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HaRav Shaul Alter shlit"a, when he was at the Beis Medrash of Lakewood Commons in Lakewood earlier this month, he delivered a Divrei Chizuk (Words of Strength) on the war and quoted the Midrash and the Tana Devei Eliyahu on a posuk in sefer Shoftim in saying that when one learns Torah, he has the zechus to save 40,000 Yidden. The Tana Devei Eliyahu adds that this learning refers specifically to being MeChadesh Torah, e.g. innovating in Torah (thoughts). We also have a Gemara (Megillah 16b) which says that studying Torah is more important than saving lives, but I haven't found the source that say the other connection:

Studying Torah is greater than saving lives

Where can this Midrash and Tana Devei Eliyahu be found?

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    It's not parshas shoftim, it's sefer shoftim from Nach - see my answer
    – Dov
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 22:21

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The verse in Shoftim 5:8 states:

יִבְחַר֙ אֱלֹהִ֣ים חֲדָשִׁ֔ים אָ֖ז לָחֶ֣ם שְׁעָרִ֑ים מָגֵ֤ן אִם־יֵֽרָאֶה֙ וָרֹ֔מַח בְּאַרְבָּעִ֥ים אֶ֖לֶף בְּיִשְׂרָאֵֽל

When they chose new gods, war came to their gates; was even a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?

The Tanna Devei Eliyahu Rabbah can be found here writes:

אשרי מי שמתחדש ד"ת על פיו וכל מי שמתחדש דברי תורה על פיו דומה כמי שמשמיעין אותו מן השמים ואומר לו כך אמר הקב"ה בני בנה לי בית המדרש ששכר הגדול שיש לי באוצרי שלך הוא ובשבילך אני מציל את ישראל שנאמר אח"כ יבחר אלקים חדשים אז לחם שערים מגן אם יראה ורומח בארבעים אלף בישראל. מכאן אמרו ארבעים אלפים מישראל שנתקבצו יחד ויצאו למלחמה ויש ביניהם זוג אחר תלמידי חכמים דומה להם כאלו אחזו מגן ותריס וחרב פיפיות בידם לכך נאמר מגן אם יראה ורומח בארבעים אלף בישראל

Fortunate is the one who renews the words of the Torah by his mouth, and anyone who renews the words of the Torah by his mouth is like one who hears it from heaven and says to him, "Thus said Hashem, my son built me ​​a Beis Hamedrash that the greatest reward that I have in your treasure house, and for your sake I save Israel", as it is said later "When they chose new gods, war came to their gates; **was even a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?". From here they said forty thousand (people) from Israel gathered together and went out to war and there is among them another pair of scholars similar to them, it's as if they held a shield and a (another type of) shield and a two-edged sword in their hands, therefore it is said, "Was even a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?".

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  • Wonderful, thanks a lot Dov. Gut Shabbos!
    – Shmuel
    Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 12:25
  • does the Tanna Devei Eliyahu also write that this refers specifically to being mechades torah, or was this a chiddush from HaRav Shaul Alter himself maybe?
    – Shmuel
    Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 12:42
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    I think he developed the idea
    – Dov
    Commented Nov 24, 2023 at 14:21

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