The Bavli, M'gila 6 amud 2:

ואמר ר׳ יצחק אם יאמר לך אדם יגעתי ולא מצאתי אל תאמן לא יגעתי ומצאתי אל תאמן יגעתי ומצאתי תאמן הני מילי בדברי תורה אבל במשא ומתן סייעתא הוא מן שמיא ולדברי תורה לא אמרן אלא לחדודי אבל לאוקמי גירסא סייעתא מן שמיא היא

In my own translation:

And Rabbi Yitzchak said:

If a man tells you 'I have toiled but not attained', do not believe; 'I have not toiled and have attained', do not believe; 'I have toiled and attained', believe.
These words speak of Torah: but business is help from Heaven. And [even] about Torah, they speak of nought but sharpening: but to establish text is help from Heaven.


לאוקמי גירסא — שלא תשתכח ממנו / to establish text — so it not be forgotten by him

Seemingly, one gets help from Heaven (or doesn't) in memorization; a more keen, penetrating comprehension depends on one's effort.

Why? Effort can be expended on memorization; as one example of many, people would study mishnayos with a tune in order to more easily memorize them (per Tosafos to M'gila 32 amud 1). And divine assistance can aid keen comprehension, of course. So why does memorization depend on divine assistance, and keen comprehension on effort?


1 Answer 1


As much as it is theoretically possible to have divine assistance in keen comprehension, and to invest effort in memorization, memorization is more conceptually linked to divine assistance and keen comprehension is more conceptually linked to effort invested.

לאוקמא גירסא, to establish the text [in one's mind], is the act of assimilating the information of the Torah, taking the external information of the Torah and assimilating them to one's own databank. This is an act that is inherently beyond the natural capabilities of human intellect - to grasp Divine wisdom. R' Yaakov Weinberg explained that this is the implication of the statement חכמה באומות תאמין תורה באומות אל תאמין - Torah is not a discipline like math or biology or any other area of knowledge, which one learns and then understands. Torah is fundamentally different than Chochma, wisdom, and has a spiritual nature to it's attainment. See also the Dover Shalom commentary to Atta Chonantanu. This knowledge of Divine wisdom requires Heavenly assistance because it is inherently beyond us.

לחדודי, to clarify and hone the idea, is the person's own input into developing that knowledge. Rabbeinu Yonah explains that this is the faculty of Binah, to understand something clearly and the reasons behind it to the point that you can extrapolate to those things which follow similar logic and apply the knowledge. This aspect of wisdom is something that goes according to a person's individual understanding and appreciation of the knowledge, as the Gra"h writes on Mishlei 3:13:

ותבונה היא מה שמוציא מעצמו מן החכמה

Understanding is that which the person on his own extracts from the knowledge

and R' Menachem Mishkalov (student of the Gra"h) explains the verse כונן שמים בתבונה (Mishlei 3:19):

והיינו "בתבונה" שאדם מתבונן תמיד ובא אל החכמה על בוריו, זהו חדתין עתיקין ועל ידי זה מתחדש שם, ולכן אמר "כונן" - לשון הווה, שהוא תמיד

"Tevunah" is something which is ongoing and constant, because it goes according to each individual, and therefore is referred to in present tense.

The idea of coming to a deep understanding, and thereby extrapolating and applying the knowledge, is something conceptually linked to the person's own input and, therefore, his own efforts. (I think that this is the understanding of that which the Tanya writes that בינה is the internalization of something - when you work on it, and put your own imprint on it through your own effort, it becomes a part of you.)

Therefore, remembering, acquiring the raw information, is associated with Divine assistance, whereas honing the knowledge and building on it is associated with one's own effort.

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