I am looking for some explanations given by modern commentators on the following question:

The question is: why does studying Torah protects a person against the pains of the birthpangs of Moshiach? We study Torah, but there are still the birthpangs of Moshiach. Has this something to do with the following Gemara:

Rabbi Yoḥanan says: During the generation in which the Messiah, son of David, comes, Torah scholars decrease

Context of question:

The Gemara in Sanhedrin 98b states:

Rabbi Elazar’s students asked Rabbi Elazar: What shall a person do to be spared from the pains preceding the coming of the Messiah? Rabbi Elazar said to them: They shall engage in Torah study and acts of kindness.

The ArtScroll Gemara on this statement learns us (Sanhedrin 98b:1, footnote 9):

by studying Torah, which is the ultimate good in the spiritual realm, and bestowing kindness, which is the ultimate good in the material realm, a person is completely protected against the evil of the travail of the Mashiach.

The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah 18 a writes:

Go and engage in Torah study, in the merit of which you will live.

This explanation in Rosh Hashanah is also given by the Ahavat Chesed.

In the sefer מבשר טוב - כח קיום ישראל found at Otzar HaChochma, it writes, please correct me if I'm wrong, but that studying (learning) Torah, is as if a person brings an offering to the altar. Is this the reason why studying Torah protects a person against the pain from the birthpangs of Moshiach?

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    "We study Torah, but there are still the birthpangs of Moshiach." - Please explain.
    – pcoz
    Dec 29, 2021 at 22:32
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    See Nefesh Hachaim shaar 4 at length for the benefits of Torah study.
    – N.T.
    Dec 30, 2021 at 3:17
  • we learn torah but we also waste time online
    – user813801
    Dec 30, 2021 at 7:15
  • @pcoz: well, Rabbi Elazar's students asked "What shall a person do to be spared from the pains preceding the coming of the Messiah?". Rabbi Elazar answers "They shall engage in Torah study [...]". So, according to this, if we engage in Torah study, we do not get affected by Chavlei Moshiach, but I think we do. So that was my question.
    – Shmuel
    Dec 30, 2021 at 18:28
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    @mvs Maybe we do not know what the chevlei mashiach are.
    – pcoz
    Dec 30, 2021 at 22:41

2 Answers 2


This is an observation that the Chofetz Chaim addresses in his Likkutim in his Kuntres on Talmid Torah (see here) where he brings the Gemara from Sanhedrin. However, whilst he points out the importance of Torah study he does not mention how it actually saves a person.

Perhaps a good starting point, at least on a simple level, is the Tanna DeVei Eliyahu, chapter 18 which notes that Hashem himself makes a point of protecting someone who learns Torah and therefore one who engages in Torah study can rest assured knowing they have a personal, Divine protection guaranteed.

כל העוסק בתורה אינו רואה מדת פורעניות בין בעוה"ז בין לימות בן דוד ובין לעוה"ב

Anyone who engages in Torah will not see the measure of punishment whether in This World or whether in the days of (Moshiach) ben Dovid or whether in the Next World.

With this in mind we can now draw on Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman zt"l who writes in Sichos Avodas HaLevi that the learning of Torah provides basic zechuyos (merits) that ensures that one is saved from harm:

והנה זכות לימוד התורה מצלת את האדם מן הדין [וכעין מה שאמרו חז"ל (סנהדרין צ"ח ב') "מה יעשה אדם וינצל מחבלו של משיח, יעסוק בתורה ובגמילות חסדים"]. נלך ונתחזק בלימוד התורה ונתפלל להקב"ה שיציל את כלל ישראל, ובעז"ה נזכה להגאל בקרוב

And behold the merit of learning the Torah saves a person from din, like Chazal say (Sanhedrin 98b) "What should a person do that he will be saved from the birth pangs of Moshiach - he should engage in Torah study and acts of kindness". So let us go and strengthen in Torah study and we will pray to G-d that he will save Klal Yisroel and with Hashem's help we will merit to be redeemed soon.

This idea segues well with another quote from Tanna Devei Eliyahu, this time in Chapter 4 where it writes:

כל ת"ח שעוסק בתורה בכל יום תמיד בשביל להרבות כבוד שמים אינו צריך לא חרב ולא חנית ולא כל דבר שיהיה לו שומר אלא הקב"ה משמרו בעצמו ומלאכי השרת עומדין סביב לו וחרב ביד כולם ומשמרין אותו שנאמר (תהילים קמט) רוממות אל בגרונם וחרב פיפיות בידם וגו' חיים שלא בצער ושלא ביצר הרע לימות בן דוד ולעולם הבא

Every sage who engages in Torah constantly every day to increase the honour of heaven will not need neither a sword, nor a spear, not anything for his protection, because Hashem Himself will watch over him and the ministering angels will encircle him with a sword in each of their hands guarding him, as it says, (Tehillim 149) “The exaltation of Hashem is in their throat and a double edged sword in their hand."

