Does HaShem punish someone in this world for not studying the Torah ?

  • Probably, but note most people get rewarded for that
    – Double AA
    Aug 6 at 0:01
  • Pele Yoetz says women are fortunate since their patur from talmud Torah, so they don't have to worry about bittul Torah.
    – Shlomy
    Aug 6 at 22:57
  • 1
    @Shlomy All the more so non Jews. That's why there's a daily blessing "who made me a woman with fewer obligations".
    – Double AA
    Aug 8 at 1:52
  • I would take it that it is not a sin. I deduce this from the fact that that bitul Torah is not included in "let him examine his conduct" but listed by Rava separately in the gemara Alex quoted in his answer. (Berakhos 5a) The next possible cause in Rava's list, "chastenings of love" certainly doesn't sound like punishment for sin. More like G-d prodding you to live up to your potential, not to miss more opportunities. Aug 10 at 20:16

The Talmud (Berachot 5a) states:

אמר רבא ואיתימא רב חסדא אם רואה אדם שיסורין באין עליו יפשפש במעשיו שנאמר נחפשה דרכינו ונחקורה ונשובה עד ה’ פשפש ולא מצא יתלה בבטול תורה שנאמר אשרי הגבר אשר תיסרנו יה ומתורתך תלמדנו ואם תלה ולא מצא בידוע שיסורין של אהבה הם שנאמר כי את אשר יאהב ה’ יוכיח

Raba (some say, R. Hisda) says: If a man sees that painful sufferings visit him, let him examine his conduct. For it is said: Let us search and try our ways, and return unto the Lord. If he examines and finds nothing [objectionable], let him attribute it to the neglect of the study of the Torah. For it is said: Happy is the man whom Thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest out of Thy law. If he did attribute it [thus], and still did not find [this to be the cause], let him be sure that these are chastenings of love. For it is said: For whom the Lord loveth He correcteth.

(Soncino translation)

  • 1
    The Vilna Gain IIRC explains this is not a punishment for not studying Torah, but rather יתלה בביטול תורה means one should attribute their lack of identifying what they are doing wrong to not having learned sufficiently how to properly behave. The punishment though is for doing the bad behavior.
    – Double AA
    Aug 6 at 0:10
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    @DoubleAA Yes, that is the Vilna Gaon’s explanation. A couple of other acharonim offer additional novel explanations, all to address the difficulty of how there could be bittul Torah after פשפש ולא מצא.
    – Alex
    Aug 6 at 0:20
  • 1
    תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: בַּעֲוֹן נְדָרִים בָּנִים מֵתִים, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בְּרַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה הַנָּשִׂיא אוֹמֵר: בַּעֲוֹן בִּיטּוּל תּוֹרָה. Shabbos 32b
    – Chatzkel
    Aug 6 at 1:36

The Talmud also says that part of that punishment is being delivered to the Evil Inclination:

The Holy One, blessed be He, spoke to Israel: My children! I created the Evil Inclination, but I [also] created the Torah, as its antidote. If you occupy yourselves with the Torah, you will not be delivered into its hand… But if you do not occupy yourselves with the Torah, you will be delivered into its hand… If you will it, you can rule over it. [Kiddushin 30b]


See Shaarei Teshuvah Gate 3:14 which discusses the absence of doing the positive is a negative:

And they said, (Sifre Devarim, Ekev), “Just like the reward for Torah study is greater than [that for] all of the commandments in the Torah, so too is the punishment for wasting [time for] it greater than [that for] all of the sins.” And they said (Sanhedrin 99a), “‘Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has breached His commandment’ (Numbers 15:31) - is stated about anyone for whom it is possible to engage in Torah [study] and does not engage [in it].” And we have >already mentioned all of these to you in the Gate of the Torah (no longer extant).

Further to that in 3:16

And know that depending on the greatness of the commandment will the punishment be great for the one who prevents himself from doing it, even though he does not do an act in breaching it - as we find with the commandment of the Passover offering and the commandment of circumcision, which are positive commandments but have excision [as their punishment].

  • But he doesn't state that the punishment will be in this world.
    – Chatzkel
    Aug 6 at 22:06

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