I somewhat enjoy this part of the year. It’s very stressful, with the holidays, waking up extra early for slichos, keeping a learning and working schedule, dealing with the kids starting off a new year. But, in this season, especially with it landing in October, you can feel the change in the air. Things are starting to get cooler…no need for the air conditioner at night. I just cleaned up our "courtyard" (not really a yard), and we’re ready to start with the Sukkah. After Sukkos, I’ll have a few days off from kollel which will allow me to fix up holes in the walls so we don’t have leaks, clean up and get organized and get ready for a (hopefully) rainy and cool winter. And THAT is our favorite season.
Just a few more weeks….
“Yose ben Yoezer of Tzereidah and Yose ben Yochanan of Jerusalem received the tradition from them (Antignos and Shimon the Righteous). Yose ben Yoezer says: Let your house be a meeting place of the Sages, and sit in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words with thirst."
The next series of mishnayos begin by listing the sages in pairs. The first of each pair was the President of the Sanhedrin (Nasi) and the second was his Chief of Court (Av Beis Din) (Bertinoro).
Let your house be a meeting place – Since scholars will gather only in the home of a distinguished person, one must therefore strive to be a person of noble conduct (Rabbeinu Yona). The host will benefit by learning from their conduct and from the wise things he will hear from them. He will inevitably be affected by them, just as a visitor to a perfumery carries away its fragrance with him (Bertinoro).
And sit in the dust of their feet – Wait upon them and serve them. One should show scholars honor and respect (Rabbeinu Yona).
There is a special warning here that one should be careful with. When one is close to a talmid chacham, he can, naturally, start to feel more and more comfortable with him and start treating him as friend. Therefore, the Mishna tells us to become close to them, but still know your place.
My Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Asher Rubenstein, was very close with Rav Shmuel Auerbach. Once he and somebody else were driving the rav back from Ramat Beit Shemesh to Yerushaliyim. For those familiar with the route, it’s rather uphill, and my Rosh Yeshiva’s car was…well…to put it nicely: old. On the way, there was an issue and they had to pull over to the side. Rav Rubenstein and his friend got out and opened up the hood to see if the issue was something they could fix. As they were discussing the situation, Rav Auerbach, who was not exactly so young, peered over both of their shoulders to look inside and said, “Is there anything I can do to help?” Both of them jumped, not expecting the rav to be joining them, and assured him that everything was fine. Despite their closeness, Rav Rubenstein showed nothing but respect and awe for his rebbe. You could be close, but there’s still a line that cannot be crossed.
Drink in their words with thirst – One should listen to the words of the Sages in the manner that one drinks when he is very thirsty (Rashi). He shouldn’t sit back and think, “Yeah…I’ve heard this all before."
Their words – This includes even their mundane conversations. We learn that even the ordinary conversations of Torah scholars should be studied (Seforno).
To take it a step further, just seeing how they interact with others, has a huge impact on a person, and teaches those watching how they themselves need to act in similar situations.
Have a wonderful Shabbos and an easy and meaningful Yom Kippur!