So we see that the act of learning Torah affords a person personal G-dly protection and that is why a person who learns Torah does not have to fear the birth pangs of Moshiach as Hashem serves as his personal bodyguard!

In a similar context, this idea is also supported in a midrash in the Yalkut Shimoni (on Nach) 42:

במי הקב"ה מושיע את ישראל בבני אדם שמשכימין ומעריבין לב"ה ולבית המדרש ועוסיקין בתורה בכל יום תמיד

Through whom does Hashem save the Jews? Through those that get up early and frequent the shuls and study hall and engage in Torah throughout the day.

Another approach I saw mentioned in the name of the Maharal here by R' Gidon Rothstein. He writes there as follows:

That same Gemara has Abbaye reminding Rabbah that a person who is involved in Torah and acts of kindness can feel confident that s/he will be spared the troubles of Yemot HaMashiach. For Maharal, that’s because Torah is a non-physical good, while kindnesses are done in the physical world; a person who does both is combining the two so well that a move from a largely physical world to one where that’s not the central factor will not be as traumatic as for others...

Two assumptions important to Maharal’s views here are that change is always difficult and, largely, undesirable, and that the highest level is simplicity. Torah and acts of kindness, in his view, have the quality of peshitut, simplicity, and involve no change, so that one involved in those two has reached a stable high level.

When trying to trace the source of this point I came across the Maharal in Netzach Yisroel 36

ומצד הפשיטות שיש באלו שתי מדות נצול מן חבלי המשיח, שהוא שנוי בעולם. כי הפשיטות אין בו שנוי

And from the point of simplicity, there is in these two attributes (i.e. Torah and chessed) the means to be saved from the birth pangs of Moshiach since there is change in the world but these in their simplicity never change.

The Maharal there alludes to the fact that this idea is also mentioned in his Gevuros Hashem but I am yet to find the source.

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    Presumably because Hashem gifted us His Torah above and beyond the other nations and when we choose to occupy ourselves learning it, spending time delving into this special gift (תּוֹרָה נִיתְּנָה לוֹ בְּמַתָּנָה), Hashem in turn keeps us safe.
    – Dov
    Dec 30, 2021 at 18:28
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    Alternatively see the gemara in Sotah 21a - sefaria.org/… which explains how all encompassing this protection is. I would hazard a guess that when a person engages so readily and constantly with Torah he thinks like a Torah Jew i.e. he develops a 'Yiddisher Kop" which means that he thinks things through with a sense of logic and understandings which leads to making the right decisions. ..
    – Dov
    Dec 30, 2021 at 18:39
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    ...So possibly, in the times of chevlai hamoshiach, a person who is stooped in Torah will make all the right decisions which will ultimately lead to them being saved (just my own opinion)
    – Dov
    Dec 30, 2021 at 18:39
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    Wow baruch shekavanti! Great mekor thank you! yasher kochacho!
    – Dov
    Dec 30, 2021 at 20:44
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    @mvs thank v much for the bounty! Keep shteiging! :-)
    – Dov
    Dec 30, 2021 at 21:25

This is from the weekly email of Reb Itche Meir Morgenstern Shlita.

I don't know if this will answer your question directly. However, I think it is very important to add to the conversation.

This is an excerpt from one of Reb Itche Meir Morgenstern Shlita's weekly emails. (To be precise, it's from Parshas Mikeitz 5781.) It is part of the Nishmasin Chaditin section of the email. It is where they record many things the Tzaddik said over in a particular week.

I'll try to translate to the best of my ability.

He (The Rebbe) spoke on which is brought in the Zohar Hakadosh in the beginning of our Parshah, which speaks about the concept that there are two end of times. The Zohar says there is an end of times which comes from the right, which is associated with the holy side of things. And there is a end of times associated with the verse of "The end of all flesh" (Genesis 6, 13), which is associated with the evil side of things.

The Rebbe explained. There are people in which depression overtakes them, which causes them to worry about the future. Therefore, they depict all of the circumstances of the world, that it will come to obliteration and wars in which the whole world would be destroyed, etc. God forbid

However, in truth all of these things don't have to happen. Even though we find prophecies and statements of our sages regarding the wars of Gog Umagog. (Which speak about these ideas that the world will come to a state of destruction at the end of time). You don't have to believe they will come true, since it's already brought in the Rambam, that a prophecy which describes punishments isn't required to be fulfilled.

