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I am bothered by this quote:

Yerushalmi [5:1]: Rabbi Yirmiyah said: One who is occupied with the needs of the public is equivalent to one who is occupied with the study of Torah. [Tosafot on Ber. 31a]

What does it mean? That if one takes care of the congregation's synagogue building and grounds, or serves on the Board, or heads the Membership Committee, or visits all the sick, he does not have to study Torah?

(On the other hand, V'talmud Torah k'neged kullam [Peah 1:1, Shabbat 127a, Kiddushin 40a, Tanhuma Yitro 14] does imply that if you do kullam you don't need to study.)

  • Specifically, See commentaries in Rambam tefilah 6:8 – Dr. Shmuel Aug 28 '19 at 18:25
  • If there weren't people to take care of the public needs nobody would be studying Torah. – Heshy Aug 28 '19 at 18:25
  • See Tur’s interpretation 93 (with Prishah) – Dr. Shmuel Aug 28 '19 at 18:29
  • @Dr.Shmuel -- what tractate in the Yerushalmi? – Maurice Mizrahi Aug 28 '19 at 23:16
  • Berachot 36a or so I believe – Dr. Shmuel Aug 28 '19 at 23:18
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Your quotation excludes its context and thus creates a potentially misleading premise.

This law is codified in Shulchan Aruch (93:4):

העוסק בצ"צ כעוסק בתורה דמי פירוש לענין לעמוד מתוכו להתפלל שגם זו שמחה היא לו שעוסק בצרכי צבור וי"מ דהיינו לענין דאינו צריך לפסוק להתפלל: One who is busy with communal needs is like someone who is busy with studying Torah, similar to what we discussed about the matter of standing from it to pray -- that here, too, this is a joy for the person who is busy with communal needs. And there are those who are lenient/stringent, that is to say, for this matter that one does not need to stop [serving communal needs] in order to pray (Sefaria).

In general, I tend to agree with the sources you have graciously included, in that indeed Torah study is the best.

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