Shaarei Yosher, sec. 5: Sharing – Conclusion
This is also how it works with the emanation/assistance, the dew of heaven, of acquiring wisdom. Every person is worthy of grace from the One above some increase in wisdom, to take root in his soul some deep root. This attainment would not be given for he himself, only to be like a disburser to distribute it to every person for whom it is appropriate. If he guards this duty to teach whomever it is appropriate to teach, then he will be further enriched and made like a disburser over a greater treasure than this. Perhaps one can use this idea to explain “and from my students, more than anyone” (Ta’anis 7a). Aside from the natural aspect of it, there is also the means of charity and spiritual tithing helping it ascend and grow, like the means with regard to tithing money. So it seems to me וכן הוא בשפע טל שמים של קניני החכמה, שראוי לכל איש שחננו העליון ית׳ איזה יתרון חכמה, להשריש בנפשו שורש עמוק, שקנין זה לא ניתן לו לעצמו, רק להיות כגזבר על זה לחלק למי שראוי לזה, ואם ישמור כראוי תפקיד זה ללמד למי שראוי ללמד אז יתעלה למשרה גדולה מזה, ויתעשר יותר ויהיה גזבר על אוצר גדול מזה, ואולי יש להסביר ענין זה מה שאמרו ומתלמידי יותר מכולם, שמלבד ענין הטבעי שבזה, הנה סגולת הצדקה והמעשר הרוחני מועיל לזה להתעלות ולהתגדל, כמו בסגולת מעשר כספים כך נראה לי.
The quote from Ta’anis 7a is an excerpt referencing a relatively well known Talmudic dictum:
Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak said: Why are the words of Torah compared to a tree, as it is written, “It is a tree of life for those who cling to it?” This it to teach that just as a small piece of wood ignites a large one, so too with Torah scholars – the younger ones sharpen the minds of the older ones. This is what Rabbi Chanina [meant when] he would say: “I have learned much from my teachers, and from my colleagues more than from my teachers, but from my students most of all.”
Rav Shimon here tracks the pasuq of Ve’ahavta (Devarim 6:5) in Shema: וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת ה'” אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ, וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ, וּבְכָל מְאֹדֶךָ — And you shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart, with all your life, and with all your resources.” Presuming two things inherent in my translation: First, that “levavekha” doesn’t refer only to the heart as the seat of the emotions, but in a more classical sense, where the heart, the core of the person, is thought of as including both feelings and thoughts. And second, that “nafshekha” is the term for soul being used here specifically because it carries connotations of the soul as life-force.
First Shaarei Yosher discusses sharing one’s wealth, that Hashem gives wealth to the community, and being wealthy might be part of one’s role as part of the community. Thus, someone who wishes to be charged with this task should develop the appropriate skills and prove themselves worthy guardians of the community’s wealth. (And then it is proper for them to enjoy their own wealth as well.) This is loving G-d, “bekhol me’odekha.”
In the previous installment, R’ Shimon refers to Nachum Ish Gamzu’s sickbed, and how his very limbs, his life — and thus his nefesh — is also only of value to the extent it is used to bestow Hashem’s good on others.
Now we get to levavekha. Thoughts and emotions too get their value from being shared. Not kept to the core self, but shared with the broader “ani“.
Rav Shimon Shkop’s attitude toward sharing, tzedaqah and chessed seems to fit this Yerushalmi I encountered several months back. See the second answer in Shabbos 14:1 (vilna daf 74b):
כתיב (תהילים מט[:ב]) “שִׁמְעוּ זֹאת כָּל הָעַמִּים, הַאֲזִינוּ כָּל יֹשְׁבֵי חָלֶד.” ר’ אחא אמר ר’ אבהו ורבנן ח”א למה הוא מושל כל באי העולם בחולדה. אלא לפי שכל מה שיש ביבשה יש בים הרבה מינים בים מה שאין ביבשה ואין חולדה בים. וחורנה אמר למה הוא מושל כל באי העולם בחולדה אלא מה החולדה הזאת גוררת ומנחת ואינה יודעת למי היא מנחת כך הן כל באי העולם גוררין ומניחין גוררין ומניחין ואינן יודעין למי הן מניחין.
It is written, “Listen to this all the nations, give ear all the inhabitants of Chaled [literally: weasel].” (Tehillim 49:2)
Rav Acha said: Rav Avohu and the Rabbis [both expounded on why this verse calls the world chaled, weasel].
One said: Why does He compare all who come into the world to a weasel? Only because any [species] found on dry land is found in the sea. There are many species in the sea which are not on land. But there is no weasel in the sea.
And the other said: Why does He compare all who come into the world to a weasel? Only that just as this weasel gathers and puts away, and doesn’t know for whom she is putting [things] away, so too all the people of the world gather and put away, gather and put away, and do not know for whom they put away.
So, another way to put this section of this introduction: What are you — a man or a weasel?
To be a person means not only to realize that one’s “ani” includes body, soul, other people, to the ends of creation, but to value what one has oneself for it’s potential to aid that “ani” and not just my narrow “atzmi” self.