Additionally, it is known from many statements of the true Tzaddikim, in which they state clearly that the lengthening and hardships of the exile, sweetened the "birth pangs of Moshiach". With this, they explained that this is the reason which Hashem lengthened the exile so much. In order that in the end when Moshiach will come, it will be with no destructions, wars or killings, God forbid. Rather by way of simple compassion and revealed kindness.

With the way of repairing the world and removing the spirit of impurity. By removing the sins, not the sinners. As is described by our sages. That is, Hashem will pour a pure spirit and spray on us pure waters. And through this, everyone will return with a complete Teshuvah out of love.

Similarly, it is brought from the Baal Shem Tov, Rebbi Nachman, Reb Elimelech of Lizhensk and many other Tzadikkim. (Many of these sources are brought in the Sefer Dor Achahron.)

However, the depression, which is entrenched in these people (who constantly make negative predictions about the future), pulls them not to accept the words of the Tzadikkim. And they will continue to depict the future in a way of destruction.

This is what the Zohar Hakadosh refers to, when he says the verse of "The end of all flesh" (Genesis 6, 13) comes from the side of evil in the world.

And in truth, someone who falls into the aforementioned depression. is destined (God forbid) to ruin one of the foundations of Jewish faith. For the nature of a person is, that he can only hope for something which he desires, since he knows (that this which he desires) is only good and kindness. However, those who depict the end of times in a depiction which is negative are destroying the anticipation for redemption. Which is one of the foundations of Jewish faith. Which is so severe, that the Rambam states that one who doesn't anticipate the redemption, his judgment is extremely harsh. Since he is considered a heretic in all of the Torah and the Prophets.

(Translators note: I don't think the Rebbe is bringing this down to make anyone feel they are a heretic, God forbid. Since all that would do is pull the person further away from the service of God. Rather, I believe he brings this Rambam to show the severity of the matter at hand. God forbid for someone to think they are a heretic. Since the purpose of these harsh statements is not to label ourselves. Rather, they are there to give us an understanding of the importance of the matter at hand.)

Therefore, the Tzadikkim work to suppress the evil end of times under the holy end of times. For the way of Tzadikkim is to strengthen themselves with faith in the kindness of Hashem, and with TRUE yearning that Hashem will bring the end of days from a place of kindness. And they teach all their listeners to strengthen themselves like this. And through this very hope will help speed up the redemption in a way of open and revealed goodness.

As our sages teach us, "if Klal Yisroel will only have the merit of the hope and anticipation for redemption, they will get redeemed through this very merit."

I tried translating to the best of my abilities. I definitely didn't do anything close to a perfect job. Therefore, I want to make it clear that all mistakes, misunderstanding and errors etc. should be attributed to me and me alone. And God forbid, to the Holy Tzaddik Reb Itche Meir Morgenstern Shlita, and his holy students. Additionally, some of the concepts mentioned here are sourced in Kabbalah, making it very hard to translate literally.

In summary, the point I am trying to bring is, many have people a false understanding of what Ikvisa Dimeshicha (birth pangs of Moshiach) actually represents. And the repercussions of one who misunderstands what Ikvisa Demeshicha represents.

The main point is that we should continue to hope and anticipate for the day which Hashem's full glory will be revealed in the most awesome and loving way!

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    Can you add information about what this is, add plain text if you can, and a translation/summary if you can.
    – magicker72
    Dec 30, 2021 at 1:08
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    This appears to be a page from some collected teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Based on the closing comment, it would appear that he is hoping those who can read the Hebrew will understand paragraph 31 & 32 which explain that there are some people who by their nature (what is called the black bile) are overly focused on negative viewpoints (like appear in the question of the OP). It points out that negative prophecies do not have to be fulfilled according to Rambam. And it notes that we are also required to look with eager anticipation to the redemption. Negative expectations prevent that. Dec 30, 2021 at 15:21
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    @mvs I tried to fix the issues you addressed. Please tell me if it's good.
    – Chaim L.
    Dec 31, 2021 at 15:19
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    @mvs over here. t-chochom.org If you give me your email address, I can send you this particular week. To be clear, this is Reb Itche Meir Morgenstern. Not the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
    – Chaim L.
    Jan 2, 2022 at 0:20
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    @ChaimL. No need to apologize. When I read your edit, I saw. It doesn’t surprise me that Rabbi Morgenstern sounds very similar in approach to the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I have taken note of Rabbi Morgenstern before and reviewed a few of his published writings. He is definitely a valuable living source. Many of comments brought in the page you selected are spoken about almost verbatim in various talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Jan 2, 2022 at 13:25

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