. One who learns Torah at night will have increased longevity and one who does not learn Torah at night will have the tragic opposite results.

The Gemara in Avodah Zara (3b) elaborates on this concept: Resh Lakish says one who studies Torah at night is blessed with a “thread of kindness,” meaning that he will find favor in the eyes of others, during the day.

The Rambam (Talmud Torah 3: 13) says that although the Mitzvah is to learn Torah both day and night, the bulk of ones wisdom is acquired at night. He then proceeds t quote the Gemara in Avoda Zara above.

And to top it all off, the Gemara in Eruvin (65b) says that night was created solely for Torah study.

What is so special about nocturnal Torah study?

I once heard a beautiful thought to explain this. (I think it was repeated in the name of Rav Aharon Kotler but cannot place it right now). What one does during the day is what they are obligated to do. They work, take care of their families and communities. Night time is synonymous with rest and relaxation, and doing what we choose to do. It is when we naturally revert to our default positions.

If someone is so involved and enthralled with learning Torah to the point that their default position is to sit down and study Torah, then Hashem says I will give you a special bracha in that Torah learning. You will be able to acquire the most wisdom during that session, and you will have a special chein throughout the day.

This concept is brought l’halacha in the Shulchan Oruch (OC 238:1). The Mishna Berura explains that one should be careful that even in the summer months they learn Torah for at least a few minutes after nightfall.

For Part 2 of this article please click here.

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Meet Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch HaberRabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber is sought after by all who know him for his Halachic and practical advice. His keen ability to put complicated matters into a digestible perspective coupled with his ability to get the facts, make him the perfect blogger to help us all “Do It Right”.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber spent his childhood globetrotting with his family. His pioneering spirit first surfaced in Melbourne, Australia, where he was excited to be a member of the opening class of Mesivta Bnei Torah. From Australia the Haber family settled down in Monsey, NY. Ever the maverick, Tzvi promptly left home to study in Yeshiva Ohr Hameir in Peekskill, where he became a mainstay of the Yeshiva, and inspired his younger brothers as well as several friends from the Mesivta in Melbourne to follow him. He then joined his chaburah in Jerusalem, first at the Mir Yeshiva and then at the Bais Medrash of Rav Dovid Soloveitchik, a senior scion of the famed Brisk dynasty. As his globetrotting family returned to Jerusalem, Tzvi returned to the US, to freeze in the famed, yet comparatively chilled Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood.

 In 2004 he met his wife, Suzanne Schor, a native of the warmer Los Angeles climate, and the couple settled in Lakewood, where he focused his pioneering and independent strengths on the study of Halacha, or Jewish law. His innovative spirit and innate ability to help others seeking to clarify the finer points of Judaism and integrate them into their daily lives inspired his decision to commute daily from Lakewood to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in order to bask in the day to day exposure to the world renowned Posek, HaRav David Feinstein. The daily commute was more than compensated for when he received Semicha from Rav Feinstien and the Kollel L’Torah U’lhorah (a division of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem) in Tamuz 5768, June 2008.

In August 2009, the Habers moved west, heading toward Los Angeles where Rabbi Haber joined the LINK-LA Kollel. After being an active member of the Kollel for several years, he joined the business world, however he is still actively involved in teaching and learning in LA.

Actively involved in all aspects of TorahLab, Tzvi has taken upon himself a quasi-role as administrator of quality control and has effectively improved and upgraded many of the smaller yet vital details involved in our site. His advice is eagerly sought and gracefully given.

Rabbi Haber is now living in the La Brea section of Los Angeles with his wonderful family. He can be contacted at tzvi@torahlab.org