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By Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom | Series: | Level:

5: At the beginning of a person’s judgement [in the world to come], he is judged on his study – and afterwards, on his other actions. Therefore, the Sages said: A person should always involve himself with Torah [study], whether or not he is studying *Lishma* (for its own sake? for God’s sake?); for by studying Torah not *Lishma*, he will eventually study *Lishma*.

Q1: The argument here is unclear. R is connecting the notion of “study for whatever reason – proper or improper motivation” with the role of study in our judgement when we die. What is the connection?

HH: R says that study as opposed to actions (i.e., study for its own sake) is the first thing to be judged. A person can involve her/himself with study for the sake of action, since this kind of learning will eventually lead to learning for its own sake.

JB: I see R’s analysis like this. When you get to… well, that great big Hotel in the Sky, the attending angel in the lobby sends you to one of 2 elevators. One for people who have learned, one for the people who haven’t. If you haven’t, you end up riding down to the basement, somewhere terrible (learning for eternity with one of those old European rebbes who pulled on students’ ears…). If you _did_ learn, you go up to the second floor. Either you learned because your parents made you (Lo Lishma), in which case you make yourself comfortable in a room right there, or you learned because you loved the Torah, God, etc., and you are escorted to the third floor. (There would be additional floors before the Penthouse, each thinning out the crowd even more than the one before.) The point is, says R, that the crucial juncture is in the lobby. Just make sure your elevator goes up, not down. Then we’ll talk elevation.

YE: Motivation. Many people will excuse their not learning with “I am not spiritually ready” or “I need to be in the proper state of mind” – R says that there is a purer (?) and more basic motivation – judgement. Since this will be the first component of our life which will be judged, we best get to it. He then assuages us that proper motivation, instead of being a precursor to proper learning, is the result of it.

Q2: What is Lishma?

YE: I refer our Haverim to “Torah for Torah’s Sake” by Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm (KTAV).

Rambam, Copyright (c) 1999 Project Genesis, Inc.